Inter-ethnic tensions in Kosovo have fallen significantly since it declared independence from Serbia last year and the wider region has become more stable as a direct result, the Prime Minister of neighbouring Albania told the General Assembly today.
Sali Berisha, speaking at the Assembly’s annual high-level debate, said the independence announcement in February 2008, which sparked inter-ethnic violence in the following weeks, had proved to be “an important factor of peace and stability in the South-East European region.”
Mr. Berisha added that ethnic Serbs “are not leaving Kosovo any more. The opposite is happening – many Serbian families are coming back to Kosovo to build their future there.”
Mr. Berisha pledged that his Government would help Kosovo, where ethnic Albanians outnumber Serbs and other minorities by about nine to one, to facilitate the return of displaced people.
He also noted that 62 UN Member States had now recognized Kosovo as independent, and it had become a member of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.
“Nevertheless, Kosovo has not yet taken the place it deserves in the family of sovereign countries of this prestigious Organization.”
On Thursday Serbia’s President Boris Tadić told the Assembly’s high-level segment that Serbia would never recognize the declaration of independence of the province, but would prosecute its views on the matter peacefully.
Exercising his right of reply following Mr. Berisha’s address today, a delegate from Serbia told the Assembly this evening that the Albanian leader was speaking about an issue that was an internal matter for Serbia.