UN Chief Includes Kosovo on Balkan Tour

Ban Ki-moon will visit the former Yugoslavia for a week, starting July 19, a Belgrade newspaper reported – noting the Serbian President’s concern of the nature of his visit to Kosovo.This will be the first visit to the region by a UN Secretary General since the dissolution of Yugoslavia.

According to Vecernje Novosti, he will meet the recently elected Serbian President, Tomislav Nikolic, on July 23.Ki-moon is also expected to meet Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic, recently elected as President of the UN General Assembly.

Nikolic expressed regret that the Secretary General plans to visit Kosovo during his trip, saying it “is not a member of the UN.”

“Serbia is still considering how to respond to the challenge of the visit to Kosovo,” he said.

“He must declare whether he is going there to visit UN representatives, or visiting Kosovo as an independent state,” Nikolic told journalists on Tuesday.

Media reports say Ki-moon will begin his Kosovo visit on July 24 after morning meetings in Belgrade. He is expected to visit one country per day.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, but Belgrade has said it will never recognize the statehood of its former province, which is mostly inhabited by ethnic Albanians.

The International Civilian Office, which has overseen Kosovo since the end of NATO intervention in June 1999, announced last month that Kosovo would become fully independent in September.

Ki-moon is expected to visit, among other organizations, the UN Interim Administration in Kosovo, UNMIK, which has over 400 personnel and a mandate to assist institution building.

Ki-moon plans to visit Bosnia and Herzegovina on July 25 and 26, a senior diplomat in Sarajevo told Balkan Insight.

UN Officials are staying quiet about their chief’s agenda, but told Balkan Insight that more information about the Western Balkans tour would be made public at a Friday afternoon press conference in New York City.

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