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Participants at Brno Summit Say Kosovo is Region's Biggest Problem


Presidents of Central and Eastern European countries, meeting in the Czech city of Brno, have called Serbia's breakaway Kosovo province the biggest problem in the region.

Czech President Vaclav Klaus told reporters Saturday after the final plenary session that participants have differing views on how to resolve the Kosovo problem.

Serbian President Boris Tadic reiterated on Friday that his country will never give up Kosovo.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko canceled his participation at the annual regional summit to deal with the political crisis at home.

Participants at the summit also discussed enlargement of the European Union and U.S. plans to deploy defense missile systems in Poland and the Czech Republic.

President Klaus has said that the people of Kosovo must decide for themselves about the future of their province.

Ninety percent of Kosovo's two million people are ethnic Albanians. A United Nations-mediated plan, being considered in the U.N. Security Council, envisions supervised independence for the region. Serbia and Russia oppose the plan.

Slovakia earlier expressed skepticism about Kosovo's independence, but Czech news agency (CTK) Saturday quoted President Ivan Gasparovic as saying that Slovakia will fully respect the U.N. Security Council's decision.

The first summit of the heads of state of central and southern Europe took place in the Czech Republic in 1994.

The presidents of Austria, Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnian-Herzegovina, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Romania Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine have since been meeting annually to discuss regional issues.

Their next summit is set to take place in Macedonia.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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