April 25th, 2007 10:32 EST
Kosovo holds talks with European Union officials
The Security Council delegation heading to Kosovo on a fact-finding trip to help determine the permanent future status of the Serbian province with an ethnic Albanian majority stopped in Brussels today for talks with European Union (EU) and NATO officials.
The 15-member delegation met with NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana and EU Commissioner for Enlargement Ollie Rehn, UN spokesperson Michele Montas told reporters in New York.
Brussels is the first stop on a six-day trip that will also take stops in Belgrade, Pristina and Vienna so that Council members can gain a first-hand understanding of the social, political and economic situation inside Kosovo. It is the fourth such Council mission since April 2000.
Led by Ambassador Johan C. Verbeke of Belgium and comprising representatives from the Council’s current membership, the mission is tasked with assessing Kosovo’s progress since the UN took over its administration in 1999, particularly on the implementation of the agreed 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.
Last month, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the future status process, Martti Ahtisaari, concluded that independence in a phased process with initial supervision by the international community was the only viable option for Kosovo.
Mr. Ahtisaari said in his report to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that the province, where ethnic Albanians outnumber Serbs and other minorities by nine to one, could only become politically stable and economically viable if it was independent because Kosovo’s Provisional Institutions of Self-Government (PISG) and Serbia could not reach agreement on even small, practical issues.
Any further delay in reaching a permanent solution would cause further stagnation, threaten democratic development and imperil any hopes at ethnic reconciliation, he said, adding that an international civilian and military presence would be needed for some time, focused especially on such areas as minority community rights, the rule of law, decentralization and the protection of the Serbian Orthodox Church.