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Europe

Germany, Croatia Back UN Envoy's Plan for Kosovo

During a visit to the Balkans, German Defense Minister Jung underlined his support for the supervised independence of the breakaway Serbian province of Kosovo as well as Croatia's desire for EU and NATO membership.

German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung with Croation counterpart Berislav Roncevic in Zagreb, Croatia

Jung, left, with his Croatian counterpart Roncevic in Zagreb

Meeting with his Croatian counterpart, Berislav Roncevic, in Zagreb on Wednesday, German Defense Minster Franz Josef Jung said both Germany and Croatia were in agreement over the future of Kosovo.

"We have agreed on the issue of Kosovo and its status," Jung told journalists. "We support [UN special envoy Martti] Ahtisaari's plan."

UN blueprint for Kosovo

Ahtisaari has called for supervised independence for Kosovo with its own constitution, flag and anthem. It has been welcomed by the ethnic Albanian majority there but is fiercely opposed by both Serbia and Russia. Moscow has blocked the plan's adoption at the UN Security Council.

UN envoy to Kosovo, Martti Ahtisaari

UN envoy to Kosovo, Martti Ahtisaari

Jung reiterated that the United Nations was the basis for a solution to solving Kosovo's problems and urged Belgrade to make moves towards it.

Talks on the province's future resume on Thursday in Vienna where a "troika" of international envoys will meet with Serbian and Kosovo Albanian leaders. The West has reluctantly agreed to new talks, which it hopes to wrap up by Dec. 10.

Although Kosovo is still officially part of Serbia, the province has been administered by the United Nations since 1999. Its 90 percent Albanian majority are demanding independence, a move flatly rejected by Serbia, who says it can only offer broad autonomy.

On the eve of Jung's departure, the outgoing German commander in Kosovo, Lieutenant-General Roland Kather, warned of "increased nervousness" in the province and called for a swift decision on Kosovo's status.

"From my responsibility as KFOR commander, we need the decision on the final status of Kosovo as soon as possible," Kather told a news conference. "We need it because everybody is waiting. We need it to come up with economic development, and by that, at the same time to provide for security."

Jung supports Croatian NATO, EU bid

Jung also supported Croatia's bid to join the European Union and NATO.

"Germany will continue to support Croatia's European perspective and efforts to join NATO," he said.

Croatia hopes to receive an invitation to join NATO next year and from the EU by the end of the decade.

Jung will travel to Macedonia and Albania on Thursday. Both countries are hoping to get an invitation to join NATO next year.

On Friday, Jung visits Kosovo where he meets with President Fatmir Sejdiu. There, he is also to attend the formal handing over from German to French command of the approximately 16,000-strong NATO Kosovo Force (KFOR) peacekeeping contingent.

DW.DE