Situation in Kosovo calm, German general says
(dpa) - The situation in Kosovo was calm on Saturday, a German general serving with NATO in the southern Serbian province said ahead of Sunday's expected declaration of independence.
General Robert Bund, head of the German contingent in the UN- mandated Kosovo force KFOR, told German radio there was "no sign of tension in any form."
Bund said he expected the NATO-led multinational force to remain in Kosovo for a long period because of the time it would take for the territory to support itself.
The people of Kosovo have great trust in the 15,000-strong force, he said. "KFOR is the primary stability factor for Kosovo," he added.
The predominantly Albanian province is expected to declare its independence from Serbia on Sunday, despite strong opposition from Belgrade and its ally, Russia. Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci told the German news magazine Focus he was ready to hold discussions "with the legitimate leadership" of Serbia.
"The time is ripe to talk about normalizing relations and leave the past behind us," he said, indicating the province would go ahead with declaring independence.
The European Union on Saturday launched a 2,000-member mission of police and justice officials intended to help the Kosovo authorities train and develop a multi-ethnic legal system.
But Serbia and Russia say the mission will only be legal if it receives a fresh mandate from the United Nations Security Council - an argument which EU diplomats reject.