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United States Supports U.N. Report Endorsing Independent Kosovo

26 March 2007

Recommendations include international supervision, protection of minorities

Washington -- The United States and the European Union support a U.N. mediator’s proposal to grant Kosovo independence from Serbia, but keep the province under international supervision until a multiethnic democracy is established.

“I have come to the conclusion that the only viable option for Kosovo is independence, supervised for an initial period by the international community,” U.N. special envoy Martti Ahtisaari said in a report released March 26 and endorsed by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Ban forwarded a nine-page report and 61-page accompanying proposal to the U.N. Security Council.

Ahtisaari said that independence is the only option for political and economic stability. The former Finish president spent 14 months negotiating with Serbian and Kosovo officials on the future status of Kosovo, a province of Serbia that has been administered by the United Nations since 1999.

“We are grateful to President Ahtisaari for his patient, skillful and balanced work leading the Kosovo status process,” State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey said March 26.  “The United States welcomes and supports his recommendations.”

Speaking in Brussels, Belgium, on March 26, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs R. Nicholas Burns affirmed U.S. support for “supervised independence” and said he expected the U.N. Security Council to act on Ahtisaari’s recommendation in the next one to two months, according to press reports. Javier Solana, the European Union’s senior foreign policy representative, also expressed support for the Ahtisaari proposal.

“The Kosovo status process is entering its final and decisive phase,” Casey said in his announcement. “As the U.N. Security Council prepares to review President Ahtisaari’s recommendations, we will be engaged in full and intensive consultations with our Security Council partners and the parties.”

Serbia strongly opposes independence for Kosovo, which is the historic and cultural homeland of the Serb people, even though 90 percent of Kosovo’s residents are now ethnic Albanians. Russia, which holds veto power on the U.N. Security Council, has voiced concern over any settlement that is not agreed to by both the governments in Serbia and Kosovo. U.N. Security Council member China has been silent on the issue.

In his report, Ahtisaari said his team “made every effort to facilitate an outcome that would be acceptable to both sides. … It is my firm view that the negotiations’ potential to produce any mutually agreeable outcome on Kosovo’s status is exhausted. No amount of additional talks, whatever the format, will overcome this impasse.”

According to the U.N. report, highlights of the Kosovo proposal include:

• Kosovo would be a multiethnic society, governing itself democratically, with respect for the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, and promoting peace and prosperity for all its inhabitants.

• The above principles would be enshrined in a new constitution.

• Albanian and Serbian would be the official languages of Kosovo. Turkish, Bosnian and Roma languages would be official languages at the municipal level.

• All peoples, communities, culture, language, education and cultural symbols in Kosovo would be protected and promoted. In addition, minority communities would have a high degree of decentralized powers to govern their own municipalities.

• The Kosovo Constitution would create an Assembly of Kosovo with 120 members elected by secret ballot. In the assembly, 20 seats would be reserved for minority communities – 10 seats for the Kosovo Serb community; one seat for the Ashkali community; one seat for the Egyptian community; one seat for the Roma community; one additional seat for the Ashkali, Egyptian or Roma communities depending on the highest overall vote; three seats for the Bosniak community; two seats for the Turkish community; and one seat for the Gorani community. In addition to these 20 reserved seats, minority candidates could gain additional seats through the regular election process.

• The Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo would be safeguarded. Protective zones would surround more than 40 religious and cultural sites, and NATO military forces would provide additional security at these sites until a multiethnic Kosovo police force demonstrated its ability to protect the sites.

• The Kosovo police force would have a unified chain of command throughout Kosovo, with local police officers reflecting the ethnic composition of the municipality in which they serve.

• A multiethnic Kosovo security force would be established with 2,500 active members and 800 reserve members.

• An international civilian representative (ICR) would be appointed by the European Union with authority over the implementation of the Kosovo settlement. The ICR would have the authority to annul laws or dismiss public officials to uphold the Kosovo settlement.

• A European security and defense policy mission would monitor, mentor and advise on the rule of law.

• The NATO-led Kosovo force would continue to provide a safe and secure environment.

See also "Draft U.N. Plan Would Protect Minority Groups in Kosovo," "U.S. Believes an Independent Kosovo Would Not Set Precedent" and "Resolving Kosovo Status Offers Region Path to Europe, U.S. Says."

The full text of Casey’s statement is available on the State Department Web site.

For more information on U.S. policies in the region, see Southeast Europe.

(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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