UN condemns Kosovo 'revolt' talk

Published on September 20, 2006, BBC News

Category: Violence Against Christian Serbs and Their Holy Places

A top UN diplomat has warned Kosovo's ethnic Albanians to watch their words after one leader predicted a "revolt" if Kosovo was denied independence.

Deputy head of the UN mission in Kosovo Steven Schook referred to comments made by the province's parliament speaker. Mr Schook also condemned a grenade attack on Serbs in Kosovo, that came just hours after the speaker's remarks. Serbia's province has been run by the UN since Nato forced Serb troops out of the province in 1999. Ethnic Albanians are pressing for Kosovo's independence, while Belgrade says it should remain part of Serbia. The UN-mediated talks between the Serbian and ethnic Albanian teams in Vienna have been going on for months. So far, no breakthrough has been achieved. Klina attack Kosovo's leaders should be "very careful with the phrases they use and the messages they direct to public opinion and the people right now", Mr Schook said after meeting the province's parliamentary speaker Kole Berisha on Wednesday. The US diplomat also warned that violence was "not in the interests of Kosovo". Mr Berisha said earlier this week that "if our aim of independence is not realised then citizen's revolts are expected". "We don't want revolts, but we cannot exclude them if our aim is not realised," he said. Hours after Mr Berisha spoke four Serbs were wounded in the grenade attack on their home in Kosovo's western town of Klina. The victims were former refugees who only returned home last year. The attack and Mr Berisha's remarks have drawn strong criticism in Serbia. Western pressure UN chief negotiator Martti Ahtisaari is under pressure from the Western powers to produce a deal by the end of the year, the BBC's South-east Europe analyst Gabriel Partos says. The West believes that uncertainty over Kosovo's future could lead to its destabilisation, he says. Earlier this year, the six-nation Contact Group made it clear that a deal should be in line with the wishes of Kosovo's people. Since the 90% ethnic-Albanian majority are insisting on independence, that has been seen as a possible pointer to the kind of settlement that may emerge from the diplomatic process, our analyst says. He says the Western powers in the Contact Group have hinted at independence, albeit under close international supervision, as a likely solution. Russia, on the other hand, has said it will not go along with a deal that is imposed on Serbia.

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