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UNSC reviews UN presence in Kosovo

world Updated: Jan 17, 2008 10:20 IST
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The UN Security Council met to review its mission in Kosovo while tensions remain high between Serbia and the Albanian-led government in the breakaway province, which has threatened to unilaterally declare independence.

The UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) has been assisting the Kosovo Albanian government in Pristina in establishing democratic institutions and organising elections in close cooperation with EU groups.

Together with the EU and NATO, the UN has been training a police force for Kosovo of more than 7,000 personnel to maintain security.

But in a report to the 15-nation council in early January, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said a solution to Kosovo's future status must be found "rapidly" because the current situation is unsustainable.

"Should the impasse continue, events on the ground could take on a momentum of their own, putting at serious risk the achievements and legacy of the UN in Kosovo," Ban said Wednesday.

"Moving forward with a process to determine Kosovo's future status should remain a high priority for the Security Council and for the international community."

The council met Wednesday to discuss the report and review results of democratic reforms implemented by the UN mission in Kosovo, which are benchmarks to gauge whether the territory has made enough progress towards democracy.

Serb President Boris Tadic and Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci travelled to New York to attend the meeting in a renewed effort by both sides to fight for their demands. Serbia wants Kosovo to remain within its territory while Kosovo wants full independence.

Under the meeting rules, Tadic can address the council in a public debate while Thaci will speak in a closed-door session because the Kosovo government is not yet recognised by the international community.

The council met with both leaders in the past year, when discussion has focused specifically on whether to grant independence to Kosovo, which is mostly inhabited by ethnic Albanians.

Tadic had demanded in a letter Tuesday the right to "participate in the discussion" of the UN's report on the Kosovo mission while Thaci said he wanted to present "the views of the people of Kosovo".

The Kosovo issue has split the council into two camps, with the European members and the US favouring independence for Kosovo while Russia and China are opposed. The council last met in December in an attempt to overcome its differences, but gave up on the ground that the gap was irreconcilable.

Efforts by Britain, France and Germany - the EU troika - Russia and the US have so far failed to break the impasse between Serb and Kosovo leaders.