Serbia wants negotiations on high level of autonomy for Kosovo

News and Press Release
Originally published
Belgrade, June 21, 2007 - Serbian Minister for Kosovo-Metohija Slobodan Samardzic said today that Serbia's position is that Kosovo-Metohija should remain within its borders, since Serbia is an internationally recognised, democratic state.

Samardzic said at a press conference held after the government session that Serbia remains fully open and flexible for every solution that Kosovo would get within this framework. He underlined that Serbia remains at the position that a high level of autonomy can be negotiated and that a compromise solution may be found within a reasonable period of time if talks are not limited by time and if the province's status is not prejudged as it has been so far.

Serbia wants negotiations on high level of autonomy for Kosovo

He said that the fate of the draft of a new resolution on Kosovo prepared by Western countries has already been sealed since Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin rejected it yesterday as unacceptable.

The Minister said that that proposal does not bring anything new compared to the previous two proposals. He recalled that the proposal of UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari was unacceptable for Serbia and added that the draft of the new resolution prescribes that that proposal be again taken into account if Belgrade and Pristina fail to reach an agreement within four months.

Samardzic said that the aim of this proposal is to invalidate Resolution 1244 and to put Kosovo's status into an undefined position during those four months in order to make a decision after that period.

The main problem in such a form of negotiating is that the Albanian side has no incentive to negotiate because if those negotiations were to fail, on the basis of a report from the secretary-general or a special envoy, the new resolution whose content is identical to that of Ahtisaari's plan would come into force.

He underlined that this proposal is nothing new when compared to the proposal of French President Nicolas Sarkozy either, the only difference being that Sarkozy proposed six months for negotiations.

Samardzic stated that he handed over Serbia's proposal for new negotiations on Kosovo to Russian Ambassador in Belgrade Alexander Alexeyev. The main idea is to give Moscow information on Belgrade's plans so that Russia may support Serbia's interests in the best way possible in its diplomatic contacts.

Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Bozidar Djelic said that he informed government members at today's session about the continuation of negotiations with the EU and three-day talks with EU officials in Luxembourg, Strasbourg and Brussels.

He underlined that EU officials confirmed that the process of determining the future status of Kosovo is separate from Serbia's EU integration processes and that the final decision should be made by the UN Security Council.

It was confirmed that our plans regarding EU accession are feasible, Djelic said and specified that our plans are to sign the stabilisation and association agreement by years-end and that the regime of visa relaxations starts functioning as of January 1 next year.

Djelic said that a lot will have to be done regarding Serbia's plan to get the EU candidate status by the end of 2008 and to join the white Schengen list parallel with that.

He said that that the government decided today to set aside additional funds for Kosovo from the Serbian budget.

Djelic said that total budgetary expenditures will be RSD 5.4 billion, of which RSD 1.4 billion will be used for infrastructural projects.

Funds from the National Investment Plan (NIP) for Kosovo will be in the minimum amount of RSD 2.2 billion for 2007/2008, Djelic said and added that the government tasked Minister without Portfolio in charge of NIP Dragan Djilas with securing that all ministers establish the minimum sum of RSD 880 million for infrastructural projects in the province within 15 days .

The Deputy Prime Minister said that the Council for regulatory reform of the pension insurance system, which he chairs, will examine the system of linking the growth of pensions with the growth of living costs and in part with the growth of salaries.

According to him, the idea is to use part of privatisation proceeds to form a state pension insurance fund.

He explained that the Council will deal with the reform of the existing pension funds and announced that this body will pay special attention to low income pensioners with and that it will work out special assistance programmes for them.

Djelic voiced hope that the realisation of a World Bank loan worth $192.5 million allocated to Serbia for five projects will start very soon.

He explained that except in one case, these are additional funds for already existing loans and recalled that these are projects dealing with the development of the Bor region, improvement of competitiveness of Serbia's agriculture and floods protection, improvement of roads, and better energy situation in schools and hospitals.

Serbian Minister of Trade and Services Predrag Bubalo said that the government adopted the Information on the national strategy for development of sports and the Platform for the Sixth Session of the Inter-governmental Serbian-Russian Committee that will be held in Belgrade from June 21 to 23.

He said that co-presidents of the Serbian part of mixed committees with the countries with which we have such joint bodies were appointed, specifying that Minister of Infrastructure Velimir Ilic will be the co-president of the mixed committees with Bulgaria and Tunisia, Minister of Energy and Mining Aleksandar Popovic with Slovakia and Algeria, Minister of Economy and Regional Development Mladjan Dinkic with Turkey, China and India, and Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management Slobodan Milosavljevic with Egypt and Morocco.

Bubalo said that in addition to the mixed committee with Russia, he will also be the co-president of the mixed committee with Germany, Belarus, the Ukraine and Libya, while Minister of Finance Mirko Cvetkovic is in charge for Romania and Kuwait, Minister of Labour and Social Policy Rasim Ljajic for Iran, and State Secretary of the Ministry of Economy and Regional Development Jasna Matic for Slovenia, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

Members of the Council for regulatory reform of the pension insurance system were appointed, as well as government members at the Socio-economic council.

At today's session the government appointed members of the interim organ of the Smederevska Palanka municipality.