26 August 2006

Belgrade Demands Explanation Ahtisaari's Response

Serbian government's negotiating team demands Ahtisaari's explanation
Belgrade, Aug 25, 2006 – Coordinators of the Serbian government's negotiating team on Kosovo future status Leon Kojen and Slobodan Samardzic stated today that on August 10 they had sent a letter to UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari demanding that he explains his statement from August 8 in Vienna. On that day, Ahtisaari said that "Serbs as a people are responsible", however, the Serbian team's demand has been as yet unanswered.
Leon Kojen and Slobodan Samardzic
Photo: FoNetAt a press conference, Kojen and Samardzic presented the letter which reads as follows:"The Serbian government's negotiating team wishes to express their deepest discontent and resentment at the contents of the conversation that took place between you and the Serbian delegation on August 8.On that occasion, as UN Special Envoy for the future status of Kosovo-Metohija, you received our delegation and told them that Serbs as a people are responsible for what had happened. All members of the Serbian delegation present at the time have confirmed that they clearly heard you utter these words. The Serbian government's negotiating team categorically rejects such a statement as it is completely unfounded and therefore utterly unacceptable from a moral point of view. The statement triggers other serious issues regarding your impartiality in the negotiating process on Kosovo future status.The Serbian government's negotiating team urgently demands that you explain your viewpoint regarding the statement you gave in the presence of the Serbian delegation. In our opinion, such an explanation is necessary if the negotiation process is to be successfully carried out and completed".Kojen stressed that it is necessary to clarify whether Ahtisaari actually believes in what he said, because if he does, there arises the question of his suitability to perform the function of a Special Envoy. If Ahtisaari dismisses the statement as untrue and if it is, in some way or another, simply a misunderstanding, we expect it to be clarified within a day or two, said Kojen. The Serbian negotiating team is still waiting for Ahtisaari's response, he added and said that a great deal of time has elapsed and there has still been no answer from Ahtisaari, which is why the domestic and international public must be acquainted with the matter.Kojen said that Ahtisaari's statement about collective responsibility of the Serbian people, printed in a news article, would not be surprising on its own, however, "the freedom of speech is one thing, and political talks on Kosovo future another matter".Ahtisaari is an envoy of the Secretary General of the organisation that established the Hague Tribunal, whose formation was motivated by a desire to individualise guilt and avoid collective guilt, said Kojen.He added that after the Serbian team sent the letter, they received a reply from Ahtisaari's office on August 11 from a minor official in which it was said that the Special Envoy would not be in Vienna until August 21 and would send a reply immediately upon his return.Samardzic said that the Serbian team has been patiently waiting for the reply ever since."We will remain within the negotiating process, but we are going to insist that the matter be clarified", said Samardzic adding that further steps will be discussed at the team's next session scheduled for Monday.According to Samardzic, the Belgrade team will decide on further actions in line with reactions to this statement in the domestic and international public, as well as with the reaction of Ahtisaari's team, the Contact Group and international diplomacy.Samardzic also said that the Serbian negotiating team expects that the United Nations Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the future status process for Kosovo (UNOSEK) will notify them directly about the negotiations that the Special Envoy held in Pristina in the past several days. The team also expects to be briefed on what the ethnic-Albanian side has been offered as well as how it responded.