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Solana Says Kosovo's Push Toward Democracy Suffers Setback

Javier Solana (file photo) 20 July 2005 -- EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana said today that Kosovo's drive toward a future political solution has slowed just when it needs to be accelerating.

Speaking during a fact-finding visit to the UN-administered Serbian province, Solana said there have been setbacks in ushering in international standards on democracy and minority rights.

Local government reform has become a contentious issue between the government, Serbs, and United Nations overseers. The process is aimed at giving minorities more power in running their affairs, a key condition Kosovo must meet before talks to determine the province's future can start later this year.

Kosovo officially remains a province of Serbia and Montenegro but has been administered by the UN for the last six years.

Earlier in Belgrade, Solana said the EU is committed to the eventual membership of Serbia and Montenegro in the bloc. However, he said, Belgrade needs to cooperate better with the UN war crimes tribunal for Yugoslavia in The Hague.