Thursday, October 05, 2006

Macedonian premier says border dispute with Kosovo should come before final status

SKOPJE, Macedonia Macedonia's prime minister on Tuesday said a border dispute with Kosovo should be settled before the province's final status is determined.
Nikola Gruevski met with the top U.N. official in Kosovo, Joachim Rucker, to discuss the dispute.
Kosovo has claimed more than 2,000 hectares (4,900 acres) of land in Macedonia since 2001 border agreement between Skopje and Belgrade.
"The border dispute should be solved before, or as a part of the overall solution for Kosovo, but not after," Gruevski said.
Rucker, who also met Macedonian President Branko Crvenkovski, agreed.
"It should be solved in the context of the status and certainly not after," Rucker said.
The United Nations hopes to resolve Kosovo's status by the end of the year, but talks have stalled with both sides unwilling to compromise on their demands.
Ethnic Albanians, who make up 90 percent of province's 2 million people, are seeking independence from Belgrade. Serbia and Kosovo's Serb minority say the province is the heart of Serbia's ancient homeland and should remain within its borders.

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