EU defence ministers to debate Kosovo status

The future of Kosovo is still a tricky issue – the Serbian parliament has overwhelmingly voted a new constitution to keep the province as a part of Serbia.    

Meeting for a two-day informal council in Finland 2-3 October, EU defence ministers will be briefed by Finland’s former president Martti Ahtisaari on the negotiations, which he is chairing on behalf of the UN concerning the future status of Kosovo.

The ethnic Albanian majority wants full independence, while Serbs want Belgrade to retain control over the province, which was confirmed in a parliamentary vote on 30 September on a new constitution.

Ahtisaari aims to wrap up the talks by the end of 2006. Increasingly, it appears that Kosovo will be granted some degree of independence. The EU, which is already engaged in peacekeeping efforts in neigboring FYROM and in Bosnia, wants to avoid any new outbreaks of violence.

Ministers will also debate the planned 30 November pull-out of EU troops in Democratic Republic of Congo.  The prospect of renewed fighting after the second- round presidential election on 29 October has put pressure on the EU to prolong its presence. The EU has 2,000 troops deployed in support of 17,600 UN peacekeepers.

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