Sun Feb 4th, 2007 at 06:33:16 AM EST
Serbia condemns Kosovo plan
UN envoy, Martti Ahtisaari, proposed the Kosovo breakaway plan. (Getty)
The United Nations has unveiled its long-awaited plan for Kosovo, raising hopes of independence among ethnic Albanians but drawing condemnation from Serbia.
UN envoy Martti Ahtisaari's plan for the southern Serbian province, which has been under UN administration for almost eight years, avoided the word "independence" while promising a multi-ethnic, self governing democracy.
Serbian President Boris Tadic slammed it as a de facto grant of independence, while Kosovo President Fatmir Sejdiu welcomed it for the same reason.
The plan said Kosovo would be a self-governing, multi-ethnic democracy with full respect for the rule of law and human rights.
"Kosovo shall be a multi-ethnic society, governing itself democratically and with full respect for the rule of law," said the envoy's proposal.
It also stressed conformity with "the highest level of internationally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms ... which promotes the peaceful and prosperous existence of all its inhabitants."
The plan called for Kosovo to be allowed its "own, distinct, national symbols, including a flag, seal and anthem."
Tadic bluntly rejected the UN's vision for the disputed province, seen as the cradle of Serbian culture and religion and a lightning rod of nationalist sentiment in the former Yugoslav republic.
"Ahtisaari's plan paves the way for the independence of Kosovo. I told Mr Ahtisaari that neither Serbia nor I, as its president, will ever accept the independence of Kosovo," he said.
Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica refused to even meet Ahtissari when he presented his plan in Belgrade.
"Martti Ahtisaari has had no mandate to deal with the state status of Serbia and to encroach on its sovereignty and territorial integrity," Kostunica said.
But Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority welcomed the plan as a major step toward realising their dream of an independent state.
President Sejdiu said his negotiation team was "deeply convinced" that the proposal would end with the independent state demanded by the province's majority community.
Diplomats and independent observers were also united in their conviction that Kosovo was on the road to full statehoood, regardless of Belgrade's strident opposition.
Observers believe the word "independence" was intentionally omitted to encourage new negotiations between the Serbian and Kosovo Albanian leadership.
This was expected to give the West more time to convince Serbia and its traditional Slav ally Russia of the merits of the settlement, particularly the rights it offers to Kosovo's estimated 100,000 Serbs, about 10 percent of the territory's population.
The tiny, landlocked province has been run by a UN mission (UNMIK) since the end of a 1998-1999 war between Serbian security forces and ethnic Albanian separatist guerillas.
The conflict was ended by a 78-day NATO bombing campaign which led to an ongoing peacekeeping mission. The two main ethnic communities remain bitterly divided, with most Serbs living in isolated enclaves.
Tensions most recently came to a head in March, 2004 when ethnic Albanian mobs rampaged through Serb enclaves, forcing thousands to flee their homes and razing historic Serbian Orthodox churches.
In Belgrade, Ahtisaari refused to discuss the issue of independence and urged both sides to return to the negotiating table.
He said there was still room for further compromise before he submitted his final proposal to the UN Security Council next month.
After Belgrade, Ahtisaari arrived in Pristina where security was tight amid fears that details of his proposal could spark inter-ethnic clashes.
Ahtisaari told reporters there that he was "not terribly optimistic" about the chances of a compromise being reached through talks, which he hoped would take place in Vienna from February 13.
"I will be very clear on the final status when I submit the proposal to the Security Council. There will be a clear definition of a status," he told reporters.
The United States welcomed the "fair and balanced" proposals put forward in the Ahtisaari plan, while the EU urged political leaders on both sides of the ethnic divide to give dialogue another chance.
"It is a blueprint for a stable, prosperous and multi-ethnic Kosovo," US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.
The German presidency of the EU said it "firmly supports" Ahtisaari's intention of holding additional talks and urged both sides to approach them "in a serious manner and without reservations."
The final proposal is expected to reach the UN Security Council after being submitted to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, possibly by the end of March.
As I previously said there will be no one in Serbia to sign "agreement" (this word really makes me laugh) on giving up Kosovo.
I am really curious if anybody in EU really thought that you can FORCE Serbs to simply give up on Kosovo. Obviously Americans think they can force anybody to do what ever they want but it lately looks like their fantasy ALL OVER THE WORLD.
What do you think will happen now?
Do you think Russians will come up with veto on Ahtisaari's list of USA wishes when it comes to UN? To be honest I don't think so. I never ever put too much hope on the Russian card. UN as such is USA service anyway and when it from time to time fails to give instant support to USA it is simply ignored. For the real situation on the field UN proclaimed "independence" really does not mean much. We all know what real independence means. Kosovo is occupied Serbian territory and will continue to be just that for decades...Even when NATO is not going to need military bases there but will have to have military presence to support "independence" that they proclaimed.
How do you think Serbia will be punished (yet and) in addition to punishment it had to endure for almost two decades now?
When do you think someone will come with anything that even remotely looks like a solution for Balkan ex-YU countries? Something like more fair redefinition of all borders in this area?
What difference do you think will make internationally this proclamation of Kosovo "independence"? Do you agree for your country to recognize Kosovo as independent state?
If you agree what your arguments are for not allowing Serbs and Croats too to break from Muslims in Bosnia and make their independent state and would you support their peaceful move toward independence (referendum , proclamation of independence etc.)?