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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 Chairman's Statement

Released by Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
September 28, 2004
Vienna, Austria
 
Representatives of the Contact Group, the Government of Serbia, UNMIK, Kosovo Provisional Institutions of Self-Government, and the Council of Europe met in Vienna September 27-28 to exchange views on the reform of local government-decentralization in Kosovo. Recalling the Presidential Statement of the Security Council of 30 April 2004 stating that more effective local government should be elaborated, the parties agreed that such reform is necessary for advancing democratic principles in Kosovo. It would also bring services and administration closer to all inhabitants. The parties agreed that a necessary further aim of the process would be to provide all communities in Kosovo, at the local level, with the mechanisms to ensure that their cultural and linguistic interests are fully respected and observed.

Representatives of the Government of Serbia indicated that local government reform under consideration, while a necessary process, had to be complemented by elements addressing the particular needs of the Kosovo Serb community. They stressed that decentralization efforts should address institutional arrangements for Kosovo Serbs to promote security and freedom of movement, with a particular aim of promoting returns of displaced persons.

Representatives of the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government noted that while the Framework Document, as developed in Pristina, sets out the road map for local government reform in Kosovo, it remains open for further enrichment. Additional proposals addressing security and institutional protection of Kosovo Serbs and other communities should be taken into account.

The Chair noted that in its statement of 22 September, 2004, issued by its Political Directors in New York, the Contact Group "without prejudice to any eventual status settlement...emphasized the importance of effective institutional mechanisms to ensure the protection of minority communities." In this context, the Chair noted the SRSG’s proposal to engage in high-level talks on security with the government in Belgrade.

The Chair noted that there were many elements discussed in this session, including elements of the Belgrade Plan, that would merit further discussion. The Chair urged the Kosovo Serb community to join the Pristina-based Working Group on Local Government under the joint leadership of UNMIK and the PISG. The Chair also encouraged Belgrade to play an active role in elaborating specific proposals in support of the Kosovo Serbs in the Working Group on Local Government that would receive full consideration. The Chair noted that, in its statement of 22 September 2004, the Contact Group stated its keen interest in the decentralization process, stating that it expects "concrete progress." An early start to pilot projects would be important evidence of such progress. In that vein, the Chair expects the Contact Group to follow closely the progress of local government reform/decentralization efforts, and will make review of such progress a key element in its continuing involvement in Kosovo.


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