Wednesday, May 18, 2005

US Unveils New Diplomatic Initiative for Kosovo

Washington- A U.S. official has testified that the Bush administration is embarking on a new diplomatic drive to resolve the final status of Serbia's province of Kosovo[Kosova], which remains under U.N. administration. Remarks by U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns came in a congressional hearing Wednesday.

Kosovo[Kosova] has been in a state of suspension for six years as the United States and European Union considered its future, and 17,500 NATO soldiers preserved a fragile peace under United Nations mandate.

U.N. Security Council Resolution 12-44 in 1999 directed that Kosovo's final status should be worked out through negotiations.

Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns says the administration now considers it vital that the question of whether Kosovo becomes independent, a province of Serbia and Montenegro, or is partitioned be resolved.

"The status quo of Kosovo's undefined status is no longer sustainable, desirable or acceptable," he said. "It doesn't satisfy any of the parties or any of the people of the region, and it does leave open the possibility of renewed ethnic violence. And we believe that failure to address Kosovo's status in the near term risks undoing much of what we have achieved in the Balkans over the last 10 years."

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is sending Mr. Burns back to the region early next month.

He says the United States supports a process in which U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan will appoint a Norwegian diplomat to assess Kosovo's readiness for final status talks, after which senior U.S. and European negotiators would take over.

Some lawmakers who have criticized what they called Bush administration foot-dragging on Kosovo[Kosova] don't see a need for these steps.

"What's to negotiate, what's to determine? The people of Kosovo have a right to determine their own future through the ballot box just as every other group of people in this world," said Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, who is a California Republican on the committee. "There is nothing to determine there. Either we are Americans and we believe that or we don't."

Former Clinton administration diplomat Richard Holbrooke, a key figure in the Dayton accords that ended the war in Bosnia, warned in a commentary last month that Kosovo was inherently unstable, and that NATO troops would be there indefinitely unless there was an acceleration of efforts for a final-status accord.

Mr. Holbrooke predicts that Kosovo, and eventually also Montenegro, will become independent from Serbia, but that under such a scenario Serbia would have a bright future as a European Union member along with the other parts of the former Yugoslavia.

The Washington Post said the Bush administration will combine its diplomatic push on Kosovo with a warning to Serbia that a normal relationship with the United States and NATO depends on the capture of former Bosnian-Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic.

They are the most prominent indicted Balkans war crimes figures still at large.
VOA & PolitInfo.

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