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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Press Relations Office > Press Releases (Other) > 2006 > September
Press Conference

New York City
September 20, 2006

Briefing on the Kosovo Contact Group by Assistant Secretary for European Affairs Daniel Fried

(5:30 p.m. EDT)

ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRIED:  Good afternoon.  Ministers have just concluded a successful meeting of the Contact Group.  It was chaired by Secretary Rice.  The group expressed support for – the Contact Group expressed support for the efforts of UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari, who has been working to advance a negotiated settlement of Kosovo’s status, the final, great, unresolved questions of the break – stemming from the breakup of former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

The group heard a report from President Ahtisaari.  The ministers then gave both their reaction to his report with – they expressed, with unanimity and considerable conviction, support for his efforts.  They – all ministers gave their view as to the way ahead and next steps.  President Ahtisaari summed up his views and the ministers issued a statement which is being made available to you if you don’t have it already.

In that statement, I want to emphasize a couple of points.  Ministers reaffirmed their commitment that all possible efforts be made to achieve a negotiated settlement in the course of 2006.  In other words, they are adhering to the timeline of seeking to chart the way forward this year.  The ministers also agreed that striving for a negotiated settlement should not obscure the fact that neither party can unilaterally block the status process from advancing.

QUESTION:  Sorry, could not obscure the fact that?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRIED:  That neither party, meaning in this case the --


ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRIED:  Serbs, Kosovars can unilaterally block the status process from advancing.  That’s a very important point of agreement by ministers.  The ministers also urged the Kosovar leadership, the provisional institutions of self-government, that is, the governing – the quasi-government in Kosovo to accelerate the efforts to implement UN-endorsed standards.  And they called on Belgrade to cease its obstruction of Kosovo-Serb participation in Kosovo’s institutions.  So they made rather pointed statements directed at Belgrade and Pristina.  And they did not make identical statements and the statements are as I read them.

This was an example of the continued commitment of the international community to see to it that this great, unresolved issue of the breakup of Yugoslavia – the former Yugoslavia is resolved.  This was, as I said, a good meeting.  The ministers are determined to see this through.  All the ministers expressed realism about the difficulties, but a determination to work together to advance this process.

I was – I think it’s fair to say we were all satisfied with the meeting, the continued international determination to see this process through.  President Ahtisaari, I believe, was quite satisfied with the meeting.  He will speak for himself, but he seemed to be quite satisfied. 


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