Although the overall security situation in Kosovo is calm, tension is palpable in the ethnic Albanian majority Serbian province that the United Nations has administered since 1999, according to a new report by on last month’s Security Council fact-finding mission made public today.
“Security is an essential pillar of any society and that is even more so for societies emerging from a violent and brutal conflict such as Kosovo,” Ambassador Johan Verbeke of Belgium, the head of the six-day mission, told the 15-member Council.
The report, based on the mission’s findings, noted that “while the Kosovo Albanian community is confident about the future, the Kosovo Serb community is apprehensive about its prospects for the future.”
Although Kosovo, where Albanians outnumber Serbs and others by nine to one, remains divided between the two communities, the report said that there were encouraging signs, such as “the commitment to build a Kosovo for all its communities, conveyed by Kosovo’s political leaders.”
Just as divided are the positions of Serbia and Kosovo Serbs, on the one hand, and Kosovo Albanians and non-Serb communities, on the other, regarding the province’s future.
While Belgrade and Serbs residing in Kosovo were adamantly against a solution that would lead to independence, the province’s Albanians were optimistic that a solution would be reached soon.
In March, a report was issued by the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the future status process Martti Ahtisaari, who said the only viable option for Kosovo was a phased process of independence.
The fact-finding mission’s report also expressed concern at the very low numbers of internally displaced returning to their homes. Despite there being mechanisms in place for people to repatriate, many are discouraged by complex procedures, security concerns and limited economic prospects in the province where unemployment hovers near 60 per cent.
Last week, Mr. Verbeke briefed the Council on the mission’s visit, which was undertaken based on a Russian proposal, to Pristina, Belgrade, Brussels and Vienna.