Slovaks divide over future of Kosovo

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On Wednesday Serbia's parliament overwhelmingly rejected a United Nations proposal on the future status of Kosovo. Under the plan drafted by UN special envoy Martti Ahtisaari, Kosovo will get some delf-rule but not full independence. Further talks between Serbs and Kosovars would be held later this month but the Ahtisaari plan has already stirred the political scene in Slovakia with state officials unable to issue a common stance. As a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, Slovakia is one of the countries that will vote on the Kosovo issue. Anca Dragu reports.

The ink had hardly dried on the paper of Ahtisaari's plan when the Slovak politicians began quarreling on Slovakia's stance to the future status of Kosovo. Former Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda and his party were quick to issue a draft statement.

"Slovakia's position should be clear. We do not not support the creation of an independent Kosovo against the will of Serbia. The resolution also calls for a European future for Serbia. The EU should play an important role in the realization of Kosovo's status" said Dzurinda

His party, the largest of the current opposition, sugested that the Slovak Parliament should adopt a resolution asking the government to lobby against an independent Kosovo. The Slovak National Party a member of the current ruling coalition has drafted its own resolution that also rejects Kosovo's independence but for different reasons that involve the past rather than the future. Its leader Jan Slota explains:

"It is unacceptable for us that any ethnic minority can carve out a piece of land from any country. We can't create two Albanias. Remember that historically Kosovo is a part of Serbia. It is the place where Christian Serbs fought against Turks and tried to defend Christianity in Europe, said Slota who did not forget to add his worries that ethnic Hungarians in Slovakia might try to do the same."

Actually the coalition of ethnic Hungarian parties in Slovakia is the only Parliamentary political organisation that fully supports Ahtisaari's plan. It announced it will submit its own proposal concerning the situation in Kosovo, provided that the Slovak Parliament will deal with this issue. The avalanche of drafts gave a headache to the Minister of Foreign Affairs Jan Kubis.

"There will still be a few rounds of negotiations at the international level on this topic, nothing is 100 percent agreed in diplomacy. I have been trying, however, to explain to Slovak MPs that since 1999 the debate surrounding the future of Kosovo has converged towards the conclusion that sooner or later Kosovo will be independent from Serbia, said Kubis adding that he read the two draft resolutions proposed by Slovak parties but doesn't want to publicly comment on them as yet."

All actors involved quickly ran to present their stances to the Slovak President Ivan Gasparovic.

"I am sure that the Serbs have some solutions too and offered some of them to the international community. Therefore I think the negotiations will go on and it is too early for Slovakia to present a clear official stance on the future of Kosovo. "

President Gasparovic has been one of the Slovak officials who have always praised good relations with the countries of the former Yugoslavia. There are about 60,000 ethnic Slovaks living in nothern Serbia and many refugees from the Bosnian war were granted asylum in Slovakia. Political analyst Alexander Duleba says that the current flood of statements concerning Kosovo shows a lack of a clear strategy in Slovakia's foreign policy.

"There is a lack of coordination between representatives of the Slovak state. It's enough to remember the visit of [ acting Serb Prime Minister Vojislav ] Kostunica to Slovakia several weeks ago, he got three different messages, one from President Gasaprovic, one from Prime Minister Robert Fico and another one from the Foreign Minister [Jan Kubis]."

Talks between Serbs and Kosovars will take place in Vienna on February the 21st.