16 January 2008 The Security Council today discussed the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Kosovo – a Serbian province where ethnic Albanians outnumber Serbs and other minorities by nine to one – with no agreement being reached over its future status.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative Joachim Rücker told reporters after today’s meeting that he briefed the 15-member body about the most recent report to the Council on the mission, known as UNMIK.
He stressed during the meeting that recent elections “were held in a good atmosphere and were deemed to be fair and free by the international observers.”
The Council, Mr. Rücker said, also discussed the standards for Kosovo and the need for increasing the number of returnees to the province, which has been run by the UN since Western forces drove out Yugoslav forces amid inter-ethnic fighting in 1999.
Regarding the standards, there are “limits to what we can achieve because UNMIK, in our assessment, has achieved what is achievable under the circumstances and for further progress with regard to the standards we need status and this is our assessment from the ground,” he said to the press.
Belgrade and Pristina have been unable to reach agreement on Kosovo’s final status: the province’s Albanian leadership supports independence but Serbia is opposed.
In his address to the Council in an open portion of the meeting, President Boris Tadic of Serbia said that despite “enormous efforts” on his side’s part to reach a compromise, four months of negotiations led by the troika – comprising the European Union, Russia and the United States – “failed to yield results.”
He spoke out against “unilateral moves,” stressing that “we must make every effort to solve the misunderstandings and conflicts in our part of Europe peacefully and by agreement only,” and stressed that Serbia will not turn to “violence and war.”
Mr. Tadic also underscored that the UN Charter “guarantees the principle of respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of internationally recognized States, which Serbia is.”
Speaking to the press after the meeting’s conclusion, Hashim Thachi, Prime Minister of Kosovo (Serbia), highlighted the province’s prospects of promoting peace and stability to the entire region.
“Kosovo has established democratic and multiethnic institutions and is ready for a final decision,” he said. “Kosovo will become the country of equal opportunities for all its citizens.”
Mr. Thachi also expressed his intentions of fostering a good relationship with Serbia in the near future.
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