27 June 2002
Peacekeeping Under-Secretary-General Briefs Security Council on Kosovo; Says Kosovo Serbs Named to Ministerial Positions, Completing Government
Also Addresses Municipal Elections, Rule of Law, Refugee Returns
NEW YORK, 26 June (UN Headquarters) -- The Kosovo Government had been completed following the nomination of Kosovo Serb representatives to ministerial positions, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said this morning as he briefed the Security Council on the situation in Kosovo.
The nomination of a Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development and that of an Inter-ministerial Coordinator for Returns in the Office of the Prime Minister were a welcome development since his last briefing to the Council, the Under-Secretary-General added.
He said that, as preparations continued for the municipal elections scheduled for 26 October, prospects for multi-ethnic participation were encouraging. The United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK) had received a high number of minority political parties applying for certification and by 14 June, the mid-point in the certification process, more than 40 per cent of all applications had been submitted.
Regarding enforcement of the rule of law, he said UNMIK had arrested four members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) on 18 June, and two more had turned themselves in to UNMIK Police the following day. All six were charged with unlawful detention and causing serious bodily harm to five other ex-KLA members in June 1999. Furthermore, UNMIK Police and the Kosovo Police Service had seized substantial quantities of gasoline, alcohol and cigarettes at border points.
The joint checkpoint of UNMIK Customs, UNMIK Police and the multinational security force -- KFOR -- in northern Kosovo had been moved closer to the administrative boundary to foil illegal traders, he said. In addition, UNMIK had signed a Protocol on Police Cooperation with the Governments of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Serbia on 31 May as part of its strategy to combat organized crime and terrorism. UNMIK had also initiated negotiations with authorities in Albania and Montenegro in order to develop regional police and justice cooperation.
He said a total of 874 refugees had returned in the first five months of 2002, 43 per cent of them Kosovo Serbs. UNMIK had worked with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia/Serbia Coordination Centre and other actors to reach internally displaced persons in Serbia proper through public meetings and Internet-based information systems. Also, the Government of Albania had unilaterally decided to ease border requirements for Kosovo inhabitants, while the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia would abolish the visa requirement for holders of UNMIK travel documents.
Norway's representative endorsed the "benchmark" approach adopted by the Secretary-General's Special Representative, saying that one key benchmark would be the existence of effective, representative and functioning provisional institutions of self-government, which would be one of the main challenges in the coming months. The institutions must have a multi-ethnic and politically neutral civil service.
He welcomed the Special Representative's concept paper on principles for the sustainable return of internally displaced persons and refugees as another key benchmark. Since resolution 1244 (1999) confirmed the right of all internally displaced persons and refugees to return to their homes in Kosovo, it was the responsibility of the provisional institutions and UNMIK to ensure that right.
The representative of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia said that the most important benchmark with regard to strengthening the rule of law, full respect for human rights of all residents, building a democratic, multi-ethnic society, and improving the economic situation would be a change of attitude among the majority that would make the return of displaced Serbs and other non-Albanians a reality.
Also referring to the Special Representative's benchmarks, the representative of the Russian Federation cautioned against any attempt to use them in promoting independence for Kosovo. Similarly, China's representative emphasized that any attempt to push the province along the road of independence would not be conducive to regional stability.
Spain's representative, speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said that before issues pertaining to the status of Kosovo could be considered, the priorities were achieving a culture based on the rule of law, tackling crime and violence and ensuring economic progress. She also called on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to encourage unconditional respect for United Nations authority in all of Kosovo and for an end to support for parallel structures in Mitrovica. The city must be reunited under the full authority of UNMIK and elected representatives.
Also speaking this morning were the representatives of Guinea, Singapore, United States, Mexico, Bulgaria, Colombia, Cameroon, Mauritius, France, United Kingdom, Ireland and Syria.
The meeting began at 11:15 a.m. and adjourned at 1:40 p.m.
The Security Council met this morning to consider the situation in Kosovo. The last time it addressed the matter was on 24 May, when it issued a presidential statement deploring a resolution adopted by the Kosovo Assembly and concurring with the Special Representative's veto of the resolution (see Press Release SC/7413 of that date).
The Council was last briefed on the situation in Kosovo by the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations on 16 May (see Press Release SC/7399 of that date).
Statement by Under-Secretary-General
JEAN-MARIE GUÉHENNO, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said that a welcome development since his last briefing to the Council was the completion of the Kosovo Government following the nomination of Kosovo Serb representatives for the positions of Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development and Inter-ministerial Coordinator for Returns in the Office of the Prime Minister.
He said the United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK) had continued to work with the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government to ensure respect for the division between reserved and transferred responsibilities. Regarding external relations and foreign policy, the Secretary-General's Special Representative had issued guidelines for agreements by the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government with governments and international organizations to ensure that actions by the Kosovo governmental authorities were in compliance with the basic laws governing Kosovo and took due account of the Special Representative's responsibilities.
Preparations continued for the municipal elections scheduled for 26 October 2002, he said. On 10 June, the Special Representative had promulgated Regulation No. 2002/11 on the Municipal Elections in Kosovo, which defined a four-year mandate for the Municipal Assembly members. Prospects for multi-ethnic participation were encouraging, as UNMIK had received a high number of applications for certification from minority political parties. By 14 June, the mid-point in the certification process, more than 40 per cent of all applications received had been submitted. In the 2000 municipal elections, only 26 per cent of those running for election had been from minority communities.
Regarding enforcement of the rule of law, he said that, on 18 June, UNMIK had arrested four members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and two more had handed themselves in to UNMIK Police the following day. All six had been brought before an international judge. Three of the six were active members of the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC) and one was currently suspended from that organization. The six were charged with unlawful detention and causing serious bodily harm to five other ex-KLA members in June 1999.
Regarding anti-smuggling operations during the reporting period, he said UNMIK Police and the Kosovo Police Service had seized substantial quantities of gasoline, alcohol and cigarettes at border points. A raid on an illegal cigarette factory in Kosovo had yielded more than 20 tons of tobacco and counterfeit cigarette cartons. In addition, the Gate 1 checkpoint of UNMIK Customs, UNMIK Police and the Kosovo Force (KFOR) at the northern-most tip of Kosovo had been moved closer to the administrative boundary to eliminate the use of the "no man's land" along the boundary by illegal traders.
He said that within the framework of the High-Ranking Working Group, UNMIK had signed a Protocol on Police Cooperation with the Governments of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Serbia on 31 May as part of its strategy to combat organized crime and terrorism. The UNMIK had also initiated negotiations with authorities in Albania and Montenegro in order to develop regional police and justice cooperation. During the South-East European Cooperation Process meeting in Belgrade on 19 June, the Special Representative's proposals for enhanced regional mechanisms to fight organized crime and terrorism had been well received, he added.
With regard to refugees, he said spontaneous returns had occurred in various locations, bringing the total number to 874 in the first five months of 2002, 43 per cent of those being Kosovo Serb returns. Both UNMIK's Senior Adviser and the Inter-Ministerial Coordinator for Returns would seek to assist in fostering returns and stabilizing the minority communities.
Municipal Working Groups on Returns had been established in 24 out of 30 municipalities, marking an improvement in the awareness of the returns issues on the part of the local authorities, he said. The UNMIK had also worked with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia/Serbia Coordination Centre and other actors to reach internally displaced persons in Serbia proper through public meetings and Internet-based information programmes systems.
He said that a further outcome of the meeting of the High-Ranking Working Group on 31 May had been the conclusion of a technical agreement between UNMIK AND Serbian Railways for the extension of the train system to Belgrade. Tomorrow, 27 June, the train would be making its first run from Belgrade to Lesak. In addition, the Government of Albania had unilaterally decided to ease border requirements for Kosovo inhabitants, and the Government of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia had endorsed a decision to abolish the visa requirement for holders of UNMIK travel documents.
Regarding the missing, he said the Special Representative had promoted dialogue between associations of the missing in Kosovo and Serbia, which was considered essential to further progress in that area. On 22 June, he had met jointly with representatives of the Kosovo Serbs and Kosovo Albanian families of the missing. The UNMIK would continue to hold such inter-ethnic meetings on that issue, which touched both communities. The Mission had also begun to preparations to exhume known gravesites to try and identify the remains. Such preparations were also under way in Serbia proper.
On Mitrovica, he said UNMIK and KFOR had continued to implement a series of initiatives to meet Kosovo Serbs' need for security and services within a unified city without parallel structures. Recent UNMIK measures had included the doubling of UNMIK Police in northern Mitrovica, supported by an increase in the KFOR presence, the launch of a public campaign promoting Kosovo Serb participation in the Kosovo Police Service and discussions with the Kosovo Albanian leaders to ensure their support.
SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation) said that, over the past two months since the Council had considered the situation in Kosovo comprehensively, there had been some progress in implementing resolution 1244 (1999). In that regard, he mentioned the participation of the Serb Coalition in the Provisional Government and UNMIK's efforts in strengthening law and order. He also pointed to Mr. Steiner's dedication to peace and tolerance, which was, in fact, lacking in current relations between representatives of various groups in Kosovo. He encouraged cooperation between all to find the location of the missing. Efforts to solve the problems of Mitrovica seemed to be fruitful. Belgrade was truly seeking a constructive solution to the problem.
However, the basic problems of a Kosovo settlement still had to be solved, such as ensuring safety of all the province's inhabitants and return of all minorities, as well as fighting organized crime and extremism. There were still economic problems, as well. There was a need for increased efforts to achieve the relevant goals, the so-called "benchmarks" submitted two months ago by Mr. Steiner to the Council. Those benchmarks however, could not be regarded as a route to Kosovo's independence. He called on Mr. Steiner to prevent any attempt to use those benchmarks to promote independence.
He said the demarcation of the borders, in line with the agreement between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was in accordance with Council decisions. Technical aspects of that bilateral agreement remained to be settled and should be dealt with by the authorities of the two sovereign countries. The Kosovo portion of the border should be carried out by United Nations authorities, and he called on Mr. Steiner to speed up work in that regard. In April, Mr. Steiner had expressed the idea that the Council should send a mission to Kosovo. Such a mission, if timed correctly, could help Council members to obtain a more direct impression of the real situation in the province.
BOUBACAR DIALLO (Guinea) said the review showed the Council's commitment to a solution to the situation in Kosovo, which remained a subject of concern. The success of the peace process resulted from bearing in mind the interests of all parties and the importance of regional stabilization.
He said the Kosovo Assembly's challenging of the border agreement concluded with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia had caused great concern to the international community. Guinea renewed its support to the statements made by the Council President on 22 and 24 May and for the promotion of greater dialogue.
Stressing the need for Kosovo's leaders to abandon the partisan approach, he urged them to work in a constructive manner and to cooperate with UNMIK and KFOR towards respect for equality and the achievement of a multi-ethnic Kosovo in an environment that was socially, economically, politically and culturally viable. Equally, the establishment of a climate of security would complement a programme of reconciliation based on tolerance and mutual respect, taking into account the interests of all inhabitants of Kosovo.
KISHORE MAHBUBANI (Singapore) said reservations had been raised in the past about the need for the Council to hold regular meetings on Kosovo, if only because other missions did not receive that much attention and because UNMIK was not even the most expensive United Nations peacekeeping operation. Why was there greater public attention to Kosovo? he asked.
He said the Council took snapshots of the situation in Kosovo with only a little evaluation of the long-term trends in the province. Citing the Special Representative's article in the publication Focus Kosovo, he said it mentioned his responsibility to design a process to determine Kosovo's future status and the need to spell out what must be done before launching discussions on that final status.
He said the Special Representative went on to spell out detailed benchmarks on such areas as the functioning of Kosovo's democratic institutions, the rule of law, relations with Belgrade and others. Equally important was the fact that, if such an innovation as the benchmarks was useful in Kosovo, it could be applied in other peacekeeping operations.
JAMES B. CUNNINGHAM (United States) said that, despite the fact that all the problems were still present in Kosovo, there had been forward movement. He supported UNMIK's emphasis on the rule of law and its zero-tolerance concept in that regard. He welcomed last week's arrests.
He wished the Director of the municipal elections, who had arrived in Kosovo last week, success. His country supported the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) mission in Kosovo in ensuring broad participation in the elections and applauded the provision of proper gender participation in party lists. He supported the work of Mr. Steiner, in particular. his efforts in the privatization process.
ROBERTA LAJOUS (Mexico) noted the establishment of a full cabinet for the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government and said that the multi-ethnic membership was an important step towards reconciliation. The cabinet had committed itself to work for all inhabitants of Kosovo without discrimination. She also welcomed UNMIK's efforts for the sustainable return and reintegration of displaced persons and refugees. The creation of the post of Inter-Ministerial Coordinator for the Return of Refugees and Displaced Persons was a positive development, the more so since that post was occupied by a Serb. She pointed out, however, that the majority group and the major minority group were not the only inhabitants. There were other minorities as well, some of whom had been marginalized and whose rights must be respected.
She said the April report of the United Nations on KFOR operations had stated that the security situation remained tranquil and stable, with the exception of Mitrovica. That situation was an obstacle for normalization and must be resolved with political will, not by violence. It was important that the greatest number of voters, particularly minority voters, participated in the coming municipal elections. Broad participation would promote cooperation between all groups.
STEFAN TAVROV (Bulgaria), associating himself with the European Union statement to be made by the representative of Spain, said stability was still far from being achieved once and for all. While welcoming the appointment of Kosovo Serb ministers, Bulgaria believed the time had come for the Kosovo authorities and UNMIK to focus on solutions to the day-to-day practical problems facing the inhabitants of the province.
He welcomed the steps undertaken by KFOR and UNMIK to reduce tensions in Kosovo's southern areas bordering the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, saying that UNMIK and the Macedonian authorities should continue to find practical solutions to the problems of local populations. Any attempts by local political authorities to use those tensions were totally unacceptable.
Regarding efforts by UNMIK and the Kosovo authorities to combat organized crime and establish the rule of law, he welcomed the progress achieved in that sphere, especially the priority being given to trafficking in human beings and corruption, which were major problems in Kosovo. Equally, it must be realized that the return of refugees would not be possible without economic reform. In addition, Kosovo's enterprises should settle the debts they owed to international creditors.
ALFONSO VALDIVIESO (Colombia) underscored the importance of the steps taken by the Special Representative in declaring null and void the Kosovo Assembly's rejection of the delineation of the borders with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. It was hoped that such events would not have any great impact on the future of Kosovo.
He said the Assembly must focus on promoting activities that would strengthen Kosovo's socio-economic development and restore democracy and social stability. He said the establishment of the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government and many other activities had been successful. However, despite the existence of an Inter-Ministerial Coordinator for Returns in the Office of the Prime Minister, the question of returns required special attention.
Combating organized crime and violence were priorities, he emphasized, as he highlighted efforts to achieve greater security in the border areas as further examples of cooperation between UNMIK and the Yugoslav and Macedonian authorities. It was also essential to speed up the appointment of judges and to establish mechanisms that would facilitate better cooperation by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
IYA TIDJANI (Cameroon) said the management of the Kosovo problem by the international community had continued to give rise to hope. The international community wanted peace, stability and conciliation in the region, to promote a climate of tolerance and create conditions for a better life. The parties concerned must cooperate fully in achieving the objectives.
In his 24 April report on the situation in Kosovo, Mr. Steiner had described progress achieved and had expressed the feeling that the time had come to gradually transfer authority to Provisional Institutions. He had identified benchmarks dealing with the functioning of those Institutions, respect for the rights of all people of Kosovo to live there, and economic development. Those benchmarks had begun to emerge through the establishment of the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government. He welcomed the promotion of the rule of law and the fight against terrorism. Every time a conflict was ended in a part of the world, peace and security were strengthened.
The resolution by the Kosovo parliament on the protection of territorial integrity of Kosovo was beyond the mandate of resolution 1244 (1999). The Dayton Agreement must be strengthened and not destroyed, he said.
BIJAYEDUTH GOKOOL (Mauritius) said the international community could look back with satisfaction on its activities in Kosovo, but a lot remained to be done. The international community could not disengage itself until it was assured that the newly established government was able to work for all. The members of the government would have to work together in shaping the future of Kosovo without discrimination.
He noted that laws were being passed to facilitate the integration of minorities in society and that the crime rate had dropped as a result of the work of UNMIK in combating crime. He hoped those trends would continue and that Kosovo would soon be a stable place. He urged the minority in Mitrovica to abandon parallel structures. The Provisional Institutions of Self-Government should strengthen cooperation with its neighbours, in particular, with Belgrade. He appreciated Belgrade efforts in helping minorities to participate in the upcoming municipal elections. The process of the return of refugees and displaced persons would need the continued assistance of the international community in order to be sustainable.
ZHANG YISHAN (China) stressed the importance of reviewing the situation in Kosovo in order to improve and refine the Council's work in the future. While recognizing the achievements made, the emphasis should be on lessons learned so that the Council's work could be more effective.
He said that the international community had, indeed, made some achievements in the past three years, notably the marked decrease in the crime rate. There had also been improvements in establishing the rule of law, the participation of minorities in government and in the normal functioning of the provisional government. He pointed out, however, that there were still many difficulties with regard to the rights and interests of ethnic minorities, especially their safety. How to improve conditions for the return of refugees and internally displaced persons remained a matter of concern. Data presented to the Council regarding the living conditions of those people had evoked strong reactions among Council members, he recalled.
Without a guarantee of the rights of ethnic minorities, there could be no multi-ethnic and multicultural Kosovo, he emphasized. There were also doubts as to whether the question of Kosovo's final status was being implemented in compliance with resolution 1244 (1999). When the provisional government had been announced, Ibrahim Rugova's announcement regarding independence had raised immediate and strong concern. Any attempt to push Kosovo along the road of independence was not conducive to regional stability, he added.
He said that a resolution of Kosovo's problems required a comprehensive strategy. While the upcoming municipal elections were the focus of attention, the achievements would inevitably be undermined without an appropriate solution to the questions of refugee returns, missing people, the rights of minorities and economic reconstruction. The international community must, therefore, pay equal attention to those questions.
JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France), aligning himself with the statement of Spain on behalf of the European Union, said the international community remained determined to foster complete implementation of resolution 1244 (1999). Mr. Steiner had managed to make the Provisional Institutions a reality and had convinced the representatives of all components of Kosovo society to take part. He had encouraged the implementation of the Constitutional Framework.
He welcomed the dialogue between Mr. Steiner and Yugoslav authorities. The implementation of the Joint Document remained the cornerstone for implementation of resolution 1244 (1999). Mr. Steiner had emphasized the importance of the return of refugees and displaced persons. Success in that regard would be decisive in finding routes to democracy and eliminating violence. All Kosovars should mobilize, so that the projects of UNMIK would succeed. He supported UNMIK's actions in combating crime. Further, the use of benchmarks would enable evaluation of the progress achieved in democracy, rule of law and regional stability. Kosovo officials should continue their efforts along those lines. There was no alternative, and it was the condition for Kosovo to achieve European integration.
The resolution adopted by parliament on protecting the territorial integrity of Kosovo had exceeded its competence and was null and void, he said. Such initiatives would prevent Kosovo from making progress. Respect for the international rule of law was incumbent upon the Provisional Institutions and also on States. That principle should have prevailed on the memorandum of understanding between Kosovo and Albania. The logic behind the process of stabilization meant that States should avoid any interference in the rule of law. Regarding the border agreement between Yugoslavia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, he said that the provisions of that agreement should help invigorate the spirit of the Zagreb Summit.
OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) joined previous speakers in supporting Special Representative Steiner's continued efforts to consolidate the rule of law in Kosovo. The latest arrests of six former KLA members demonstrated that no one was above the law. He called on the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government to cooperate with UNMIK in promoting the rule of law and human rights.
He welcomed recent statements and gestures promoting dialogue, inter-ethnic reconciliation and return of displaced persons, including those by Prime Minister Rexhepi. He encouraged other Kosovo Albanian leaders to follow his example and transform words and ideas into concrete action, so that inter-ethnic reconciliation in Kosovo could be realized. Reiterating Norway's support for Mr. Steiner's benchmarks approach, he said one key benchmark was the existence of effective, representative and functioning provisional institutions of self-government, which was one of the main challenges in the coming months. The institutions must have a multi-ethnic and politically neutral civil service. Only then could the Provisional Institutions function impartially and for the benefit of all in Kosovo.
He welcomed Mr. Steiner's concept paper on principles for the sustainable return of internally displaced persons and refugees, which was another key benchmark. Since resolution 1244 (1999) confirmed the right of all internally displaced persons and refugees to return to their homes in Kosovo, it was the responsibility of the Provisional Institutions and UNMIK to ensure that right. "Our credibility is at stake here", he said. "We need to see results in the near future if this benchmark is going to be reached at all. Furthermore, it is urgent to create conditions that will convince minorities to remain in Kosovo." Unless that trend was reversed, it would be impossible to achieve the sustainable return of any significant number.
He further supported Mr. Steiner's annulment of the Kosovo Assembly's attempts to deal with issues beyond its authority. He urged the Assembly to dedicate itself to fulfilling the benchmarks outlined by Mr. Steiner and focus its attention on addressing tasks within its mandate on which progress was urgently needed. Cooperation between Pristina, represented by both UNMIK and the Provisional Institutions, and Belgrade was vital for the implementation of resolution 1244. He praised Deputy Prime Minister Covic for playing a constructive role in that respect and encouraged he and Mr. Steiner to work together to support moderate elected Serb representatives in their endeavours to work constructively within the structures of the Provisional Institutions.
STEWART ELDON (United Kingdom), endorsing the statement to be made on behalf of the European Union, stressed three areas that were of utmost importance: strengthening law and order; progress in improving the economy; and establishing a safe society for all communities in Kosovo.
He welcomed the ministerial appointments for Kosovo Serbs as an important step towards full minority representation and participation in the Provisional Government, saying that the United Kingdom also supported the teamwork between UNMIK and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, including the agreements on railways. He also underscored the need to promote trade and prosperity.
Regarding international relations, however, he emphasized that the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government must act at all times in terms of resolution 1244 (1999) and within the Constitutional Framework. The United Kingdom was, therefore, concerned with the Kosovo Assembly's position on trade relations. Such agreements must be made in cooperation with UNMIK and signed by the Special Representative; otherwise, they would not be recognized by the international community. The agreement with Albania must, therefore, be renegotiated, he added.
He said the current incidents of organized crime and extremism were very worrying. They were substantially holding back refugee returns. The United Kingdom continued to encourage robust action by UNMIK and KFOR against the perpetrators.
GERARD CORR (Ireland), aligning himself with Spain's statement on behalf of the European Union, welcomed the increased progress on ensuring participation by all communities in the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government and the acceptance of the Coalition Povratak of their positions in the Provisional Government. The Council had made clear that the resolution adopted by the Kosovo Assembly regarding the border agreement between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was null and void. The adoption of such resolutions, which also called the UNMIK-Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Common Document into question, did not enhance the credibility of the Kosovo Assembly and created real obstacles to the development of regional dialogue.
He said it was essential that the Kosovo Assembly focus on the critical tasks within its competence, such as education and health, strengthening the rule of law and the creation of jobs. The elected leaders must develop a genuine political dialogue, within as well as between Kosovo's various communities. With 50 political entities -- 12 from the Serb community -- participating, the preparation for the upcoming municipal elections on 26 October was encouraging. Mr. Steiner's emphasis on economic reform and reconstruction, including privatization, would be essential to ensuring real stability in Kosovo. Progress on the economic front would be critical to combating crime and violence.
It was imperative that the authority of UNMIK be respected in the northern part of Kosovo, he said. There must be no accommodation of parallel structures. He supported the emphasis by UNMIK on minority returns. A framework of economic measures would be important in encouraging the displaced to return to, and remain in, Kosovo. The sensitivity of the issue of the location of the Mission and its central importance in the wider promotion of justice could not be underestimated. Peace and stability in South-East Europe were clearly dependent on Kosovo's successful development. Kosovo's leaders must work to build a truly multi-ethnic, democratic society to ensure Kosovo's progress along the road towards European integration.
The President of the Council, MIKHAIL WEHBE (Syria), speaking in his national capacity, welcomed the recent positive developments in Kosovo, particularly the establishment of an administration, including members of the Serb coalition, which was a significant development. The UNMIK was continuing to transfer, in cooperation with the provisional administration, authority to the Provisional Institutions, and was working to ensure that measures taken by the provisional administration were in line with the benchmarks, as well as the provisions of resolution 1244 (1999) and the Constitutional Framework.
He paid tribute to KFOR in combating transborder trafficking and encouraged it to continue cooperating with local police forces to combat regional crime and promote the rule of law. Combating regional crime required cooperation with neighbouring States, to ensure a comprehensive approach. He encouraged the continuing efforts to repatriate displaced persons. Their return in significant numbers and participation in rebuilding their country would reinforce stability in Kosovo. He hoped that all communities and minorities would be represented in the upcoming municipal elections and that participation of all parties would be ensured.
DEJAN SAHOVIC (Yugoslavia) said no doubt there had been some progress in some areas since the three years of international presence in Kosovo and Metohija, but much had yet to be done to restore normalcy to the province. Recent pronouncements of a dramatic drop in crime and improved security for minorities did not portray an accurate picture of the dangers that the "ever-dwindling" minority population faced every day. Two thirds of the murders and abductions of Serbs and other non-Albanians in the last four years had been committed since the arrival of international forces and few, if any, perpetrators had been brought to justice. Freedom of movement outside enclaves was still non-existent. The property of minorities had been usurped and their cultural heritage destroyed.
Bearing all that in mind, he said, it was not surprising that only 100 internally displaced Serbs out of 226,000 had returned to the province. He was at pains to comprehend what constituted the "improved changes" for returns that UNMIK high officials had been speaking about. Basic conditions for normal life should first be guaranteed to those minority citizens that had chosen to remain in Kosovo. Welcoming the constitution of the Kosovo Government and the Prime Minister's pledge to work on behalf of all residents of the province, he hoped that that pledge would result in ending the current situation, in which deputies of the Serbian Coalition Povratak came to the Assembly in armoured vehicles.
Kosovo and Metohija would not be able to move forward unless the economic recovery began, he said. The model proposed by UNMIK failed to respect the fundamental principle of the protection of creditors and to apply the basic standards of the World Bank and other financial institutions. In view of the many interconnections in terms of present ownership and the need to build a common economic space in the region, it was of utmost importance that Serbia be actively involved in the privatization process in Kosovo and Metohija. Many Serbian banks had substantial receivables due from the entities in the Province. The UNMIK, however, proposed to carry out privatization, while unloading the debt burden on the fragile Serbian economy.
He said equal standards and rules regarding returns to cities needed to be applied throughout Kosovo and Metohija. It would be useful, in that regard, to consider various proposals regarding the possible organization of local government, taking into account the rights of minorities. The UNMIK and the Kosovo Provisional Institutions should concentrate their efforts on strengthening the rule of law, full respect for human rights of all residents, building a democratic, multi-ethnic society, and improving of the economic situation. The most important benchmark in that regard would be a change in the attitude of the majority, which would make the return of displaced Serbs and other non-Albanians a reality. That would be the responsibility of local Albanian politicians -- to be taken up in deed, rather than word.
ANA MARIA MENENDEZ (Spain), speaking on behalf of the European Union and Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta, Turkey, Liechtenstein and Iceland, said achieving a culture based on the rule of law, tackling crime and violence and ensuring economic progress were the priorities, before issues pertaining to the status of Kosovo could be considered. The full participation of the Serbian community and of all minorities remained paramount for the functioning of the Provisional Institutions and was crucial to foster the return process and inter-communal confidence building. More than 1 million people were still displaced in the region, and no effort must be spared in putting in place appropriate security and legislative conditions for their return.
The Union remained concerned over the situation in the northern part of Kosovo, she said, and called on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to encourage unconditional respect for United Nations authority in all of Kosovo. Support for parallel structures in Mitrovica must end and the city must be reunited under the full authority of UNMIK and elected representatives. The benchmarks policy now being applied in Kosovo should also be fully applied to Mitrovica. She reiterated the Union's full support for the 23 February 2001 border agreement between the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and encouraged implementation of practical solutions to the problems faced by the affected population.
Violence and crime prevented democracy from taking root and harmed prospects of investment and economic growth. She supported Mr. Steiner's policy of zero tolerance and welcomed the agreement reached with the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Serbia on police cooperation. She said the Stabilization and Association Process, a long-term policy approach of reform aimed at helping the countries in the region to prepare for integration with the Union, had become a driving force for political, democratic and economic reforms within the individual countries, as well as for the strengthening of regional cooperation. She urged Belgrade and UNMIK, together with the Provisional Institutions, to work towards the objectives of the Stabilization and Association Process within the framework of resolution 1244 (1999).
Mr. GUEHENNO, responding to comments by Council members, said he would share with the Special Representative their remarks about his benchmarks approach to the situation in Kosovo.
Responding to the statement by the representative of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, he said that if success was to be achieved on the question of returns and integration, it would be essential to continue addressing the issues of security and the economy, as well as the establishment of a housing and property directorate as proposed by the representative of Norway. The UNMIK must tackle a wide range of issues with the political support of the Council, as well as the financial backing of the international community, he added.
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