PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP)--The European Union is launching a project to help Kosovo's fledging justice ministry, officials said Wednesday.
The program, worth EUR2 million, will offer the ministry help from foreign and local experts over the next 18 months, an E.U. statement said.
The U.N. mission, which has administered Kosovo since mid-1999, is in the process of transferring authority over judiciary and police to the local authorities as it reduces its presence, and hopes to turn over some other responsibilities to a possible E.U.-led mission once a decision on the province's future is reached.
In a report published Tuesday, New York-based Human Rights Watch criticized the province's criminal justice system as ineffective and warned it was posing a threat to Kosovo's future stability. The watchdog cited authorities' failure to address key problems with legislation, police and the courts.
The U.N. has administered Kosovo since a 1999 NATO bombing campaign halted the Serbian crackdown on independence-seeking ethnic Albanians.
Serbia wants to retain at least formal control over Kosovo in the future while the province's ethnic Albanians insist on gaining independence.
U.N.-mediated talks to resolve the issue are expected to reach a settlement by the year's end. [ 31-05-06 0928GMT ]