Fischer calls for consensus on Kosovo's status

7th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

7 April 2005, PRISTINA - German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer on Wednesday said the international community has to reach a consensus on Kosovo's final status as the UN-administrated province approaches the start of talks designed to break six years of political limbo.

7 April 2005

PRISTINA - German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer on Wednesday said the international community has to reach a consensus on Kosovo's final status as the UN-administrated province approaches the start of talks designed to break six years of political limbo.

Speaking with reporters in Pristina after a meeting with Kosovan president Ibrahim Rugova, Fischer did not comment on the possible outcome of talks, loosely scheduled for late summer.

The German government earlier said there should be no return to the situation prior to 1999, nor unconditional independence for the province".

Rugova insisted that full and unconditional independence for Kosovo must be recognised by both the European Union and the United States as the only path towards lasting stability in the Balkans.

Fischer's visit is widely seen as part of an international initiative to bring the positions of bitterly opposed local ethnic Albanians and ethnic Serbs closer, ahead of late summer's final talks.

His initial schedule was somewhat changed due to mechanical difficulties with an aeroplane in neighbouring Albania. Fischer wound up being flown by helicopter to the southern Kosovan town of Prizren to meet the 3,600-strong German contingent.

Afterwards, Fischer held a series of talks with international and local officials, including Kosovo prime minister Bajram Kosumi, deputy chief of the UN mission Larry Rossin and representatives of the Serb minority.

His visit comes as the international community braces for the final review on the implementation of 61 democratic standards and minority rights, described as a crucial element for Serbs and Albanians to embrace in negotiations which would eventually lead to the final status of the province.

The talks on the political status of Kosovo are due to open in the latter half of the year. The province is still nominally under Serbia's sovereignty, but the majority ethnic Albanian population wants full and swift independence.

Described by Western officials as one of the world's top political issues in 2005, Kosovo's status is expected to be addressed through direct talks between Belgrade and Pristina in September.

The first ever direct talks between the two bitterly opposed sides were held in Vienna in late 2003, but the dialogue was halted after two days of ethnic Albanian rioting in Kosovo in March last year.

DPA

Subject: German news

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