Friday, January 19, 2007

Way to independence

AP Interview: Kosovo's president counts on U.N. plan to pave way to independence
The Associated Press

Published: January 19, 2007


Kosovo's president Fatmir Sejdiu speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Kosovo capital Pristina on Friday, Jan. 19, 2007. Kosovo's president said Friday that the upcoming U.N proposal for the future of Kosovo will pave the way to Kosovo's independence.(AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

PRISTINA, Serbia: Kosovo's president said Friday he was counting on a U.N. proposal for resolving the province's disputed status to pave a way for its independence from Serbia.

The proposal, to be presented within weeks, should offer "direct help in the process of defining Kosovo's final status, President Fatmir Sejdiu told The Associated Press in an interview at his office in the provincial capital, Pristina.

"We insist ... this package provide a clear formula for Kosovo's future, considering that Kosovo's people have no other determination but the determination for independence," Sejdiu said.

U.N. envoy Martti Ahtisaari — who mediated yearlong talks between Serb leaders and representatives of Kosovo's majority ethnic Albanian population — is expected to make his proposal on the province's future shortly after Sunday's parliamentary elections in Serbia.

The talks touched on issues of minority rights, security and community representation, but failed to resolve Kosovo's status, as leaders in Belgrade insisted the province be given autonomy but remain within Serb borders.

Kosovo has been administered by the U.N. since 1999, when a NATO air war halted a Serb crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists.

EU diplomats in Brussels and other officials in Kosovo said they expected Ahtisaari, a former Finnish president, to recommend limited sovereignty for Kosovo, eventually leading to full independence.

The plan also is expected to call for continued supervision by international presence with executive and corrective powers over laws and government decisions. NATO is set to keep troops in Kosovo for several years.

Ahtisaari's proposal must go to the U.N. Security Council for approval.

Sejdiu said it was expected to lead to a new U.N. resolution that would "open the main gate leading to recognition of Kosovo as an independent state."

Ethnic Albanian leaders have said a continued international presence is necessary after Kosovo's status is resolved.

"This brings a new concept on the issue of sovereignty in this phase of development," Sejdiu said. "In this period, Kosovo wants this international help."

AP Interview: Kosovo's president counts on U.N. plan to pave way to independence - International Herald Tribune

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