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>> The Financial Times


KOSOVO LEADER PROPOSES DATE FOR INDEPENDENCE

The Financial Times - July 21, 2007 by Neil MacDonald Kosovo’s prime minister on Friday put pressure on the international community to end the deadlock over the province’s final status by proposing November 28 – an Albanian national holiday – as a date for declaring independence. Agim Ceku’s proposal follows the failure of western powers this week to overcome Russian objections at the United Nations Security Council to secure international agreement on the future of the province and comes ahead of the Kosovar leader’s visit to Washington on Monday. “The [UN] has failed to act”, he said. But he ruled out “unilateral” moves not co-ordinated with Washington and Brussels. Kosovo’s pro-independence ethnic Albanian negotiators – including Mr Ceku and Kosovo’s president, Fatmir Sejdiu – said they would present Condoleezza Rice, US secretary of state, with a “pragmatic platform” for resolving the deadlock over the status of the disputed province, from which Nato forced Serb forces to withdraw eight years ago. Mr Ceku proposed Albanian Flag Day, marking the independence of neighbouring Albania almost a century ago, as the date for the breakaway province to declare independence with backing from the US and the European Union. He said Kosovo’s parliament would discuss details of the declaration next week. The US and EU members of the Security Council on Friday shelved their latest draft UN resolution on Kosovo, following a pledge by Russia to veto any settlement not accepted by both sides. Moscow – upholding Serbian objections – has rejected three western-backed draft resolutions as plans to take away 15 per cent of Serbia’s territory. Even without a UN resolution to grant independence, the new entity would follow the plan laid down by Martti Ahtisaari, the UN envoy, to protect Serbs and other ethnic minorities, Mr Ceku told the Financial Times. Kosovo’s government would invite Nato’s peacekeeping troops to stay and ask the EU to implement a supervisory mission – as proposed by Mr Ahtisaari – over a four-month transition period to take the place of the UN protectorate. But doubts remain about the resolve of the EU to step into the role without a UN resolution.





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