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Kosovo: UN envoy calls for major effort to rebuild trust after March violence

Kosovo: UN envoy calls for major effort to rebuild trust after March violence

SRSG Harri Holkeri
Declaring that last month’s ethnic violence in Kosovo, the worst since the United Nations took over its administration five years ago, dealt “a huge setback” to stabilization and normalization, the top UN envoy there warned today that much more remains to be done to rebuild trust and confidence among all communities.

“The violence put our common project of a multiethnic Kosovo at risk,” Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Representative Harri Holkeri told the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France, of the violence between Albanians and Serbs, in which 19 people were killed and hundreds injured.

“The main challenges now are bringing to justice those responsible, reconciliation, reconstruction and re-embarking on the political processes in place before the violence began,” Mr. Holkeri said. The UN has administered Kosovo since NATO forced the withdrawal of Yugoslav troops after fighting between Albanians and Serbs.

Mr. Holkeri said the violence could make elections in October more difficult and stressed the need to include all communities. Many Serbs have fled.

“There can be no truly multiethnic Kosovo without the Kosovo Serb community,” he said. “This is why all efforts must be made by Kosovo’s leaders to reach out to the Serbs. In return, the Kosovo Serbs must rejoin the institutions and engage in the political process. The only way ahead is integration, not segregation.”