"Progress in Kosovo in 2013, consolidation to follow"

NEW YORK -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's latest Kosovo report says that in 2014, "efforts must continue to consolidate the critical achievements of the past year."

(Beta/AP, file)
(Beta/AP, file)

Those achievements concern the dialogue and along the path toward regional reconciliation, stability and prosperity, he wrote.

In the regular three-month report, which Tanjug has seen, Ban said that the year 2013 was a year of significant progress in the political aspect which culminated with the agreement signed under the EU auspices in Brussels on April 29.

He said that both sides have made progress in approaching the EU and welcomed the decision of the European Council to launch the accession negotiations with Serbia and support to the talks on a Stabilization and Association Agreement with Kosovo.

The talks between Belgrade and Priština were instrumental to this success and will remain important for ensuring that the progress achieved withstands challenges arising from differences of interpretation or tensions on the ground, Ban said.

He said that the local elections in Kosovo, including the north, were successful, stressing that this has opened space for new political dynamics within Kosovo and leads to full implementation of the Brussels agreements and well as the beginning of a new phase of engagement between the parties toward full implementation of the 19 April agreement and establishment of the community of Serb municipalities.

He called on the international community to continue to encourage and actively support the dialogue process and assist the newly elected local municipal assemblies and leaders, including in northern Kosovo.

The substantial progress achieved in the transition of the police structures in northern Kosovo should be matched by early progress on the related issue of judiciary and other rule of law areas, the UN secretary general said and called upon all sides to sustain maximum flexibility and mutual accommodation in their approach to further implementation.

As for the security situation in Kosovo, Ban said that the overall security situation throughout Kosovo remained generally calm during the reporting period although some tensions flared in the pre-election and election periods.

The report states that according to the UN data as of January 15 2014, a total of 1,721 persons remain listed as missing from the Kosovo conflict (1998-1999).

UNHCR has recorded a total of 2,660 cases of forced individual repatriations, mostly from European countries, during 2013.