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Nato Security Force To Stay The Course In Kosovo

UN Envoy Calls On Nato Security Force To Stay The Course In Kosovo

The top United Nations envoy for Kosovo today appealed to North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members providing the troops that keep the peace in the ethnically-divided province to "stay the course" and maintain adequate force levels to ensure the establishment of a stable multiethnic society.

"If we cannot contain such potential threats to order and security in Kosovo, we will fail in our goal to create a stable multiethnic society in the foreseeable future," Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative Søren Jessen-Petersen told the North Atlantic Council of the situation in the province, where 22 people were killed and 500 injured in fighting in March between majority Albanians and minority Serbs.

In an address to the Council in Brussels, he underlined the excellent cooperation between the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), which has steered the province since 1999 when NATO forced the withdrawal of Yugoslav troops after fighting between Albanians and Serbs, and the NATO-led international Kosovo Force (KFOR) that provides security.

Mr. Jessen-Petersen stressed that security throughout the recent election campaign and on election day itself had been very satisfactory. "Since March UNMIK and KFOR have worked together to improve the security environment in Kosovo with particular regard to the minority population," he said, adding that all communities of Kosovo had an obligation to contribute to a secure environment.

"It is vitally important that the Kosovo Serbs participate in processes, including the working group on decentralization, that provide them with the opportunity to address issues of direct concern to them," he declared, reiterating his recent call to all parties to heed the concerns of minorities.

"The new government must reach out to the minority communities and make rapid progress on the implementation of standards, in particular in areas such as security, returns, freedom of movement, decentralization, and rule of law," he said, calling for the prompt formation of a government following the 23 October elections, in which Serb turnout was low.

Mr. Jessen-Petersen said at the time that many Kosovo Serbs who would have liked to vote did not because they were afraid.

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