The constitutional referendum Serbia holds this weekend will not influence the decision on Kosovo’s final status, the US envoy to the UN-led talks on determining the province’s future said in Pristina on Wednesday (October 25th). Frank Wisner reiterated that Washington remains engaged with Kosovo despite other global obligations.
“What happens to you is a Kosovar matter, and an international matter,” Wisner said after talks with Kosovo officials. “It is not a matter of Serbian sovereignty, which changed when the UN agreed on 1244,” he added, referring to the Security Council resolution under which UNMIK was established more than seven years ago.
On September 30th, the Serbian parliament adopted a constitution intended to replace one that dates back to the Milosevic years. Besides proclaiming Serbia an independent state for the first time in almost 90 years, the draft defines Kosovo as an integral part of the country’s territory.
Belgrade authorities have been urging voters to support the proposed constitution, as a way to forestall the province’s secession.
Some 100,000 people, most of them Kosovo Serbs, are expected to go to the polling stations in the province. Wisner urged the Kosovo Albanian authorities to allow them to cast their ballots.
Kosovo Albanians, who make up 90% of the province’s population of about 2 million people, are pushing for full independence from Serbia. Serbian authorities, meanwhile, have been repeating over the past months that all they can agree to is “substantial autonomy”.
While in Pristina, Wisner rejected the idea of partitioning Kosovo. “This place will be united territory and will not have a division,” he said. “There is only one territory and its name is Kosovo.”
He urged Kosovo leaders to be as prepared as they can, because the process of determining the province’s future must be concluded this year.
â€œWe are close to an agreement on final status. Few of us have dilemmas as to what final status implies,” the local daily Zeri quoted Wisner as saying. “It means achieving the historical vision that the people of Kosovo have desired for many, many years.”
President Fatmir Sejdiu expressed his thanks for the US engagement in Kosovo and said such support is crucial. Kosovo Prime Minister Agim Ceku said Wisner had brought welcome and hopeful messages. Both reiterated Kosovo’s demand for independence.