While the formation of a government in Kosovo earlier this year after several months of deadlock was an important step forward, much more needs to be done to create a secure climate in order to spur economic development, Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in a new report on the United Nations efforts in the province.
In the report to the Security Council on the UN Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK), the Secretary-General notes that while more has been done to strengthen the rule of law, it was clear that the Mission was entering a potentially more dangerous phase as it implements anti-crime initiatives, including legislation to combat organized crime and terrorism.
Nevertheless, a great deal still needs to be done to create a climate conducive for economic growth in Kosovo, which continues to be one of the poorest areas of Europe, Mr. Annan observes. The high unemployment rate, particularly among young people who form the majority of Kosovo's population, constitutes a potential threat to the province's stability, making a key priority the revival of the economy and creation of jobs.
Casting an eye towards the eventual exit of UNMIK and the transfer of authority to local, elected officials, the Secretary-General underscores that in order to consolidate the provisional institutions of self-government and avoid undercutting the achievements made so far, continued political, technical and financial support would be necessary.
"It is clear that a political roadmap is needed, both for UNMIK and for the provisional institutions of self-government," Mr. Annan writes, noting that he has asked his Special Representative for Kosovo and head of the Mission, Michael Steiner, to prepare targets against which progress can be measured in several critical areas.
This morning, Mr. Steiner told an open meeting of the Council on Kosovo that he was embarking on a process to develop such benchmarks for the existence of effective and functioning institutions, enforcement of the rule of law, freedom of movement, and respect for the right of all Kosovars to remain and return.
Other yardsticks would include the development of a sound basis for a market economy, clarity of property title, normalized dialogue with Belgrade and a reduction and transformation of the Kosovo Protection Corps in line with its mandate.
"I offer this to you as an exit strategy, which is, in reality an entry strategy into the European integration process," Mr. Steiner said, adding that the targets complemented the preconditions Kosovo needed to meet to qualify for the Stabilization and Association process.
- Security Council meeting