Friday, February 5, 2010

OSCE debates situation in Kosovo

VIENNA -- The OSCE Mission in Kosovo intends to monitor the influence that the KFOR reduction is going to have on Kosovo communities.

This is according to Head of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo Werner Almhofer, who spoke id in Vienna on Thursday.

Submitting his six-month report on the Mission's activities to the OSCE Permanent Council, Almhofer pointed out that there are tensions in the north of Kosovo, and that the situation is relatively stable, but fragile.

Almhofer underscored the Mission's neutral approach in terms of Kosovo's status and mentioned the last elections in Kosovo, saying that the percentage of Serbs south of the Ibar river who voted in the elections was better compared to the north of the river, where the number of Serbs who voted was negligible.

Serbian Permanent Representative to the OSCE Miroslava Beham requested that the work of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo be neutral in terms of Kosovo's status and based on the UN Security Council Resolution 1244, which has to be fulfilled, because the situation in Kosovo is still not good.

Beham stressed Serbia's constructive approach to improving the situation out in the field.

Beham also expressed Serbia's willingness to invite the Kosovo Albanians to negotiate after the International Court of Justice reaches its decision on the legality of Kosovo's independence declaration, adding that the negotiations would be in the spirit of those conducted as part of the Corfu Process.

She called on the OSCE Mission to continue observing the situation in the field and report on it and to focus even more on the rights of the ethnic non-Albanians and on protecting cultural and religious heritage.

Speaking about decentralization, Beham noted that Serbia is willing to take part in the process if there is an agreement about an alternative model, whose implementation could be monitored by a status neutral agency, like the OSCE.

The UNITED STATES praised the November local elections in Kosovo, speaking about record numbers of Serb voters south of the Ibar. The U.S. diplomatic representative asked for the OSCE Mission to focus on strengthening Kosovo's institutions.

RUSSIA, on the other hand, reiterated its view that there is no alternative to the key role that the UN, its Security Council and Resolution 1244 have in Kosovo, adding that the situation in that territory is fragile.

Russia also commented on International Civilian Representative for Kosovo Pieter Feith's plan for northern Kosovo, stating that it has no legal basis, and that it could lead to new conflicts.

Moscow is in favor of negotiations between Belgrade and Priština without any outside interference, its representative said

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