31/10/2003

Kosovo has uncertain future: UN envoy

The top UN envoy for Kosovo has warned the Security Council today that the province has an "uncertain future" while it continues to be plagued by problems rooted in the 1999 war.

During a briefing to the Council in New York, Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative for Kosovo, Harri Holkeri, urged Kosovo's leaders to do more to discourage inter-ethnic violence and to improve dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia and Montenegro.

Noting that Serbia and Montenegro continued to operate parallel courts and coordinating structures in Kosovo, he said: "Belgrade must work with Kosovo structures and replace this unacceptable policy with a commitment to truly multi-ethnic organs of government in Kosovo."

But Mr Holkeri also said that Kosovo's Albanian leaders in Pristina must stop making their participation in any talks conditional on changes to government structures and the setting up of new ministries.

"Such bargaining is not acceptable. Dialogue is one of the standards approved by the Security Council," he stressed.

Many refugees, especially from minority communities, remain afraid to return to their homes because of ethnic violence, he said.

According to the envoy, the unemployment rate in Kosovo is about 57%, and the public is becoming frustrated with the government's inability to reduce the rate.

But he said Kosovo's economy is showing signs of progress, and welcomed the government's agreement to resolve problems with the electricity supply.

Mr Holkeri said firm commitment is needed from all parties, including the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), to ensure that the situation improves.

"The short-to-medium term outlook for Kosovo is uncertain, but the strong desire of Kosovo's people to live in a peaceful, stable, lawful society is crystal clear."

(gmcg)

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