Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Further supplementary written evidence submitted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office


  The United Kingdom would like to share with Partners a report of the visit made by the United Kingdom's Minister for Europe, Dr MacShane, to Belgrade, Skopje and Pristina on 25 and 26 October 2004.

  In Belgrade Dr MacShane saw President Marovic of Serbia and Montenegro; Foreign Minister Draskovic of Serbia and Montenegro; Prime Minister Kostunica of Serbia; and President Tadic of Serbia.

  Discussion focused on Kosovo. Dr MacShane expressed his disappointment at the low turn out of Kosovo-Serbs at the Kosovo elections. Kostunica said it was expected given Kosovo-Serbs' living conditions. Dr MacShane made clear to all four interlocutors that now that the elections were over, the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue must begin afresh without preconditions. Tadic and Draskovic agreed. Kostuncia said he would re-assess the situation after decentralisation was completed in Kosovo and that there needed to be a new arrangement that combined the UNMIK and Belgrade plans on decentralisation. Dr Mac Shane responded that while elements of the Belgrade plan could enrich the UNMIK plan, the latter was the only basis.

  On co-operation with the ICTY, Dr MacShane said that it was double standards for Belgrade to expect human rights and international law protection in Kosovo while at the same time disregarding international law themselves by not co-operating with The Hague. Marovic said that Belgrade believed that arresting the four Generals would be destabilising, when in fact failing to arrest them was more destabilising. Dr MacShane underlined that the UK wanted Serbia and Montenegro in the EU and NATO.

  In Pristina, meetings were held with the SRSG; President Rugova, Prime Minister Rexhepi; Thaqi (PDK); Haradinaj (AAK); Surroi (ORA); and Ivanovic (Serb list for Kosovo and Metohija).

  Dr MacShane underlined the importance of forming a new Government quickly to allow time to make progress in key areas in advance of the standards review in mid-2005. His interlocutors did not think a government would take long to form, but were cautious about the different options.

  Jessen-Petersen hoped that the new Government could be formed without any overt international role. He said that the priority after its formation should be agreement on decentralisation and implementation of pilot projects. This would give more legitimacy to the Kosovo Serb representatives than the turn-out in the elections might otherwise provide. Dr MacShane and Jessen-Petersen discussed Kosovo's economy.

  In Skopje, Dr MacShane called on President Crvenkovski; Deputy Prime Minister Sekerinska; Deputy Foreign Minister Hasanovich; the leader of the ethnic Macedonian opposition (VMRO-DPMNE), Gruevski; and leading ethnic Albanian DUI MP, Arifi.

  The agenda was dominated by the referendum on local government reorganisation. Dr MacShane told his interlocutors that while the opportunity to hold the referendum was provided for in the constitution, it represented a direct challenge to the implementation of the Ohrid Framework Agreement and so to the country's applications to join the EU and NATO. This was a matter of grave concern.

  President Crvenkovski said that he thought the referendum result would be close, although the turnout was likely to be low. Deputy PM Sekerinska highlighted that the coalition would be campaigning in public over the next fortnight against the referendum. Gruevski said that if the referendum succeeded, experts should work closely with the international community in working out a new territorial reorganisation package. Dr MacShane made clear that the Ohrid Agreement was the only framework. Arifi confirmed she would promote a restrained and constructive approach amongst ethnic Albanians.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

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