Noting concrete progress in Kosovo toward internationally-agreed standards in such areas as government reform, the rule of law and minority rights, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a report out today, stressed that continuing progress must be made in all priority areas for any future political settlement to proceed.
Mr. Annan's latest report to the Security Council on the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) contains an assessment of progress measured against the eight agreed-upon standards in the priority areas of democratic institutions, rule of law, freedom of movement, sustainable returns of displaced persons, economic growth, property rights, cultural heritage, inter-community dialogue and a civil emergency response corps.
"All standards are important and the focus on areas of particular importance to Kosovo minorities does not diminish the relevance of any of the eight standards," Mr. Annan says in the report.
Mr. Annan recommends that a comprehensive review of progress against the standards should be initiated this summer, saying that he intends to appoint a Special Envoy to conduct that review in the near future.
He adds that the review – on the basis of which final status talks could be launched – should consist of consultations with the parties and the international community to assess the current situation and conditions for possible next steps in the process.
But he also stresses that the review's outcome is not a foregone conclusion. "During and beyond the comprehensive review, Kosovo's political leaders will be expected to pursue and strengthen their efforts to implement the standards, and will continue to be assessed on this basis," he says.
While noting improvements in outreach to minority communities and the smooth transition of government that took place recently, he expressed concern over the slow pace of local government reform, inter-party rancour and violent incidents that may have been related to such problems.
"It is crucial that any threats of violence or intimidation not detract us from our goal," he said. "It is the responsibility of all people in Kosovo to ensure that the work of extremists is not allowed to dictate the future course of Kosovo."