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Kosovo: SRSG meets Non-Serbian minorities' leaders

Pristina - SRSG Søren Jessen-Petersen met with leaders of the Non-Serbian minorities political parties at the UNMIK HQ this afternoon. Among those present were the Chairperson of Coalition VAKAT Dzezair Murati, President of the KDTP Mahir Yagcilar, President of the IRDK Bislim Hoti, President of the PREBK Zulfi Merxha, President of the SDA Numan Balic and President of the GIG Rustem Ibisi.

The SRSG briefed the leaders on the present status of the political process, which is at a critical stage since the launch of the Comprehensive Review of Standards Implementation. While recognising the continued progress in a number of areas, the SRSG said that there remain shortcomings on issues relating to minorities, particularly freedom of movement, returns and decentralisation.

"We would like to see stronger efforts from the PISG on standards and on decentralisation, but at the same time while the Kosovo Serbs are prevented from participating in the process there can only be limited progress," the SRSG said.

The SRSG expressed his hope that the decentralisation pilot projects would be launched this week, stressing that "while of interest to all communities in Kosovo, this must remain an important instrument to address minority concerns".

The SRSG also noted that improvements in the economy would benefit all citizens of Kosovo, including minorities. "The economy remains a real challenge for Kosovo," he said, adding: "UNMIK will continue to support economic development in minority areas and will persuade the PISG to concentrate investments in these areas as well as to create jobs in the public and private sectors."

The political leaders expressed their willingness to participate in all political processes, including preparation for status discussions, and to support standards implementation. They at the same time reiterated that more must be done to address the concerns of non-Serb minorities, including particularly in the areas of equitable employment, returns, use of languages, education, access to media, and decentralisation.

The SRSG reaffirmed UNMIK's commitment to support the PISG in building a stable multiethnic Kosovo, where the basic rights of minorities were protected in accordance with the highest European standards.