Saturday, November 29, 2014


Kosovo

Clinton Says Kosovo's Independence 'Not Up For Discussion'

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with Kosovar Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (left to right) after a news conference in Pristina on October 31.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with Kosovar Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (left to right) after a news conference in Pristina on October 31.

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By RFE/RL
Visiting U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says Kosovo's independence is "not up for discussion."

Clinton made the statement at a news conference in Kosovo's capital, Pristina, on October 31 alongside EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

Serbia rejects the independence Kosovo unilaterally declared in 2008. Kosovo's independence has been recognized by some 90 states, including the United States and 22 of the EU's 27 members.

Clinton and Ashton are in the region seeking to press Serbia and Kosovo to move forward with an EU-brokered dialogue.

Clinton said the United States is ready to help move the process forward.

"We will stand with you as you work with Serbia to resolve practical problems and overcome obstacles, and we will be there for you as you take the necessary steps towards the future you so richly deserve," Clinton said.

Clinton and Ashton's news conference followed a meeting with Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and President Atifete Jahjaga.

In Belgrade on October 30, Clinton urged Serb leaders to restart a dialogue with Kosovo's leaders, even without recognizing Kosovo's independence.

Ashton said at the October 31 news conference that talks between Belgrade and Pristina would be "about making lives better."

A dialogue was launched in March 2011 under EU auspices, but it stalled after Serbia's elections in May that were won by nationalists.

The EU has stressed that progress in the talks is key if Serbia, which won EU candidate status in March, is to move forward and open full accession talks.

Clinton on October 31 also said the United States wants to see "the rule of law extending throughout Kosovo."

"We want to continue working with you to build and strengthen your democratic institutions and advance the economic welfare of your people," Clinton said. "I believe in Kosovo's future, and the United States remains deeply committed to your success."

Serbs are in majority in northern Kosovo and refuse to recognize the authority of Kosovo's ethnic Albanian government. Some Serbian officials have proposed splitting Kosovo along ethnic lines.

Clinton said the "boundaries of an independent, sovereign Kosovo are clear and set."

She also urged Kosovo's government to take into account the concerns of Kosovo Serbs.

Clinton toured a Serbian Orthodox church in Pristina, the site of anti-Serb riots eight years ago. She met there with Kosovo Serbs who have returned from abroad.

Clinton and Ashton visited Bosnia on October 29 and were scheduled to fly to Albania. Clinton will end her tour of the region in Croatia.

With reporting by AFP, dpa, and AP

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