Senior international officials dealing with southeastern Europe have called for governments, politicians and political parties to respect democratic rules of conduct in the region's elections slated for later this year, according to the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).
In a meeting held over the weekend, attended by UNMIK chief Michael Steiner, the participants stressed the need for free, fair and quality elections and election campaigns during the upcoming "election autumn" in the region.
The way elections were run and campaigns conducted was very important for international perception of stability, the officials noted, and was a vital element for attracting much needed foreign investment.
The meeting also stressed the need for strengthening regional cooperation in trade liberalization, the fight against organized crime, energy, the return of internally displaced persons and media developments, according to UNMIK.
"It is in Kosovo's immediate interest to be part of this regional cooperation," said Mr. Steiner. "Kosovo is not an island in the region."
The meeting, which took place in Salzburg, Austria, was held at the invitation of Erhard Busek, the European Union's Special Coordinator for the Stability Pact. In addition to Mr. Steiner, Paddy Ashdown, the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Alain Le Roy, the European Union representative in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, also attended the meeting.