54. The mission provided the Security Council with an opportunity to gain firsthand information on the situation in Kosovo.
55. The overall security situation in Kosovo remains calm but tense. The memories of the conflict of 1998/99 and of the attacks of March 2004 against Serbs and against the international presence are still perceptible. While the Kosovo Albanian community is confident about the future, the Kosovo Serb community is apprehensive about its prospects for the future.
56. Kosovo society is still recovering from the wounds inflicted by the conflict. Kosovo Albanian and Kosovo Serb communities remain divided and live to a large extent separately from each other. The process of full reconciliation and effective integration will require a long-term commitment by all stakeholders. The commitment and readiness to build a Kosovo for all its communities, conveyed by Kosovo's political leaders, were encouraging.
57. The Provisional Institutions of Self-Government and UNMIK have made serious progress in the implementation of the standards for Kosovo. Progress has been made in establishing Provisional Institutions that are functional, and which are founded on the principles of ownership and accountability. More has still to be done, however, to implement the standards. The Provisional Institutions expressed their commitment to continue and strengthen the implementation of the standards, in particular those relating to the conditions of life of Kosovo's minority communities.
58. The return of internally displaced persons remains a critical element in the implementation of resolution 1244 (1999). The number of sustainable returns continues to be very low. Although structures for the return of internally displaced persons are in place and despite the role played by international organizations, complicated return procedures, the lack of economic prospects, difficulties associated with freedom of movement and security-related concerns were mentioned as defining reasons why returns remained limited. Opposing points of view exist on whether a solution to the status of Kosovo would facilitate or hinder the returns process.
59. The positions of the sides on the Kosovo settlement proposal remain far apart. The Belgrade authorities and the Kosovo Serb interlocutors who expressed themselves on this issue remained firmly opposed to the Kosovo settlement proposal and rejected a solution that would entail any form of independence. All called for a solution based on genuine compromise, to be reached through further negotiations between the sides. There was recognition, however, that the current status quo was not sustainable. Kosovo Albanian representatives and representatives of non-Serb communities, on the other hand, expressed clear and unambiguous support for the Kosovo settlement proposal and recommendation on Kosovo's future status. Expectations among the majority Kosovo Albanian population for an early resolution of Kosovo's future status were very high. The representatives looked to the Security Council to move rapidly towards a solution, without any further need for negotiations between the sides.
60. The mission noted the importance, stressed by many, of promoting a European perspective for the region, including for Kosovo. This European prospect can provide direction for future political and economic development and thus contribute to consolidating stability in Kosovo and, by extension, in the region as a whole.