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Kosovo: political engagement of minorities a key challenge, Security Council told

Kosovo: political engagement of minorities a key challenge, Security Council told

Involving all communities in the political process and guaranteeing multi-ethnicity in the province remained a major challenge for the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), the top UN peacekeeping official told the Security Council today as it met to discuss a recent visit by a Council delegation to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, including Kosovo.

Jean-Marie Guéhenno, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, stressed that the 15-member Council mission, which visited the area from 16 to 18 June, had succeeded in delivering "firm and balanced" messages that the UN and the international community were committed to protecting the rights of all communities, but that all Kosovars "must accept their share of the responsibility." The Kosovo Albanians must respect the rights of the minority communities, and these communities must accept "the risk of participation," he said.

The mission had made clear that there was "no hidden agenda," Mr. Guéhenno stressed at the outset of the debate, in which representatives of almost 20 countries took part. He said the international community was aiming to "take the process forward by establishing provisional self-government through the November elections and by creating a society in Kosovo that will be able to produce legitimate interlocutors for discussions on a final settlement."

There was a need to create confidence-building measures vis-à-vis the Kosovo Serb community in conjunction with the Yugoslav authorities, Mr Guéhenno said. The security situation was a key factor, as the Kosovo Serb community, in particular, continued "to suffer disproportionately from major crimes and ethnically motivated acts of intimidation."