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“Neutral status” proposal for Kosovo unpopular with Belgrade, Pristina

The contact group Troika’s “neutral status” proposal for Kosovo proved unpopular with both Belgrade and Pristina, as the former deemed the province as an indivisible part of its territory while the latter wants nothing less than independence.

Serbian Minister for Kosovo and Metohija Slobodan Samardzic warned Wednesday that the province could not have neutral status as far as Serbia was concerned, because it was an integral and inalienable part of its territory, while Kosovo President Fatmir Sejdiu said that any status proposal that did not envisage Kosovo’s independence was unacceptable for Pristina.

The EU representative in the Troika Wolfgang Ischinger told reporters in Washington that the Troika would present a proposal on “neutral status” for Kosovo at the next round of talks in Brussels, with the aim to “normalize relations between Serbia and Kosovo, without containing a single word on status”. “Ischinger’s idea about a neutral status for Kosovo is based on a 1972 agreement between two independent German states and this idea is directly contrary to UN Security Council Resolution 1244,” said Samardzic in an interview with the official Tanjug news agency. Sejdiu said that Pristina’s stand was well-known, “we do not accept any other solution except Kosovo’s independence.” Kosovo, which legally remains a Serbian province, has been under UN administration since 1999. The predominantly Albanians of the 2 million population demand outright independence instead of maximum autonomy offered by Serbia.

Fresh negotiations are continuing under the aegis of the troika of EU, US and Russian envoys, but have so far showed little sign of breaking the deadlock. The troika will report on Dec. 10 to the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon about the latest talks. (