Secretary-General Kofi Annan today received a report on Kosovo that could influence the timing of talks on the final status of the ethnically-divided province, which the United Nations 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.
Mr. Annan will study the report from Ambassador Kai Eide of Norway, his Special Envoy for the Comprehensive Review of Kosovo, and then forward it, together with his recommendations for the next steps, to the Security Council, which is expected to take up the issue in the second half of this month.
Since Mr. Annan appointed him in June, Mr. Eide has had extensive consultations in Serbia and Kosovo, as well as with key Member States, regional organizations and the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), according to a statement today released by the Secretary-General's spokesman.
He has also spent considerable time meeting with people from all walks of life in Kosovo as he assesses the progress made so far towards building a stable, tolerant, multi-ethnic and democratic society in the strife-torn province where ethnic Albanians outnumber other communities, mainly Serbs, by about 9 to 1.
In February Mr. Annan's Special Representative for Kosovo, Søren Jessen-Petersen, told the Security Council there were good chances that the process leading to final status talks could begin in the second half of this year although none of the eight necessary standards for such a move had then yet been fulfilled.
The standards cover eight targets to foster trust between Albanians and Serbs in such areas as building democratic institutions, enforcing minority rights, creating a functioning economy and establishing an impartial legal system.
In July, Mr. Jessen-Petersen said there had recently been a slowdown in the implementation of some of the standards.
Among reasons he cited was the need for stronger commitment by Kosovo Albanian leaders to move forward on the return of Serbs who fled their homes, as well as on freedom of movement and decentralization, and the need for Serbia's leaders to encourage Kosovo Serbs to participate in the province's political process.