Javier Solana (right) meeting with Kosovar President Ibrahim Rugova today (epa)
6 December 2005 -- European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana arrived in Kosovo's capital Pristina today for talks on the future status of the province.
Solana met with Ibrahim Rugova, the pro-independence president of the disputed province in Serbia.
Kosovo has been under United Nations administration since a 1999 NATO bombing campaign ended a Serb crackdown on Kosovar Albanians in the breakaway Serb province.
Kosovo's ethnic Albanians want an independent Kosovo. Serbs see Kosovo as the cradle of their civilization, and say it must remain in Serbia.
Solana, speaking after talks in the Serbian capital Belgrade on 6 December, said he was satisfied by recent talks on the subject.
Also in Kosovo today are foreign ministry officials from Croatia, Greece, and Romania, all of whom are seeking to help in the negotiations.
THE WORLD'S NEWEST NATION? The region of Kosovo has a population of more than 2 million, some 90 percent of whom are ethnic Albanians. It was one of the poorest regions in the former Yugoslavia, but has considerable mineral wealth and an enterprising population, many of whom work abroad but keep close contact with Kosovo. All ethnic Albanian political parties seek independence on the principles of self-determination and majority rule. They feel that Serbia lost its historically based claim to what was its autonomous province under the 1974 constitution by revoking that autonomy in the late 1980s and then conducting a crackdown in 1999 that forced some 850,000 people to flee their homes.
Since NATO's intervention that year to stop the expulsions, Kosovo has been under a UN administration (UNMIK). The UN has begun to gradually transfer functions to elected Kosovar institutions. The primary Serbian concerns are physical safety for the local Serbian minority, a secure return for the tens of thousands of Serbian displaced persons, and protection for historic Serbian religious buildings. The main problems affecting all Kosovars, however, are economic. Until Kosovo's final status is clarified and new legislation passed and enforced, it will not be able to attract the investment it needs to provide jobs for its population, which is one of the youngest and fastest growing in Europe. Prosperity is widely seen as the key to political stability and interethnic coexistence in Kosovo, as is the case in much of Southeastern Europe.
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