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Tuesday, 26 November, 2002, 03:59 GMT
UN claims divided Kosovo city
Serb man holding a rock is confronted by British soldiers
Tensions have run high in the divided city

The United Nations mission in Kosovo says it has assumed full control of the divided city of Mitrovica, following an agreement with the Serbian Government.

Since the end of the war in Kosovo, Mitrovica has been the scene of repeated clashes between hard-line Serb opponents to the UN authority in Kosovo and UN peacekeepers.

The UN administration in Kosovo now claims that that era of conflict is over.

While the UN has theoretically controlled Mitrovica since June 1999, in reality groups of hard-line Serbs backed by Belgrade have held the most influence in the north.

Keys to the city

Following a series of talks between the Serbian Government and UN officials, Serbia has let the UN take full administrative control of the north of the city.


We've travelled a long and sometimes painful road to this point

Michael Steiner
UN Kosovo head

It has closed down a municipal office and has handed over the keys to UN officials.

The head of the UN in Kosovo, Michael Steiner, announced that the UN had taken full control of the whole of Kosovo for the first time since the end of the war.

The fact that the handover took place unopposed by local gangs is being seen here as evidence that Mitrovica's hardliners have been sidelined by the Serbian Government.

Belgrade has been criticised by the international community for its failure to co-operate fully with the UN.

But the handover does not mean that the Serbian Government has abdicated all of its authority in Mitrovica.

The rest of Kosovo's Serbian enclaves are run by the UN, but in reality, the Serbian Government retains considerable control over local services.

News and analysis from Kosovo following November's election


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09 Apr 02 | Europe
30 Jan 01 | Europe
04 Mar 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
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