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Independence of Kosovo-Metohija completely unacceptable for Belgrade

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Belgrade/Lucerne, July 4, 2005 - Serbian Minister of Public Administration and Local Self-Government Zoran Loncar reiterated at the international conference 'Kosovo and the region's readiness for change', held in Lucerne, that the talks on the future status of Kosovo must be along the lines of 'more than autonomy, less than independence'.

Loncar stated that during the discussion he held the view that the solution to the Kosovo-Metohija problem must be resolved exclusively through dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina and that the result of these talks would be a compromise along the lines of 'more than autonomy, less than independence'. Loncar pointed out that an independent Kosovo to Serbia means 'a Kosovo practically united with Albania and a Kosovo without Serbs'.

Advisor to the Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Simic stated that ethnic Albanians expressed the view that the Serbian southern province should be independent, while the Serbian delegation reiterated that this was completely unacceptable for Belgrade, for any Serbian politician or for anyone who represents Belgrade.

Simic stated that that solution would be a violation of the UN Treaty, the Helsinki Act, as well as the conclusions of the Badinter Commission that the borders must not be altered in a violent manner, and added that the countries in the region expressed confusion and bewilderment concerning the 'lightly promised speed of resolving the future status of Kosovo'.

According to him, it could be expected that the international community will want to resolve this issue after UN Secretary General's special envoy Kai Eide finishes the assessment of standards in Kosovo-Metohija, which is expected in the near future.

Simic pointed out that Serbian government officials believe that this assessment of standards will be objective and comprehensive and reiterated that they are prepared to begin negotiations, respecting the principles of international law, and in good faith, but excluding every solution that will severely violate international law.

This gathering assembled political leaders from Western Balkan countries, Western Europe and the US, as well as representatives from the Council of Europe, the EU, NATO, and the UN.