07 August 2006

Talks on Kosovo resume in Vienna

The divided town of Kosovska Mitrovica is marked by blast barriersDelegations from Belgrade and Pristina are holding talks in Vienna on Kosovo's future, focusing on decentralisation and community rights in the province.
There is international pressure on both sides to resolve the long-term political status of the province by the end of the year.
Decentralisation has been discussed by the ethnic Albanian and Serbian delegations in the past.
Tensions have been rising in Kosovo in recent weeks.
Local Serb politicians have heavily criticised the acting head of the United Nations mission, accusing him of favouring the Kosovo Albanians.
On Monday, a human rights group said the UN and the international community were failing to protect the rights of Kosovo's minorities.
"Nowhere [in Europe] is there such a level of fear for so many minorities that they will be harassed or attacked, simply for who they are," a report by London-based Minority Rights Group International (MRGI) said.
On Monday, the UN-brokered talks are focusing on the creation of Serb-run municipalities in Kosovo and how much authority they will have in the future.

No major breakthrough has been reached in previous rounds of the talks.
Two weeks ago, the presidents and prime ministers of Serbia and Kosovo failed to agree on the long-term political status of the province.
Technically, Kosovo remains part of Serbia but it has been run by the UN since the war ended in 1999.
Ethnic Albanian leaders are insisting on independence, while Serb leaders have said they are only prepared to negotiate a "substantial autonomy".
The Nato-led peacekeeping force, K-For, has recently reopened a base and deployed extra troops in Serb areas to the north amid rising tensions.