UN envoy welcomes call for Kosovo Serbs to participate in Assembly elections

UNMIK chief Søren Jessen-Petersen

6 October 2004 – Welcoming the Serbian President's call to ethnic Serbs to take part in elections later this month to the Kosovo Assembly, the senior United Nations envoy to the province said such participation will allow the minority community to have its voice heard.

Søren Jessen-Petersen, the Secretary-General's Special Representative and the head of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), issued a statement hailing the comments of Serbian President Boris Tadic, who has encouraged ethnic Serbs to vote in the polls scheduled for 23 October.

"There is no substitute for direct participation in democratic institutions which make decisions affecting the lives of everyone in Kosovo," he said, adding that "participation by Kosovo Serbs paves the way for their representation in local institutions and will enable a constructive dialogue to address their concerns…at both the central and local levels."

Mr. Jessen-Petersen called on the Government of Serbia and Montenegro to conduct the practical requirements so that displaced Serbs now living outside Kosovo are able to cast their ballots.

He also urged the majority ethnic Albanian community to reach out to Kosovo's more vulnerable communities ahead of the election.

The Kosovo Assembly is a legislative body that has the power to pass laws in certain areas. The UN retains overall administration of the province, which it assumed in June 1999 after fighting ended there.

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