24 September 2006

2006 Not A Certain Deadline

End of 2006 is not ultimate deadline for
solution to Kosovo’s future status
Belgrade, Sept 22, 2006 – Coordinator of the Serbian team for the future status of Kosovo-Metohija Slobodan Samardzic said today that the end of 2006 in not an ultimate deadline for the solution to Kosovo’s future status.
Samardzic told Beta that the statement from the Contact Group’s last meeting in New York expresses an internal compromise after an obvious crisis in this six-member body that emerged after some members tried to solve the Kosovo problem hastily. A hasty solution would mean to come up with an imposed solution in the form of some kind of independence for Kosovo-Metohija by the end of this year, he explained. According to Samardzic, it is obvious that there was a disagreement within the Contact Group, which resulted in a new agreement on “returning to original principles of the Contact Group”.He said that at one point, the one-sided, hasty and imposed solution was favoured, but that things have gone back to a path that promises a form of real negotiating. There is a deadline for the end of the negotiations, but it has not been given as an ultimatum like Marti Ahtisaari and some of Contact Group members said on some occasions. Samardzic said that the position of the Contact Group is “a step forward to reaching a solution to the problem”. In any case, Belgrade and Pristina have to reach an agreement. It will take some time, but it is important to come to an agreement that will guarantee stability and durability of the solution. I think that Russia's position in the Contact Group and China's official stance contributed to that, Samardzic said. Samardzic stated that Belgrade expected Martti Ahtisaari to be given the green light for working out a proposal for the final status of Kosovo, and the media mentioned November as the deadline perhaps because it coincides with the end of the UN envoy's mandate. Ahtisaari will probably give some proposal by that time, which does not mean that it will be accepted by the end of the year, Samardzic added. He said that it will be difficult to reconcile all guidelines given by the Contact Group for the resolution of the status - that it guarantees regional stability, to be acceptable to the people of Kosovo and to preserve Kosovo-Metohija as a multi-ethnic society.We expect that Ahtisaari will draft a proposal and then negotiations will begin. I hope that that process will be conducted much more objectively than so far and that after Ahtisaari's mandate expires they will be conducted by someone else because Ahtisaari has not achieved any success in the negotiations, Samardzic pointed out.He concluded that it is not known when the talks will be continued and underlined that it is Belgrade's position that talks on decentralisation should be continued, as well as on other questions discussed so far.