Vienna, 16 September 2005 Press release

Plassnik: "Austria - a venue for dialogue"


Direct Kosovo talks will continue today

Vienna, 16 September 2005 - The direct Serb-Albanian dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina will be resumed in Vienna today. "Two years after the first meeting at political level in Vienna, the fact that top-level politicians are again meeting for a direct dialogue is an important step forward", said Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik on Friday.

The talks between high-ranking politicians from Serbia and the UN-administered Kosovo (UNMIK) will focus on decentralisation. "The aim of our efforts is to ensure that all concerned can live in freedom, security and dignity. The discussion of questions concerning decentralisation is of central importance to the development of a sustainable multi-ethnic society. Both sides should be encouraged to deal with questions of local administration in a constructive manner", said Plassnik. "As neighbours we Austrians are particularly interested in the stability of South-Eastern Europe and the peaceful cohabitation of the people in this region", continued Plassnik.

The UN General Secretary’s Special Envoy for Kosovo, the Norwegian diplomat Kai Eide, will chair the meeting at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The two delegations will be headed by the Serb and the Kosovan Ministers for Municipal Administration, Zoran Loncar and Lutfi Haziri.

Today’s meeting constitutes a continuation of the Austrian initiative for the promotion of a direct dialogue between the two sides. A seminar on decentralisation was held at Dürnstein last year, and this summer the Ministry for Foreign Affairs invited both sides for talks on the position of religious communities and the protection of religious sites.