|For information only - not an official document.|
20 December 2000
Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations
NEW YORK, 19 December (UN Headquarters) -- The municipal elections in Kosovo, in which more than 80 per cent of the legitimate electorate had participated, was the most important event to have taken place in that province, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hédi Annabi, said this morning as he briefed the Security Council on the situation there.
Although the number of political attacks had returned to the levels of mid-summer of this year, he continued, the Kosovo Force (KFOR) and United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) continued to disturb and disrupt the activities of radical Albanian groups in the Presevo Valley. On the humanitarian front, he warned that thousands of families were at risk of overexposure during the winter if coal and firewood were not made available.
The Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Goran Svilanovic, said that during the past several weeks his Government had drawn the Council's attention to the serious situation in southern Serbia, particularly in the Ground Safety Zone. It had expected the international community to respond to events. An international response was needed to prevent armed Albanian terrorists -- who had committed more than 400 armed attacks on Yugoslav police personnel and residents since June 1999 -- from entering the Zone.
He said the heavily armed terrorists presented a serious threat to the lightly armed Yugoslav police force and had instigated further incidents of ethnic cleansing of the remaining Serbian and other non-Albanian population, posing an enormous impediment to the return of internally displaced Serbs to the region. It was of the utmost importance that the Albanian terrorists pull out immediately from the Zone and respect the regime established by the Military-Technical Agreement. He called on the Council to pledge its reputation and authority to bring about that end.
While most representatives welcomed the appointment of the new Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Hans Haekkerup of Denmark, and praised the work of outgoing Special Representative Bernard Kouchner, the representative of the Russian Federation said that Mr. Haekkerup should learn a lesson from the sad past of his predecessor. He cited the disastrous outcome of UNMIK's connivance with leaders of the separatist Albanians, in that respect.
He added that the change of UNMIK's leadership offered a unique opportunity to study what had happened in the past to better shape the Mission's future. As it was, resolution 1244 (1999) had been adopted in an unsatisfactory form and it was imperative that the Council not allow any distortion of its provisions during implementation. Further, stricter control must be exercised over the actions of UNMIK by the Council and the Secretary-General. It was intolerable that the Council had often learned of the plans and activities of the outgoing head of Mission only through the mass media.
The representatives of the United States, Bangladesh, France (on behalf of the European Union and associated States), United Kingdom, China, Argentina, Netherlands, Jamaica, Malaysia, Tunisia, Namibia, Ukraine, Mali, and Canada also made statements.
The meeting which began at 11:35 a.m., was adjourned at 1:22 p.m.
Council Work Programme
When the Security Council met this morning to review the situation in Kosovo,it had before it a report by the Secretary-General on the implementation of the mandate of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) (document S/2000/1196).
The Secretary-General observes that the successful municipal elections marked a watershed in the Mission's achievements in Kosovo. Since 28 October, UNMIK has moved quickly to implement the municipal election results and to establish functioning provisional municipal assemblies. The ongoing development of these structures depends on continued respect for the results of the municipal elections. The Secretary-General urges local leaders from across the political spectrum, as well as the people of Kosovo, to support and participate in daily government at the municipal level.
He says that the lack of significant violence during the pre-election period, as well as the virtually incident-free day of elections, was a laudable achievement of UNMIK, the Kosovo Force (KFOR) -- and, above all, of the people of Kosovo. He notes with dismay, however, the increasing reports of violence subsequent to the elections. Continued implementation of substantial autonomy depends upon the existence of security, respect for security and human rights and democratic development. In short, increased responsibility in the arena of self-governance is linked to mature political and civic behaviour. Only concrete actions by all communities in Kosovo, particularly their leaders, can reverse this counter-productive behaviour.
Continuing, he says that the international community must actively pursue defining substantial autonomy and developing institutions of self-government, with the population of Kosovo sharing more and more responsibility in the administration of the province. The UNMIK will work closely with Member States and representatives of the local population to formulate this framework. The Mission has continued to consolidate and further strengthen the existing joint interim administrative structures with significant progress in setting up departments that provide services to all people in Kosovo. These departments must continue to resist politicization of their functions. They must focus on institution-building, capacity-building and the improved provision of services to all communities in Kosovo. The international community must ensure that the appropriate interim administrative framework is in place to sustain the provisional institutions.
Kosovo will continue to need donor assistance for some time to come, but the province should prepare for the time when that support is phased out, the Secretary-General says. While the development of a vibrant private sector is critical, sustained private sector growth cannot be achieved without a proper legal and institutional framework. This framework must allow for the reorganization of State and socially owned enterprises, including the resolution of pre-existing liabilities. At this time, Kosovo's judiciary is unable to elaborate and implement such a framework. Accordingly, international support and expertise will be needed if sound legal foundations for a thriving private sector are to be developed.
The Secretary-General goes on to review several issues of major concern, including: the situation of the Kosovo Albanian detainees in Serbia proper, as well as those members of all communities missing in the Kosovo conflict; the return of Kosovo Serbs and enhanced cooperation between the Kosovo Serb community and the Mission; and the continuing conflict in the Presevo Valley in southern Serbia proper, which destabilizes the region, undermines relations between Kosovo and the Federal authorities, and poses a serious threat to both the local population and to community relations inside Kosovo. The UNMIK welcomes the level of moderation and control exhibited by the Federal authorities in their recent handling of the situation in the region. Meanwhile, KFOR will do all it can to prevent the export of violence from the province, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is considering what practical measures can be taken to assist the local population. The Secretary-General calls on local leaders and the population inside Kosovo to cooperate with the efforts of the international community in this regard.
Statement by Assistant Secretary-General
HÉDI ANNABI, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said the holding of the municipal elections, where more than 80 per cent of the legitimate electorate had participated, was the most important event to have taken place in Kosovo. There had been, however, a low turnout by Kosovo Serbs, as had been the case for Romas, Turks and other minorities. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Bernard Kouchner, had, nevertheless, certified the election results in 27 municipalities. The Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) had won 21 municipalities, while the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) had taken six.
He said the new Government in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was viewed by some Kosovars as a threat to the future plans of the province. In the post- election period, the number of political attacks had returned to the levels of mid-summer of this year. The overriding human rights concern continued to be the provision of adequate security for Kosovo's minorities. In some areas the violence had fallen, while in others it remained precarious. The continued implementation of substantial autonomy for the province depended on the observance of security, human rights and democratic development.
In mid-November, in the Presevo Valley, there had been an escalation of armed confrontation in the Ground Safety Zone opposite Kosovo, he continued. The clashes had triggered an influx of displaced persons into the province. The KFOR and UNMIK, however, continued to enhance their operations in Kosovo by disturbing and disrupting radical Albanian groups from continuing activities in the Presevo Valley.
He said that on the humanitarian front, thousands of families were at risk of overexposure during the winter if coal and firewood were not made available. According to UNMIK, the task of clearing Kosovo of mines and other ordinances should be achieved by December 2001, he added.
He said that in northern Kosovo, on the evening of 16 December, two Kosovo Serbs had died and two others had been severely injured when a police station had been burned to the ground. The incident started when a Kosovo Serb was arrested for drunken driving and a policeman was subsequently killed. A crowd gathered and several KFOR soldiers were taken hostage, while a bomb was thrown at the police station. Belgian KFOR troops fired tear gas and warning shots. Of the two Serbs who died, one had died from wounds and the other from a heart attack. The situation was being investigated. The area remained relatively calm, he added.
GORAN SVILANOVIC, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, said that during the past several weeks various members of his delegation had drawn the Council's attention to the serious situation in southern Serbia, particularly in the Ground Safety Zone, which included the Serbian municipalities of Bujanovac, Medvedja and Presevo. His Government expected the international community to respond to events within the Zone in accordance with obligations outlined in Council resolution 1244 and the Kumanovo Military-Technical Agreement in order to protect and secure the administrative boundary of Kosovo and Metohija. There should also be a committed international response to prevent armed Albanian terrorists -- who had committed more than 400 armed attacks on Yugoslav police personnel and residents since June 1999 -- from entering the Zone.
He went on to say that more than 1,000 heavily armed terrorists from Kosovo and Metohija had entered the Zone and remained there. Those terrorists presented a serious threat to the lightly armed Yugoslav police force. The major roads in southern Serbia were also constantly under attack. Moreover, the actions of the Albanian terrorists instigated further incidence of ethnic cleansing of the remaining Serbian and other non-Albanian population, and also posed an enormous impediment to the return of internally displaced Serbs to the region.
The new Yugoslav Government, he continued, based its policy on constructive cooperation and dialogue with the international community. The escalating violence inside the Zone, and within Kosovo and Metohija, had only strengthened the Government's commitment to open dialogue and the quest for a peaceful and diplomatic solution to that problem. Unfortunately, it was just such a commitment that caused anxiety among those forces promoting violence. It was, therefore, time for the Council to address the situation properly. In that regard, the fundamental democratic changes in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia had created conditions for dialogue with the Albanian side and paved the way for all-around cooperation with KFOR and UNMIK, which would hopefully lead to a political solution.
On the other hand, he said, recent elections in Kosovo and Metohija had brought to the fore moderate forces among the Albanians in Kosovo. That and other developments made it incumbent on the international community to ensure that the positive momentum was not wasted. After all, he added, no solution could be achieved without dialogue and negotiation. The loss of momentum might cause the situation to deteriorate, which might in turn affect stability in the region as a whole. It was of the utmost importance, then, that the Albanian terrorists pull out immediately from the Zone and respect the regime established by the Military-Technical Agreement. He called on the Council to pledge its reputation and authority to bring about that end. The UNMIK and KFOR should take effective measures to stop further incursions by Albanian terrorists. Those efforts would enjoy the full support of his Government.
JAMES CUNNINGHAM (United States) assured the Yugoslav Foreign Minister that the Council was very concerned about the situation in Kosovo and within the Ground Safety Zone. His Government strongly condemned the continued and escalating action of violence in the Zone. He praised Mr. Annabi's informative briefing and highlighted some of the important measures recently taken to build peace in the region by UNMIK. He said his Government joined the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and UNMIK officials to urge against further violence. He noted that the United States Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, had taken particular interest in the situation in the region.
He went on to say that there was no better sign of commitment to the promotion of peace and stability in the region than the continued cooperation between the Yugoslav Government, UNMIK and KFOR in the work of the Joint Implementation Council. In fact, he added, the KFOR commander had recently briefed the Council on the situation in the region. Such cooperation should continue, along with the exercise of restraint. He welcomed the participation of local and community leaders in the peace process.
Finally, he said the report of the Secretary-General had made clear that the recent elections had opened the door to progress on the political front. In the coming months, UNMIK should press for more cooperation to resolve outstanding issues. It was important to realize that democratic changes had provided the hope that a multi-ethnic Kosovo, operating in full respect of the rule of law, was possible. The momentum must continue. He called on officials on all sides to provide a full accounting of missing persons within the region. He welcomed the appointment of the new Special Representative of the Secretary-General and praised the work of outgoing Special Representative Bernard Kouchner.
ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said his delegation welcomed the move by the new Yugoslav Government to establish a Truth Commission to investigate war crimes. He expressed concern about the recent incidents in the Presevo Valley in mid-November, which triggered an influx of almost 5,000 people into Kosovo. Also, the 800 persons who were still missing or detained was far too high a number. Efforts at solving the cases of missing persons irrespective of their ethnic origin should be intensified.
He expressed further concern that an unacceptably high number of persons were still missing from Kosovo. He urged that initiatives be redoubled in finding the whereabouts of the numerous unaccounted for individuals. The successful outcome of municipal elections in October should now be followed by a focus on institution-building and the gradual transfer of authority to municipalities. In conclusion, he said Dr. Kouchner's mission had been extremely challenging. But, with his leadership and statesmanlike vision, he had done a laudable job in Kosovo.
JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France) spoke on behalf of the European Union and the associated States of Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus and Malta.
He said action to combat violence should continue to be a priority for Hans Haekkerup, the Secretary-General's new Special Representative in Kosovo. President Kostunica of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia had called on the people to respect the law and not to fall into the trap of extremists seeking to increase tension. The international community must throw all its weight into ensuring that the people heard the message. It must also make it absolutely clear to the unruly factions that they would be unable to rely on its tolerance and understanding.
He said the Presidential Statement to be made today was a clear message of the international commitment to fight against violence and search for dialogue. Mr. Svilanovic, upon his return to Europe, would be able to confirm that fact to the highest Yugoslav authorities. The Union also wished to assure the President and Yugoslav Government of its support for their action in favour of stabilization, democratization and reconciliation in South-East Europe.
Sir JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said it was the task of all members of the international community to try and sustain the positive momentum gained in implementing the provisions of resolution 1244. He strongly condemned last weekend's attack on the joint United States-KFOR police patrol. Such actions were not to be tolerated. People in the region wanted to live in peace and the violence must stop. Further, he called on the Serb residents of Kosovo to stop being manipulated by forces that did not have their real interests at heart. All sides must exercise particular restraint during the run-up to the coming elections. Those elections must not be used by extremists to promote further agitation.
He went on to note that future elections should only be held under the right conditions. Particularly, UNMIK should start the process of setting the proper conditions now, by ensuring the registration of Serbs and other minorities, as well as fully addressing the issue of the region's missing persons and detainees. He urged the Yugoslav Foreign Minister to move forward on efforts towards normalization of the activities of the Government.
CHEN XU (China) said his delegations was deeply concerned that following local elections in Kosovo the security situation remained grave. In fact, politically motivated acts of violence had increased. If the activities of extremist elements were not curbed, dire consequences would ensue. In that regard, he urged immediate and concerted action on the part of both UNMIK and KFOR. It was true that the escalating conflict not only posed a serious humanitarian threat, but could also exacerbate fragile ethnic relationships that would undoubtedly affect peace and security in the region. At the same time, he called on the people of the region to renounce the use of force and take concrete action along peaceful, democratic lines.
He went on to say that his delegation strongly condemned extremists and their acts of provocation. In that regard, he took note of recent measures adopted by KFOR to ensure that the Ground Safety Zone would not be used as a haven for attacks against Serbs. He added that the ultimate resolution of the many issues surrounding the situation hinged on cooperation and understanding in defining the future status of Kosovo. He welcomed continued dialogue between UNMIK and the Yugoslav Government towards that end.
LUIS ENRIQUE CAPPAGLI (Argentina) said the new Belgrade Government should release Albanian Kosovars being held in Serbia, if they wanted to gain the confidence of that ethnic group in Kosovo. Despite difficulties, UNMIK was continuing to discharge its mandate in a sustained and enhanced way. No effort must be spared to detain and try all those who were impairing the peace process.
He said the Presevo Valley situation was a serious threat to Kosovo and might become a destabilizing factor in the region. While the international community had sanctioned the new Government in Belgrade, it would also continue to support UNMIK and KFOR and would not tolerate a resurgence of terrorist activity. He congratulated Dr. Kouchner on the execution of his responsibilities during his stint in Kosovo.
JOOP W. SCHEFFERS (Netherlands) said his country was seriously concerned over developments in the Presevo Valley. The perpetrators of the ongoing violence were playing with fire. He fully supported the measures taken by KFOR and urged the Albanian leadership in Kosovo to call on their rank and file to exercise restraint. The KFOR was in constant touch with the Yugoslav army and police. It was equally important for that faction and UNMIK to also keep in touch with the Yugoslav administration in Belgrade.
He said the fate of Albanian detainees in Serbia was a source of concern. The new Yugoslav authorities must release them, he stressed.
M. PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica) encouraged UNMIK to continue its work in reconfiguring Kosovo's central governing bodies as part of its effort to build local capacity for self-governance. The UNMIK, like the international community, must also actively pursue the process of defining substantial autonomy and developing institutions of self-government, with the population of Kosovo sharing more and more responsibility.
Turning to focus on a few areas of the Secretary-General's report, she noted first the seriousness of the security situation in Kosovo. Her delegation was concerned that the post-election period had seen an increase in politically motivated attacks. That was unacceptable. Of immediate concern was the recent escalation of armed confrontations between the Serbian security forces and the so-called Liberation Army of Presevo, Medveda and Bujanovac in the Ground Safety Zone, and the resulting influx of nearly 5,000 displaced persons in Kosovo. In that regard, she noted that there was a need for an increased presence by the UNHCR in that area, to help ease the conditions and build confidence in the local population.
Next, she turned to the human rights situation in the region. It was disturbing that in October alone some 25 cases of trafficking in women had been discovered, she said. While it was clear that those cases were not isolated, they were only a measure of a larger problem that required the international community's immediate attention, as well as the cooperation of all the countries in South-East Europe. Her delegation welcomed the establishment on 21 November of the ombudsperson, as a mechanism for ensuring respect for human rights. The issue of detained and missing persons also remained a high priority for her delegation. The establishment of a Bureau for Detainees and Missing Persons was a step in the right direction.
HASMY AGAM (Malaysia) expressed every confidence that Hans Haekkerup, the newly-appointed Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Kosovo, would prove a worthy successor to Dr. Kouchner. He added that his delegation would also express profound appreciation and gratitude to Dr. Kouchner for his successful leadership of UNMIK. Dr. Kouchner had turned the enormous challenges facing the region into new possibilities for its people.
His delegation was further gratified by the significant progress made by UNMIK in many key areas of its mandate, particularly the establishment of institutions for the promotion of a democratic government. The recent elections had also been a success, largely because of the cooperation of UNMIK, KFOR and the Yugoslav Government. He urged the Government leaders and the people of the region to respect the outcome of those elections. While there was concern that some Serbs had refused to participate, he was certain that UNMIK's efforts to engage the population in the establishment of a democratic government would continue to yield positive results. He looked forward to Kosovo-wide elections in the future.
Turning to the security situation, he said that the continued violence was a major concern. Extremism, regardless of its source, was unacceptable and should not be tolerated. He praised the efforts of all actors to normalize the situation in the Ground Safety Zone and said it was imperative that all sides exercise maximum restraint, while working towards a peaceful solution. He noted that much of the ongoing tension was due to the unresolved issue of missing persons and detainees. He welcomed the efforts of local governments to find an early solution to that issue. Finally, the international community should view peace in Kosovo as a long-term process. The region had come a long way and only the continued vigilance and cooperation of the people of Kosovo would ensure that the progress achieved thus far would not be reversed.
SAID BEN MUSTAPHA (Tunisia) said the municipal elections were an important stage in Kosovo's development and should now move the province closer to the substantial autonomy regime articulated in Council resolution 1244 (1999). The inhabitants of Kosovo should discuss the elaboration of a pact for the province. He also expressed concern at the resurgence of violence, stating that it could undermine the work of the international community and destabilize the region.
He supported the proposal to formulate a political task force. The armed clashes in the Presevo Valley were also a source of concern. He encouraged KFOR and UNMIK to continue their efforts to contain extremists. While the return of displaced persons was encouraging, resolving the question of detained and missing persons was particularly essential, since the issue contributed to inter-ethnic tensions in the province. The application of law in a non-discriminatory and impartial fashion could be the only guarantee of peaceful coexistence.
SELMA NDEYAPO ASHIPALA-MUSAVYI (Namibia) said the escalation of armed confrontation between the Serbian Security Forces and the "so called" Liberation Army of Presevo, Medveda and Bujanovac in the Ground Safety Zone posed a threat to the 5,000 civilians who were displaced in the Presevo Valley. It also threatened to undermine peace, reconciliation and stability in the region, as well.
The precarious nature of the security situation in the Valley and its adjacent areas needed the urgent attention of the Council, he said. Also, in view of the new political realities of the region, UNMIK and KFOR should consult with the authorities in Belgrade in an attempt to find a proper balance to address the issues of refugees and missing persons.
VALERI KUCHYNSKI (Ukraine) said the escalation of armed confrontation of the Ground Safety Zone and the latest acts of violence resulting in scores of deaths testified that the security situation in and around Kosovo was far from satisfactory. Undoubtedly, a full investigation into those acts should be conducted. He appreciated the joint efforts by UNMIK and KFOR police to combat political motivated violence, as well as trafficking in illegal weapons and their confiscation. A new regulation of 4 December, allowing law enforcement officials to remove political agitators from peaceful areas, should also help in that regard.
The incidents in the Presevo Valley should be seen as a serious omen for the Council and the international community of what would happen unless measures to address the security situation in that region were not immediately taken. While he praised the efforts of KFOR and the Yugoslav Government in that regard, he also drew the Council's attention to the report of the Secretary-General, which noted that Albanian extremists in the region were becoming increasingly defiant. The very existence of armed groups undermined strenuous efforts of the fragile peace under resolution 1244 (1999) and jeopardized normalization of activities between the Yugoslav Government, UNMIK and KFOR. He encouraged robust measures to ensure the security and safety of all residents of Kosovo. Broader dialogue between UNMIK and KFOR, on one side, and the Yugoslav Government, on the other, was also urgently needed.
MAMOUNOU TOURE (Mali) said his delegation was deeply concerned by the situation in the Presevo Valley. He,thus, called for the cessation of any acts of violence since they could destabilize the area and denigrate the sacrifices made by the international community in its efforts to ensure a multi-ethnic Kosovo. He encouraged UNMIK and KFOR to put an end to the activities of the armed groups and welcomed efforts by them and the Department of Justice to establish a trustworthy judicial branch to promote the rule of law. Assistance must also be given to vulnerable groups, he stressed.
PAUL HEINBECKER (Canada) said Dr. Kouchner had established a solid basis for the United Nations activities in Kosovo. He had no doubt that his successor, Mr. Haekkerup, would continue to lead Kosovo towards greater democracy. He expressed concern at the violence in the Presevo Valley and supported the resolve and measures being taken to reduce it.
The ongoing relationship between UNMIK and the new Yugoslav authorities was crucial for resolving the recent violence, he said. Of note in that respect was the release of political detainees in Serbian jails. The new democratic Government in Belgrade and the recent municipal elections in Kosovo bode well for future democracy in the region.
The President of the Council, SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation), speaking in his national capacity, said the change of UNMIK's leadership offered an unique opportunity to study what had happened in the past to better shape the Mission's future. As it was, resolution 1244 (1999) had been adopted in an "unsatisfactory" form. It was, therefore, imperative that the Council not allow any "distortion" of its provisions during implementation. Further, stricter control over the actions of UNMIK should be ensured by the Council and the Secretary-General. He found it intolerable that the Council had often learned of the plans and activities of the outgoing head of the Mission only through the mass media.
He also called for the immediate establishment of cooperation among UNMIK, KFOR and the Yugoslav Government in the implementation of resolution 1244. Those actors should lay the groundwork for the safe return of refugees, as well as prepare a timetable for return of Serbian military personnel to the region. He went on to say that Hans Haekkerup, the new head of UNMIK, should learn a lesson from the sad past of his predecessor, such as the disastrous outcome of UNMIK's connivance with leaders of the separatist Albanians. The head of the United Nations Mission, in close cooperation with KFOR, should, in fact enact measures to ensure true demilitarization in the region, not just put words on paper.
He added that only after the successful return of all refugees and displaced persons would it be possible to set parameters for a Kosovo-wide election. Forced elections, such as those held in the past, would only stir up tension in the Zone and aggravate ethnic unrest. The UNMIK should work to eliminate the activities of extremist Albanians in the Moreover, UNMIK and KFOR should work together to ensure favourable conditions for the organization of the coming election. Those actors should ensure security and prevent extremists from interfering in the democratic process.
Finally, he said that the Council should foster the speedy reintegration of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia into the international community. Only the real support of the Yugoslav leadership would ensure the achievement of democracy. There should also be full respect for the provisions of resolution 1244. The Presidential Statement to be adopted later today would be a concrete step in resolving those issues, he added.
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