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Talks on Kosovo`s future enter a critical phase


Source: | 11-27-2007 08:13

Serbian President Boris Tadic arrives for the last round of Kosovo talks in Baden, Austria. (AFP/Dieter Nagl)

Internationally mediated talks on the future status of Kosovo are entering a critical phase. The province's ethnic Albanian leaders and their Serbian rivals met for the final time before next month's UN deadline.

High-level delegations from Kosovo and Serbia will meet until Wednesday in the Austrian spa town of Baden, just south of Vienna.

The talks are mediated by a "troika" of envoys from the U.S., the European Union and Russia.

The talks are the last before the mediators report back to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on December 10.

Kosovo Albanian leaders have held out the possibility of unilaterally declaring independence soon after that date if a settlement is not reached.

But a breakthrough in Baden seemed unlikely.

Before the talks, both sides remained entrenched in their positions.

Serbia has offered the province broad autonomy but insists it remain part of Serbia.


Kosovo President Fatmir Sedjiu talks to journalists prior to the last round of Kosovo talks in Baden, Austria. (AFP/Dieter Nagl)

Boris Tadic, Serbian President, said, "Serbian delegation is coming with a good will to achieve compromise solution from the beginning of negotiation process. We have proposed some offers to Kosovo Albanians which means very flexible and from our point of view mutually acceptable solution. The ball is in the court of Kosovo Albanian delegation today. "

On the other side, Kosovo Albanians are demanding full independence from Serbia.

Hashim Thaci, PM Designate Kosovo, said, "We are ready to take our decision. We hope very soon after that international community US and EU are ready to recognize us as independent state. "

Critics say a unilateral declaration of independence would plunge the Balkans back into turmoil and set a dangerous precedent for separatist movements worldwide.