Beta News Agency, Belgrade
June 10, 2004
Covic: Upcoming months critical for future of Kosovo
BELGRADE – Coordinating Center for Kosovo and Metohija president Nebojsa Covic said on Thursday that the upcoming months will be critical for the future of Kosovo and Metohija.
“I am afraid that a dangerous strategy is in process involving the preparation by September or by the end of the year of all documents to be implemented in Kosovo at the beginning of 2005,” Covic said at a press conference.
“If you have failures in Iraq, Afghanistan and Cyprus and upcoming elections, you need a success somewhere as a part of your pre-election campaign,” said Covic, adding that it seems to him that “Kosovo has entered a phase in which it is supposed to be a factor in someone’s success”.
“I am concerned that this success may be yet again to the detriment of the Serb position,” said Covic.
He pointed out that the future of Kosovo depends on activities that are unfolding through two simultaneous processes led by the Contact Group plus and the Troika.
The Troika is comprised of the U.S., the EU and NATO, and it excludes Russia, reminded Covic. The problem is that the role of the Troika is never defined at Contact Group meetings and that the model for the Contact Group resembles Dayton while the model for the Troika is reminiscent of the Ohrid Agreement. (The Ohrid Framework Agreement was the peace deal signed by the government of the Republic of Macedonia and representatives of the Albanian minority on 13 August 2001.)
Covic pointed out the two trends in international involvement in Kosovo: an increase in pressure on Belgrade and the Kosovo Serbs, and an attempt to circumvent structures with dissenting opinions where consensus cannot be achieved through voting.
“I expect great pressure on Belgrade and the Kosovo Serbs after the (Serbian presidential) elections with regard to participation in task groups (for the implementation of the Standards for Kosovo) and (Serb) returns to (Kosovo provisional) institutions,” said Covic.
“So many challenges await us, so many bones have been thrown at the Serbs that I really don’t know how a new conflict can be avoided. I pray to God that we can surmount these trials and remain united,” said Covic.
We will be confronted with the questions “do you want task groups or not, elections or not, to return to institutions or not” and it is truly essential to take an inventory on what we have gained by earlier participation in elections and institutions.
Covic could not confirm claims by Kosovo Serb leaders that a new attack against Serbs is being planned; however, he added that he fears that “the other side wants us to panic and encourage Serbs and other non-Albanians to leave Kosovo”.
“I am also afraid of an internal conflict among Serbs – a dangerous scenario that is being cooked up by some diplomatic circles,” said Covic.