Ban Ki-moon calls for ‘timely conclusion’ of Kosovo’s future status talks

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

13 March 2007 – As Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian-led Government and Serbia remain at an impasse on the future of the Albanian-majority Serbian province, a “timely conclusion” to the process to determine its final status is necessary, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a report to the Security Council released today.

“After almost eight years of United Nations interim administration, Kosovo and its people need clarity on their future,” Mr. Ban said in his report on the UN Interim Administration Mission (UNMIK), and other developments spanning the period between last November and 19 February.

Finding a “sustainable solution” for Kosovo’s future which is “stable and in which all communities can coexist in peace” is also key, he added, decrying the use of violence by extremist groups.

Two people died in a protest on 10 February in the capital, Pristina, organized by the Kosovo Albanian self-determination movement Vetevendosje, the report notes, calling for all groups to “exercise restraint and responsibility in peacefully furthering their political aims.”

In the face of the stalemate, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the status process, Martti Ahtisaari, recently declared an end to negotiations between the two sides that began after he unveiled his provisional plan for Kosovo, which the UN has run since Western forces drove out Yugoslav troops in 1999 amid brutal ethnic fighting, early last month.

Serbia rejects independence, an end sought by many Albanians in the province where they outnumber Serbs and others by 9 to 1, and both parties interpreted this plan as meaning independence supervised by the international community.

“I regret to say that at the end of the day, there was no will from the parties to move away from their previously stated positions,” Mr. Ahtisaari said after this weekend’s meeting in Vienna with Serbian and Kosovar leaders.

The Special Envoy said that he will make “a very clear statement” on the independence issue in the version of the plan he submits to the Security Council by the end of the month.

In his report, the Secretary-General said that UN staff will persist in focusing on “creating an enabling environment for the future status” through coordinating efforts with local leaders and also by laying plans for transition following the settlement of Kosovo’s future status.

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