The Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Kosovo said today that clarity on the future status of the United Nations-administered province is critical for its ethnic communities and to ensuring stability across the wider region in South-East Europe.
Speaking in Vienna to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Permanent Council, Joachim Rücker said he continued to have faith in the so-called Troika-led negotiation process, which brings together the European Union, Russia and the United States to try to devise a solution to the ongoing dispute about Kosovo’s future status.
“An agreed solution would be the optimal outcome, and the easiest to implement,” he said. “Still, even if no agreement is reached, clarity on Kosovo’s future, key to ensuring stability in the region, will have to be forthcoming.”
Earlier this year Belgrade and Pristina held direct negotiations on the future status of Kosovo, where ethnic Albanians outnumber Serbs and other minorities by about nine to one. This followed a report from the UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari in which he proposed a phased process of independence for Kosovo.
Municipal, assembly and mayoral elections in Kosovo are scheduled to take place on Saturday and Mr. Rücker stressed that preparations remain on track. The UN Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK), with the help of the OSCE mission in the province, is ready to deploy mobile polling stations in case voters in some areas are refused access to public buildings to cast their votes.
Last month both the envoy and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Kosovo’s ethnic Serb community to take part in the polls.
UNMIK, which Mr. Rücker heads, has administered Kosovo since 1999, when Western forces drove Yugoslav troops out of the province amid inter-ethnic fighting.