Kosovo’s overall progress towards building a functioning economy and establishing democratic institutions of self-government has been encouraging, but those advances could soon unravel unless the Serbian province’s future status is determined, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says.
In his latest progress report on the work of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), Mr. Ban writes that the progress being made under UN administration is threatened by the continuing tensions between the province’s ethnic communities.
“Sustaining and consolidating progress made by Kosovo will require concrete prospects for the conclusion of the future status process and the active and constructive cooperation of all involved,” he says, adding that the determination of Kosovo’s final status should as such remain a priority of the Security Council and the broader international community.
In March, a report by the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the future status process Martti Ahtisaari found that the only viable option for Kosovo, where ethnic Albanians outnumber Serbs and others by nine to one, was a phased process of independence. Kosovo’s Albanian leadership support independence but Serbia is opposed.
Mr. Ban notes in his report that Kosovo’s so-called Provisional Institutions of Self-Government (PISG) have made “concrete progress” towards meeting the standards, a set of eight overall targets that include building democratic institutions, enforcing minority rights, creating a functioning economy and setting up an impartial legal system.
“The Provisional Institutions have laid the basis for a peaceful and normal life for all of the people of Kosovo,” Mr. Ban writes, while observing that much remains to be done in achieving some of the targets.
UNMIK has run Kosovo since Western forces drove out Yugoslav forces amid inter-ethnic fighting in 1999.
The Secretary-General stresses that reintegrating and reconciling the communities of Kosovo “remains an uphill challenge.” Kosovo Serbs in particular feel that the PISG do not represent them, and a large majority boycott the institutions and rely instead on parallel structures supported by authorities in Belgrade.
“At the same time, returns of Kosovo Serbs remain disappointingly low due to uncertain economic prospects and continuing security-related concerns.”
Mr. Ban’s report, released ahead of Security Council consultations on Kosovo scheduled for next Monday, contains a technical assessment of the progress towards the standards by Joachim Rücker, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in the province.