“This process is, above all, about the families of persons unaccounted for, and every single day these families pass without answers only increases their suffering,” Secretary General Kofi Annan’s Special Representative Søren Jessen-Petersen said of the new talks, which came two months after he visited Geneva for talks with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on the issue.”I trust that the delegations will conduct the dialogue in a constructive manner and in a way that focuses fully on the humanitarian perspective,” he added of the working group of the two sides, which has only met once since it was set up in March 2004. “The key goal of this working group should be the facilitation and provision of concrete answers to the families of the missing.”He thanked the ICRC for chairing this dialogue, adding: “I look forward to further meetings of the working group so that we can make real progress as quickly as possible.”The UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) has been running the province since 1999. Speaking on the first anniversary of riots last year, when an onslaught by Albanians to drive out Serb, Roma and Ashkali communities led to 19 people being killed, nearly 1,000 injured and hundreds of homes and centuries-old Serbian cultural sites razed or burned, Mr. Jessen-Petersen said such tragic events must never happen again. It was the worst violence since the UN took over.”The events of March last year cast a shadow over Kosovo but one year on, Kosovo has come a long way. Lessons have been learnt, by us and by the politicians and people of Kosovo,” he declared.”We are now striving together with greater urgency to build a society where people respect each other and where all communities can live freely, peacefully and harmoniously. Clearly, we can now see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he added of the efforts to build a multi-ethnic society in the province where Albanians outnumber other communities, mainly Serbs, by about 9 to 1.He reiterated his call for Kosovo Serbs to look ahead and engage actively in Kosovo institutions at all levels. “This is the best way of helping build the future we all want to see. We cannot change the past but we can and we must shape the future, a future within Europe: a multi-ethnic, prosperous, stable, peaceful and, above all, tolerant society where all communities feel welcome and involved,” he said.
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