PRISTINA – “The tragic events of March last year must never happen again,” SRSG Søren Jessen-Petersen said, one year after the riots that occurred in Kosovo in March 2004.
“I regret the loss of lives and damage to homes and religious sites. The events of March last year cast a shadow over Kosovo,” said the SRSG, “but one year on, Kosovo has come a long way. Lessons have been learnt, by us and by the politicians and people of Kosovo. We are now striving together with greater urgency to build a society where people respect each other and where all communities can live freely, peacefully and harmoniously. Clearly, we can now see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
The SRSG underlined that there is now a clear way forward for Kosovo and that lies in the implementation of Standards, particularly those linked to improving the living conditions of the minorities. “The PISG, supported by UNMIK and the international community, must intensify its efforts to bring about real improvement in the living conditions of the minorities. Standards implementation is primarily about improving the living conditions of the population, and particularly the Kosovo Serbs: their rights, their protection, return, freedom of movement, security,” said the SRSG, adding, "Kosovo has recently shown very encouraging progress and it is important at this time for all concerned to stay the course that would lead to a positive review of implementation of Standards mid-2005 and initiation of status talks in September."
The SRSG also reiterated his call for Kosovo Serbs to look ahead and engage actively in the Kosovo institutions at all levels. “This is the best way of helping build the future we all want to see,” he said, adding that “we cannot change the past but we can and we must shape the future, a future within Europe: a multi-ethnic, prosperous, stable, peaceful and, above all, tolerant society where all communities feel welcome and involved.”