SPEAKERS IN SECURITY COUNCIL CONDEMN RECENT VIOLENCE
IN KOSOVO, INSIST EXTREMISTS MUST NOT BE ALLOWED
TO UNDERMINE FUTURE
Serbia's Deputy Prime Minister Warns Last Week's Crimes Not Unique;
Determined Minority Seeks to Drive Serbs Out, Complete "Ethnic Cleansing"
NEW YORK, 18 August (UN Headquarters) -- Expressing deep concern that violent incidents continued to occur in Kosovo, four years after the establishment of the United Nations mission, speakers in the Security Council this afternoon strongly condemned the 13 August attack, in which two Kosovo Serb teenagers were killed and four others injured, and insisted that extremists must not be permitted to undermine the future of the province.
At an open meeting called at the request of Serbia and Montenegro, the Republic of Serbia's Deputy Prime Minister, Nebojsa Covic, warned the Council that the international community's failure to eradicate instability in the province would make it responsible for a "resurrection of fascism in one part of Europe and creation of a monstrous mono-ethnic Albanian para-State" on the territory that was legally recognized as a part of Serbia and Montenegro.
Insisting that last week's crimes were not unique, he said that they were part of a pattern of activity by a determined minority of the Albanian population which sought "to drive all Serbs out of Kosovo and Metohia and discourage any refugees and internally displaced persons from returning and, in that way, to bring the ethnic cleansing of the province to completion".
While he could "understand the inertia of the representatives of the international community", he could not acquit it, he continued. It was necessary to recognize, without any prejudice and fear, that actions of Albanian extremist and terrorist groups represented the main threat to the stabilization of Kosovo and Metohia, and the region as a whole. The United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK), headed by the Secretary-General's new Special Representative Harri Holkeri, must now either accomplish what its predecessors had failed to achieve, or acknowledge its defeat.
The representative of the United Kingdom, however, rejected the mentioned sense of inertia by the international community as "unfounded and unfair". He said isolated acts must not be allowed to polarize Kosovo any further and extremists could not be allowed to undermine Kosovo's future. Also, the dialogue on the issue was not helped by a barrage of positions on Kosovo and rounds of accusations and counter-accusations between Belgrade and Pristina.
Regarding the priorities before UNMIK, the representative of the Russian Federation said that the Mission must do some painstaking work to fully implement the provisions of resolution 1244 (1999), as well as the concept of "standards before status", which envisioned ensuring basic democratic conditions before a final decision was taken on the final status of Kosovo. He urged the Mission to take a more active and consistent approach in countering any manifestations of ethnic intolerance and growth of radical dispositions in Kosovo, and in ensuring the rule of law there.
Noting that in Kosovo there was a protection force of 17,000 troops and 4,000 UNMIK police personnel, Pakistan's representative said that the Council must make an overall cost/benefit analysis of where and how forces must be employed. The Council had waited for weeks to employ a few thousand forces in Liberia, for instance. In Kashmir, populated by 10 million people and called the most dangerous place in the world, there were only about 50 United Nations observers.
Recalling that provisional institutions of self-government had committed themselves to inter-ethnic reconciliation, speakers demanded that no efforts be spared to arrest the perpetrators and bring them to justice. They also welcomed the fact that UNMIK had quickly instigated an investigation of the incident, and the international security force -- KFOR -- had stationed 300 troops in the area as a visible presence. Several speakers noted that recent progress in establishing the institutional framework in Kosovo had not been matched by the progress in the security situation on the ground. Among the remaining problems, they also listed the need to strengthen local police and ensure adequate representation of Serbs.
In that connection, Mexico's representative added that UNMIK's priorities must continue to include strengthening democratic institutions and promoting dialogue and economic development. The work must be carried out pursuant to resolution 1244 (1999) and the Constitutional Framework. He stressed, however, that the main responsibility for normalizing the situation rested with the Kosovars themselves -- the Albanian majority and the minorities equally.
Statements were also made by representatives of the United States, Germany, Bulgaria, Spain, Angola, Chile, Cameroon, China, Guinea, France and Syria.
The meeting started at 3:13 p.m. and was adjourned at 4:55 p.m.
The Security Council met this afternoon to consider the situation in Kosovo on the request of Serbia and Montenegro (document S/2003/814), following the August 13 attack in the Pec region, in which two Kosovo Serb teenagers were killed and four others injured. A Kosovo Albanian woman was also injured following the incident. The Council is expected to hear from Deputy Serbian Prime Minister Nebojsa Covic.
In a statement to the press after Council consultations on 14 August, the Council President, Mikhail Wehbe (Syria), said members of the Council condemned the violence in the strongest terms and expressed "deep concern" that four years after the conflict such brutal incidents continued to occur.
Kosovo has been administered by the United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK) since 1999. The current Head of Mission and Secretary-General's representative is Harri Holkeri of Finland.
NEBOJSA COVIC, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia, and President of the Coordination Centre of Serbia and Montenegro and the Republic of Serbia for Kosovo and Metohia, said that the hideous attack on innocent children swimming in the river near their homes in Kosovo and Metohia had taken place only because they were Serbs. The killings had taken place in order to send a message to all the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohia that they had to leave, that there was no chance for reconciliation and the sort of multi-ethnic society that resolution 1244 and the international community foresaw. Since peacekeepers had arrived in Kosovo and Metohia following a bombing campaign in 1999, there had been 6,013 attacks on Serbs, their cultural heritage and property. As a result, 1,021 Serbs had been killed and 52 Christian sacral relics had been demolished in those attacks, including 10 monasteries and churches from the fourteenth century.
People in Serbia were determined to cooperate with the international community and had tried hard to help UNMIK and the international security force KFOR -- hoping that UNMIK and KFOR would help them, he said. By the most recent escalation of terrorism, Albanian extremists and terrorists were sending a message to the new Special Representative of the Secretary-General that every single decision he was going to make that did not meet their expectations would result in new violence and destablization of the situation in Kosovo and Metohia. He appreciated the actions of the Special Representative to appoint a special prosecutor to bring the perpetrators to justice, and his Government would do everything possible to help him.
At the same time, it was necessary to accept the fact that last week's crimes were not really unique. They belonged to a pattern of activity by a determined minority of the Albanian population, which sought to drive all Serbs out of Kosovo and Metohia and discourage any refugees and internally displaced persons from returning and, in that way, to bring the ethnic cleansing of the province to completion. With the current pace of returns, it would take over 100 years for the Serbs and other non-Albanians to return to the province.
Albanians, who had suffered terribly under Slobodan Milosevic's regime, watched brutal retaliations carried out by their extreme compatriots in silence, he continued. In those distorted circumstances, UNMIK and KFOR had done less than they could have. While he could understand the inertia of the representatives of the international community, he could not acquit it. An UNMIK police officer had been recently assassinated, and numerous brutal attacks had targeted international peacekeepers. The staff of the United Nations Civil Mission and all officers and personnel of international troops in Kosovo and Metohia had become hostages of Albanian extremism and terrorism.
That disturbing outcome might have been avoided if the international community, immediately after the termination of the armed conflict in Kosovo and Metohia and the bombing campaign against Yugoslavia, had applied the same standards in condemning both Serbian and Albanian crimes, he said. So far, with a single exception, only Serb perpetrators had been brought before the judges of The Hague Tribunal. Albanian assassins had, thus, been silently amnestied and transformed into a caste of untouchables, transformed into national heroes. It was high time the international community looked back and evaluated the results. It was necessary to recognize, without any prejudice and fear, that actions of Albanian extremist and terrorist groups represented the main threat to the stabilization of Kosovo and Metohia, and the region as a whole. The United Nations Mission, headed by Mr. Holkeri, must now either accomplish what its predecessors had failed to achieve, or acknowledge its defeat.
He said vigorous and decisive measures were needed that would lead to fulfilment of the standards that had been agreed upon: full and consistent implementation of Council resolution 1244; major progress in return of internally displaced persons; and security and freedom of movement of all ethnic communities. Despite the commitment Belgrade and the Government of the Republic of Serbia had shown, thus far, in regard to the establishment of a functional multi-ethnic society in Kosovo and Metohia, they were legitimately concerned that Albanian extremists and terrorists would use all means available to prevent the accomplishment of that objective.
The international Mission must send a clear message regarding its key objectives by fully implementing resolution 1244, he said. The Mission had to ensure that its implementation was equitable to all parties and all ethnic groups and that it did not favour one party or ethnic group to the detriment of another one. If not enlarged, international security forces must at least be kept at the current level. Their presence had to be more visible and well targeted. The KFOR and UNMIK should ensure full protection of the administrative line between central Serbia and Kosovo and Metohia from the side of the province, in full cooperation with the army and police of Serbia and Montenegro.
He added that international law enforcement officials needed to be more efficient in investigating ethnically motivated crimes and bringing perpetrators to justice. The UNMIK and KFOR should provide full protection to witnesses and encourage citizens to testify against criminals without fear and ethnic bias. A thorough and energetic disarmament of all citizens should be carried out. It was also necessary to ensure that all countries applied the same treatment to the Albanian National Army (ANA), which the Special Representative had proclaimed a terrorist organization. In light of the crimes committed by individual members of the Kosovo Protection Corps, a thorough investigation was needed leading to its abolishment. Perpetrators of war crimes must be indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and extradited to The Hague, regardless of their present position.
Among other key requirements, he noted the need for increased cooperation between security forces in Kosovo and Metohia and security forces in the region, in particular the forces of Serbia and Montenegro. Albanian political leaders must be prompted to implement their formal support to return, the democratization of society, the rule of law and inter-ethnic reconciliation. Adequate measures must be taken against all officials of the provisional self-government institutions, regardless of their ethnicity, who did not provide full and public support to such measures. Those officials of the international presence in the province who refrained from carrying out adequate measures in the fight against inter-ethnic violence, terrorism and organized crime must be held liable for their actions.
In conclusion, he said that for all the proposed measures, it was necessary to develop a clear plan of measurable tasks and responsibilities and those in charge of their implementation must be specified. It was also necessary to set precise timetables and objectively assess the results. If the international community failed to eradicate the factor of instability, it would be responsible before history for a resurrection of fascism in one part of Europe, and creation of a monstrous mono-ethnic Albanian para-State on the territory that was legally recognized as a part of Serbia and Montenegro.
JAMES B. CUNNINGHAM (United States) said his country had condemned the attacks of 13 August in the strongest terms. The UNMIK had responded quickly, among other things by instigating an investigation, which was ongoing. He noted the statements of Kosovo Albanian leaders deploring the criminal events and welcomed statements from leaders of Serbia and Montenegro stating the country would remain committed to the peace process. Resolve and commitment to pursue that process was needed, he said. The acts must be punished and perpetrators must be brought to justice. The best homage to the victims was redoubling efforts to create conditions for a multi-ethnic Kosovo and implementation of resolution 1244 (1999).
WOLFGANG TRAUTWEIN (Germany) deeply deplored and condemned the ruthless killing of children in Kosovo on 13 August. The perpetrators had not been identified, he said, but it was another attack in a progression of violence over the past weeks. The UNMIK police officer shot two weeks ago and the children shot on 13 August seemed to have been targeted deliberately. The attacks created an atmosphere of lawlessness and intimidation. If the perpetrators aimed at obstructing reconciliation, refugee return and direct dialogue, they must know that they would not succeed. He welcomed the statements of representatives of the Provisional Institutions condemning the attacks and urged all their representatives to exert their influence on public opinion. The UNMIK and KFOR would ensure that the perpetrators of the attacks would be brought to justice.
Regarding the future status of Kosovo, he said no unilateral action could change the current status of Kosovo as laid down in resolution 1244. The international community must insist on the policy of standards, before status. No status issues could be discussed before the benchmarks were met. One of the benchmarks was the dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade. That dialogue must not be confused with the status question, he said.
STEFAN TAFROV (Bulgaria) said that his country categorically condemned the atrocious acts of 13 August in the Pec region, and he wanted to convey his people's condolences to the bereaved families. The horrendous act that followed the murder of an UNMIK officer clearly sought to undermine the international efforts to return Kosovo to normalcy. Provisional institutions of self-government should not only condemn the violence, but also help the local police and UNMIK to identify as quickly as possible the perpetrators of the violence. The cooperation of those institutions was a true test of their ability to shoulder greater responsibility in managing the region and accomplishing the transfer of authority.
Among other concerns, he mentioned the return of refugees and the need to stop the destruction of religious monuments, churches and monasteries. It was important that UNMIK clearly inform all the local political forces, irrespective of their ethnic origin and place in society, that acts of violence were absolutely intolerable. He hoped that UNMIK would take the necessary steps to deter such acts, which should stop immediately.
MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) expressed profound sadness at the recent murders and unreservedly condemned ethnically motivated crimes in Kosovo. The perpetrators of such crimes must be brought to justice. Security and the rule of law were essential elements in stabilizing any post-conflict area. Without security, there could be no protection of minorities, no return of refugees and internally displaced persons and no economic recovery. He hoped that UNMIK, under the new leadership of Mr. Holkeri, would give the two issues the highest priority.
Urgent action was necessary in reaction to such crimes, he continued. Pakistan had committed over 100 police personnel to UNMIK. In Kosovo, there was a protection force of 17,000 troops and 4,000 UNMIK police personnel. The Council, however, must make an overall cost/benefit analysis of where and how forces must be employed. The Council had waited for weeks to employ a few thousand forces in Liberia, for instance. In Kashmir, populated by 10 million people and called the most dangerous place in the world, there were only about 50 United Nations observers.
The brutal murders in the Pec region were one incident in a series, but they were indicative that the underlying problems in Kosovo must be resolved. Standards before status sounded good, but all parties carried a responsibility to reach an agreement. Nationalist rhetoric on all sides did not help. Hate must be discouraged as a political currency in Kosovo, he concluded.
INOCENCIO F. ARIAS (Spain) said that the killing of Kosovo children was an almost unimaginable crime. It deserved full international condemnation as an act of terrorism, and the perpetrators must be brought to justice. Having condemned the policy of ethnic cleansing a while ago, now it would be absolutely unjustifiable for the international community to sit "with its arms folded". The acts of violence represented a pattern of violence and harassment against one particular community. The attacks were not an isolated incident, and there was no justification for any kind of terrorism. He hoped that UNMIK would quickly conclude its investigation. Existing resolutions must be implemented, and a life within a tolerant multi-ethnic society must become a rule, not an exception.
EMYR JONES PARRY (United Kingdom) said recently a series of violent incidents had occurred and every effort must be made to bring the perpetrators to justice. He welcomed the initiative of Mr. Holkeri to set up an inquiry and the prompt action by KFOR, deploying 300 troops as a visible presence. Minority communities needed credible guarantees and full protection. He rejected the mentioned sense of inertia by the international community as "unfounded and unfair".
He said isolated acts must not be allowed to polarize Kosovo any further and extremists could not be allowed to undermine Kosovo's future. He supported the development of the Kosovo Protection Corps into a civilian emergency organization, and did not share the view that the time had come to wrap up the Corps. His country had always emphasized that serious crimes must be prosecuted without discrimination and that perpetrators of war crimes should be brought to justice in The Hague. The dialogue was not helped by a barrage of positions on Kosovo and rounds of accusations and counter-accusations between Belgrade and Pristina.
The goal was a stable, peaceful multi-ethnic Kosovo moving towards independent prosperity. A mono-ethnic Kosovo was not intended. The road to Europe could not be built on terrorism. Progress in Kosovo, Serbia and Montenegro and the region would be driven by "Europeanization" and there could not be violent unilateral attempts to dictate final status.
JULIO HELDER DE MOURA LUCAS (Angola) said that his delegation strongly condemned last week's attack in Kosovo. The perpetrators of that crime should be brought to the dock as soon as possible. Recent crimes were a serious setback for the United Nations' efforts to build a multi-ethnic society in Kosovo and bring back the Serbian minority. Recent progress in establishing the institutional framework in Kosovo had not been matched by the progress in the security situation on the ground. It was necessary to continue efforts to improve that situation, in particular through strengthening local police and measures to fight organized crime.
Continuing, he supported the work of UNMIK and insisted on a constructive dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. It was necessary to show renewed commitment to the peace process and the objectives set by the international community for establishment of a multi-ethnic society in Kosovo. In conclusion, he expressed support to Secretary-General's new Special Representative, Harri Holkeri and wished him success in his difficult, but necessary task.
ADOLFO AGUILAR ZINSER (Mexico) said the 13 August attack was an attack against the very future of Kosovo and the building of a multi-ethnic society with respect for the rule of law. The fabric of the Kosovo society was still very fragile and provocation could lead to a chain reaction. The international community must use its influence on the political leaders of Serbia and Montenegro and the Kosovo province, so that they will make a serious effort in helping establish understanding. The message must be clear -- they must reject all violence, in particular ethnic violence. Mr. Holkeri had described as a tragedy the fact that four years after the conflict, violence was still taking innocent lives.
In addition to establishing the rule of law, UNMIK's priorities must continue to be: combating organized crime; strengthening democratic institutions; promoting dialogue; and promoting economic development. The work must be carried out pursuant to resolution 1244 (1999) and the Constitutional Framework. He stressed, however, that the main responsibility for normalizing the situation rested with the Kosovars themselves -- the Albanian majority and the minorities equally. Their leaders must be proactive in promoting a multi-ethnic society. The adoption of a resolution on the return of refugees by the Kosovo Assembly was a positive signal. Also important were efforts to achieve disarmament. The proliferation of weapons encouraged violence, organized crime and terrorism.
He stressed the importance of cooperation between Belgrade and Pristina. Before resolving the status question, he said, it was necessary to achieve certain standards, including establishment of the rule of law. He appealed to the provisional authorities in Kosovo to refrain from issuing unilateral pronouncements that would only worsen the atmosphere of confrontation.
CHRISTIAN MAQUIEIRA (Chile) condemned the events on 13 August that had taken the lives of two young people and injured four others, saying that there could be no justification for that crime. Every possible effort must be made to find those responsible for the atrocities and bring them to justice. In that regard, he welcomed the actions taken by UNMIK to date and expressed hope that the efforts to find the criminals would be further accelerated. The violence in Kosovo undermined the progress there and went against the provisions of resolution 1244 (1999). Reconciliation was a necessary prerequisite for building a multi-ethnic society in Kosovo, and he agreed that there was an urgent need to reinstate the rule of law and combat organized crime there. Also, without constructive dialogue between UNMIK, Pristina and Belgrade, it would be very difficult to accomplish significant results in Kosovo.
IYA TIDJANI (Cameroon) said the shooting of 13 August causing the deaths of two young Serbs had been a horrendous and inadmissible act. The incident had taken place just a few days after the murder of a UNMIK officer on 3 August. There had also been many acts of vandalism carried out on ethnic grounds. Such acts ran counter to the establishment of a new democratic, secure and prosperous society in Kosovo. Progress had been made in the political and institutional areas, but security was still an issue. The unacceptable acts could undermine dialogue and would render the return of trust between the several groups, necessary for a unified society living in harmony, impossible. The return of internally displaced persons could be the main victim of such acts.
He was committed to the principle of standards before status. The flow of arms into Kosovo was a permanent threat to its stability. He welcomed, therefore, the announcement of a disarmament programme and appealed to all parts of Kosovo society to embrace it. He also called upon leaders and civil society to avoid any action that could inflame emotions. As a direct dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade could diffuse tensions, bringing the capitals closer together should be encouraged.
GENNADY M. GATILOV (Russian Federation) said that Russia had learned with sorrow of the horrendous crime committed on 13 August. That incident had no possible justification and deserved strong condemnation and a robust response. He hoped the guilty would be duly punished. There was no doubt that it was yet another manifestation of terrorism, which was particularly dangerous in Kosovo, since it added new tension to a complex ethnic situation. He noted an expeditious response by the international presence in Kosovo to apprehend the criminals and bring them to justice.
The incident once again clearly demonstrated how complex the challenges before the new Special Representative were in restoring the multi-ethnic nature of the province, he continued. The international community should step up its efforts to normalize the situation in Kosovo, primarily ensuring equal security and the rule of law. Meeting those challenges was not only the responsibility of the international presence in Kosovo, but also of the Kosovo politicians.
Over the four years following the adoption of resolution 1244, much had been achieved in Kosovo, he said. However, despite significant progress in providing for autonomy and self-government, serious unresolved problems remained, including the absence of security and continuation of ethnic violence. So far, the persons guilty of a brutal murder of a Serbian family on 4 June had not been duly punished. Now the international community had witnessed a horrific crime directed against children. Adequate representation of the Serbian minority in the self-government institutions remained a problem, as did return of the Serbs to Kosovo. Like other members of the Council, his delegation was convinced that building a multi-ethnic society in Kosovo would remain a challenge, unless radical improvements were achieved in that regard.
He went on to say that under the leadership of Mr. Holkeri, UNMIK must do some painstaking work to fully implement the provisions of resolution 1244 (1999), as well as the concept of "standards before status", which envisioned ensuring basic democratic conditions before a final decision was taken on the final status of Kosovo. He urged the Mission to take a more active and consistent approach in countering any manifestations of ethnic intolerance and growth of radical dispositions in Kosovo, and in ensuring the rule of law there.
CHENG JINGYE (China) said he was deeply shocked by the shooting incident of 13 August, which he strongly condemned, and urged efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice. Recently, the Kosovo region had been troubled by terrorist activities. The 13 August tragedy showed that implementation of resolution 1244, adopted four years ago in order to achieve peace, stability and a multi-ethnic society in Kosovo, still remained an arduous task.
He urged UNMIK and the Provisional Institutions of Kosovo to strengthen the rule of law and improve the security situation. In order to guarantee the rights of all in Kosovo, it was necessary for the Serbia and Montenegro Government and the Kosovo Provisional Institutions to carry out a political dialogue as soon as possible. That dialogue should be actively supported by the international community, he said.
ALPHA IBRAHIM SOW (Guinea) said that the crucial issues of security and the restoration of trust among the various ethnic groups were among the challenges in Kosovo. The murder early this month of an UNMIK police commander and the shooting of a group of young Serbs on 13 August near Pec, following the massacre of an entire family in Obilic last June, demonstrated the precariousness of the security situation in Kosovo. Those tragic events also emphasized the need for all communities in Kosovo to become more involved in seeking solutions to the problems, so as to restore lasting peace there in the province.
His delegation strongly condemned recent criminal actions in Kosovo, he continued. The perpetrators must be brought to justice. He supported ongoing efforts to improve the judicial system and police services, which were essential to the restoration of security. In that regard, he welcomed UNMIK's decision on its programme to combat the proliferation and illicit circulation of weapons in Kosovo and urged all the parties involved to do their utmost to ensure the success of that programme, which was scheduled to start on 1 September.
While the international community had a primary role in normalizing the situation in Kosovo, it was nonetheless true that the success of that undertaking depended above all on the will and resolve of the Kosovars themselves. They should demonstrate tolerance and mutual respect, in order to transcend their differences and promote reconciliation and peace. In the search for lasting peace, strengthening cooperation among the various communities with UNMIK and KFOR was an imperative.
MICHEL DUCLOS (France) said his country had immediately and strongly condemned the crime of 13 August, which had caused the deaths of two teenagers. During Council consultations the next day, all Members had likewise condemned that act. He supported the steps taken to apprehend the perpetrators of the crime. Another shooting incident involving children had taken place on Sunday. Those fresh outbreaks of violence also should be condemned. The crimes harmed the image of Kosovo within the international community.
He said establishing the rule of law in a modern, democratic and multi-ethnic Kosovo must move forward. The Provisional Institutions had a special responsibility in that respect. He agreed with the objective of Serbia's Deputy Prime Minister to reduce violence. It was up to UNMIK and Mr. Holkeri to decide on new measures. A constructive dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina should also help to reduce tension.
Speaking in his national capacity, President of the Council, MIKHAIL WEHBE (Syria), said that it was with a great deal of sorrow that his delegation had learned of the incident in Kosovo last week. Syria condemned such acts and reaffirmed its position that all parties needed to comply with the agreements reached. He called for an end to violence and welcomed the measures taken by the provisional authorities in Kosovo, as well as the investigation by UNMIK to determine the perpetrators of the attacks and bring them to justice. He reiterated his country's support for UNMIK for the Secretary-General's new Special Representative. He also reaffirmed his conviction that there was a need to ensure coexistence among all inhabitants of Kosovo, regardless of their ethnic or religious background.
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