UN announces Kosovo elections

Polls on November 17 likely to raise ethnic tensions in UN administered province.

    Talks on Kosovo's independence have proved
    to be difficult [EPA]

    In the past, the UN administrator has said that elections could be postponed at any time if they are seen as interfering with the process of determining the province's "final status".
     
    Hashim Thaci, Kosovo's main opposition leader, said: "We will postpone the elections if we get indications by the United States and the European Union on the recognition of Kosovo's independence."
     
    Some Kosovo politicians wanted to hold the elections after Kosovo becomes independent, but others argued that, because the current parliament's three-year mandate ends in November, any extension to its term would undermine its legitimacy.
     
    Partition
     
    Kosovo's 90 per cent Albanian majority demands independence, eight years after Nato troops expelled Serb forces, which stand accused of atrocities, and the UN took over the province's administration.
     
    Serbia says independence is out of the question. Both sides have said they oppose partition but they have shown no sign of reaching agreement over independence for Kosovo.
     
    In Kosovo's capital, Pristina, Agim Ceku, the province's prime minister, said he still hoped to achieve independence by the end of the year.
     
    "We are ready, in the absence of a UN Security Council resolution ... to declare independence and ask for recognition by the EU and the United States," he said.
     
    Meanwhile, also on Friday, Sergei Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister, said that Russia would accept partition of Serbia's Kosovo province if that is the solution agreed by Belgrade and Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority.
     
    'Negotiations continue'
     
    Asked if Russia would agree to partition, Lavrov said: "Negotiations are continuing with the mediation of the troika of Russia, the European Union and the United States.
     
    "The aim of the [troika] mediators is to help the sides to reach agreement ... and not to force a particular solution on them," Lavrov told reporters in Moscow.
     
    Russia, a Serbian ally, has opposed a Western-backed plan to grant Kosovo independence from Belgrade.
     
    The "troika" format was created after Moscow blocked the independence plan in the UN.
     
    Kosovo is home to two million Albanians and 100,000 Serbs, many of whom live in the border area adjoining Serbia.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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