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Talks on Kosovo address sticky question of Serb heritage sites

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Talks on Kosovo address sticky question of Serb heritage sites


Talks in Vienna on the future of Kosovo will today address the question of the protection of the province’s religious and cultural sites. The issue is extremely divisive as key Serbian sites are located in the province, which the majority ethnic Albanians hope will become independent from Serbia.

The Visoki Decani monastery, which was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO two years ago, is currently under the protection of NATO troops, as are many other historical and religious sites, particularly in Albanian dominated areas. Serbs consider Kosovo to be the cradle of their civilization, and many key Serbian monuments are located there. Kosovo has been administered by the United Nations since a 1999 NATO air war halted a crackdown by Serb forces on separatist ethnic Albanians. Many Serbs fled the province during the war, but around 100,000 remain, living mainly in enclaves protected by international peacekeepers. In Belgrade the Serb Prime Minister, Vojislav Kostunica, has said he is unhappy about the way the UN representatives are handling the Vienna negotiations. The UN has said it wants progress on the future status of Kosovo to speed up, and has announecd that high level talks will start in July.
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