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UN envoy to Kosovo pays tribute to its late Pres.

UN envoy to Kosovo pays tribute to its late president

The senior United Nations envoy to Kosovo today paid tribute to the character and vision of its late president, Ibrahim Rugova, and urged the people of the province to carry through with his vision of unity and stability.

“All who met President Rugova were struck by his warmth, his wisdom, and his dedication,” Søren Jessen-Petersen told those present at a memorial ceremony. “At a time, and in a region, where so many set their eyes upon the past, President Rugova was always focused on the future.”

The envoy stressed that the path laid by Mr. Rugova “led – and still leads – towards a Kosovo that is democratic, multiethnic and free. A Kosovo that is firmly integrated into Europe, and which retains the strong links to the United States that he did so much to build.”

This perspective, Mr. Jessen-Petersen said, must guide Kosovo forward. “It is a vision whose fulfilment he did not live to see, but whose realization will be achieved through the unity and commitment of those who follow him.”

Mr. Rugova, who was battling lung cancer, died on Saturday. During his term in office, which began in February, 2002, the President survived a number of assassination attempts, including a grenade attack on his home in March 2004 and an explosive offensive against his convoy one year later.

The UN has run Kosovo since the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) drove out Yugoslav troops amid grave human rights abuses in fighting between Serbs and Albanians in 1999.

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