The United Nations administrator for Kosovo today welcomed progress made towards forming a new government after last week’s resignation of the prime minister as an important stage towards determining the final status of the ethnically-divided Serbian province which the world body has run since 1999.
“For a Kosovo that is getting ready for status discussions and status, it is extremely important that we see the democratic institutions functioning as we expect in a democracy, in full accordance with the Constitutional principles,” Secretary General Kofi Annan's Special Representative Søren Jessen-Petersen said after meeting with the province’s ethnic Albanian president, Ibrahim Rugova.
“I believe that is what we are seeing. Two political parties have decided to form a government. They have a majority and, if the Assembly agrees when the Assembly meets, then we will have a government that knows exactly what they have to do within a very short timeframe,” he added of the province where Albanians outnumber other communities, mainly Serbs, by about 9 to 1.
The UN has run Kosovo since the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) drove out Yugoslav troops in 1999 amid grave human rights abuses in the fighting between Serbs and Albanians.
Ethnic Albanian Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj resigned last week and surrendered to the UN war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague in the Netherlands after being indicted on 17 counts of crimes against humanity, including murder and rape, and 20 counts of war crimes for his role as a guerrilla commander in the 1998-99 fighting. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Stressing the tight political timeframe, Mr. Jessen-Petersen noted that within a month the next technical assessment had to be produced on the progress of the so-called standards, eight targets to build trust between Albanians and Serbs, such as democratic institutions, minority rights and an impartial legal system, that have to be met before talks start on the final status later this year.
“I think we are moving through what may have been one of the most difficult periods for Kosovo, which is still a difficult [period], but the way it has been managed by everybody gives me confidence that we are on track, we are moving ahead and, once again, I count on the President and on all political parties to play their respective roles,” he said.