14 February 2007

Official says U.N. can do little for Kosovo until political status resolved

Associated Press, Friday, December 08, 2006 2:48 PM


PRISTINA, Serbia-A senior international official said Friday that the U.N. mission in Kosovo has reached a point where it could do no more to help the economy or to protect minorities until the province's political status is resolved.


The deputy U.N. administrator in Kosovo, Steven Schook, said the territory's unresolved political status is limiting progress.


"We can no longer make great improvements on economic issues. We can no longer make great improvements on security of minorities," Schook told a town hall meeting in central Kosovo.


He said the bid to resolve the impasse was nearing an end.


"The only activity that would derail the process would be unilateral action or threats to the security of anyone right now," Schook said. "We are very close to the finish line."


Kosovo's Albanian majority wants to establish an independent state seven years after an uprising against Serbia that lead to it becoming an international protectorate.


Belgrade however insists the province is part of Serbia and has offered autonomy for the province.


Talks on settling the dispute have not produced results so far and the U.N. envoy in charge of them has delayed his proposal into next year, pending elections Serbia's Jan. 21 elections.


Kosovo has been under U.N. control since 1999 and is patrolled by some 16,000 NATO-led troops in charge of security. NATO has said it would keep its troops in Kosovo intact.