Slovenian President angers Serbia over Kosovo plan


The UN Security Council has given the go-ahead for talks to begin soon on the final status of Kosovo. The Balkan province with a majority ethnic Albanian population has been run by the United Nations since 1999. Kosovo Albanians overwhelmingly want independence but Belgrade is determined they will remain part of Serbia. Last week a nine-point plan for Kosovo was put forward by Slovenia's President Janez Drnovsek and it provoked some strong reactions in Serbia-Montenegro. According to this plan Kosovo could be independent within five years, if certain democratic standards are met.

The Slovenian President stresses that independence is the only realistic option for Kosovo, provided that certain conditions are fulfilled, adding that, too much time has already been wasted over the status of Kosovo. In his plan, Kosovo can become independent if the Serbian minority is given appropriate security guarantees, if it gets appropriate autonomy in Kosovo institutions, and if Serbian cultural and historical landmarks in the province are protected. The plan also says that Serbs would get permanent representation in parliament and government.

But a reaction followed promptly. The President of Serbia-Montenegro Svetozar Marovic cancelled a planned visit by Drnovsek in November because of the statement on Kosovo's independence. Slovenia's president said he expected harsh reactions to his proposal, yet he defended his plan:

"The plan is good, well deliberated and to the benefit of both sides. Serbia as well as Kosovo."

Cristina Gallach, the spokesperson for EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, said the plan is not a stance of the EU. The EU stance is not about the outcome, but rather about the start of talks. Slovenia's president defends his plan for Kosovo status talks, as he believes that pushing the problem aside would not benefit anyone and he commented on the harsh reactions:

President Janez Drnovsek's proposal to settle the status of Kosovo is neither especially innovative nor creative, former top Slovenian UN official Dr. Danilo Turk told TV Slovenija, adding the proposal is a sum of various ideas which have already been discretely discussed earlier. A challenge for the envoy of the UN secretary general in charge of the Kosovo talks will be in conducting them so that both sides come to a point where they are able to accept common solutions, Kosovo status talks are expected to start soon, as the UN Security Council has given the green light for the start of negotiations.