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Future Status of Kosovo - Frank G. Wisner

Future Status of Kosovo

Ambassador Frank G. Wisner, U.S. Special Representative for Kosovo Status Talks
Press Availability with Kosovo President Fatmir Sejdiu
Kosovo Assembly Building
July 27, 2006


President Fatmir Sejdiu (translated from Albanian): We had an outstanding meeting with Ambassador Wisner and the new leader of the USOP, Ms. Tina Kaidanow, whom I salute on the occasion. We talked about all the latest developments in the negotiation process, and especially about the last meeting in Vienna. And it was a joint estimation that the meeting was very important. We have often discussed our position on the future status of Kosovo, of course, in the presence of the international community and in the presence of both delegations. I thanked the U.S. for their engagement, and especially Mr. Wisner and the USOP, who continually support our work speeding up the process and helping keep it on the right track. We also hope that 2006 will be the year when our aspirations will come true. In this aspect, we as Kosovo's representatives will fully engage to be as constructive as possible, and negotiate for the status that is in the best interests of the citizens of Kosovo.

Ambassador Frank Wisner: Mr. President, thank you very much and my appreciation as well to the members of the unity team for the reception you gave me this morning. I also would like to join you and express my admiration for you Mr. President and to the entire unity team for the conduct of the discussions in Vienna. I believe they were successful, it was an historic occasion, a moment in history has been passed and the Albanian side was frank, respectful and restrained. I also have noted to my friends in Belgrade that they behaved and conducted these talks in a dignified manner. Now the busy time lies ahead, Mr. President and I know that the United States and your team will work closely together with President Ahtisaari, who has our full support to put in place the remaining issues that have to be settled so that a final status agreement can be reached before the end of 2006. That remains the goal of the United States Mr. President, as I assured your colleagues on the Unity Team, the political leaders of Kosovo and of you Sir yourself. But I would be wrong if I did not also underscore the commitment of the United States to one of the guiding principles of the Contact Group of Nations, articulated at the beginning of the negotiations. And that is the principle of Kosovo as an integral community and area, the principle of no partition of Kosovo, no change in the properly understood borders. That principle was articulated and will continue to guide the work of the Contact Group in the weeks and months ahead. It is a principle that is both respected in international practice of law, and is a political principle important to all nations in this western Balkan area. It is a principle that deals directly with the capability to maintain stability and peace and therefore is precious to us. Mr. President, with those brief remarks I want to thank you again for you hospitality and I am pleased today to be joined by my colleague, the Chief of our Mission, Ms. Kaidanow and we will all be working together in the common effort in the time ahead. Thank you sir.

Question: In the negotiations in Vienna few days ago you saw the different position of both sides. Do you consider that, taking into consideration these positions of both sides, that an imposed solution is the best solution for Prisitna and Belgrade?

Ambassador Frank Wisner: I don't want to jump to a conclusion that is premature. I believe there is important work that is going to fall to your unity team here and to the Serbian negotiators to put in place a common vision -- a practical and realistic solution -- to the way forward for Kosovo. I believe that it is important to reach agreement on municipalities, on churches, on minority rights, on the economics, before we leap to conclusions that would answer your question. There are only weeks ahead of intensified negotiations. Reaching realistic solutions to those negotiations should be all of our top priority, and to get that work behind us before we start looking at the next step.

Question: Have the Kosovar negotiators received the messages that the Contact Group passed to them?

Ambassador Frank Wisner: I can only assure you that our dialogue with the Unity Team and with the political leadership is always extraordinarily effective. We had a very useful meeting this morning. We have gone over the next stage of negotiations. I believe that the Unity Team understands absolutely the imperatives of rapid negotiations and flexible positions on this side and I have no doubt that there will be good coordination and cooperation between the Contact Group and the Unity Team.

Question: Does the CG intend to have a solution for final status within this year?

Ambassador Frank Wisner: Mr. Ahtisaari, whom we all support, is running the negotiations and that effort will have to be defined by him. The timing of when his work will be completed lies in his hands, and the Contact Group will then together with the parties reflect on his conclusions.

Question: Do you really exclude the possibility of imposing a solution?

Ambassador Frank Wisner: I repeat what I said to the previous question. The job ahead of us today is to put in place the necessary elements of a final status package before we define the package. That means realistic solutions to the outstanding issues of municipalities, churches, minorities, of economics. Good solid negotiations go step by step, let's get the next step accomplished.

Question: In the last statement of the Contact Group you have asked for more flexibility. Can you elaborate in more detail what you meant by it?

I have, I believe, spoken yesterday to the Belgrade press. I did say to our friends in Serbia, you need flexibility. There are a lot of issues that have to be closed. Issues in the three/four areas I just mentioned in response to the previous question. And I am quite confident that both sides will approach the next round with a seriousness. The President and I have had an extremely good talk and I come away much reinforced in the confidence I traditionally had in our ability to work together. Thank you.

ENDS


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