Serbia

Factbox - UN plan puts Kosovo on path to independence

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April 26 (Reuters) - Fifteen U.N. Security Council ambassadors began an assessment on Thursday of Serbia's case against giving the breakaway Kosovo province independence.

Serbia has rejected the U.N. plan for Kosovo's independence and its caretaker prime minister, Vojislav Kostunica, said the plan had failed and attention should now be shifted to the return of 200,000 Serbs.

Here are the key elements of the plan which would provide the platform for a declaration of independence by Kosovo's Albanian majority, and bilateral recognition by other countries.

* Contrary to the demands of Serbia, the document makes no reference to Serbian sovereignty, unlike U.N. resolution 1244 governing Kosovo since the 1998-99 war which was ended by NATO intervention. Neither does it contain the word 'independence', as Kosovo's 90-percent ethnic Albanian majority wanted.

* A European envoy mandated by the United Nations and the European Union would take over from the U.N. mission, with power to veto legislation and dismiss local officials. The EU would deploy a police mission alongside the current 16,500-strong NATO peace force.

* Kosovo would have the right to enter into international agreements and seek membership of international organisations, which could potentially include the United Nations, World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Kosovo would take on its share of assets and debts from Serbia.

* Kosovo would have its own "national" symbols, including a flag and anthem. Albanian and Serbian would be the official languages. It would have its own "security force" with a lightly armed unit, and control of its borders.

* The plan grants Kosovo's 100,000 remaining Serbs and other non-Albanians extensive rights and protections, including guaranteed thresholds of representation in parliament and government, police and civil service. Municipalities, including those with Serb majorities, get broad powers of self-government and the right to "transparent" funding from Belgrade.

* Protection zones would be imposed around the most valuable of scores of Serbian Orthodox religious sites. The Orthodox church would be granted special tax breaks. The flashpoint town of Mitrovica in northern Kosovo would be split into two municipalities -- Serb north, Albanian south -- with a joint board to facilitate cooperation.

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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