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Top UN envoy to Kosovo says minority interests will be protected after polls

19 November 2007 Voicing regret that many Kosovo Serbs did not participate in general elections at the weekend, the top United Nations envoy to the province today called for talks to ensure that the Serbs and other minority communities are adequately represented in any public institutions.

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative Joachim Rücker said in a media statement issued in Pristina that although “it is unfortunate that Kosovo Serbs did not vote in large numbers,” the focus now must be on finding a way forward for the UN-administered province.

Municipal, assembly and mayoral elections in Kosovo took place on Saturday and Mr. Rücker stressed that the present municipal assemblies will remain in place until the results of the ballot are certified.

“During the interim, there is time for discussions to find a solution so that the Kosovo Serbian community’s interests will be properly protected,” he said.

Today Mr. Rücker met with representatives of Štrpce/Shtërpcë, an undivided, multi-ethnic municipality in the south of the province, and both the ethnic Albanian and Serbian members of the municipal assembly there promised to work together and continue their dialogue.

Earlier this year Belgrade and Pristina held direct negotiations on the future status of Kosovo, where ethnic Albanians outnumber Serbs and other minorities by about nine to one. This followed a report from the UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari in which he proposed a phased process of independence for Kosovo.

The UN Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK), which Mr. Rücker heads, has administered Kosovo since 1999, when Western forces drove Yugoslav troops out of the province amid inter-ethnic fighting.

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