20th Oct 2019

Kosovo paper aired at foreign ministers meeting

  • Ms Ferrero-Waldner does "not rule out a European future for Kosovo" (Photo: European Commission)

An informal paper looking at how to solve the crisis in Kosovo was raised at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday (9 July).

The paper, which was worked out by Austria and its regional partners (Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Hungary), is "food for thought", according to Austrian foreign minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner.

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Ms Ferrero-Waldner and her Slovak and Slovene colleagues mentioned the paper at the meeting on Monday - however it was not formally discussed by foreign ministers.

However, sources say that the paper may be discussed at the next informal meeting of foreign ministers.

Under the plans, which the Austrian foreign minister said had been "well received" in the region, the Kosovo government would receive more competencies while the Serbian community in the region would be given more autonomy.

According to Austrian media, the paper also suggests that the NATO-led international force responsible for security in Kosovo (known as KFOR) be better equipped to fight unrest and that the international community should work harder to secure jobs in the region.

However, the paper reportedly shies away from tackling the legal status of Kosovo saying that it should be left until a later date.

"It is vital to create an atmosphere of safety. The security and respect for ethnic minorities is also a priority, with a level of decentralisation", said the Austrian foreign minister.

Ms Ferrero-Waldner said that the issues in the paper raised on decentralisation, security and the economy are important questions which would have to be dealt with anyway adding that after going through a long process, she did "not rule out a European future for Kosovo".

During his inaugural speech on Sunday (8 July), Serbian President Boris Tadic also referred to Kosovo, which he said is a "huge open wound" in Serbia's relationship with Europe.

"We are deeply devoted to idea of democratic, rational, European solution for Kosovo based on UN Security Council's resolution 1244. We believe that dialogue of Serbs and [Kosovo] Albanians is crucial", said Mr Tadic.

A UN administration was set up in the region with the NATO-led KFOR mission overseeing security in 1999, after NATO air-strikes pushed back Serb forces that were accused of war crimes against ethnic Albanians in the province.

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