Herald Tribune, 2 april 2007.
PRISTINA, Serbia: NATO's secretary-general said Monday the U.N. Security Council should not rush a decision on Kosovo's future, but cautioned against delay in settling the dispute over the future of the contested province.
Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and NATO's senior decision-making council reviewed security in Kosovo ahead of a key debate by U.N. Security Council members, who will on Tuesday table for the first time a U.N. plan recommending independence for the province. The plan needs the council's approval to take effect.
"The Security Council will come to a just conclusion," said De Hoop Scheffer. "On one hand, I think we should not expect a rush, on the other hand we should not expect unnecessary delay — no rush, no unnecessary delay in the Security Council."
The proposal, drafted by special U.N. envoy Martti Ahtisaari, recommends Kosovo be granted supervised independence and offers broad rights to the province's Serb minority to run their daily affairs and preserve their identity and culture.
Council members are also divided over the plan. Russia supports Serbia — which has rejected the plan and wants Kosovo to remain within its borders — and has implied it could use its veto at the council if Belgrade's interests are not addressed. The United States and the European Union back the plan.
Kosovo's Prime Minister Agim Ceku said Monday the discussions that will follow in the council will "not be easy; disagreements will persist. But, we hope that logic and sound principles will prevail."
Some Western officials fear that further delays in settling the dispute over the province's future might spark renewed violence in the region.
But de Hoop Scheffer said NATO's 16,500 peacekeepers were prepared to confront violence and warned extremists that unrest would harm the process.
"No one should have the illusion that violence or the threat of violence could in any way be an element in finding a solution," he warned.
The North Atlantic Council, consisting of NATO's 26 permanent representatives and headed by de Hoop Scheffer, visited Kosovo as peacekeepers increased security around one of the most revered Serb Orthodox monasteries in the western part of the province following a rocket attack on Friday. The anti-tank weapon damaged a part of the roof of the wall around the Decane monastery.
UNESCO designated the monastery as a World Heritage site in 2004, and the site is protected by NATO peacekeepers.
Kosovo was placed under U.N. administration in 1999, after NATO air strikes ended a Serb crackdown on independence-seeking ethnic Albanians that left thousands dead.