WASHINGTON – Serbian Minister of Foreign Affairs Vuk Jeremic said he hopes the U.S. government will abandon its support for the independence of Kosovo and will instead propose new ideas for the future status of that region within the boarders of Serbia-Montenegro.
Jeremic,32,spoke Friday at the National Press Club before his meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. He said he hoped the meeting with Rice would start a cooperative effort on the issue. Jeremic said it may take longer than the recently accepted 120 day term of negotiations to reach a compromise solution “for all who want peace in the Balkans.”
He said this is the first visit of a Serbian foreign affairs minister to Washington since the new government was formed in Belgrade.
“I am looking for the opening up the relationship that is going to allow us to pour our resources and join our forces,” Jeremic said.
The U.S. government has strongly supported independence for Kosovo. The U.S. and the countries of the European Union supported a hearing on Kosovar independence by the United Nations Security Council last week,but they decided to postpone it because of strong opposition by Russia.
Moscow officials said they would veto any decision in the Security Council concerning Kosovar independence. Instead,the parties agreed to set the120 day term for negotiations to define Kosovo's status.
Rice met with Kosovo government representatives Monday. After their meeting,Kosovo officials agreed not to declare independence until the end of the 120 day negotiations term.
But Kosovo President Fatmir Sejdiu said the his government will officially declare independence Nov. 28,neighboring Albania's independence day,which is shortly after the end of the 120 day negotiations term.
Jeremic said it might take longer than 120 days to define the future status of Kosovo on which all sides would agree. He said for him it is more important to have a solution rather than more time to talk without results.
Jeremic said the Serbian government spent 15 months discussing with the Kosovar government security guarantees for the region's majority population of ethnic Albanians and the types of governance they would agree on. He said they didn't reach any results,as the Kosovo side was asking for independence and would not discuss the possibility of a future within Serbian borders.
Jeremic said he hopes foreign countries will help the Serbian and the Kosovo sides find new solutions and not wait till the end of the 120 day term to say, “‘You guys don't find a solution,and we are going to recognize Kosovo as an independent country.' Let me remind you this is exactly what the Albanians want.”
Serbia and Albania fought over Kosovo,and Albania strongly supports independence for Kosovo.
Jeremic said Serbia would put more effort into the discussions.
“Serbia is going to be very flexible,” he said. “Serbia is going to be ready to click on new ideas. If we don't move,and Albanians keep just rejecting and saying they don't want anything but independence,and then when these 120 days go over,we are going to be at the same situation. There will be no compromise solution.”
Jeremic refused to explain in detail what status he proposed for Kosovo,as he said he was waiting for new proposals during the negotiations.