Albanian Daily News - Dec 06

Reconciliation tough in Kosovo

Albanian Economic Tribune

TIRANA - The head of the United Nations administration in Kosovo Bernard Kouchner said here that Albania’s leaders have pledged their support to the protection of the rights of non-Albanians living in the war-torn province.

Kouchner met on Thursday Albania’s premier Ilir Meta to seek Tirana’s support in the democratisation of Kosovo.

"Premier Meta supported our efforts for the defence of minority rights in Kosovo," Kouchner said. "There is no other way to build the future."

The former French health minister said the situation was improving, but "that’s not enough."

Kouchner acknowledged that reconciliation is tough to achieve, but he said he was confident "within a few months" Albanians and Serbs would "tear down the walls" that keep them apart in Mitrovica and elsewhere in Kosovo.

"We’re doing our best to make them beat the mistrust that exists between the two ethnic groups, but we are aware that the reconciliation process is very difficult," he said. "This (tense) situation existed for many years (in Kosovo) and it will take at least a few more months to achieve our goal."

The head of the United Nations mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) said it’s up to the people of Kosovo not to hate each-other, and Kosovo politicians should smooth tensions in hot spots, such as the divided northern town of Mitrovica, where ethnic Albanians and Serbs live separated by the River Ibar.

"Mitrovica is a political problem, it’s not a military one," Kouchner said. "We are trying to establish a mixed administration in Kosovo, implementing the United Nation resolution (that ended the conflict)," he added.

Prime Minister Ilir Meta said Albania would co-operate with UNMIK by exerting its influence over its ethnic brethren in Kosovo. He said security and stability in Kosovo are "closely related" to security and stability in Albania and the region.

"We are willing to continue and intensify our co-operation in favour of peace and tolerance... in Kosovo, which continues to be the key for the stability in the region," said Meta. "Albania sees Kosovo’s future in the new Europe, in a Europe in which processes of regional integration are under way."

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