U.N. gives more responsibilities to the authorities of Kosovo

The U.N. mission, which has been administering Kosovo for nearly seven years, reduced the mechanism's role dealing with police and judiciary as it completes the transfer of competencies to the province's newly created ministries of justice and internal affairs, said Neeraj Singh, the U.N. spokesman in Kosovo.

The sector was restructured to an office dealing with rule of law within the office of the top U.N. administrator, Singh said. As such, the office will have an advising role and assist in implementing U.N.'s policies in those fields.

The United Nations has administered Kosovo since a 1999 NATO bombing campaign halted the Serbian crackdown on independence-seeking ethnic Albanians.

The U.N. mission in Kosovo is in the process of drafting plans to transfer competencies to the local authorities as it decreases its presence, while hoping to turn over some responsibilities to a possible European Union-led mission once a decision of the province's future is reached.

Serbia wants to retain at least formal control over Kosovo in the future while the province's ethnic Albanians insist on gaining independence.

U.N.-mediated talks to resolve the issue are expected to reach a settlement by the year's end.

The province has an elected parliament, government and the president with limited powers. It also has a local police service of 7,500 officers who serve alongside 2,700 U.N. police officers.

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