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Kosovo Status Uncertainty Leading To Instability

Uncertainty on Kosovo's future status could lead to instability, warns Ban Ki-moon

The loss of momentum in making progress towards resolving Kosovo's future status could result in instability in the Serbian province and the greater region, even potentially endangering United Nations staff, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned in a new report made public today.

"The parties are urged to reaffirm and act upon their declared commitments to refrain from any actions or statements that could endanger peace, incite violence or jeopardize security in Kosovo and the region," Mr. Ban wrote in his latest report on the UN peacekeeping mission in the province, known as UNMIK.

Last month, the troika - comprising the European Union, Russia and the United States - told the Security Council in a report that despite four months of intense and high-level negotiations, Belgrade and Pristina have been unable to reach agreement on Kosovo's final status. The province's Albanian leadership supports independence but Serbia is opposed.

"Neither party was willing to cede its position on the fundamental question of sovereignty," said the troika, which was established after a stalemate emerged over a proposal by Mr. Ban's Special Envoy, Martti Ahtisaari, for a phased process of independence for Kosovo.

In his report, Mr. Ban said that expectations in the province, where ethnic Albanians outnumber Serbs and other minorities by nine to one, are still high that a solution will be reached quickly.

"As such the status quo is not likely to be sustainable," he noted. "Should the impasse continue, events on the ground could take on a momentum of their own, putting at serious risk the achievements and legacy of the United Nations in Kosovo."

The Secretary-General called attention to the readiness of the EU to play a larger role in Kosovo to bolster the province's stability.

"The European's Union's growing institutional commitment to Kosovo is important, as is its continuing provision of a European perspective to Kosovo," he said.

Although encouraged by the "free and fair manner" in which November 2007 elections were held in the province, the Secretary-General expressed concern over the low participation of Kosovo Serbs at the polls.

"The elections highlighted, once again, that many members of the Kosovo Serb community, particularly those living in northern Kosovo, do not feel represented by Kosovo's Provisional Institutions," he pointed out.

Mr. Ban appealed to both the Kosovo Serb community's political representatives and Belgrade authorities to encourage Serbs in the province to take an active and constructive role in Kosovo's institutions. At the same time, he encouraged Kosovo's leaders to continue outreach efforts to Kosovo Serb and other minorities.


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