Monday, July 23, 2012

"Serbia seeks Kosovo dialogue with UN presence"

BELGRADE -- President Tomislav Nikolić told UN chief Ban Ki-moon that Serbia wanted the talks with the interim authorities in Priština to be held "with UN presence".
Nikolić and Ban are seen in Belgrade on Monday (Tanjug)
Nikolić and Ban are seen in Belgrade on Monday (Tanjug)
UN representatives should be present during the dialogue "in the future", Nikolić was quoted as saying.
Belgrade and Priština have been engaged in EU-sponsored negotiations since March 2011 - the first direct talks since the February 2008 unilateral declaration of independence made by Kosovo's ethnic Albanians, which Serbia rejected as illegal.

No statements were made after Nikolić's meeting with Ban in Belgrade on Monday, but according to a release from the president's press office, during his talks with the secretary-general Nikolić pointed out that the UN should play a more active role in the fight to preserve the principles of international law, territorial integrity and sovereignty of internationally recognized states that were also UN member states and in facilitating the implementation and respect of UN Security Council Resolution 1244.

When it comes to the situation in the southern Serbian province, Nikolić said that recent frequent incidents - stirred by the government in Priština - were an attempt to provoke the Serbian side before the dialogue resumed.

Nikolić once again urged the international actors in Kosovo, including the mission of the United Nations, to discharge their duties in accordance with the mandates given to them and to ensure peace and security for all citizens of the province.

Ban expressed satisfaction with his visit to Belgrade, adding that he felt confident that "the Republic of Serbia would make a full contribution to the work of the UN, especially in the year to follow, when Vuk Jeremić will chair the UN General Assembly".

The UN chief arrived in Belgrade earlier in the day, and was greeted at the airport by FM Jeremić.

Ban was holding separate talks with Jeremić, Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić, and PM-designate Ivica Dačić.

The UN secretary-general will also visit members of the UN mission in Kosovo, UNMIK, and meet with officials of the government in Priština.

While in Kosovo, Ban will visit the medieval Serb Orthodox monastery of Visoki (High) Dečani, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. He will also travel to the town of Prizren.

Ban's tour of the Balkans started on July 20, and he has so far visited Slovenia, Croatia, and Montenegro. After Belgrade and Priština, the UN chief will travel to Macedonia, and then Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Kosovo tops agenda

Serbian presidential adviser Marko Đurić said ahead of the UN chief's arrival here that Serbian officials would stress the country's dedication to the principle of peaceful resolution of conflicts - when it comes to Kosovo and Metohija, and all other conflict areas in the world.

"As the country presiding over the UN General Assembly this year, we will stress our readiness to work on the affirmation of the role of the United Nations in conflict resolution," said the adviser.

He also stressed that "a state consensus must be reached in Serbia on our national and state goals and our vision related to Kosovo and Metohija":

"There was a situation where Priština new what they wanted, while it was not entirely clear what Belgrade's position was. That must change, and President Nikolić will gather around him all important political and social factors."

When Ban's office announced that he would also travel to Kosovo, Nikolić said that the UN chief "must state whether he's visiting UN members there or was traveling to a Kosovo that thinks it can be a separate state".

Minister Vuk Jeremić said, commenting on the same issue, that Ban was "welcome in any part of Serbia", while Ivica Dačić noted that the visit was of "supreme political significance", and that he expected Ban to behave in line the status that the province has in the world organization.

The secretary-general later told reporters that his visit to Kosovo would be taking place "in the wider context" of the tour, and "in line with UN Resolution 1244".

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