Monday, June 06, 2005

U.N. says process to determine Kosovo's future yet to be determined

PRISTINA, Serbia-Montenegro (AP) - U.N.'s deputy Secretary General Louise Frechette said Monday the process to resolve Kosovo's future status will not be determined until this U.N.-administered province meets a set of targets on human rights and democracy.

The United Nation's will assess Kosovo's progress within the next few months, a preliminary step leading up to the process to decide the province's future status, Frechette said.

Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority wants independence for Kosovo, while the Serb minority seeks to remain part of Serbia-Montenegro.

"If the assessment is positive, then I think it would pave the way for a process to determine the future status of Kosovo," she said. "It certainly is our hope that we will be able to move to that phase."

Frechette, who was concluding a two-day visit to Kosovo on Monday, met with Kosovo's President Ibrahim Rugova and its Prime Minister Bajram Kosumi. Her visit is part of a tour to U.N. missions around the world focusing on combatting sexual exploitation by the U.N. staff.

The United Nations found earlier this year that peacekeepers in Congo had sex with women and girls, usually in exchange for food or money. Abuses have also been reported in peacekeeping missions in Bosnia, Kosovo, Cambodia, East Timor, and West Africa.

But, Frechette's visit coincides with Western countries' stepped-up efforts to resolve the political status of Kosovo, which has been run by a U.N. mission since mid-1999 when the NATO air campaign forced Serbia to relinquish control over the province.

International officials say talks on the province's future status depend on meeting eight targets including establishing functioning democratic institutions, protecting minorities, promoting economic development, and ensuring rule of law, freedom of movement and property rights.

Last week, Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed Kai Eide, a senior Norwegian diplomat to review Kosovo's progress in meeting those standards.

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