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Promoting tolerance and integration for Kosovo's smaller communities

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News and Press Release
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PRISTINA, 18 February 2003 - The life of the minorities in Kosovo is steadily improving everyday. The Small Investment Minorities Fund (SIMF), established through a grant from the Netherlands Ministry for Development Co-operation in collaboration with the OSCE Mission in Kosovo, aims to support the integration of Kosovo smaller communities into society.
Ensuring a dignified future for all ethnic communities in Kosovo is a central goal of the OSCE, UNMIK's Institution-Building Pillar. To underline and promote this unequivocal message, OSCE will work closely with all communities to further the idea of an integrated and inclusive society founded upon democratic principles

"The SIMF encourages returns, promotes reconciliation and aids minorities to remain in Kosovo by improving their living conditions," said Mark van den Boogard, head of the Netherlands Office in Pristina, the country sponsoring the project.

The total amount of funds available was €1,191,000 supporting between 50 and 60 SIMF-funded projects, which came from each minority community. Target areas were wide ranging such as social, educational, medical, infrastructure, communication, information and micro-finance loans for business projects. The OSCE through its Democratization Department implements the projects, in conjunction with respective municipal authorities.

All the projects approved needed a prior "green light" from the panel made up of local and international representatives of the UNHCR, OSCE, the European Union, the American Bank of Kosovo (ABK) and individuals from civil society. All projects will be underway by the end of June 2003.

"Through such confidence building measures, the OSCE is focusing on the promotion of reconciliation and tolerance, without which there is no democracy. This is taking place at every level, ranging from micro-projects, through continued work with offices of the international community present in Kosovo and NGOs, to the engagement with the newly elected municipal authorities," said the OSCE Head of Mission, Ambassador Pascal Fieschi. He added that the co-operation such as the one with the Netherlands Office is proof of joint commitments for a better Kosovo and serves as a good example to follow.

PR OMIK DE 8/03

Organization for security and co-operation in europe / Mission in Kosovo

For further information, contact the OSCE Mission Spokesperson Poul Smidt
Tel: (+381-38) 500-162 x260 / mobile: +377-44-500-150
e-mail: press@omik.org / website: www.osce.org/kosovo