Thursday, November 24, 2005

Serbian cabinet names Kosovo team

BELGRADE -- Thursday – The Serbian Government has formed its team of negotiators for the Kosovo status talks.

The team will be headed by Serbian President Boris Tadic, Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, and Serbia-Montenegro Foreign Affairs Minister Vuk Draskovic. Kostunica and Tadic will be the co-presidents of the team.

Other members of the delegation include Tadic's advisors Dusan Batkovic and Leon Kojen, Kostunica's advisors Aleksandar Simic and Slobodan Samardzic, Kosovo Coordination Centre President Sanda Raskovic-Ivic, and Kosovo Serb representatives Marko Jaksic and Goran Bogdanovic.

The team will have additional advisors, as well as four work groups.

Meanwhile, the UN special envoy for the negotiations, Martti Ahtisaari, has arrived in Belgrade where he will spend two days in talks with officials of Serbia and Serbia-Montenegro.

He is scheduled to meet Kostunica and federal Foreign Affairs Minister Vuk Draskovic today and President Boris Tadic tomorrow.

Speaking after a series of meetings in Pristina yesterday, Ahtisaari said that, at the beginning of his mission, he didn’t want to make any guesses about the outcome of the status talks, but added that he was against partitioning the province.

He also emphasised that the outcome is not up to him but to the UN Security Council.

“I’ve said clearly that I’m not making the decision. The secretary-general of the UN has a significant role and it is up to the UN Security Council to decide what the status will be,” he said.

During all his discussions in Pristina, Ahtisaari underlined that any kind of force in the negotiations process would be counterproductive and warned that individuals and groups would be excluded from the process if their activities were not productive.

He added that there was no time limit to the negotiations.

“I think that it is very important to grasp that the duration of the discussions depends on all sides and on how all parties cooperate in the negotiations. There’s no time limit, but I assure you that we shall advance as fast as we can,” he said, adding that it was too early to talk about when direct discussions between Belgrade and Pristina would begin.

After his two-day visit to Belgrade, Ahtisaari will visit Podgorica, Skopje and Tirana, after which he will next week visit some member countries of the Contact Group, whose members are the US, Russia, France, the UK, Germany and Italy. B92

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