NEW YORK -- UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed in his new report concern over the deterioration of the security situation in Kosovo.
He pointed out that the number of violent incidents affecting the Serb population in that area increased after the attempt by the Kosovo authorities to assert control over the administrative crossings in the north of the province.
"The overall security situation was negatively affected by the attempt on 25 July by the Kosovo authorities to assert control over Gates 1 and 31 (Jarinje and Brnjak)," the report for the period of July 16-October 25 reads.
According to the report, the Kosovo authorities attempted to deploy Kosovo Police Regional Operations Special Units (ROSU) to the two authorized boundary/border crossings in northern Kosovo, Gate 1 (Jarinje) and Gate 31 (Brnjak). This attempt was not coordinated with the international presences, the report adds.
There was an increase of 24 per cent in incidents affecting minority communities throughout Kosovo, with 151 incidents recorded, of which 38 occurred in the north, the report reads. The incidents included 13 cases of vandalism on Serbian Orthodox churches and cemeteries and 13 cases of stoning of vehicles with Serbian registration plates passing through Kosovo Albanian-populated areas.
There were also 63 reported cases of damage to unoccupied houses belonging to Kosovo Serbs, as well as 47 reported cases of burglaries of Kosovo Serb houses and thefts of Kosovo Serb property.
"The developments in northern Kosovo during the reporting period serve as a strong reminder that the underlying, unresolved issues constitute a threat to the region's peace and stability. I am concerned not only about the deterioration of the security situation on the ground as a result of the recent developments, but also about the deterioration of inter-ethnic relations throughout Kosovo, the polarization of political positions and the widening of the gap between the communities north and south of the Ibar River," he said.
Ban cautioned that, as long as issues such as the situation at Gates 1 and 31 remain unresolved, and as long as rule-of-law issues remain entangled with positions on status, the international community and the people on the ground will continue to face the risk of an escalation of tensions and outbreak of violence, which keeps all sides hostage to an uncertain future.
"I call upon Priština and Belgrade, as well as the communities on the ground, to act with restraint and patience and continue to show confidence in the dialogue," Ban added.
"It is also my hope that the members of the Security Council will send a clear message to both Priština and Belgrade to take responsibility for lessening tensions and preventing the recurrence of violence in northern Kosovo," he underscored.
UN Security Council will discuss the latest report on the situation in northern Kosovo-Metohija at a session scheduled for November 29.
The present report was first submitted to the UN secretary-general by Head of EULEX Kosovo Xavier Bout de Marnhac.
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