21 March 2006

UN seeks reforms in Serbia's Kosovo

United Press International, Jan. 31, 2006


UNITED NATIONS - U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan wants Kosovo Serb leaders to promote government reform and other key goals in the U.N.-run province.


He also highlighted increased violence in the province of Serbia, dominated by ethnic Albanians, in his latest report Tuesday to the U.N. Security Council.


The U.N. Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo has run the province since 1999, when the North Atlantic Treaty Organization drove out Yugoslav troops amid human rights abuses in fighting between Serbs and Albanians. The mission is popularly referred to as UNMIK.


"I strongly urge Kosovo's leaders to renew their efforts to ensure substantive, accelerated and sustainable progress in the implementation of the standards," the secretary-general said, referring to targets that include creating a functioning economy and setting up an impartial legal system.


"The increase in serious security incidents, including of incidents that may have targeted Kosovo Serbs for ethnic reasons, is a further cause for concern," he said, calling on the province's leaders and institutions "to work closely with UNMIK to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice."


In this latest report covering May to December of last year, the secretary-general also welcomed the Security Council's decision to launch a process designed to determine the future status of Kosovo, but said there was much work to be done in this area.


"The challenging period ahead will require the full political engagement of the international community," he said.


Kosovo President Ibrahim Rugova died Jan. 21 of lung cancer, and in tribute, the senior U.N. envoy to the province, Soren Jessen-Petersen, urged people to carry through with the late leader's vision of unity and stability.