Kosovo Talks begin in Vienna

Vienna, Feb 20, 2006 – Powers to be granted to Kosovo’s new municipalities will be the opening topic of the Kosovo future-status talks starting in Vienna, on Feb. 20.

Before the talks began officially, negotiators from Belgrade and Prishtina had met with U.N. special envoy for the Kosovo status process Martti Ahtisaari.

Ahtisaari’s deputy Albert Rohan will be moderating the Feb. 20-21 talks. Having opened the dialogue, Rohan gave the floor to the delegates from Serbia and Kosovo to present their views of decentralization of authority in Kosovo.

In the afternoon, they are scheduled to discuss pre-specified issues and transfer of powers to the new municipalities in the domains of health care, education, social welfare and culture. On the second day of the conference that will proceed behind closed door, the representatives of Belgrade and Prishtina will talk about the transfer of law-enforcement and judicial powers, public needs and state-owned companies.

The Belgrade team is lead by advisers to the Serbian president and premier, Leon Kojen and Slobodan Samardzic and supported by the Swiss professor Thomas Flainer, who is a consultant to the Serbian negotiating team.

The Prishtina delegation, led by Kosovo Local Self-Government Minister Lutfi Haziri, also includes an adviser to the Kosovo president, Skender Hyseni, a working group coordinator for the talks, Blerim Shala and representatives of the Democratic Party of Kosovo, Enver Hoxhaj and Fehmi Mujota. The Kosovo team also includes Ardijan Gjini, Ylber Hysa and Minister of Health Sadik Idrizi.

Kosovo Delegation say it has realistic plan on decentralization
Members of Kosovar Delegation told the Kosovar News Agency KosovaLive that they are prepared for Vienna, and voiced convinced that they have arguments to turn down the Serb plan on decentralization.

Before leaving to Vienna, the Delegation members said that there will be no agreement in Vienna meeting scheduled for February 20 and February 21, but only presentation of the decentralization plans.

Prishtina and Belgrade have presented different principles on the reform of the local self-administration in Kosovo. While Belgrade is calling for Serb governed municipalities in several parts of Kosovo, Prishtina is strongly opposing it by offering a real opportunity for the representation of the interests of Kosovar Serbs, wherever they live.

“Kosovar Delegation will be focused on presenting of their views on the quality of rights for Serb and other minorities in Kosovo,” Fehmi Mujota, a representative of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) in Pristina Delegation, told KosovaLive.