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UN to Form Fact-Finding Mission Before Decision on Kosovo


The head of the U.N. Security Council, British Ambassador Emyr Jones-Parry, says he does not expect any decisions on the future status of Kosovo until members visit Belgrade and Pristina this month. VOA Correspondent Barbara Schoetzau has the details from New York.

Jones-Parry says he expects the Security Council to put together a fact-finding mission to Kosovo and Serbia within the month. Following the mission's report, he expects further discussion on Kosovo's future and the proposal presented to the Council Tuesday by U.N. special envoy Martii Ahtisaari.

The former Finnish president recommended "supervised" independence for the Serbian province and its overwhelmingly ethnic-Albanian population. The plan gives substantial autonomy to the province's Serbian minority. European Union members and the United States support the proposal.

But Belgrade fiercely objects to the plan, saying it violates Serbia's territorial integrity. Russia, which wields veto power on the Council, supports Serbia. Russia and Serbia are urging a Security Council mission to view the situation on the ground.

Jones-Parry says Council members recognize the sensitivity of the issue and are discussing the make up, goal and timing of a visit.

"Within the Council there is a natural sense that we want more information," he said. "We are worried about the dismemberment of a state. At the same time, many in the Council acknowledge that we have got to a point where what President Ahtisaari is proposing is the logical, the necessary political step and that if this is done in a carefully managed way that you can end up with stability, rights and reconciliation all furthered between Kosovo and Serbia and both those within the Balkan region."

The Security Council must approve any plans on the status of the U.N.-administered province.

Speaking as British ambassador, Jones-Parry says he believes Mr. Ahtisaari exhausted all possibilities during months of negotiating between the two sides and presented a "carefully formulated" package that contains the necessary elements of a solution to the issues.