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Kosovo Serbs must take up their rightful places in government, Security Council told

Kosovo Serbs must take up their rightful places in government, Security Council told

Jean-Marie Guéhenno
Briefing the Security Council on the latest developments in Kosovo, particularly the functioning of self-government institutions, a top United Nations peacekeeping official stressed today that it was essential for Kosovo Serb representatives to quickly take up their rightful places in the government.

"All sides need to help each other to find common ground solutions so that many of the complex situations facing Kosovo - ones that require concessions on all sides - can begin to be tackled in a way that will prove effective and sustainable," Jean-Marie Guéhenno, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, told an open meeting of the Council.

In his briefing, Mr. Guéhenno noted that on 9 May the Kosovo Government submitted its draft Programme to the Assembly, which highlighted such priorities as consolidating democratic structures, improving education and health care, and promoting economic development. The Programme also focused on the protection of the rights and interests of communities - including the right to return - and regional integration, including meaningful dialogue with the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Unfortunately, the Kosovo Serb Return coalition (KP) so far had not put forward candidates for the three government posts it had been allotted, Mr. Guéhenno said, noting that it was regrettable for two reasons. First, it meant that the Kosovo Serbs were still not part of the decision-making process and did not participate in the talks on the Government's Programme. Secondly, it tended to undermine the KP Assembly members and their ability to be respected by their colleagues in the Assembly.

As for municipal elections, Mr. Guéhenno said that the vote, originally slated for 21 September, would now be held on 26 October, with the important element that local electoral bodies would take increased responsibilities for the balloting. The voting would also provide an opportunity for those communities that had boycotted the 2000 elections, particularly the Kosovo Serb community, to participate.

Turning to the issue of repatriations, Mr. Guéhenno said the aim was to achieve increasing returns this year to create momentum for more significant numbers during 2003 and 2004. In its draft Programme, the Government of Kosovo had committed itself to demonstrating its willingness to address the wishes and concerns of internally displaced persons and refugees. Efforts had continued, he added, to determine the fate of the missing from all communities, an issue that remained one of the major obstacles to reconciliation.