30 March 2007

UN Kosovo envoy to present final status package in February

XINHUA (CHINA), Thursday, January 18, 2007 5:47 PM

BELGRADE, Jan 18, 2007 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- UN special envoy on Kosovo future status talks, Martti Ahtisaari, will present his package of proposals to Kosovo's Albanian authorities in February, UN top envoy in Kosovo said in the provincial capital Pristina on Thursday.

"I believe that there is one more step to be made, after which the package will be forwarded to the UN Security Council," UN mission chief in Kosovo Joachim Rucker told reporters in Pristina.

He said the process of the resolution of the status of Kosovo is progressing step by step and the UN mission has been preparing the ground for transition and the transfer of responsibilities to local institutions.

Kosovo negotiating team spokesman Skender Hiseni said that "the negotiators will not agree to a single specific dimension of the package, until it explicitly underscores the independence of Kosovo."

Kosovo is formally part of Serbia but has been administered by the UN mission since 1999, after U.S.-led NATO forces intervened to halt a Serb crackdown on separatist ethnic Albanians.

Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority, who represent some 90 percent of the 2 million people, hopes the Ahtisaari's package will lead to the province's independence from Serbia -- a move opposed by the Serb minority in Kosovo and the government in Belgrade. 

Over the past few days, Ahtisaari's associates have announced that the package of proposals for Kosovo is in its final stage and that the package would be revealed to the Contact Group of six major countries immediately after the Jan. 21 parliamentary elections in Serbia.

European diplomats have said EU administrators are set to replace the UN mission after the UN Security council approves the solution to Kosovo's future status in March or April.