While noteworthy concrete steps have been taken in some areas in Kosovo, none of eight necessary standards have yet been fulfilled in moving the United-Nations-administered province forward towards final status talks, including building trust between majority ethnic Albanians and minority Serbs, according to the latest UN report.
"While work on the standards has intensified and some elements of the Kosovo Standards Implementation Plan have been completed, progress in many areas remained insufficient," Secretary-General Kofi Annan says of the goals in areas such as democratic institutions, minority rights and an impartial legal system.
"None of the eight standards has been completely fulfilled," he adds of the moves, seen as a crucial step on the road to determining the final status of Kosovo, which the UN has run since the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) drove out Yugoslav troops amid grave human rights abuses in fighting between Albanians and Serbs in 1999.
"It cannot be overemphasized that forward momentum depends on the Provisional Institutions (local government), political leaders and people from all communities actually delivering real progress on the standards," Mr. Annan says in the report to the Security Council, stressing the need for results in all areas that benefit all people in Kosovo where Albanians outnumber other communities, mainly Serbs, by about 9 to 1.
He notes that his Special Representative, Søren Jessen-Petersen, and Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj have prioritized those actions within the standards most affecting minority communities, including elements from every area that will consolidate a multi-ethnic Kosovo.
"However, there were no indications during the (three-month) reporting period whether the policies adopted will be fully implemented and, to the extent that they are, whether they will diminish Kosovo Serb unwillingness to engage in the Provisional Institutions," he adds. Serb participation in elections last October was very poor.
He notes that security for minorities has improved since last March when, in the worst violence since the UN took over, an onslaught by Albanians to drive out Serb, Roma and Ashkali communities led to 19 people being killed, nearly 1,000 injured and hundreds of homes and centuries-old Serbian cultural sites razed or burned.
But freedom of movement remained precarious, Kosovo Serbs in particular continued to consider themselves at risk and "their reluctance to leave their communities, or to interact with members of the majority community (and vice versa), is widening an already deep ethnic divide," he writes.
"The Government has not taken sufficient action to punish ethnically targeted crime, to put in place a system to monitor and censure violations of the language laws, and to promote a culture of human rights and tolerance, especially among Kosovo's youth," he says, underlining the minority communities' low trust in the system and their marginal involvement in the political process and senior levels of the civil service.
He notes the Serbian Government's opposition to meaningful Kosovo Serb engagement and calls on Kosovo Serbs to engage in a constructive way and on the Serbian authorities to encourage this.
"The majority community needs to create a climate in which members of minority communities, and in particular the Kosovo Serbs, feel confident they can return and remain in Kosovo," he concludes. "Moreover, the Serbian authorities must encourage this process since it is in the direct interest of Serbs in Kosovo."