Serbian and Kosovo Albanian leaders have held their first face-to-face meeting in UN-backed talks on the future status of the province. The one-day meeting in Vienna formally puts the ethnic Albanian majority’s demand for independence on the agenda of a process that began in February. It comes seven years after NATO bombs drove out Serb forces and the UN took control.
Analysts believe concrete results are unlikely, given what diplomats say is an unbridgeable chasm between the two sides. Some 90 percent of Kosovo’s 2 million people are Albanians who reject any return to Serb rule, while Serbia sees Kosovo as an integral part of its territory.
Six months of lower-level direct talks on the rights of the 100,000 Serbs still in Kosovo have produced few signs of compromise. The UN has set an end-of-the-year deadline for the conclusion of negotiations. It is feared any delay could spark fresh violence in the territory.