Kosovo plan delivered to Contact Group
UN envoy Martti Ahtisaari formally delivered details Friday of a plan for the Serbian breakaway province of Kosovo to the so called Contact Group consisting of Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and the United States. The plans have not yet been made public but the general drift is likely to be towards increasing independence with Kosovo having the right to apply for membership in international institutions such as the IMF, the World Bank and even the United Nations itself. (Expected details of the plan are posted below) Friday's developments come at the end of a week in which Serbia's parliamentary elections opened up the prospect for a pro-Western coalition government despite a strong showing from hardline nationalists.
Early reports from the Contact Group meeting, which took place in Vienna, suggest that the five western powers are anxious to press for quick implementation of the plan while Russia is asking for more time to consider it. This was predictable since Russia is deeply concerned that an independent Kosovo would serve as a dangerous precedent for break away regions inside the Russian Federation such as Chechnya. The UN Security Council must approve the plan which will be presented to both sides -- Serbia and Kosovo -- on February 2. If Russia's concerns are not met, Moscow could veto the plan leaving Kosovo in a state of limbo.
Some key elements of the plan for Kosovo, according to Reuters: It gives Kosovo the right to enter into international agreements and apply for membership of international organisations and institutions, potentially including the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. It provides for a right to"dual-citizenship" and urges Pristina to establish good relations with Serbia and other neighbours. Kosovo will take on its share of economic assets, and debts, that once belonged to the former Yugoslavia and Serbia. To give Kosovo's 100,000 remaining Serbs broad self-government, considerable control over the running of local police, and the right to certain direct links with Belgrade. Serbia will be able to finance Serb areas, provided the money goes through Pristina. Protection zones will be thrown around the most valuable of scores of centuries-old Serb Orthodox religious sites. NATO will keep troop levels unchanged at 16,500 into 2008. The plan, fruit of more than a year of shuttle diplomacy and direct Serb-Albanian talks, needs a new U.N. resolution to take effect. Ahtisaari needed to secure the approval of the Contact Group -- the United States, Britain, France, Italy, Germany and Russia, before making his plan public.
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