November 12, 2008 / 2:51 AM / in 10 years

U.N.'s Ban urges Kosovo to reconsider EU mission plan

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Kosovo on Tuesday to reconsider an amended United Nations plan for deployment of the European Union police and justice mission (EULEX) in Kosovo.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon talks during a news conference in Dhaka November 2, 2008. REUTERS/Andrew Biraj

Kosovo President Fatmir Sejdiu and Prime Minister Hashim Thaci on Monday rejected Ban’s plan, which U.N. officials had hoped was a compromise acceptable to both Pristina and Belgrade more than eight months after Kosovo seceded from Serbia.

“I do hope that the Pristina government will consider my proposal and this process of negotiation positively and favorably for the future of their country,” Ban told reporters at U.N. headquarters.

He added that he hoped the Kosovo leaders would keep a sense of “reality” and “flexibility.”

The EULEX mission has faced delays because of opposition from Serbia and Kosovo’s Serbs, who see it as a symbol of Kosovo’s independence. But Serbia’s Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic said on Monday Belgrade would support Ban’s proposal.

According to the plan there would be two separate chains of command for Albanian and Serb policemen in Kosovo. In majority Albanian areas, police would be under the EU umbrella, while police in the northern part held by Serbs would report to the U.N. administration.

EU Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana said on Monday in Brussels that he expected the agreement on the full deployment of EULEX to be reached by the end of this week.

In Belgrade, Serbia’s Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic said that Serbia would support the United Nations plan if it was approved as it stands by the U.N. Security Council.

Kosovo declared independence in February, nine years after the NATO bombing to halt the killing of ethnic civilians in a two-year counter-insurgency war.

Serbia fiercely opposes the independence of its former province that has a 90 percent Albanian majority. About 120,000 Serbs refuse to acknowledge Albanian-run institutions.

Since 1999 when the U.N. mission arrived in Kosovo, the two ethnic groups have maintained separate education systems and, at the moment, some 16,000 NATO peacekeepers oversee the fragile peace.

Editing by Philip Barbara

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