In an Orthodox Christmas message on January 7, Patriarch Pavle, the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, urged Kosovar Serbs to remain in the province, AKI reported the same day. Pavle asked Serbs in Kosovo to "hold out to the end." He also sharply criticized those pushing for the province's independence. "The day will come when the tyrants will be ashamed. We pray for our enemies to realize that doing evil things can bring good to no one," Pavle said. "They should be aware that after all the humiliating defeats they impose on others, they will ultimately defeat themselves by hopelessness."
SERBIAN PREMIER CALLS ON CITIZENS TO DEFEND KOSOVO
In an appeal published on January 6, Vojislav Kostunica called on Serbs to defend Kosovo and vowed that Belgrade will "not hand over" the separatist province, dpa reported the same day. "Citizens of Serbia, no one can be between two minds with regard to Kosovo," Kostunica wrote in a two-page advertisement published in the Belgrade daily "Politika." "As long as Serbia exists, Kosovo, the first letter in the spiritual alphabet of the Serbian people, will be a part of Serbia," he added. "We must defend Kosovo together, every citizen, all the people. Otherwise, we will lose not only Kosovo, but also Serbia and its identity." Kostunica also wrote that demanding Serbia give up 15 percent of its territory is "unacceptable and impossible."
SERBIAN PRESIDENT SEEKS FURTHER EXTENSION ON KOSOVO PROPOSAL BUT UN REFUSES
Boris Tadic appealed to UN envoy Martti Ahtisaari on January 5 to postpone a final-status proposal for Kosovo until a new Serbian government is formed after parliamentary elections on January 21, AP reported the same day. Tadic said the proposal Ahtisaari is expected to unveil after the elections "may not be very favorable for the Serbian side." Press reports citing unidentified officials say Ahtisaari will propose a form of "supervised independence" for the province (see "RFE/RL Newsline," January 5, 2007). "Therefore, it would be much better if the proposal comes after a new government is formed," possibly a few weeks after the ballot, Tadic said. He added that the proposal could "complicate in every sense" efforts to form a democratic Serbian government. Ahtisaari's spokesman, Remi Durlot, said there will be no further delays and the proposal will be unveiled "immediately after" the January 21 elections. "We are in the final stage" of putting it together, Durlot said.
MACEDONIAN PRESIDENT VOWS TO PRESERVE COUNTRY'S NAME
Branko Crvenkovski said on January 5 that Skopje will insist on its right to use Macedonia as the country's official name, Makfax reported the same day. "We will remain steadfast on our position that the constitutional name of our country has to be applied in both domestic and foreign use," he said. Greece opposes Macedonia's use of the name, which Athens says implies territorial claims on the northern Greek province of the same name. Greece has warned it might block Skopje's NATO and the EU bids unless the dispute is resolved, AP reported on January 5. Crvenkovski said it is unlikely that Skopje and Athens will resolve the conflict this year. "The maneuvering space that would enable finding a mutually acceptable solution is rather narrow," he said. He added that if Greece blocked Macedonia's NATO or EU bids over the issue, "that would constitute violation of the  interim agreement, which actually serves as a basis for the ongoing negotiations."
ALBANIAN ELECTION CHIEF SAYS POLITICS DELAYED LOCAL POLLS
Albania's election commission chief, Clirim Gjata, said on January 6 that political infighting have caused local elections to be postponed, AP reported the same day. The elections, considered to be a test of Albania's democratic reforms, were scheduled for January 20. The governing coalition and opposition have agreed in principle to postpone them until February, but the decision has yet to be approved by parliament. "I am ringing the alarm bell," Gjata said. "We cannot hold elections on January 20 under these conditions. Everything remains in the hands of politics, parliament, and the president to reach a solution." Opposition parties decided on December 11 to boycott the January 20 local elections, claiming that the governing coalition, led by Sali Berisha's Democratic Party, is preparing to engage in fraud (see "RFE/RL Newsline," December 14, 2006). A January 5 report by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said that local elections are in jeopardy due to a lack of political will in pushing through electoral reform, AP reported. BW