United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called upon both sides in the newly established contacts between Pristina and Belgrade to work together to improve the daily lives of the residents of Kosovo.
In a report to the Security Council on the activities of the UN Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK), released today, Mr. Annan says he welcomes the dialogues which opened 14 October in Vienna, adding, "I call on both sides to make their best efforts to ensure that the talks…result in concrete actions leading to a measurable improvement in the daily lives of the residents."
Mr. Annan also compliments the provisional government of Kosovo for what he says was its efforts to address the needs of the people of the province. But, he says, security problems for the minority Serbs remains a matter of serious concern.
"I am encouraged by indications that the Provisional Institutions increasingly focus on adopting policies and legislation which address the concrete and immediate needs of the population of Kosovo, and I welcome signs of a strengthened cooperation and consultation with UNMIK," he writes.
But, he says, "More remains to be done to ensure adequate levels of political participation by minorities in municipal affairs."
He says the "continuing existence of parallel administrative structures in Kosovo, which are supported by Belgrade, is an impediment to the consolidation of fully representative and multi-ethnic institutions and an obstacle to the full integration of Kosovo Serbs into those institutions. These structures should be dismantled and replaced by cooperation with the multi-ethnic Provisional Institutions."
Mr. Annan also says "the security situation in Kosovo, which has been marred in recent months by a number of serious incidents involving minorities, remains a cause for serious concern…violence targeting minorities is unacceptable and must be condemned in the strongest terms. Kosovo's leaders should follow their welcome condemnation of the attacks with concrete steps aimed at ensuring that they do not recur."
He says, however, that "despite setbacks resulting from recent violent incidents involving Kosovo Serb victims, the overall rate of returns continued to accelerate."
President Ibrahim Rugova of the Kosovo Provisional Institutions of Self-Government (PISG) began talks with Belgrade officials 14 October in Vienna on the future of the province. It was the first such face-to-face meeting since the 1998-1999 war.