United Nations special envoy Martti Ahtisaari has presented his plan on Kosovo in Belgrade. But he says there is still room for a last minute compromise between Serbs and ethnic Albanians, on the future of the province. The Serb President has warned the implementation of the plan may be inevitable. The Prime Minister has rejected it, citing anti-Serb bias. The Ahtisaari plan allows Kosovo to separate from Serbia – have its own flag and anthem – and apply for membership of international institutions. But it would still be supervised internationally and patrolled by NATO.
Outside the meeting in Belgrade, protestors made their disappointment clear. They brandished pictures of loved ones who reportedly went missing in Kosovo during NATO bombing raids eight years ago. There are fears the proposals will spark an outbreak of violence in the region.
Ethnic Albanians who make up 90 percent of the two million people living in Kosovo want full independence. But Serbs see the province as the medieval homeland of their nation. Kosovo’s Prime Minister Agim Ceku urged his people to calm: “It’s a big day for Kosovo. We believe the proposal is positive, even though it is not everything we anticipated, deserved or wished.”
But in Pristina, there was heightened security ahead of Ahtisaari’s meeting with Kosovo’s Albanian leaders. Police and NATO-led peacekeepers stepped up their patrols, for fear that after almost a decade, the quiet streets would once again see battles and bloodshed.