In response to the recommendation by the UN Secretary General that a process to decide Kosovo's final status should begin shortly, Douglas Alexander, the UK Minister for Europe, made the following statement:
"I welcome the recommendation by Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary General, that a process to decide Kosovo's final status should be launched. We hope the Secretary General will now appoint a Special Envoy to take this process forward. I would also like to pay tribute to the work of Ambassador Eide on the basis of whose report the Secretary General's recommendation was made. I also welcome the ongoing efforts of Soren Jessen Petersen, the Special Representative of the Secretary General.
No-one should underestimate the scope of the challenge ahead. Any resolution must reinforce regional stability and also strengthen democratic and multi-ethnic society in Kosovo. This will not be easy. And it will be vital that the day-to-day work of improving the lives of all communities, including Kosovo Serbs and other minorities, continues during the final status process and beyond. Ambassador Eide has quite rightly noted that, whilst progress has been made on Standards, more needs to be done. Resolving Kosovo's status is clearly important. And I recognise the political and emotional significance of the status issue to all. But robust and lasting arrangements to underpin that status are at least as important. All of Kosovo's people must be able to live in peace and security.
It is not for me to say what Kosovo's final status should be. But the Contact Group and the European Union have ruled out a return to the situation in 1999 and partition. As for independence, that is clearly one option to be considered. We look to Pristina and Belgrade to work closely with the Special Envoy and engage constructively. No one party will be able to dictate the outcome of the status process or hold back the pace of progress.
This is a momentous day for the people of Kosovo who have long been frustrated by the lack of clarity on Kosovo's status. Ambassador Eide's report provides the basis on which we can now move forward to address one of the last remaining questions left over from the conflicts of the 1990s. The prize will be political stability that allows the region as a whole to move towards the prosperity and security that membership of the EU and NATO offers.
The UK looks forward to working with its international partners to help ensure a successful outcome to Kosovo's final status process."
Notes to Editors:
Douglas Alexander visited Kosovo on 14-15 September 2005 as part of a regional tour that took him to Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Press Office, Downing Street (West), London SW1A 2AH