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UN envoy recommends Kosovo independence
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Independence is "the only viable option" for Kosovo, according to the UN's envoy to the province.
Martti Ahtisaari, who mediated in year-long talks between ethnic Albanians and Serbs in the former Yugoslav province, delivered his proposals to the UN security council today.
In an introductory report, Mr Ahtisaari made his conclusions clear, saying that "upon careful consideration of Kosovo's recent history, the realities of Kosovo today, and taking into account negotiations with the parties, I have come to the conclusion that the only viable option for Kosovo is independence, to be supervised for an initial period by the international community". It was the first time he had explicitly mentioned independence in a document dealing with the 90% Albanian province's future.
Mr Ahtisaari's proposals would grant Kosovo its own constitution, flag, anthem and army, combined with some rights of self-government for the 100,000-strong Serb minority.
But the province would not be totally autonomous immediately, with the plans envisaging a European Union overseer. The UN has administered Kosovo since 1999, when Nato air strikes ended a Serbian crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists. An estimated 10,000 ethnic Albanians and 1,000 Serbs were killed during the 1998-1999 war.
The UN plan is an attempt to resolve the final major dispute remaining after Yugoslavia's bloody break-up in the 1990s.
The foreign secretary, Margaret Beckett, said Mr Ahtisaari's proposals gave Kosovo clarity over its future, that "would enable the Balkan region as a whole to draw a line under the conflicts of the recent past".
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