Kosovo ready for direct talks with Serbia: FM

Kosovo Foreign Minister Skender Hyseni made it clear that Kosovo's status as a sovereign country was not up for negotiation.

Kosovo ready for direct talks with Serbia: FM
Kosovo's foreign minister said on Friday he was ready for direct talks with Serbia, but his Serbian counterpart said Belgrade would not talk with a "secessionist" government.

Kosovo, which has an ethnic Albanian majority, declared independence from Belgrade in February. Some 43 countries, mostly Western, have recognized Europe's youngest state, although Serbia and its ally Russia say they never will.

"Pristina is ready to engage in practical talks with Belgrade on a wide range of issues," Kosovo Foreign Minister Skender Hyseni told reporters after addressing the U.N. Security Council. "We are ready to talk directly to Belgrade."

But he made it clear that Kosovo's status as a sovereign country was not up for negotiation.

"Independence of Kosovo is not negotiable and it can never be negotiated again. That is over. That is history."

His Serbian counterpart, Vuk Jeremic, reiterated to the 15-nation council that Belgrade was open to compromises but did not want U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to press ahead with a plan to hand over police authority in Kosovo to the European Union, as spelled out in Ban's latest report to the council.

Jeremic told reporters that Belgrade would not talk with Pristina, although it could discuss Kosovo with Ban, his special envoy to Kosovo, Lamberto Zannier, and other U.N. officials.

"We are not prepared to engage in discussions with the secessionist provisional authorities of Kosovo," he said.

Zannier told the council the United Nations had been marginalized in most of Kosovo as the country's authorities had taken over virtually all administrative duties from the U.N. mission there, known as UNMIK.

"While I and my staff continue to monitor the work of Kosovo authorities and to mediate and facilitate in disputes between communities, my power to impose solutions has in practice disappeared," Zannier said.

Reuters
Last Mod: 26 Temmuz 2008, 13:35
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