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Last Updated: Friday, 7 October 2005, 20:13 GMT 21:13 UK
Drive for Kosovo future status
By Matt Prodger
BBC News, Belgrade

Kosovo President Ibrahim Rugova (archive picture)
Mr Rugova is a veteran of Kosovo's drive for independence
The main reason that the issue of Kosovo is being driven along at this pace is that there is an overwhelming pressure amongst the ethnic Albanian majority there for something to be done soon to resolve the state of the Serbian province.

They, undoubtedly, want complete independence from Serbia and Montenegro.

But there is a realisation that even though certain standards were meant to be fulfilled in Kosovo before these talks could begin - such as the rule of law, protection of Serbian minorities - we have seen that they are going to go ahead without that happening.

So there is a real drive that is pushing this along.

'More than autonomy'

The Prime Minister of Serbia and Montenegro, Vojislav Kostunica, said he was surprised that the preconditions for talks on Kosovo's future - the full implementation of those standards - hadn't been met and yet they were going ahead with them.

Belgrade has always said all along that it wants to offer more than autonomy but less than independence for Kosovo.

That is not accepted by the vast majority of Kosovo's population.

There were a few indicators on Friday that the Kostunica government would want to keep control of Kosovo's borders, centralise the customs offices and keep them part of Serbia, only allow one defence minister, one foreign minister, one seat at the United Nations for both Serbia and Kosovo.

Those are likely to be argued against very strongly by the ethnic Albanian side.


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