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First meeting of International Steering Group for Kosovo held in Vienna

First meeting of International Steering Group for Kosovo held in Vienna

Representatives from 15 nations that back Kosovo's independence met Thursday for an inaugural session of the International Steering Group for Kosovo.
The steering group said its mission is to help guide the new nation's democratic development and promote good governance, multi-ethnicity and the rule of law.
Pieter Feith, the European Union's representative in Kosovo, was appointed the International Civilian Representative for Kosovo.
He said his role will be to ensure the rights of all communities in the predominantly ethnic Albanian country, especially those of the Serb minority.
"My role as an International Civilian Representative will be to ensure that the rights and the way of life of all communities _ particularly of the Serb community _ will be fully safeguarded in an independent Kosovo," he told reporters.
Kosovo's Serbs have been protesting the ethnic Albanian leadership's move Feb. 17 to declare independence from Serbia.
Feith, a seasoned Dutch diplomat, ruled out a partitioning of Kosovo but said there would be "privileged linkages" between Belgrade and Serb communities.
"There will be no partition of the country. That is not foreseen and that is not the intention of this group," Feith said.
Special U.N. envoy Martti Ahtisaari had envisioned the creation of the steering group as part of a U.N. plan for Kosovo. Talks on Kosovo's future ended last year without agreement on his plan.
Besides Britain, France, Germany, Italy and the United States _ members of the so-called Contact Group of international mediators _ Austria, the Czech Republic, Finland, Sweden, Turkey, Belgium, Denmark, Hungary, Slovenia and Switzerland also were present Thursday.
Russia, which backs Serbia in opposing Kosovo's independence, was noticeably absent.
"If Russia wants to join the International Steering Group, I'm sure that will be considered very favorably," Feith said.
The group called on Kosovo's leaders to take immediate steps to fully implement the Ahtisaari plan and urged all communities to cooperate.
"We hope, in particular, that the Kosovo Serb community will, with the support of Belgrade, take full advantage of this plan to establish a solid foundation for its future in a multiethnic Kosovo," the group said in a statement.
The group also called on all parties to refrain from violence or other destabilizing actions.


Updated : 2021-05-07 13:24 GMT+08:00