Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Kosovo Albanians are set targets to help Serbs

PRISTINA, Serbia, June 7 (Reuters) - World powers have given Kosovo six months to implement 13 specific steps to improve Serb rights as they near a decision on the demand of the province's ethnic Albanian majority for independence from Serbia.

The steps include adopting laws on languages and religious freedom, allocating funds for refugee returns and opening more police stations to address the rights and security of Kosovo's minorities, primarily its 100,000 Serbs.

The checklist, seen by Reuters on Wednesday, is a trimmed version of a much-criticised 2003 "Standards" document that contained over 100 pages of targets the United Nations wanted met before tackling Kosovo's fate.

The province of 2 million has been run by the United Nations since NATO bombs drove out Serb forces in June 1999 to end their brutal two-year counter-insurgency war.

The U.N. Security Council launched status talks last year after an envoy to Secretary-General Kofi Annan criticised progress on the standards but said delaying a decision on Kosovo's final status risked further stagnation.

The West wants a deal this year, fearing a repeat of 2004 Albanian riots that stretched NATO's 17,000 peacekeepers.

The Contact Group of the United States, Russia, Britain, Germany, France and Italy this week set leaders of the ethnic Albanian majority 13 tasks it wants done "within four to six months" -- the timeframe set for a deal on Kosovo's fate.

"To help focus (government) efforts over the next four to six months, the Contact Group has coordinated with the U.N. mission a list of priority action items for immediate implementation," the document states.

"This list is not exhaustive nor is it intended to minimise the importance of implementing all the Standards."

When Nato deployed half the Serb population fled a wave of revenge attacks and there are still sporadic shootings and bomb blasts targeting the Serb minority.

Diplomats say the West favours independence but wants the Albanians, who make up 90 percent of the province's population, to do more for the ghettoised Serb minority.

Kosovo's U.N. governor, Soren Jessen-Petersen, will praise recent Albanian efforts on minority rights in a report, seen in advance by Reuters, to the Security Council on June 20.

Serbs in the north said this week they had cut ties with the ethnic Albanian authorities over a spate of shootings they blame on Albanians. To ease fears, The U.N. said on Wednesday it would fill 130 vacancies in the Kosovo police with former Serbian police officers, provided their records were clean.

Serbs and Albanians opened direct talks on local government and church protection in February in Vienna. U.N. envoy Martti Ahtisaari will call for talks on Kosovo's final status in July.

Serbia shows no sign of agreeing to Kosovo's independence.


Bg anon said...

Well this is good news I think, although again lets see what happens next.

KosovaReport Belgrade media reports that Peterson may not continue in his post. Do you have any report on this?

tironsi said...

His contract has run out I believe.

NYoutlawyer said...

Albanian welcoming committee displaying their welcome back offerings. Like I said before, in time, albos will self-destruct.

Shots fired at home of returnees
9 June 2006 | 15:57 | Source: B92
LJUG -- A home in which Serbian returnees in Kosovo are temporary living was shot at last night.

The home, located in Ljug, near Istok, is a temporary residence in which Serbian returnees are living until their homes in the region are restored and they are able to move back in to their original residences.

Kosovo Coordination Centre official Radoš Vulić said that the attack occurred at about a half hour after midnight last night, and there were about ten people in the house at the time. No one was injured in the attack. The attackers fired from automatic rifles.

The goal of the attackers is to instil fear in the Serbs and make them rethinking their decisions to come back to Kosovo, Vulić said.

He added that electricity in one of these homes was cut several days ago and an Albanian flag was place on another.

The incidents were all reported to the Kosovo Police Service.

Bg anon said...

I see that Belgrde media reports that Koha D is reporting the same news that Petersen will go.

The report says that Koha believes that he will be replaced by his deputy - that American guy who basically told Petersen what to do in any case.