Independence the only realistic option for Kosovo, Albania tells UN Assembly
The only option for Kosovo that will bring durable peace and stability to the region is full independence for the Serbian province, Albania’s Prime Minister told national leaders gathered at the General Assembly today.
Sali Berisha told the Assembly’s annual high-level debate that independence for Kosovo would reflect the “expressed will of her citizens” and not set an international precedent for other regions seeking self-government and enhanced autonomy.
“The claim that the independence of Kosova may lead to the creation of Greater Albania cannot be farther from the truth,” Mr. Berisha added, using the Albanian name for the province.
“In reality, Kosova’s independence will only end the fluidity of Albanians in the Balkans, along with the idea of the creation of a single Albanian State in the territories where they are a dominant majority. The simple truth is that Kosova Albanians have decided in their project of the future to join Brussels, not Tirana.”
Earlier this year the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on the issue, Martti Ahtisaari, proposed a phased plan of independence for Kosovo, where ethnic Albanians outnumber Serbs and other minorities by about nine to one.
In July, a troika comprising the European Union, Russia and the United States agreed to lead further negotiations on Kosovo’s future status, while the wider Contact Group for Kosovo is meeting today at UN Headquarters in New York to discuss the issue.
Tomorrow direct talks between representatives of Belgrade and Pristina are scheduled to take place in New York.
In his address Mr. Berisha accused Serbia, which opposes independence and has proposed that the province be given greater autonomy instead, of a lack of realism.
“Rejection of the Ahtisaari package is unhelpful and proves that what matters first for Belgrade is not the freedoms and rights of Serbs in Kosova, but rather the idea of the Greater Serbia,” he said.
Using the right of reply, Serbia’s representative criticized Mr. Berisha for “openly calling for the violation” of the territorial integrity of a UN Member State, particularly on the eve of such crucial direct talks.
The representative said havoc would ensue around the world if other countries called for the independence of regions in neighbouring nations that have the same ethnic majority as their own.
In a further response, Albania’s representative said his Prime Minister had “no further agenda” beyond support for what he called the “fair, balanced and sustainable” approach proposed by Mr. Ahtisaari. He added that he was hopeful that the talks starting in New York tomorrow would produce a solution.