Kosovo: Premier Welcomes Italian Support, Serbs Angry.

Kosovo prime minister Agim Ceku said on Wednesday he was pleased with the results of his visit to Italy, saying he received assurances from foreign minister Massimo DíAlema that Rome supported independence for Kosovo. DíAlema, "as a reputed visionary, publicly used the word independence as a solution for Kosovo," Ceku told Kosovo Albanian-language media. Ceku recently visited several Western capitals, lobbying for independence and will visit Russia on November 30. "Itís easy to talk to those who support Kosovo, but we must also visit the countries which have some dilemmas about Kosovo independence," he added.

Russia is the only member of a six-nation Contact Group which has publicly opposed Kosovo's independence. Other members of the Group, which should propose a final solution for the status of Kosovo to the United Nations Security Council, are the United States, Great Britain, Germany, France and Italy.

Ethnic Albanians, who outnumber the remaining Serbs in Kosovo by 17 to one, have said they will settle for nothing short of independence which Belgrade opposes, though it has no authority in the province sine 1999 when Kosovo was put under U.N. control. Eight rounds of U.N. sponsored talks on the Kosovo status gave little result and the chief U.N. negotiator Martti Ahtisaari was expected to unveil his final proposal by the end of January.

DíAlema said after meeting with Ahtisaari in Rome last Friday that Kosovo was "heading towards a form of independence with some limitations and with international guarantees." But he pleaded for the resumption of the European Union pre-entry talks with Serbia, broken off last May to compensate it for a possible loss of Kosovo. He said Serbia is "a country that is fundamental for the Balkans", adding that "the future of Serbia and of other western Balkans countries is within the European Union."

But Slavko Zivanov, a spokesman for the Serbian government Coordinating Center for Kosovo, said Belgrade didnít see DíAlemaís pleading for the resumption of EU talks in a positive light in view of his support for Kosovo independence.

"Such a trade-off is absolutely out of question," Zivanov told Adnkronos International (AKI). He said Serbia was defending "the international legal order" by opposing Kosovo independence and the change of the existing borders. "There is no valid reason, nor motive to write off Kosovo for a promise of resuming the talks with EU," he said.

Slobodan Eric, editor of a periodical Geopolitika, said DíAlemaís "trade off proposal is an insult to the intelligence of the Serbian people. How can we give up a part of our territory and the cradle of our state for an empty promise," Eric told AKI.

He said it was regrettable that the new Italian government was continuing the policies of the former government which supported NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999. "Such a policy can only harm our bilateral and economic relations, which have been on the upswing lately," Eric concluded.

[Source: ADN Kronos International, Pristina, 22Nov06]

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