Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Fifth Round of Talks - Some Progress

Finally there has been some progress in the fifth round of talks between Albanian and Serb negotiators.  While there are still some disagreement on the methods, both parties agreed that religious sites in Kosovo must be physically protected.  The UN envoy stressed that destroyed sites should be restored but there is disagreement on who is responsible for the bill.  Belgrade wants to be responsible for the reconstruction of Serb Orthodox sites.  The next round of talks is scheduled for 31 May and will focus on economics.  The UN envoy is reported to hope that the talks will include discussion on status by the end of July.  There is still great hope by the international contact group that the status will be resolved bye the end of 2006.
Following the referendum for independence in Montenegro, some groups in Kosovo are strengthening demands for "self determination", especially Albin Kurti's group who is responsible for vandalizing UNMIK vehicles and spray-painting logos throughout Kosovo.  Separatist movements from Spain to Eastern Europe are using the successful referendum as a soapbox in order to further their goals and Kosovo is no different.  In fact, several politicians have publicly complained about the lack of standards by the EU in allowing Montenegro to hold a referendum but not accepting the same elsewhere.

In addition to strengthening calls for a referendum, Kurti's group is calling for a boycott of all food and other products coming from Serbia.  The group claims that Serbia will be harmed and Kosovo will be aided by the boycott.  The group wants the boycott to last until Serbia releases Kosovo into independence, "recognizes the crimes its committed and pays rewards for the incurring damages".