Global perspective Human stories

UN envoy urges Kosovars to work together towards ‘fair society for all’

UN envoy urges Kosovars to work together towards ‘fair society for all’

Vowing to lobby international support for Kosovo, the new head of the United Nations mission today urged the people of the province to do their part by working with their neighbours, as well as the rest of Europe, for political and economic advancement and “a fair society for all.”

“Kosovo is not an island in the ocean,” said Michael Steiner, the head of the UN Interim Administration Mission (UNMIK) and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Representative for Kosovo, in a televised address. “It can only prosper if the neighbourhood prospers. It is time to talk to Skopje and Tirana but particularly to Belgrade.”

Speaking for the first time to the people of Kosovo since assuming his post last week, Mr. Steiner also noted that international support and European integration did not come for free. “There are conditions that must be fulfilled: full respect for the rule of law, functioning institutions, a democratic political culture, a free press and sound economic practices,” he said.

The Special Representative pointed out three key challenges ahead: laying the foundations for economic success; beating crime and violence; and creating a fair society and a safe home for all.

On the economy, Mr. Steiner said the private sector would be the primary motor for creating jobs and income, although it needed “fresh ideas, technical expertise and skilled managers.” He added that despite many legal obstacles, he would present a plan to the UN in New York on how to tackle property reform and privatization.

As for controlling crime and violence, Mr. Steiner urged the people of Kosovo to support the UNMIK police and the Kosovo Police Service to uphold the standards of justice. And as the current trial of Slobodan Milosevic showed, no one was above the law. “Guilt or innocence can only be decided in a court of law, not on the streets,” he stressed.

The Special Representative also said that he expected the elected representatives of Kosovo to rise to the challenge of creating a fair society, emphasizing that the province would be judged by how it treats the non-Albanian communities, particularly the Serbs. “A precondition for discussions about Kosovo’s future status will be a fair and just society, with dignity for all,” he said.

Mr. Steiner announced the next municipal elections would be held 21 September, but emphasized that such a ballot would be only possible if the elected leaders formed a new government very soon.

Acknowledging the difficulties ahead, Mr. Steiner said: “But I also know it is possible to solve the political stalemate. If your leaders have the courage to overcome narrow party interests. And if they show the political will to act in the interest of Kosovo. Then I can help.”