UN envoy to present future status proposal for Kosovo on Friday

23 January 2007

A United Nations proposal for the future status of the Albanian-majority Serbian province of Kosovo, which the world body has run since Western forces drove out Yugoslav troops in 1999 amid brutal ethnic fighting, will be presented to a group of concerned countries on Friday and to the parties early next month.

UN officials have not disclosed details of the proposal which Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Envoy for Kosovo’s future status process, Martti Ahtisaari, will present in Vienna to the so-called Contact Group – the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Russia – who have been helping to seek a solution for the province where ethnic Albanians outnumber Serbs and others by 9 to 1.

Mr. Ahtisaari then travels to Belgrade and Pristina on 2 February to officially present his proposal to both sides, UN spokesman Michele Montas told reporters in New York today.

The envoy will then wait for feedback from the parties before sending the proposal on to the Secretary-General, who will then transmit it to the Secretary-General.

“It will be up to the Security Council to decide when it wants to consider Kosovo,” Ms. Montas said.

Independence and autonomy are among options that have been mentioned but Serbia rejects independence, and the most recent UN report on the province said Kosovo’s provisional ethnic Albanian Government and Serbia remained “diametrically opposed” in their views of the future status.

Mr. Ahtisaari had originally planned to present his proposal to the parties last year but postponed doing so until after Serbia’s parliamentary elections on 21 January.

Since his appointment a year ago, Mr. Ahtisaari has been holding talks with Kosovo and Serbian delegations in Vienna but these have not progressed beyond technical issues such as the decentralization of municipalities. A major issue is providing sufficient security to encourage Serb refugees to return.

In early 1999, the province was the scene of atrocities and the forceful displacement of hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanians. After a three-month intervention by North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), culminating in the arrival of troops, most of the Albanian population returned to their homes within days.

But only some 15,600 returns of ethnic Serbs, Roma and other minorities have been registered out of the estimated 250,000 who fled after the withdrawal of Serbian forces in 1999.


♦ Receive daily updates directly in your inbox - Subscribe here to a topic.
♦ Download the UN News app for your iOS or Android devices.