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UN and Serbian Representatives Clash Over Report on Kosovo


Disagreement surfaced Friday in advance of Kosovo's progress in moving toward a stable, multi-ethnic society as a condition for determining the province's final political status.

The head of the U.N. Mission to Kosovo, Soeren Jessen-Petersen offered positive signs of increased dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina on energy, missing persons and transportation issues. He said Kosovo has taken major steps to improve life for ethnic minorities, including new judges representing minority communities and he noted increased trust in the police and more freedom of movement.

But he said Kosovo's majority Albanians must show the same respect for minorities that European states accord minorities. And he said Belgrade must encourage Kosovo Serbs to participate in the process to ensure that their rights are protected.

"I think there was a clear message here: continue your good work, continue your hard work. If you work even harder, you will get there. But now it is very much in the hands of the Kosovo Albanians. They know what they have to do. The agenda is clear and I must say I count on the Kosovo leaders to do that and I count on the Kosovo Serbs and Belgrade to make sure that the Kosovo Serbs will be part of that process. That is very important," he said.

The United Nations has established a checklist of eight norms of democratic society which Kosovo must meet before any discussions on the province's final status.

The head of Belgrade's Kosovo Coordination Center, Nebojosa Covic, said Serbia and Montenegro support the comprehensive review Secretary-General Kofi Annan has initiated because it will show a far different reality than the one presented in Mr. Jesson-Peterson's report.

"Serbs are not against participation, but please do not ask them to participate in something which is not based on basic principle, an unprincipled approach that leads to the independence of Kosovo. Once they become free of fear and frustrations they are experiencing, for them it will be much easier and for Belgrade authorities to encourage them toward participation," he said.

Mr. Covic said an independent Kosovo is not a sustainable or democratic option and would destabilize the region.

Mr. Peteson says he expects Secretary-General Annan to a name an envoy to conduct the review next week.