Tuesday, March 08, 2005

US welcomes Kosovo PM's quit move, cautions against violence

WASHINGTON - The United States on Tuesday cautioned against any renewed violence in Kosovo as it welcomed the resignation of Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj after being indicted by the UN war crimes tribunal.

The State Department said ethnic violence "will not be tolerated and will have negative consequences for the outcome" of the review on the ethnic-Albanian-dominated southern Serbian province's progress towards meeting UN-set democratic standards later this year.

"2005 is an important year for the aspirations of the people of Kosovo," said the department's spokesman, Richard Boucher.

"In order to receive a positive assessment from the comprehensive review later this year and to begin a process to determine its future status, Kosovo must preserve peace and continue to work to implement the standards," he said.

The international community has asked that basic standards of democracy and human rights be met before the UN-run province's future status could be discussed.

Haradinaj had quit over his role as a guerrilla commander in the Serbian province's 1998-99 conflict, sparking fears of renewed ethnic violence.

Boucher said the United States welcomed Haradinaj's decision to resign and his expressed plan to go voluntarily to tribunal at The Hague.

"His actions demonstrate his deep concern for the future of Kosovo and its people," Boucher said.

Haradinaj remains a hero to many Kosovar Albanians, who demand independence from Serbia and see him as a freedom fighter who helped liberate Kosovo from Serbian oppression.

Boucher said the United States and the international community remained committed to supporting the development of Kosovo's institutions in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1244 and to the continued implementation of the "Standards for Kosovo."

"Ensuring that the rule of law extends to all citizens is an essential component of the standards," he said.

The United States also called on all parties in Kosovo and throughout the Balkans to cooperate with the International criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia as a prerequisite for full integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions, Boucher said.

The cooperation included apprehending and transferring all indictees to The Hague.

"We urge all individuals indicted by the tribunal to act with dignity and in accordance with their obligations in reporting to the tribunal without further delay," he said.

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