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Kosovo: UN urges steps, build multiethnic society

Hailing recent progress, UN's Kosovo envoy urges steps to build multiethnic society

Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Envoy to Kosovo today hailed recent progress in the United Nations-administered province and urged continued efforts to foster a multiethnic democracy there.

Søren Jessen-Petersen made his comments in Salzburg, where he attended, together with Kosovo President Fatmir Sejdiu, an informal meeting of the European Union foreign ministers with representatives from countries of the Western Balkans.

“The political landscape of Kosovo has changed fundamentally in these last days,” said Mr. Jessen-Petersen of the province, which recently chose a new president and assembly. “And what is equally significant is that this qualitative transformation has been achieved in a democratic manner,” he added.

The envoy underscored the need for building a multi-ethnic society with firm foundations in the rule of law. “This can be achieved through focus on minority issues and through the process of decentralization,” he said.

Mr. Jessen-Petersen also briefed the ministers on efforts underway to strengthen the cooperation between Pristina and Belgrade. “Kosovo is committed. Now we need Belgrade to commit to work with the Kosovo authorities to improve the prospects for minorities, particularly the Kosovo Serbs,” he said.

“Belgrade needs to encourage Kosovo Serbs to engage in the Kosovo institutions and all of us need to work together to reassure the Kosovo Serbs about their future in a post-status Kosovo.”

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