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 You are in: Under Secretary for Political Affairs > Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs > Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Releases > Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, Other Releases > 2004

Contact Group Meeting

Released by Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
September 22, 2004
New York

The Political Directors of the Contact Group – Germany, France, Italy, the Russian Federation, United Kingdom, United States of America, and representatives of the European Union - met the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, Soren Jessen-Petersen, on 22nd September 2004 in New York to assess the situation in Kosovo and the way towards determining Kosovo’s future status as outlined in UNSC Resolution 1244. The Contact Group paid tribute to the Secretary-General’s initiative in commissioning the comprehensive Kosovo Report prepared by Ambassador Kai Eide of Norway and looked forward to the Secretary-General’s further consultations, which he initiated in his 20 September meetings. Welcoming the Eide Report, the Contact Group agreed with the Secretary-General that it provided an integrated and comprehensive strategy for Kosovo.

The Contact Group discussed some principal goals which govern the further political process. Kosovo’s future, like that of the entire region, is as part of Europe.

The basis of any settlement must include the promotion of security and stability in the Balkans. As the "Standards for Kosovo" document states, the future for Kosovo must be one in which all people, "regardless of ethnic background, race or religion, are free to live, work and travel without fear, hostility or danger, and where there is tolerance, justice and peace for everyone". The Contact Group’s attitude towards the future of Kosovo will depend heavily on the extent to which this statement matches the reality on the ground in Kosovo, particularly in regard to Kosovo’s Serb and other non-Albanian communities. The emergence of such a Kosovo will contribute to moving the Western Balkan region towards European integration. These indicators mean that Kosovo would not return to the situation prevailing there before March 1999.

The Contact Group expects concrete progress on decentralisation in Kosovo. In this context, the Contact Group supports the Framework Document for the Reform of Local Self-Government in Kosovo of 19 July. It also supports UNMIK and the PISG in elaborating Kosovo's decentralization concept, taking into account issues such as the protection of minority community rights and security and the need to ensure better living conditions for all inhabitants in Kosovo. The Contact Group looked forward to the implementation of pilot projects by the PISG and UNMIK, and called on the representatives of the Kosovo Serb community to join the Pristina based "Working Group of Local Government Reform" co-headed by UNMIK and the PISG. Without prejudice to any eventual status settlement, the Contact Group emphasized the importance of effective institutional mechanisms to ensure the protection of minority communities.

Recognising Belgrade's interest in de-centralization, the Contact Group reaffirmed its support for constructive engagement with Belgrade. In this context, elements of the Belgrade Plan could enrich the UNMIK-led process. The Contact Group expressed its readiness to support discussion between Belgrade and Pristina, including the PISG and representatives of the Kosovo Serb community, and UNMIK, at a mutually acceptable time and place. Ultimately, any solution to these issues must be agreed by and benefit all communities within Kosovo.

The Contact Group expects to see the transfer to the PISG, in accordance with UNSCR 1244 and in full respect of the Constitutional Framework, of all responsibilities which do not prejudge Kosovo’s future status. The Contact Group expects the PISG to discharge increasingly these new functions in a spirit of responsibility, effectiveness and cooperation. It further supports the SRSG’s intention to reinforce the accountability of the PISG through exercise of robust oversight.

The Contact Group recalled the statement by the President of the Security Council of 12 December 2003 which noted that a first opportunity for a comprehensive review of the PISG’s progress in meeting the standards would occur around mid-2005 and stresses that advancement towards a process to determine future status of Kosovo in accordance with resolution 1244 will depend on the positive outcome of this comprehensive review. The regular review process to measure Kosovo’s progress towards Standards is under way. The Contact Group urges the PISG and all Kosovo’s leaders to implement the standards constructively and in good faith. Failure to do so, or efforts by any quarter to undermine the standards implementation process, could have consequences for the Comprehensive Review.

The Contact Group supports the SRSG’s intention, after the March violence, to put special emphasis on security, minority protection, returns, decentralization, freedom of movement, and the economy. The Contact Group welcomes the intention of UNMIK to devote particular attention to international co-ordination on the economy in close co-operation with the EU Commission and other key players. The Contact Group will focus in future reviews on the areas below:

  • Rule of Law: Welcome progress has been made in bringing to justice those responsible for the violence in March. The Contact Group calls for a policy of ‘zero tolerance’ towards those who propagate hatred and violence against ethnic minorities. It is imperative to protect witnesses and to instil tolerance and mutual respect. The Contact Group welcomes the growing professional conduct of the Kosovo Police Service and looks forward to constructive engagement by the Kosovo Protection Corps in line with its mandate as a civilian emergency organization.
  • Sustainable Returns, Reconstruction, Reintegration: The Contact Group notes the significant work done by the PISG in reconstruction since the March events and urges that this work be completed without delay, including rebuilding churches and other religious sites. It welcomes the efforts of the Council of Europe, the European Commission and the UNESCO to assess and find funding for the restoration of religious and cultural sites. The Contact Group also calls on the Provisional Institutions to increase their efforts to create the conditions for safe and sustainable returns, and on UNMIK to implement the measures outlined in the 14 July statement, notably the creation of a Ministry of Returns. The Contact Group looks forward to close cooperation with Belgrade authorities and UNHCR in carrying out a re-registration of IDP’s.
  • Freedom of Movement, Security: Movement by members of minority communities continues to require military or police escort. Kosovo institutions at all levels, especially the municipal presidents and the KPS, must do their part to ensure that minorities, particularly Kosovo Serbs, can live and move around freely, that all persons displaced from their homes have the opportunity to return, and are free to build a safe future for their families.
  • Functioning Democratic Institutions: The Contact Group expects all political leaders and parties to ensure free and fair Assembly elections in Kosovo, based on the rule of law. The Contact Group reiterates the importance of Kosovo Serbs' participation in these elections, this being the best and only way for them to address their legitimate concerns. The Contact Group calls on all communities in Kosovo to participate in the elections, and in particular for the registration of all candidates by October 1.

The Political Directors will continue to closely follow the process of implementing the Kosovo standards and requested their representatives to continue their regular meetings in Pristina.

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