Ethnic violence in March damaged normalization process in Kosovo - Annan

Kofi Annan

5 May 2004 – In the wake of the deadly ethnic violence that swept Kosovo in March, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan says what is now needed is concrete action by the leaders and people of the province to not only ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice, but to rebuild the confidence among minority communities, and most of all, to address the root causes of the violence.

In his latest report to the Security Council on the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), the Secretary-General says the deadly onslaught, led by Kosovo Albanian extremists to drive out Kosovo's Serb, Roma and Askhali communities, was "an organized widespread and targeted campaign" which had seriously damaged the process of normalization and reconciliation. In the end, 19 people were killed, with nearly 1,000 injured, and hundreds of homes and centuries-old Serbian cultural sites razed or burned.

This has threatened to destabilize the region, and has called into question the timetable for the successful implementation of the standards that the international community set for Kosovo, the report says. The events had shown that the international community's determination to ensure Kosovo's path of coexistence and reconciliation is, on its own, not sufficient.

Mr. Annan calls for concrete action to ensure that the violence is not repeated, and stressed the obligations of Kosovo Albanian leaders, as representatives of province's largest community, to protect the rights of all communities, particularly the minorities.

"Forward momentum must be regained, and extremism must not be tolerated," he says. "There could be no peaceful and prosperous future for Kosovo without respect for the diversity of its people - violence will not be rewarded."

He says politicians must be held accountable and those civil servants who may have participated in, fomented or did nothing to stop the violence must be disciplined. The humanitarian consequences also need to be addressed, and the reconstruction of and compensation for destroyed and damaged property must proceed quickly and effectively.

Stressing that UNMIK would continue to operate within the framework provided by the "standards before status" policy, which provides a road map for the interim period, Mr. Annan says finally that, in the wake of the violence, there is more than ever a need for the leadership and society of Kosovo to achieve the standards as a basis for a stable and well-governed entity.

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