Kosovo making progress in security interethnic relations Annan reports

Strengthening the rule of law throughout the province remains a high priority, the Secretary-General notes in his latest report to the Security Council on the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).”Continued support for the Mission’s fight against crime, through criminal investigation leading to arrests and capacity building of the local police and judiciary, will lead Kosovo towards normalization,” Mr. Annan observes. “The UNMIK regional approach to fighting crime promises to be effective and the initial signs of progress achieved are encouraging.”UNMIK also is committed to achieving sustainable returns in the course of this year, creating the momentum for increased returns over the next few years, according to the report, which notes a modest increase in minority returns, with nearly 1,000 internally displaced people going back to Kosovo in the first half of this year – about four times the number of people who left the province during the same period.The Secretary-General also says that conditions in Mitrovica remain a challenge to the implementation of Security Council mandates on Kosovo, with the Mission seeking to stabilize the situation on the ground by doubling the number of UN police in northern Mitrovica and continuing a dialogue on the matter with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.As for the Mission, the Secretary-General says UNMIK itself is facing demanding challenges in the coming months. “The implementation of the budget reduction will necessitate the transfer of responsibility and authority to the provisional institutions earlier than planned,” he says, referring to a $61 million cut over the next two years.The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Kosovo, Michael Steiner, will be in New York to brief the Security Council in an open meeting on Tuesday about recent developments in the province.Meanwhile, Mr. Steiner thanked Germany today for its offer of €5 million (euros) to rehabilitate Kosovo’s energy sector after its main power plant was hit last week by lightning strikes which caused a major fire that has cost the province some 500 megawatts in electrical power.

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