Kosovo leaders showed maturity and foresight, steering group says

Other News Materials 17 April 2008 17:05 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - The leaders of newly independent Kosovo showed great maturity when handling the sensitive time after breaking ties with Serbia, a senior European official said on Thursday.

Kosovo made "great progress" since declaring independence in February, Pieter Feith, chairman of the International Steering Group on Kosovo said after the ISG's second meeting in Vienna.

"The ISG will do its utmost to ensure that this progress is sustained," Feith said.

ISG welcomed the adoption of Kosovo's new constitution, which met "the highest standards of human rights and offers broad protection for all communities living in Kosovo. "

The Dutch diplomat reiterated the ISG's opposition to a separation of the former Serb province along ethnic lines and deplored the violence occurring after Pristina's declaration of independence.

"We look to all parties to actively take measures to prevent violence," the international civilian representative said.

Holding Serbian municipal elections on May 11 in Kosovo, as envisaged by Belgrade, would represent a violation of UN Security Council resolution 1244, Feith warned.

Feith declined to comment on the schedule for the EU's EULEX mission to replace the United Nations in Kosovo. "It is a matter of the EU and UN to take this further," he said. One should not be "particularly hung up" about an exact date for deploying EULEX he said.

The ISG's main task is to monitor implementation of the plan presented by UN Kosovo negotiator Martti Ahtisaari by the authorities of the former Serbian province.

Fifteen states participated in the group - Austria, the Czech Republic, Finland, Sweden, Turkey, Belgium, Denmark, Hungary, Slovenia, Switzerland and members of the Kosovo Contact Group Germany, France, Britain, Italy and the United States - but not Contact Group member Russia, owing to Moscow's opposition to Kosovo's independence.