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09 September, 2000
Foreign Minister George Papandreou arrived in the capital of Kosovo on Friday for a series of meetings with UN officials and representatives of the Serb and Albanian communities in the province.
Shortly after 4:00 p.m. he had already met with the head of the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) Bernard Kouchner, the province's temporary UN-appointed administrator, and the leader of the Albanian community Ibrahim Rugova, while he was due to meet the leader of the Mitrovica Serb community, Oliver Ivanovic, shortly afterward.
Papandreou's visit comes at a particularly tense time for Kosovo, with elections coming up in Yugoslavia on September 24, while local elections have been set for October 28.
Kouchner warned that the KFOR UN peace-keeping troops stationed in the area could face serious problems. "But this is the price of democracy," he concluded.
For his part, the Greek foreign minister said the UN administration's decision to allow Kosovo to hold elections with the rest of Yugoslavia was correct.
Referring to his visit to Belgrade on Thursday, Papandreou reiterated that its goal was to give the message that Europe wants to restore relations with Yugoslavia, provided free and democratic elections are held in that country.
Regarding the situation in Kosovo, the foreign minister said that tolerance and the principles of peaceful coexistence had to prevail.
"We are aware of the problems," he underlined. "We must find a way of overcoming these. This will not happen if everyone insists on their positions, we must rise above the divisions and attempt to bring to the Balkans the pluralistic, European model," he said.
On arriving on Friday morning, Papandreou had also met with the commander of the KFOR UN peace-keeping force and visited the camp where the Greek contingent is stationed, on the outskirts of Pristina.
He also visited a historic monastery in Gracanica and a hospital operating in this Serb enclave with the assistance of the Greek section of "Medecins du Monde".
Source: Athens News Agency