The UK continues to stress to the Kosovo Government the need to focus on delivering UN-endorsed standards relevant to minority communities in Kosovo, and to create the conditions for a multi-ethnic Kosovo. In mid-June the Contact Group (United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and Russia, together with EU representatives) Head of Missions in Pristina presented a list to the Kosovo Government of priority standards, including minority rights, where we expected to see progress.
The Contact Group ministerial statement of 31 January and the UN-endorsed Guiding Principles make clear that the final status outcome should offer effective constitutional guarantees to assure the protection of minorities, including mechanisms to ensure their participation in central government and in the new local administrative structures. There should also be robust arrangements for patrimonial sites. Both of these documents can be found in the Library of the House.
In mid-April, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Balkans co-ordinator held a meeting with Mr. Astrit Haraqia, the Kosovo Minister of Culture, and reiterated the importance of protecting and preserving Kosovo’s cultural heritage.
UN Status Envoy, Martti Ahtisaari, held talks on 23 May 2006 between Belgrade and Pristina on the protection of cultural and religious heritage sites. A further meeting is due to be held on 17 July 2006. The UK welcomes these meetings and hopes that agreement on this issue can be reached soon.
The UK recognises that the protection of religious and cultural sites will be a key issue during the final status process. The Contact Group’s UN-endorsed Guiding Principles refer to the need for any settlement to include specific safeguards for the protection of the cultural and religious heritage in Kosovo, and provisions specifying the Status of the Serbian Orthodox Church’s institutions and sites in Kosovo. These Guiding Principles are there to support the work of the UN Status Envoy and have been placed in the Library of the House.
The Government’s policy on Kosovo’s final status is set out in the Contact Group ministerial statement of 31 January 2006 and the UN-endorsed Guiding Principles.
The Contact Group ministerial statement makes clear that the final status process for Kosovo should be concluded during 2006, that there were a distinct set of circumstances that distinguished Kosovo from other disputed areas and that any settlement needed to be acceptable to the people of Kosovo.
The UN-endorsed Guiding Principles exist to support the UN Status Envoy. They make clear that there should be no partition of, or in Kosovo, and no union of Kosovo with any country or part of any other country after the solution of Kosovo’s final status.
Both of these documents have been placed in the Library of the House.