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UN Envoy: Much Remains To Be Done To Stop Inter-Ethnic Violence in Kosovo


The top U.N. envoy for Kosovo has warned that poor security and inter-ethnic violence continue to plague the province as it recovers from war in 1999. The envoy says fear is still keeping many Kosovars from returning to their homes.

It has been four years since the war in Kosovo that left thousands of people dead, but the U.N. secretary-general's special representative says much still needs to be done to stop continuing inter-ethnic violence. Harri Holkeri, who took up the job of special envoy less than three months ago, says he has made security and the rule of law his highest priorities.

Briefing the Security Council Thursday, Mr. Holkeri says one big obstacle to improvement is Serbia and Montenegro operating parallel courts that pretend to exercise authority in Kosovo.

"Belgrade must work with Kosovo structures and replace this unacceptable policy with a commitment to truly multi-ethnic organs of government in Kosovo," he said. "Failure to change course will impede development of genuine multi-ethnicity in Kosovo."

Mr. Holkeri described the outlook for Kosovo as uncertain in the short to medium term. He said inter-ethnic tensions, including the possibility of ethnically-motivated violent attacks were frightening people away from returning to the region.

"The public is growing increasingly frustrated with the government's apparent inability to tackle matters that affect their well-being," he said.

Mr. Holkeri's comments come days after U.N. police and NATO-led peacekeepers in Kosovo arrested five ethnic Albanians for investigation of war crimes. The five, all former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army, are charged with the torture and killing of four fellow ethnic Albanians suspected of collaborating with Serb authorities in 1998 and 1999.

The United Nations and NATO have administered Kosovo since June 1999, following the NATO bombing campaign that forced an end to fighting between Serb security forces and ethnic Albanian guerrillas.