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UN envoy seeks multi-ethnic, self-governing Kosovo

February 03, 2007

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VIENNA, Feb 2: Kosovo will be a self-governing, multi-ethnic democracy with full respect for the rule of law and human rights, under UN envoy Martii Ahtisaari’s proposals published officially on Friday.The text of the plan published on the United Nations website made no mention of the independence that the Serbian province’s ethnic Albanian majority wants and which Belgrade rejects.

“Kosovo shall be a multi-ethnic society, governing itself democratically and with full respect for the rule of law, the highest level of internationally recognised human rights and fundamental freedoms, and which promotes the peaceful and prosperous existence of all its inhabitants,” it said.

The Kosovo government “shall have the right to negotiate and conclude international agreements.” The proposal stresses the protection of minorities in the tiny, landlocked southern province of Serbia that has been run by a UN mission (UNMIK) since the end of its 1998-1999 war.

The conflict was ended by a 78-day Nato bombing campaign that drove out forces loyal to then Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic who were brutally repressing ethnic Albanian civilians in a fight against separatist guerrillas.

“The protection and promotion of the rights of members of communities is a central element of the settlement,” the text said.

“Culture, language, education and symbols” are all to be protected, and there will be “specific representation mechanisms for Kosovo non-Albanian community members in key public institutions to safeguard and encourage their effective and active participation in public life.” A “wide-ranging decentralisation proposal ... focuses in particular on the specific needs and concerns of the Kosovo Serb community, which will have a high degree of control over its own affairs,” Ahtisaari’s proposal said.

“All refugees and internally displaced persons from Kosovo will have the right to return and reclaim their property and personal possessions,” the text said.

“The Kosovo Police Force will have a unified chain of command throughout Kosovo, with local police officers reflecting the ethnic composition of the municipality in which they serve,” the proposal said.

And there will be “a future international presence” to deal with the difficulties of transition.

The presence will have three parts – “an international civilian representative” to supervise the settlement, “a European security and defence policy mission” to “monitor, mentor and advise on all areas related to the rule of law,” and Nato troops as an “international military presence,” the text said.

The proposal provides for a 120-day transition period from the current UN-run administration to a Kosovo-run government and then general and local elections within nine months.—AFP