24 March 2007

Serbia's President Asks UN to Postpone Proposal for Kosovo

BLOOMBERG (USA), January 5, 2007 07:39 EST By Aleksandra Nenadovic


Jan. 5 (Bloomberg) -- Serbian President Boris Tadic said he would like a final decision about the status of the disputed province of Kosovo to be delayed until after a new government is formed following Jan. 21 elections.


Martti Ahtisaari, the United Nations envoy for talks about Kosovo's future, is due to give his proposal for the province's status shortly after the elections.


Tadic said today he would prefer Ahtisaari's announcement be postponed until after a government is formed, a process that could take weeks. In a broadcast on Belgrade's B92 TV, Tadic said he fears Ahtisaari's proposals ``may not be very favorable for the Serb side.''


``The UN proposal could in every sense complicate efforts aimed at forming a new democratic government'' in Serbia,'' Tadic was quoted as saying.


Kosovo's Albanian majority is demanding full independence, while Serbia is offering only broad autonomy. Albanian and Serb politicians have warned of a return to violence if the UN gives the Albanian majority there outright independence from Serbia.


Kosovo has been under UN protection since a 1998-99 civil war between the Serbian ethnic minority and the Albanian majority drew in bombing strikes by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.


Mediation Failed


As U.N.-mediated talks in 2006 yielded no results, Ahtisaari has said he will devise his own proposed solution.


B92 TV also quoted Ahtisaari's spokesman Remi Dourlot as saying a delay in an announcement is impossible and that a proposal will be presented immediately after the vote.


Most of Serbia's election campaigning is focused on Kosovo, considered by Serbs as a cradle of their civilization.


Tadic and his Democratic Party favor a negotiated settlement for the province. His party believes it can win enough votes to form a coalition government with a bloc of parties led by the Democratic Party of Serbia of the Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica and several other, smaller parties.


According to an opinion poll by the Informaster agency in November, the nationalist Serbian Radical Party, who oppose independence and any form of broad autonomy for Kosovo, would win 31.8 percent of the vote, while Tadic and his party would garner 21.5 percent. Kostunica and his allies would have 19.3 percent.