Kosovo's parliament endorses UN plan on province's future

The Plan approves internationally supervised independence for the Kosovo province; continued presence of the NATO-led peacekeeping force.

Kosovo President.88 (photo credit: AP)
Kosovo President.88
(photo credit: AP)
Kosovo's parliament overwhelmingly endorsed a UN plan Thursday that proposes internationally supervised independence for the disputed province. The resolution was approved 100-1 in the overwhelmingly ethnic Albanian 120-seat assembly, drawing a thunderous applaud and a standing ovation. Nineteen lawmakers were absent from the vote. The UN plan needs to be approved by the UN Security Council to take effect. Kosovo's parliament welcomed the plan drafted by UN envoy Martti Ahtisaari "believing that his recommendations present a balanced and right solution, that is in accordance with the will of people of Kosovo," the resolution said. The lawmakers pledged to "fully implement" the status package, outlined by the former Finnish president who mediated yearlong talks between ethnic Albanians and Serbs over the contested territory. The parliament "welcomes with no reservation the civilian and security presence that will be created in Kosovo as foreseen in the agreement and pledges to cooperate and to support this presence in every possible way until the completion of their tasks stemming from the agreement," it read. Kosovo's assembly has been boycotted by Serb lawmakers since 2004 violence against the Serb minority. The lawmakers were referring to a European Union-led mission that will oversee the implementation of the deal and the continued presence of the NATO-led peacekeeping force when the deal comes into force. The peacekeepers have been deployed in the province since the end of the war between Serbian forces and ethnic Albanian rebels nearly eight years ago. Ahtisaari appeared before the Security Council to discuss his plan Tuesday and faced opposition and skepticism from some members. The division among the veto-wielding permanent members of the Security Council signaled an uphill struggle to reach agreement in the council on Kosovo, which has been under UN and NATO administration since a 78-day NATO-led air war that halted a Serb crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists in 1999. Ahtisaari's proposal calls for the province's independence from Serbia, initially supervised by the international community, and offers broad rights to the province's Serb minority to run their daily affairs and preserve their identity and culture. Ethnic Albanian leaders, who demand independence, have supported the plan and Serbia - which insists the province remains within its borders - has vehemently rejected it. Some ethnic Albanian hard-liners have protested against the plan, which they say offers too many concessions to the Serb minority living in Kosovo and risks the province's division along ethnic lines. Kosovo's Serbs have warned of secession of the Serb-dominated north if the province gains independence.