15 November 2006

Ahtisaari Should Resign

Ahtisaari not objective, should resign, ruling party
November 13, 2006 11:10 AM
BELGRADE, Serbia-Serbia's ruling party said Monday the U.N. special envoy for Kosovo talks, Martti Ahtisaari, is not objective and should resign.
"With his way of handling the negotiations, Ahtisaari has hit a dead end," said Andreja Mladenovic, spokesman for the Democratic Party of Serbia. "He should leave the talks to someone impartial and objective so that a solution for Kosovo can be reached, a solution acceptable to both sides."
Kosovo, still officially a province of Serbia, has been under U.N. administration and NATO protection since a 1999 alliance airwar halted a Serb crackdown on ethnic Albanian rebels seeking independence.
The province's future is being negotiated in talks led by the United Nations with Ahtisaari mediating between Belgrade and Kosovo's majority ethnic Albanian leaders, with little success.
The province's ethnic Albanians insist on full independence while Serbia and Kosovo's minority Serbs want Belgrade to retain control over Kosovo.
Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica and his party have often criticized Ahtisaari, claiming he favors independence for the ethnically divided province.
Ahtisaari announced last week that he would delay presenting his proposal for Kosovo's future until after Serbia's Jan. 21 elections. The move indicated Ahtisaari might prefer to see a stable Serbian government in place before making his recommendations on Kosovo.
But the announcement prompted Kostunica to say that elections in Serbia were not Ahtisaari's concern and that any future Serbian government must abide by the newly adopted constitution, which states that Kosovo is an inalienable part of Serbia.
Mladenovic said his party believes "Ahtisaari crafted a secret plan with Pristina behind Belgrade's back ... to have Kosovo become independent" but met with "resistance from Russia," one of the six-nation Contact Group team working with Ahtisaari in the Kosovo talks. Mladenovic did not substantiate the claim.
The so-called Contact Group comprises the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and Italy. Western powers and Russia have endorsed the U.N. brokered talks to begin almost a year ago.
Serbia perceives the United States as supportive of the Kosovo ethnic Albanian bid for independence. Kostunica repeatedly has said he is counting on Serbia's traditional ally, Russia, to block possible Kosovo independence at the U.N. Security Council where it holds veto power.