Koštunica: Functional separation in Kosovo "inevitable"

JAGODINA, GRAČANICA -- Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica says that a "functional separation of Serbs in Kosovo-Metohija is inevitable".

Vojislav Koštunica (Beta)
Vojislav Koštunica (Beta)

He told a local television station in Jagodina that the issue will be negotiated with UNMIK, "no matter how difficult the negotiations get".

"Some kind of a solution has to be found, because we see that even the most powerful from the international community are faced with serious problems in Kosovo and Metohija," Koštunica said in an interview.

Serbia's rules, regarding both the Constitutions and the legal system, are being implemented in the territory of Kosovo, "of course, where this is possible and where our institutions function, which is very important", underscored Koštunica, adding that local elections in Kosovo will be very important, "because they make the system legitimate".

"There are problems and I believe that a solution will have to be found together with UNMIK, the only legitimate civilian mission in Kosovo," said the leader of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) , adding that those who have claimed that "law is not important, but the reality in the field, have now hit their heads against a brick wall."

Koštunica added that "in time, Serbia will win the battle for Kosovo."

He evaluated that the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) means "giving up the lawsuit that Serbia should pursue, proving that Kosovo is an integral part of Serbia."

Koštunica also underscored that the elections scheduled for May 11 are of "historic and referendum nature," because Serbia will hold them under threats and attempts to seize a part of its territory, "which might have an impact on the elections".

Forming a new government soon after the elections will be very important according to the outgoing premier, and that it would "not be good at all to hold another election", he said, because "the way out is in a stable government which will be capable of running the state in the coming period to its full term".

Meanwhile, in Gračanica Thursday, Kosovo Serb representatives met to discuss the functional separation of Albanians and Serbs in the province, first mentioned in March by Minister for Kosovo Slobodan Samardžić, when he set this proposal to the UN.

Some of the Kosovo Serb leaders said the idea is in fact a proposal to partition Kosovo, while others believe that it is the only way for the Serbs to remain in that territory.

The Democratic Party (DS) provincial branch head Goran Bogdanović told Tanjug that a separation of Serbs and Albanians is actually a partition of Kosovo and that "some Belgrade politicians are consciously working on separation of Kosovo's north, leaving the rest of the province to Albania or some state of Kosovo."

He evaluated that the proposal is "a bad message to the Kosovo Serbs living south of the Ibar River and that this may not be done without asking the people who live here."

But President of the Community of Serb Municipalities and Settlements in Kosovo and Metohija Marko Jakšić told the agency that functional separation is welcome "if we want Serbs to survive in Kosovo."

"We will fight for such a solution, because only that may satisfy the Serb community in this region. I hope that this outcome will be easier after the May 11 elections, when national forces will come into power," he said.

Serb National Council (SNV) of Central Kosovo Vice-President Rada Trajković said that the project of functional separation of Serbs and Albanians is "impossible, if one counts with Serbs to remain in the province and return of those who had been driven out".

Trajković believes that the Serbs have to be separated from the Albanians at the local level, but that "at some other level there has to be cooperation with the Albanians in order to demonstrate seriousness of our state."

President of the SNV of Northern Kosovo Milan Ivanović said the proposal is compromising in nature, and in the interest of both Serbs and Albanians, because it respects the realistic situation in the field.

"After the unilateral declaration of Kosovo's independence and the fact that former members of the KLA run the Kosovo institutions, it is an illusion to think we will participate in institutions with those who were murdering us," stressed Ivanović.

In another development in Kosovo, also yesterday, Bodganović told reporters that demonstrators in Kosovska Mitrovica, protesting the signing of the SAA, set a photograph of his party leader and Serbian president, Boris Tadić, on fire.

Bogdanović condemned the burning, which he said was done by false patriots, and added this amounts to "a campaign trick coming from Belgrade".

Members of an association gathering families whose members fought in Serbia's wars from 1912 to 1920, also set a U.S. flag on fire, in protest of that country's policy toward Serbia.