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Calmy-Rey clarifies Swiss position on Kosovo

Calmy-Rey (left) and Kosovo president Ibrahim Rugova at a news conference in Pristina

(Keystone)

Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey has reiterated a call for formal independence for the breakaway Serbian province of Kosovo.

She described the current status of the United Nations-administered area as "unsatisfactory", but warned against hasty conclusions.

At the end of her four-day visit to the region, Calmy-Rey said the reintegration of Kosovo into Serbia and Montenegro was neither desirable nor realistic.

She said the people in Kosovo needed perspectives for the future.

However, she warned against hasty conclusions, according to her diplomatic aide.

Calmy-Rey said the legal status of the province had to be negotiated with all the parties involved, including Serbia and Montenegro, the UN and the European Union.

Minorities, human rights

The foreign minister insisted that a solution must not be imposed on any party. She added that the rights of the minorities and basic human rights were issues that needed to be addressed.

Kosovo, which has been administered by the UN since 1999, is mainly ethnic Albanian, but has a ten per cent Serb minority.

Calmy-Rey reaffirmed Switzerland’s call for "formal independence of Kosovo" but did not specify publicly what forms this could take.

She made the comments in Pristina following talks with the Kosovo president, Ibrahim Rugova, on Monday.

The authorities in Pristina said they were pleased to see that Switzerland supported international recognition of Kosovo as a sovereign state.

However, the Serbian government told Calmy-Rey at talks in Belgrade in June that they were opposed to plans for independence for the province.

Refugees

It is estimated that there are up to 200,000 people from Kosovo in Switzerland, who fled the conflict at the end of the 1990s.

Switzerland has also deployed peacekeeping troops in the area as part of a multinational Nato contingent. There are currently 220 armed Swisscoy soldiers stationed in the Suva Reka region.

Calmy-Rey visited the troops on Swiss National Day on August 1.

The foreign minister also visited camps housing displaced members of the Roma gypsy community and met Kosovo families who had returned from Switzerland.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

A 78-day Nato-led air war halted a Serb crackdown on ethnic Albanians in Kosovo in 1999.
In the same year the UN took over administration of the province.
The Kosovo leadership wants independence from Belgrade, but Serbia is opposed.

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