20 April 2007

NATO Backs Ahtisaari's Kosovo Plan

Deutsche Presse Agentur, 05:37 PM, January 26th 2007


NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer on Friday underlined the 26-nation alliance's backing for a Kosovo final status plan due to be unveiled by Martti Ahtisaari, the United Nations special envoy.


Scheffer said NATO would continue to play "a full role" in Kosovo after a settlement on the territory's political future. There are currently 16,500 NATO troops serving as peacekeepers in Kosovo.


Following a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels, the alliance chief said Ahtisaari could count on the full support of NATO governments.


He said the question of Kosovo's final status needed to be resolved as swiftly as possible and called for bolstering NATO and European Union cooperation in the coming months.


"What is important is that after a settlement, everybody knows what they are supposed to do," said Scheffer.


NATO troops have been in Kosovo since 1999 when they fought a war with Serbia in order to halt the ethnic cleansing of Albanians living in the province which is still legally part of Serbia.


Since then, Kosovo has been under UN administration.


Ahtisaari on Friday presented his plan behind closed doors in Vienna to the so-called "contact group" on Kosovo which includes the United States, Russia, Britain, France, Germany and Italy.


The plan, which is due to be made public early next month, is expected to give Kosovo a limited form of independence. Serbia, which is backed by Russia, firmly opposes an independent Kosovo as demanded by Albanian Kosovars.