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Serbia offers Kosovo self-rule, short of full secession

Serbia offers Kosovo self-rule, short of full secession

Serbia proposed near-complete independence for Kosovo on Sunday, urging the province's ethnic Albanian separatists to accept the offer of broad autonomy and drop their demand for formal secession.
Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica described his vision of Kosovo's future as "supervised autonomy" _ as opposed to the "supervised independence" recently proposed by a U.N. envoy. Either way, foreign civilian and military officials would supervise Kosovo for years to ensure peace and democracy in the tense province.
"Supervised autonomy is the true compromise that eliminates any extreme outcome," Kostunica said in a statement, alluding to the so far stubborn stands by Serbs, who vow not to give up their historical heartland, and the ethnic Albanians, who are a 90-percent majority in the province and insist on full secession.
"(Kosovo) Albanians will be able to take their future in their own hands and protect their interests, while Serbia would preserve its sovereignty and territorial integrity," Kostunica said, outlining his offer.
He did not offer specifics, but said those were presented to the U.N. Security Council ambassadors during their recent visit here.
Kostunica's overture is an attempt to sink the standing U.N. plan for Kosovo, created by former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, which is being discussed at the U.N. Security Council.
Serbian officials have repeatedly blasted Ahtisaari's plan as a violation of U.N. rules because it opens the way for a formal change of borders, effectively causing Serbia a loss of 15 percent of its territory.
"Serbia is ready to make a significant step in finding a good, sustainable solution for Kosovo," the conservative, nationalist prime minister said. The ethnic Albanians have said they would settle for nothing less than full independence.
The 1998-99 war in Kosovo between Serbs and ethnic Albanians ended with NATO's bombing of the Serbs, forcing them to halt their crackdown on the separatists and pull out.
A U.N. administration has run Kosovo as a protectorate since 1999. It is to be replaced by a similar European Union mission, which is to monitor and regulate further development of Kosovo.
Kostunica's government has insisted that any solution for Kosovo would have to enable the return of 200,000 Serbs who fled the province in the aftermath of the war. Some 100,000 still live in Kosovo, but mostly in embattled, isolated and impoverished enclaves.
"The (U.N.) Security Council mission could see with their own eyes what the real situation is in the province," Kostunica said, and urged the key U.N. body to consider his proposal, not Ahtisaari's plan, as a basis for reaching an agreement.


Updated : 2021-07-25 08:50 GMT+08:00