Kosovo rivals begin coalition negotiations

Kosovo's two main political parties said they would begin negotiations on Tuesday on a coalition government to lead the province into a declaration of independence from Serbia early next year.

Kosovo rivals begin coalition negotiations
The deadline for a deal between Serbia and the Kosovo Albanians expired on Monday without result. European Union foreign ministers meeting in Brussels edged towards a common position on independence for the province—something strongly opposed by Serbia and by Russia.

The Democratic Party of Kosovo of prime minister-apparent Hashim Thaci invited the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) to set aside their bitter rivalry since the 1998-99 war and discuss the formation of a 'grand coalition'.

Thaci's PDK, which emerged from the ranks of the Kosovo Albanian army after the war, won Kosovo's Nov 17 parliamentary election.

Thaci, 39, waited until after the formal end of failed negotiations on the fate of the Albanian majority province to make his widely predicted overture to the LDK. An LDK official said the party had agreed to hold talks.

Kosovo leaders announced they would immediately start consultations with their Western backers on a declaration of independence, expected in the first months of 2008.

Transition

Western diplomats hope the LDK and PDK can together lead Kosovo through what promises to be a turbulent transition to statehood, opposed by Serbia and its big-power backer, Russia.

'Kosovo is at the most important crossroads in its history,' Thaci wrote to LDK leader and Kosovo President Fatmir Sejdiu.

'We all agree that for the interests of our citizens we should set aside our differences and unite for one aim: to solve the problems of today and the challenges of tomorrow.'

Together the two parties would hold 62 seats in the 120-seat parliament. Thaci has indicated he would also welcome the participation of ethnic minorities, including Serbs.

Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 11 Aralık 2007, 15:03
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