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Ban Ki-moon receives Contact Group report on Kosovo

December 2007 Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has received the report of the ‘Contact Group’ of countries working to address the status of Kosovo, the Serbian province which has been run by the United Nations since 1999.

A spokesperson for Mr. Ban said the Secretary-General would transmit the report to the Security Council on Sunday.

The Contact Group, comprised of France, Germany, Italy, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, had promised to report by 10 December on the progress of negotiations between Pristina and Belgrade.

The Group’s report is expected to cover talks led by the so-called Troika of the European Union, Russia and the US, which began after a stalemate emerged over a proposal by Mr. Ban’s Special Envoy, Martti Ahtisaari, for a phased process of independence for the province, where ethnic Albanians outnumber Serbs and others by nine to one.

Kosovo’s Albanian leadership supports independence but Serbia is opposed.

Mr. Ahtisaari declared talks on the future status of the province deadlocked on 12 March – a little more than a month after unveiling his proposals, which aimed to addressed the demands of a multi-ethnic society.

The plan called for a constitution enshrining principles to protect the rights of all communities, including culture, language, education and symbols, as well granting specific representation for non-Albanians in key public institutions and requiring that certain laws may only be enacted if a majority of the Kosovo non-Albanian legislative members agree.

It also called for wide-ranging decentralization, focusing in particular on the specific needs and concerns of the Serb community, which would have a high degree of control over its own affairs such as secondary health care, higher education and financial matters, including accepting transparent funding from Serbia. Six new or significantly expanded Kosovo Serb majority municipalities would be set up.

Earlier this week, the Security Council President for December, Ambassador Marcello Spatafora of Italy, said the 15-member body would meet this month on Kosovo. Asked about upcoming steps, he replied that “when the time comes we will assess and decide how to go forward on process and on substance.”

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