Solana urges Kosovo leaders to fill vacuum
PRISTINA, Serbia-Montenegro-EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana urged
Kosovo politicians Thursday to quickly fill the leadership vacuum left
by the death of President Ibrahim Rugova last weekend.
Solana, who paid tribute to the late leader as a man who "gave to his
country all his life," said replacing him "is not an easy task."
Rugova came to embody ethnic Albanians' aspirations for full independence
for Kosovo. He died of lung cancer on Saturday.
With no one in line to take his place, Kosovo's political scene has
been thrown into disarray as the province prepares for talks on its final
status. The talks, which had been due to begin on Wednesday, have been
postponed until next month.
"What came to my mind yesterday and also today is to see the vacuum
that he leaves be filled by people with a sense of responsibility, with
a sense of unity, with a sense of generosity for the people of Kosovo,"
Solana told the AP in an interview. "Sooner the decisions are taken, better
The U.S. envoy to the Kosovo talks, Frank Wisner, said that his government
was "deeply committed to the negotiations that lie ahead and their rapid
Nexhat Daci, the head of the assembly who is likely to take up the duties
of the president until a new one is elected by parliament, pledged that
Kosovo leaders would move swiftly.
"We will not delay any process," Daci said. "The finalization of the
independence is in Kosovo's and the region's interest."
Rugova had been leading the province's negotiating team as it tried
to negotiate with Serbia's officials on whether Kosovo becomes an independent
state or remains part of Serbia.
"This is one of the ironies of history that Kosovo looses a man in the
moment in which he was most needed," Solana said, praising Rugova's leadership
style of trying to obtain results without violence.
Rugova won international admiration for his peaceful opposition to Serb
dominance of the province in the 1990s, an approach that won him the nickname
Kosovo, which officially remains a province of Serbia-Montenegro, has
been administered by the United Nations since 1999 when NATO-led bombing
ended a Serb crackdown on separatist ethnic Albanians.
January 26, 2006 11:20 AM