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UN Kosovo mission making progress on key priorities, Security Council told

UN Kosovo mission making progress on key priorities, Security Council told

The United Nations Mission in Kosovo has continued to move forward with its key priorities, despite the adverse effects of conflicts in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and in southern Serbia, a top UN official told the Security Council this morning.

Briefing the Council following his visit last week to Kosovo, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean Marie Guéhenno said "progress on the legal framework should allow the holding of Kosovo-wide elections this year." He also said that serious measures to tackle law and order were beginning to bear fruit, and that increased cooperation and dialogue with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) authorities would pave the way for progress in the key areas of security and return that had so far blocked Kosovo Serb participation in integrated structures.

Mr. Guehenno noted that the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Kosovo, Hans Haekkerup, met Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica for the second time last Thursday, and that they agreed to identify areas where Kosovo Serb returns can be realistically accomplished. President Kostunica also assured Mr. Haekkerup that outstanding cases of political prisoners detained in Serbia proper would soon be resolved.

Regarding economic reconstruction in Kosovo, the Under-Secretary-General said the province's public finances needed to be developed. Tax collection points were being established along the boundary line with the FRY and would contribute key funding to the Kosovo consolidated budget at a vital time in the run-up to provisional self-government.

During the discussion that followed the briefing, Council members stressed the importance of holding free and fair elections in the province. Many of the delegates also underscored the need to effectively address violence in Kosovo and ensure the participation of all communities, including minorities, in the elaboration of the legal framework for the province.

In a related development, the chairman of the working group on the legal framework for Kosovo announced today that he hoped to be able to present a final text of the document on Friday. Johan Van Lamoen said the group was currently discussing the province's assembly -- "a very important body amidst the provisional institutions of self-government" -- and that it hoped to take up the executive authority of the government in the afternoon.