Or will 2007 be the year of Kosovo's new beginning? | Den norske Helsingforskomité

Or will 2007 be the year of Kosovo's new beginning?

(01/02-2007) Today some 50 people attended a Norwegian Helsinki Committee seminar on Kosovo and human rights in the shadow of nationalism and final status.

Serbian authorities have signalled that they might not want to meet the UN Special mediator for the talks of future status, Martti Ahtisari, or the Kosovo-Albanian leadership when Ahtisari's report is released tomorrow.

- This is the most important agreement in Kosovo for many years, and we can only hope that the Serbians will treat it with decency, said Kai Eide, former UN Special Envoy in Kosovo.

It is equally important that Kosovo-Albanians reach out to the Serbian minorities and consider minority rights. They have not done so sufficiently in the past, and need constant reminders, Eide further stressed.

- There has been so much focus on political questions in the status process, it has overshadowed basic on-the-ground human rights problems and the question of how to solve them, said Julie Chadbourne, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee regional representative in Kosovo.

She said the most critical human rights concerns are minority issues (such as freedom of movement, return of refugees, isolation and segregation and harassment), impunity and access to justice and education.