UN envoy calls for 'bolder approach' in tackling Kosovo's core political issues

Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Farid Zarif
Head of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo
[PHOTO: UNifeed]  
Pristina, Kosovo/New York: Following a visit to the Balkans by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last month, his representative in Kosovo called on the Security Council to encourage leaders in Serbia and Kosovo to take a bolder approach to core political issues facing the region, while putting in place agreed-upon measures on practical matters.

In the Mission's efforts toward constructive engagement in the northern part of Kosovo, home to a high percentage of ethnic Serbs, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Kosovo, Farid Zarif, said that "far more effort" will be needed to change the often divisive messages emanating from all parties and set conditions for legitimate representation of the population there.

He added that "achieving this will require demonstrated good will as well as political maturity from all sides," he said.

Zarif, introducing the Secretary-General's latest report on the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), which he heads, said, it is also critical to resume the so-called Belgrade-Pristina dialogue between the parties, facilitated by the European Union, which was discussing practical matters and was credited with reducing high tension over border crossings and other issues.

The dialogue was suspended due to May general elections in Serbia and the subsequent formation of a new Government, he said.

The new Serbian Prime Minister, Ivica Dačić, also speaking to the Council, enumerated a series of incidents and security threats faced by the Serbian community in both north and south Kosovo.

Dačić, who was born in Kosovo, said these "are part of an orchestrated campaign of intimidation directed at Kosovo Serbs" aimed at "completing the total ethnic cleansing of Serbs and the cultural cleansing of our patrimony."

He said that as a result of these incidents "only 45 Kosovo Serb IDPs returned to the province during the reporting period," which is "Iess than half that did so during the same period last year."

Speaking in representation of Kosovo, Hashim Thaci, noted that "three Kosovo Serbs serve as ministers, including a Deputy Prime Minister," in his Government,

Thaci said "essential to this process has been the establishment of an elaborate system of minority rights to bring all of Kosovo's citizens, regardless of their ethnic identity into the political structures of the new State."

Established in 1999, UNMIK is mandated to help ensure conditions for a peaceful and normal life for all inhabitants of Kosovo and advance regional stability in the western Balkans. It began its operations when North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces drove out Yugoslav troops amid bloody ethnic fighting between Serbs and Albanians, but it gave up its administrative role in 2008 when Kosovo Albanians declared independence.

Serbia rejects Kosovo's declaration of independence. -UNifeed
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