HL Deb 07 February 2005 vol 669 cc78-9WA
Lord Astor of Hever

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What recent discussions they have had with the Six Nation Contact Group regarding the status of Kosovo; and [HL970]

What progress has been made by the Government of Kosovo towards the development of democracy, good governance and human rights in Kosovo; and [HL971]

What recent representations they have received from the Government of Serbia-Montenegro regarding the forthcoming negotiations on the final status of Kosovo. [HL972]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean

Kosovo will be a key issue for the international community in 2005. The UK's objective remains to find a solution to Kosovo's final status which will reinforce regional stability and be consistent with the principle of multi-ethnicity.

The contact group will have a key role in monitoring and ensuring further progress against standards. It last met on 1 and 2 February in Pristina and further regular meetings are planned in the coming weeks and months in advance of the planned mid-2005 review of standards.

Progress has been made on strengthening democracy, good governance and human rights in Kosovo. Elections in October 2004 were free and fair, despite the disappointing Kosovo-Serb turnout. Three new ministries have been formed to deal with local government administration, communities and returns and energy and mining. Progress has also been made towards launching pilot projects on decentralisation to ensure local government is devolved down to local communities. The security situation is much improved with a reduction in ethnically motivated violent incidents in the past nine months. We welcome the new sense of purpose and commitment shown by the Kosovo Government and look forward to further progress on standards.

The UK Government have regular discussions with the Government of Serbia and Montenegro (SaM) on Kosovo. Most recently, during the visit of SaM President Svetozar Marovic and state union ministers to the UK, my right honourable friend the Prime Minister—together with my right honourable friends the Foreign Secretary, the Secretary of State for Defence and other Ministers—encouraged the Belgrade authorities to engage constructively with the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo and the Provisional Institutes of Self-Government to help ensure Kosovo's immediate and long-term stability. We emphasised that the UK will work closely with all parties to help achieve a multi-ethnic solution to Kosovo's future status.

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