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Kosovo Urged To Address Causes Of Recent Violence

UN Peacekeeping Chief Urges Kosovo To Address Causes Of Recent Violence

Kosovo's leaders and its people must take concrete steps to tackle the root causes of the ethnic violence that continues to plague the province, the top United Nations peacekeeping official told the Security Council today.

A month after two days of violence engulfed the province, leaving 19 people dead, hundreds more injured and numerous homes and religious buildings damaged or destroyed, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno said international efforts to help <"http://www.unmikonline.org/">Kosovo stabilize and advance could only do so much.

In an <"http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2004/sc8056.doc.htm">open briefing to the 15-member Council, he called on the leaders of Kosovo to "exercise true leadership and responsible government, and to marginalize and hold politically accountable those among them who may have condoned or supported the violence."

Mr. Guéhenno said senior officials must identify and discipline politicians and civil servants who fomented or participated in last month's events, which followed several incidents that had raised tensions between the province's ethnic Albanian and Serb communities.

He described the series of riots, demonstrations and violent attacks as initially spontaneous but "quickly taken over by organized elements with an interest in driving the Kosovo Serbs from Kosovo and threatening the international presence there." He said the attacks were widespread and targeted, focusing on the province's Serb, Roma and Ashkali communities.

The head of peacekeeping said the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) had launched a probe into the violence and noted that 183 arrests have already been made. But he said UNMIK has requested Member States provide another 100 police investigators to fully investigate the violence and the people behind it.

Serbia and Montenegro's representative, Roksanda Nincic, told the Council that there has been ample opportunity since UNMIK assumed control of the province in June 1999 to show that ethnically-motivated violence will not be tolerated in Kosovo. She said authorities must now prove there will be no impunity for those who committed the attacks.

Other delegates addressing the Council stressed the importance of bringing all the perpetrators to justice, and said it was vital that the religious and cultural sites damaged or destroyed last month be rebuilt.

They also said that the events indicate the importance of implementing the standards for Kosovo plan before the province's final status is determined. The standards plan is a detailed guide that sets specific goals in such areas as the building of democratic institutions, the enforcement of rights for minorities and the creation of a functioning economy. Its provisions include the holding of free and fair elections and the establishment of an impartial legal system.

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