|Vol.7, No.46, 13.12.01, p4
THE EU's work in reconstructing Kosovo risks being "subsumed by the political agenda" of ethnic Albanians unless their demands for independence are taken seriously, the head of an international commission on the province's future has warned.
South African judge Richard Goldstone said that the EU and the wider international community would be creating a "recipe for involving the people of violence" if it did not set in train a process aimed at allowing Kosovars to take control of their own affairs.
The Union, he added, must not "take the ground from underneath the feet of [Ibrahim] Rugova," the moderate Kosovar Albanian leader victorious in last month's parliamentary election.
Appointed to his country's constitutional court in 1994, Goldstone is chairman of the Independent International Commission on Kosovo, set up by Swedish premier Göran Persson in 1999.
It recommends "conditional independence" for the province, under which the powers currently held by Hans Haekkerup, the UN special representative, would gradually be transferred to the Pristina government, with a view to self-rule without interference from Belgrade.
Visiting Brussels to alert EU diplomats of his concerns, Goldstone said he was dismayed by the "colonial speak" of many senior officials currently shaping the province's future.
Claims that ethnic Albanians are "not mature enough" to be in charge of their own destiny reminded him of comments made about black people during apartheid-era South Africa, he added. The newly elected parliament in Kosovo has no real power, he said, as Haekkerup is in charge of key areas such as customs, foreign relations and the appointment of the judiciary.
A desire for independence was one of the few issues on which all three Albanian-dominated parties taking part in last month's poll agreed.
"Any leader there who didn't talk about independence wouldn't be a leader for long," the judge added.
Another member of the commission, Frenchman Jacques Rupnik, cited disappointment within the Balkans over the EU's 'stability pact' for the region.
Arguing that it is necessary to give the initiative a "new political momentum", he said that Balkan states will only make concessions if they believe they will obtain something bigger in return, such as eventual EU membership.
Former Austrian vice-chancellor Erhard Busek was appointed chairman of the stability pact earlier this week. He replaces Germany's Bodo Hombach.
The EU's work in reconstructing Kosovo risks being 'subsumed by the political agenda' of ethnic Albanians unless their demands for independence are taken seriously, the head of an international commission on the province's future has warned.
|Countries / Regions
|Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Slovenia