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Albanian President Pays First Visit To Kosovo

Albanian President Pays First Official Visit To UN-Administered Kosovo

The president of Albania today paid the first official visit ever by an Albanian head of state to United Nations-administered Kosovo just a month after tensions between ethnic Albanians and Serbs boiled over into violence in which 19 people died and hundreds were injured.

In a joint news conference with President Alfred Moisiu in Pristina, the capital, Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Representative Harri Holkeri said the two agreed on the need to urge the Kosovo Albanians “to travel the extra mile to ensure that they regain the trust and confidence of their Kosovo Serb fellow citizens.”

Mr. Holkeri thanked President Moisiu for Albania’s “helpful intervention” in calling for an end to the violence that erupted in Kosovo in mid-March, the worst to hit the province since the UN took over its administration nearly five years ago when NATO forced the withdrawal of Yugoslav troops after fighting between Albanians and Serbs.

Mr. Moisiu said Albania wanted Kosovo to progress on the path of democratization and integration.

“Violence is not the path that should be followed. The necessary and productive path is dialogue. This absolutely requires the desire of both sides and all involved, and I hope that this will be achieved with the support of UNMIK,” he added, referring to the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo.

Also today, Mr. Holkeri attended a memorial Service for two United States UNMIK corrections officers killed at the Mitrovica detention centre on Saturday when at least one of five Jordanian UNMIK officers opened fire.

“These deaths remind us of the dangers faced by the staff of the United Nations in the work for peace, justice and development around the world,” he said. “We must do everything to protect and preserve the integrity, solidarity and trust that United Nations staff normally extend to one another. That bond must remain inviolate. Making it so is the best tribute we could pay to these courageous individuals, and to their fallen comrades around the world.”

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