Since the international community first took over the administration of Kosovo in 1999, the issue of the future status of the Albanian-dominated entity has been a key factor in its regional relations, as well as in the democratization process. March 2004 saw a resurgence of ethnic violence. The events shocked both the international community and local institutions: protests against the alleged killing of three ethnic Albanian children escalated into violent clashes between ethnic Albanians and Serbs, and clashes with the international peacekeeping forces in Kosovo, UN police and the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR). Although the previous four years were characterized by relatively positive developments in Kosovo, the violence in 2004 saw over 28 civilians and one KFOR soldier killed and hundreds wounded, 3,600 Serbs displaced, 30 Serbian churches and 200 Serbian houses destroyed. It has been argued that the origins of the event are to be found below the political level and beyond the control of the political parties. Kosovo Albanian leaders were as surprised by the events as the international community. June 2005 witnessed violence on a smaller scale; this time there were a number of coordinated attacks against the international presence in the province. Serbia continues to provide basic services such as health care and education, as well as documentation (birth and marriage certificates, passports) to ethnic Serbs living in Kosovo.
The Provisional Institutions for Self-Government (PISG) have, in conjunction with the UN in Kosovo (UNMIK), been integral to the implementation of standards for democracy and a final review of the PISG's progress to date has determined that status talks can begin in 2005. While in June 2005, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General admitted that the process of standards implementation, including issues of human and minority rights, had slowed down, the Norwegian ambassador to NATO, who was tasked to carry out an evaluation of the standards implementation process, reported to the Security Council in September 2005 that, notwithstanding the inadequate level of implementation, talks should go ahead. The UNMIK authority signed two technical agreements with the Council of Europe in 2004 to submit reports under the FCNM's monitoring system and the Committee for the Prevention of Torture. The official report for the FCNM has been submitted but the shadow report is still outstanding.
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