Kosovo: UN envoy speaks out against attacks by Serb fringe groups

Ethnic Albanians display a banner during celebration

19 February 2008 – While the situation on the ground in Kosovo, which declared its independence from Serbia on Sunday, remains calm overall, the United Nations mission there reported violent attacks today by Serb fringe groups on two boundary crossings in the north.

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Kosovo, Joachim Rücker, condemned the attacks on the crossings at gates in northern Mitrovica, which resulted in the destruction of property, saying “any violence is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

Mr. Rücker, who heads the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), added that he expects all citizens to exercise calm and respect UNMIK and the NATO-led Kosovo Force, or KFOR, which will continue to ensure a safe and secure environment throughout Kosovo.

Yesterday, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed the need to ensure the stability of Kosovo, which the UN has run since 1999, and the safety and security of its population, after the Assembly of Kosovo’s Provisional Institutions of Self-Government adopted a resolution on Sunday declaring its independence from Serbia.

He urged all sides to “refrain from any actions or statements that could endanger peace, incite violence or jeopardize security in Kosovo and the region,” as the Security Council also debated the latest developments.

Belgrade and Pristina were unable to reach agreement on Kosovo’s status, which had been the subject of months of negotiations led by the troika, comprising the European Union, Russia and the United States. That group was set up after a stalemate emerged over a proposal by Mr. Ban’s Special Envoy, Martti Ahtisaari, for a phased process of independence for Kosovo.

Serbian President Boris Tadic appealed to the Council to declare Kosovo’s “unilateral and illegal” declaration of independence “null and void,” noting that the action taken by the Kosovo Assembly violates UN resolution 1244, which reaffirms Serbia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

But several other Council members, including the United Kingdom, the United States, France and Belgium, indicated their support during yesterday’s debate for the “new state of Kosovo.”


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