07 August 2006

Unwillingness To Decentralise Threatens Serbian Rights

B92 News Politics Diplomacy & IR
Vienna talks yield no progress
7 August 2006 09:55 -> 20:27 Source: B92, FoNet, Beta
VIENNA -- The sixth round of Vienna talks on Kosovo decentralization ended without tangible progress.
Leon Kojen, Belgrade team coordinator, said after the meeting that there is a doubt as to the Kosovo Albanians’ readiness to accept the decentralization which would enable the Serbs to live in normal and safe conditions, as well as the return of the displaced citizens.Reiterating that Kosovo Serbs cannot be stripped of their basic rights, Kojen said that Belgrade will, as it has done so far, reject any attempt to limit their rights to an education, health care, security and the freedom of movement, “because there is no compromising on these issues”. “We hope to have an agreement soon, but only based on Priština’s acceptance of decentralization”, Kojen said. Serbian prime minister’s advisor Aleksandar Simić said that the latest round of talks exposed essential differences between the two sides where it concerned Kosovo Serbs autonomy and that no progress was made in the areas of the judiciary, health care, education, police or the public communal services. The Serbian delegation member Marko Jakšić told the journalists that he and the remaining two Kosovo Serb negotiating team members - Goran Bogdanović and Milorad Todorović - will not take part in tomorrow’s round of talks dedicated to minority rights. “We can only discuss that within the framework of Kosovo’s future status and political arrangement for the province. To accept minority talks out of that context would signify that we accept the status of a minority, and we cannot be a minority in our own country”, Jakšić concluded. Kosovo team chief in the minority rights talks Veton Suroi said that Priština was ready to listen to both the international community and the Serbs. “We are interested to hear from both on Belgrade’s position on the future of the Serb community in Kosovo, whether the realization of their rights can be assisted, how to establish cultural bonds between the communities, and other issues”, Suroi said at the Priština airport, before departing for Vienna. Priština delegation chief Lufti Haziri, Minister for Local Governance, said that Kosovo Albanians wished to complete the talks related to decentralization as soon as possible, in order to start the final status negotiations. UN Envoy for Kosovo status talks office expert Bernhardt Schlagek has confirmed that the Vienna talks that took place today left Belgrade and Priština entrenched in previous positions, however assessed there was some progress related to the police force. Asked to clarify that remark, Schlagek said the debate on the role of the municipal assemblies in the police chiefs appointments showed both sides willing to rectify their so far opposed positions