The United Nations special envoy for the future status talks on Kosovo today called for greater progress in meeting key goals that include building democratic institutions and enforcing minority rights in the ethnically divided Serbian province which the world body has administered since 1999.
“Status has to go with Standards, and more concrete progress is needed in the implementation of the Standards,” Former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari said in a statement after his first visit to the region since his appointment, referring to eight targets that also include creating a functioning economy and setting an impartial legal system.
Possible options could include independence or autonomy for Kosovo where Albanians outnumber Serbs and others by 9 to 1, and which the UN has administered ever since North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces drove out Yugoslav troops amid grave rights abuses in ethnic fighting. Serbia opposes independence.
During his visit from 21-27 November which took him to the regional capitals of Pristina (Kosovo), Belgrade (Serbia), Podgorica (Montenegro), Tirana (Albania) and Skopje (fromer Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), Mr. Ahtisaari called for more progress in the areas of decentralization, returns and freedom of movement.
These terms have been long-standing conditions for progress. In a report in July, Mr. Annan's Special Representative for Kosovo Søren Jessen-Petersen stressed the need for stronger commitment by Kosovo’s Albanian leaders to move forward on the return of Serbs who fled their homes during the 1990 fighting, as well as on freedom of movement.
“We need the action of the Kosovo Albanians, but we also need the support of all the minority population groups like the Serbs,” he said in regard to those issues at a news conference in Belgrade on Friday.
In his statement today, he stressed that Serbia must encourage Kosovo’s Serbs to participate in the talks so that their interest can be protected.
He reiterated that there is no time frame or deadline for his mission. “I will work as expeditiously as I can and I don’t want to prolong the process one day more than necessary,” he said.
Mr. Ahtisaari and his team have returned to Vienna where his office will be based. He will travel to other capitals for further consultations before he pays another visit to the region early next year.