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Integration Is The Answer For Kosovo’s Serbs

Integration Is The Answer For Kosovo’s Serbs, Un Envoy Tells Security Council

New York, Sep 13 2006 5:00PM

The senior United Nations envoy in Kosovo today told the Security Council that integration, not isolation, is the answer for the minority Serb population, as the 15-member body met to discuss Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s latest report on the future status of the UN-run province.

Joachim Rücker, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), acknowledged that the Serbs face problems but said that Belgrade should lift its directive against them working with the elected Kosovo authorities.

“Yes, the Kosovo Serbs are in a difficult situation. They fear for their future and do not know whom they can trust. They have been barred for over two-and-a-half years from participating actively in the work of the Kosovo Assembly or the Government. But isolation is not the answer to their problems, integration is.”

Mr. Rücker also backed the Secretary-General’s call in his report, which was released yesterday, for more progress in the talks on the province’s future, saying that “Kosovo needs to be rid of this uncertainty, and to move on.”

In his report, Mr. Annan said he was disappointed that little common ground had emerged between the Serbian and Kosovar delegations in the past few months of discussions, noting that they remain “committed to ‘substantial autonomy’ and ‘full independence’ respectively, with minimal space for negotiation.”

“Both sides would be better served by more flexibility in their positions. I again call on both sides to engage in these talks in a spirit of compromise. It is the responsibility of the parties to find common ground and a sustainable solution, acceptable to both sides, although the support of the international community remains essential to ensure progress, the Secretary-General highlighted.

The report covers the period from 1 May to 14 August, and although Mr. Annan noted the “generally stable political situation” during this time, he strongly condemned acts of violence targeting people and religious sites, particularly those of an inter-ethnic nature and called for all those responsible to be quickly brought to justice.

Albanians outnumber Serbs and others by nine to one in Kosovo, which UNMIK has administered since 1999 when NATO drove out Yugoslav troops amid ethnic fighting.

Ends

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