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Serbia for Splitting Kosovo Between Serbs, Albanians

Proposal comes as U.N. begins a fact-finding mission to help resolve the prolonged dispute.

November 25, 2005|From Associated Press

BELGRADE, Serbia and Montenegro — Serbia's president on Thursday formally proposed dividing Kosovo between its independence-seeking Albanian majority and a Serb minority as the chief U.N. mediator met with government officials.

Martti Ahtisaari, who was appointed this month by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and is on his initial fact-finding mission in the Balkans, said the troubled province's final status would ultimately be decided by the Security Council after his report.

The United Nations-sponsored process is aimed at settling one of the most intractable disputes left over from the ethnic and sectarian wars of the 1990s in the former Yugoslavia.

Kosovo, considered by the Serbs to be the cradle of their statehood and religion, is part of Serbia and Montenegro but has been administered by the U.N. since 1999, when bombing by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization halted a Serb crackdown on separatist ethnic Albanians.

Serb President Boris Tadic offered his proposal to the government Thursday, saying Kosovo should be divided along ethnic lines to give Albanians virtual independence while keeping it within Serbia's borders.

The proposal has been rejected by ethnic Albanian leaders who want full independence for the whole province.

It also drew angry reactions from Serb ultranationalists who demanded that Tadic be impeached for ceding part of "sovereign Serbian territory" to the Kosovo Albanians.

The division of Kosovo, or its return to direct Serbian rule, has been rejected by the European Union and U.S., which wields veto power as a permanent U.N. Security Council member. Russia and China, also with veto power on the council, oppose Kosovo's independence.

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