NEWS

The time has come for negotiations on the final status of Kosovo

In the Balkans, does the US have a specific proposal on what the final status for Kosovo may look like? Well, we don’t have a specific proposal but we are in favor of negotiations starting soon, led by the United Nations. We simply cannot support a continuation of the status quo in Kosovo. It’s six-and-a-half years beyond the war. The people there have to know what their future is, they have to know what country they will be living in. So it’s high time that we had these negotiations. We’ll be appointing our own American envoy to support the UN negotiations. I was just in Kosovo last week and I met with the Albanian leadership. I must say that we hope they will be united in these discussions and they will present one viewpoint. I also met with the Kosovar Serb community and it’s unfortunate that they have not yet been allowed to participate in the elections. They have not been allowed to sit in the national assembly. That’s because the government in Belgrade has not wanted them to do that, and we think that’s a mistake. We think the Serb leadership in Kosovo should be allowed to be much more active and should be able to find its own voice in these negotiations. I also went to Belgrade and talked to President Tadic and Prime Minister Kostunica. I told them that it was going to be very important that Serbia come to these negotiations with an open mind and that there was a possibility of peaceful negotiations that would lead to just results for the people of Kosovo. I think these will be tough negotiations, they will be very difficult negotiations and it’s important that the United Nations lead them, and also important that the United States and Europe be supportive of them. It is going to be a very active period ahead. Are you working with Serbia as well, moving them closer toward NATO and so on? Yes, we’re trying hard to work with the Serbs. I have been to Belgrade twice in the last four months to talk to the Serb leadership. One of the issues that we’ve been asking the Serb leadership to move on with is the issue of the war criminals. Ten years after the Srebrenica massacre and still (Gen. Ratko) Mladic is at large. I told Prime Minister Kostunica that the United States could not and would not support Serbia for Partnership for Peace until Mladic is sent to The Hague and put on trial for war crimes. The same is true of (Radovan) Karadzic, the spiritual father of the Bosnian Serbs. It’s really quite outrageous that both of them are still at large.