Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Rogova rejects talks with Belgrade

BELGRADE-Serbian President Boris Tadic will invite Rugova to Belgrade this week for what would be "the start of direct political dialogue," his press office said in a statement to The Associated Press.

The announcement was made after talks in Belgrade with the so-called "Contact Group," which includes envoys from the United States, the European Union, Russia, France, Italy, Germany and Britain. The international envoys discussed future solutions for the troubled province.

According to German Contact Group official Michael Schaeffer, officials in Belgrade are ready for dialogue with the government in Pristina, adding that Belgrade will support the participation of Kosovo Serbs in work groups for decentralization and encourage them to include themselves in other work groups, and eventually, in Kosovo institutions.

“It seems that the two sides have agreed upon two things; that the can be no return to the situation of 1999 and that there will be no division of Kosovo. That means that things have started to move towards a compromise.” Schaeffer said.

No negotiations regarding the status of Kosovo

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Kosovo's President, Ibrahim Rugova, said he would reject the invitation.

"There can be no direct political talks with Belgrade," Muhamet Hamiti, a spokesman for Rugova, told the Associated Press in the Kosovo capital of Pristina. "The bilateral meetings between the leaders of Kosovo and Serbia ... can happen only after Kosovo's independence is recognized."

“If, eventually, there is an International meeting to bring a closure to the Independence of Kosovo, the neighboring countries can take place, but they will not have a veto. Bilateral negotiations between Kosovo and Serbian officials for technical issues[that are related to the war of 1999) will be discussed after Independence”

Serbs consider Kosovo an integral part of their nation and the birthplace of their statehood, but the province's ethnic Albanian majority wants complete independence.Kosovo is 90% Albanian and 10% Serb and other minorities.

Kosovo has been an international protectorate administered by the United Nations and a NATO-led peacekeeping force since 1999, when a NATO air war halted a Serb crackdown on ethnic-Albanian separatists.

Belgrade said Monday it was prepared to accept a "compromise solution" for its future status but stood firmly against independence for the territory.


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