28 August 2006

Martti Ahtisaari Mum On Serbia Inquiery Into His Fitness As Moderator-Insists That Progress Is Being Made

Progress made, talks continue, says Ahtisaari
August 28, 2006

ZVECAN - The U.N. special envoy for the status of Kosovo, Martti Ahtisaari, said in Zvecan on Aug. 24 that certain progress has been made at his meetings with the Albanian negotiating delegation in Pristina, but that decentralization talks needed to continue.
"Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed," Ahtisaari said after a meeting with heads of Serb municipalities in northern Kosovo.
He said Pristina had not agreed with everything he had proposed, but added that progress was slowly being made because the process was continuing. He also said the next meeting between the Belgrade and Pristina delegations in Vienna on this topic would probably be held in the first week of September.
After a visit to northern Kosovo, he had more talks in Pristina with members of the Kosovo negotiating team about decentralization and the protection of the rights of ethnic communities. Addressing reporters afterward, Ahtisaari reiterated that status negotiations were a process that would not end after this meeting.
According to unofficial information, the meeting, which lasted three hours, ended in failure and a new one was scheduled for Aug. 25.
After the meeting with Ahtisaari, Kosovo President Fatmir Sejdiu told reporters that the Kosovo side was sticking to its proposal for five plus one new majority Serb municipalities, as well as the extending of jurisdiction but only in some of them.
Previously in Zvecan, Ahtisaari announced that, when he goes public with the results of his visit to Kosovo at the Aug. 25 news conference, he would not be able to disclose the details of what has been agreed, but that the time would come at the end of this process when it will be said "where we truly stand."
In his words, good government anywhere in the world envisages the transfer of more authority from central to local authorities, but added that this process must not "water down the unique structure of that place."
Ahtisaari said he visited northern Kosovo in order to inform the chiefs of the Serb municipalities of Leposavic, Zubin Potok and Zvecan about the talks on decentralization, the protection of religious and cultural heritage and the protection of ethnic communities' rights. He also met with the KFOR commander, who informed him about the security situation.
The Finnish diplomat said a distinction should be made between the two types of talks those on the status and those on practical issues, whose solution did not depend on the actual status.
"On the status issue the parties' opinions are very well known and they have not moved from them," Ahtisaari said, adding that progress was slowly being made