25 March 2007

EU to replace U.N. civil mission in Kosovo

United Press International Jan. 8, 2007 at 9:49 AM

BERLIN, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- Germany's foreign minister said the European Union will intensify its presence in Serbia's mainly ethnic-Albanian Kosovo province.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmayer told Bild am Sonntag the union, which will replace a U.N. civil mission in Kosovo later this year when a decision on Kosovo's future is announced, wants to build a society in which majority ethnic-Albanians and minority Serbs will live peacefully.

Steinmayer said the Kosovo plan will cost a lot and will need many people but it is enough to recall dreadful scenes of the Balkan wars in the 1990s to see the importance of the region's stability, which demands EU's full engagement, Serbia's media reported Monday.

U.N. administrators and NATO troops have been deployed in Kosovo since 1999 ethnic conflicts.

Leaders of ethnic-Albanians, who make up 90 percent of Kosovo's population of 1.8 million insist on independence from the Serbian government in Belgrade that represents 100,000 Serbs living in the province. Belgrade maintains Kosovo has been and will always be an integral part of Serbia.