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UN: Kosovo asked to aim for normal society

UN envoy urges Kosovo to aim for standards of 'normal society'

The senior United Nations envoy to Kosovo today urged the province to reach progress towards recently elaborated standards in order to pave the way for decisions on its future status.

Harri Holkeri, the Special Representative of Secretary-General Kofi Annan to Kosovo, said the standards - which include the holding of fair and regular elections, the establishment of an impartial legal system, and the advancement of a free media - describe "a normal society."

The future status of Kosovo, which has been under UN administration since June 1999, is still to be decided. The UN Interim Mission (UNMIK) in the conflict-torn province is supposed to help build a society under which people can progressively enjoy substantial autonomy.

Mr Holkeri said the 10-page standards document, launched last week with local leaders, outlines "a place where people are free to travel, use their own languages and work anywhere in Kosovo. A place where your ethnic identity - whether Albanian, Serb, Turk, Bosniak, Roma, Gorani, Ashkali, Egyptian or Croatian - has no effect on the way you are treated at work, in the street or in a court of law."

While "every goal will not be fulfilled at once," Mr. Holkeri urged the Government and the people of Kosovo to work to deliver real change to the province so that "one day [it] can fully join the European family." He cited the examples of the transformation of post-communist countries in Eastern Europe since 1989.

Mr. Holkeri warned that inaction could leave Kosovo "a crippled society, perhaps for years to come," but voiced confidence that the province would instead attain the standards and serve as a model to others.


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