A veto by China this afternoon prevented the Security Council from authorizing an extension of the United Nations Preventive Deployment Force (UNPREDEP) in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia for a further six months, until 31 August.
By a vote of 13 in favour to 1 against (China), with 1 abstention (Russian Federation), the Council failed to adopt the eight-Power draft resolution. The Secretary-General had recently recommended to the Council the extension of UNPREDEP, saying it had so far contributed successfully to preventing the spillover of conflicts elsewhere in the region to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
The Force's mandate, set to expire on 28 February, has been in effect since March 1995, when the Council authorized it to monitor and report any developments in the border areas which could undermine confidence and stability in the territory; since last year, its mandate has been expanded to include monitoring and reporting on illicit arms flows and other related activities.
Speaking after the vote, the representative of China said peace and stability in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia had not been adversely affected by regional developments. The situation in the country had apparently stabilized in the past few years, and its relations with neighbouring countries had improved. Moreover, the Secretary-General, in his recent report, had indicated clearly that the original goals of the Security Council in establishing UNPREDEP had already been met. In that context, there was no need to further extend the mandate of the mission.
Africa and some other regions were still plagued by conflict and instability, he said, and needed more attention from the United Nations. In view of the Organization's current financial crisis, it would not be fair to
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continue to assess Member States for UNPREDEP; the United Nations already insufficient resources should be used where they were most needed.
The representative of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia said that UNPREDEP was discharging its mandate in an exemplary manner, amid a regional situation that continued to be very difficult, dangerous and unpredictable. The possibility of a new bloody war in the Balkans was a real one. In a word, the United Nations should not abandon the region, or run from trouble; rather, it should prevent it. Extending UNPREDEP's mandate would support regional efforts at peace.
The representative of the United States said that the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia had made enormous strides towards democratization and economic stability, but it still confronted very real security threats. There was a distinct risk that tensions elsewhere in the region would reverberate along the border -- with Kosovo being just the most recent flashpoint. The role of UNPREDEP was presently indispensable, and the overall attainment of regional security -- particularly during that sensitive period -- should outweigh other considerations.
The representative of Slovenia deeply regretted the Council's inability to adopt the draft. He said it was a sad day for the Council, which was, once again, paralysed by the negative vote of a permanent member. The UNPREDEP had operated successfully in a "European hotbed of tension" and was a success story of United Nations peacekeeping and of the United Nations as a whole. The Council should deal with specific situations from the standpoint only of ensuring international peace and security. Today's experience had strengthened the conviction that there was a real need to reform that body, as well as the veto.
Speaking before the vote, the representative of the Russian Federation said the functions of UNPREDEP in monitoring compliance with the arms embargo should become the main component of its activity and should be highlighted in its mandate. His delegation had proposed corresponding amendments to the draft which had not been duly reflected in the final text, which had not fully taken into account the importance of reorienting UNPREDEP to monitor compliance with the arms embargo. The Russian Federation was, therefore, unable to support the text.
Statements were also made by the representatives of Argentina, Canada, Germany, on behalf of the European Union and associated States, and Bulgaria.
The meeting, which was called to order at 3:51 p.m., was adjourned at 5:10 p.m.
Council Work Programme
When the Council met this afternoon to consider the situation in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, it had before it a report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Preventive Deployment Force (UNPREDEP) (document S/1999/161 of 10 February. It also had before it a letter of the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to the Secretary-General of 29 January requesting the extension of the Force's mandate (document S/1999/108).
Report of the Secretary-General
The report (document S/1999/161) covers developments in the mission area since 14 July 1998, and it was submitted pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1186 (1998), by which the Council had extended the current mandate of the United Nations Preventive Deployment Force (UNPREDEP) for a further six months until 28 February and had authorized an increase in its troop strength of up to 1,050.
[The mandate of the mission, which was established in 1992 under Security Council resolution 795 (1992), is to deter threats and prevent clashes, monitor the border areas, and report to the Secretary-General on any developments that could threaten the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Since its extension last July, UNPREDEP is also to report on any developments which could threaten the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, including on illicit arms flows and other activities that were prohibited under Security Council resolution 1160 (1998) of 21 July.]
In the report, the Secretary-General states that the Council may wish to extend the mission, with its existing mandate and composition, for a further six months until 31 August. That action would hinge on the understanding that the Council would review its decision if discussions of the Contact Group on the former Yugoslavia and within the framework of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) concerning the possible deployment of an international military presence in the region would result in developments which would affect UNPREDEP's role and responsibilities. Peace and stability in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to depend largely on developments in other parts of the region, in particular in Kosovo.
In an earlier report to the Council of 30 January (document S/1999/99), the Secretary-General expressed his increasing concern that the spread of violence and the nature of the attacks in Kosovo could lead to a situation of all-out civil war in the province, which might have unpredictable repercussions for the entire region. It is a matter of satisfaction, the Secretary-General states in the current report, that, until now, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has not been adversely affected by the Kosovo conflict. However, the potential serious repercussions that continued
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violence in Kosovo could have upon the external and internal security of the country cannot be ignored given the large proportion of ethnic Albanians in the population of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
The Secretary-General reiterates, in the present report, that UNPREDEP has so far contributed successfully to preventing the spillover of conflicts elsewhere in the region to the former Yugoslavia Republic of Macedonia. By contributing significantly to promoting dialogue among the various political forces and ethnic communities in the country, the mission continues to have a stabilizing effect. The confidence inspired by its presence has defused tensions that could have arisen as a result of the continued crisis in Kosovo.
In a review of recent developments, the Secretary-General finds that since his last report of 14 July 1998, the situation in Kosovo (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) has been a matter of continued grave concern to the international community. However, the bilateral relations of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia have strengthened during the reporting period. In addition, relations with Albania have improved significantly following the recent parliamentary elections in the host country and the inclusion of a coalition of the ethnic Albanian Party for Democratic Prosperity of Albanians and the National Democratic Party (PDPA/NDP) in the new Government.
The most significant positive development on the domestic political scene in the country during the reporting period was the holding of the third parliamentary elections in October and November 1998. Those elections were held in a peaceful atmosphere, and resulted in a change in Government. The new Government represents a coalition of three parties, including the ethnic Albanian coalition. Moreover, the elections were held in accordance with the new electoral laws, and they were monitored by international observers, all of whom assessed the overall electoral process in a positive light and in accordance with Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and Council of Europe standards.
On the activities of the mission, the report states that the increase in UNPREDEP's military component by 300 all ranks, authorized by Security Council resolution 1186 (1998), was completed by the beginning of January, thus bringing its strength to 1,050 troops. At the same time, the total number of observation posts and patrol bases has been increased from 8 to 16, all of which are situated at strategic locations and sensitive points along the borders with Albania and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Reconfiguration of the augmented military component and the increase in the number of observation posts and patrol bases have enabled UNPREDEP to fulfil its mission in the entire area of responsibility.
Also pursuant to resolution 1160 (1998), the report notes, UNPREDEP has undertaken the new task of monitoring and reporting on illicit arms flows and other activities that are prohibited by the Council. Mobile reaction teams
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have been established, which respond to sighted smuggling activities by moving quickly to continue observation and thus provide more accurate information on whether arms, ammunition or explosives are involved.
The report explains that under the terms of its current mandate, UNPREDEP can monitor and report, but it does not have the authority to interdict and inspect cross-border traffic. Although smuggling incidents have been observed, UNPREDEP has so far not detected any direct evidence of arms smuggling across the borders of the former Yugoslavia Republic of Macedonia with Albania or the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
The mission's civilian component has been effectively monitoring and reporting on developments in that country that could affect its peace and stability, the report states. It has conducted an active dialogue with the authorities and all other major political forces in the country; encouraging cross-party dialogue and a better understanding among the various segments of the population with a view to easing inter-ethnic tensions; and promoting the application of international human rights standards.
Also according to the report, UNPREDEP, in pursuing a comprehensive model of preventive action, has been involved in a wide range of programmes related to good governance and the rule of law, strengthening of national capacity and infrastructure, institution-building and human resources development in the governmental and civil sectors. The mission has worked with many groups in society to encourage them to contribute to the country's development and to serve as agents of conflict prevention and promoters of democracy and human rights.
Moreover, the report notes that the mission has continued its close cooperation with the Spillover Monitor Mission to Skopje of the OSCE and the European Commission Monitoring Mission in the country. It has also established a working relationship with the NATO Kosovo Verification Coordination Centre and the NATO Extraction Force recently deployed in the host country.
Concerning financial aspects of a possible extension of the mandate, the Secretary-General states that should the Council decide to extend the mandate of UNPREDEP beyond 28 February, as he recommends, the cost of maintaining the Force until 30 June would be limited to funds already appropriated under resolutions of the General Assembly, which assessed approximately $17 million from 1 March to 30 June, at a monthly rate of approximately $4 million.
Letter to Secretary-General
A letter of 19 January (document S/1999/108) from the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to the Secretary- General presents the Government's arguments for extending the mission's
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mandate for an additional six months, with its existing composition and structure. The Foreign Affairs Minister also points to his concern over the danger of a spillover of the Kosovo conflict, increased tensions on the Albanian-Yugoslav border, the unstable situation in Albania -- which has burdened his Government's efforts to prevent arms trafficking to Kosovo -- and the lack of progress in the demarcation of the country's border with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
Text of Draft Resolution
The Council also had before it a draft resolution (document S/1999/201) sponsored by Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Slovenia, United Kingdom and the United States, which reads as follows:
"The Security Council,
"Recalling all its previous relevant resolutions concerning the conflicts in the Former Yugoslavia, in particular its resolutions 794 (1992) of 11 December 1992, in which it addressed possible developments which could undermine confidence and stability in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia or threaten its territory, 1142 (1997) of 4 December 1997 and 1186 (1998) of 21 July 1998,
"Recalling also its resolution 1160 (1998) of 31 March 1998, in which it decided that all States shall prevent the sale or supply to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, including Kosovo, of arms and related matériel of all types and shall prevent arming and training for terrorist activities there, and its resolutions 1199 (1998) of 23 September 1998 and 1203 (1998) of 24 October 1998, in which it expressed its concern at the situation in Kosovo, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia,
"Underlining the continuing importance of the role of the United Nations Preventive Deployment Force (UNPREDEP) in monitoring the border areas and reporting to the Secretary-General on any developments which could pose a threat to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and by its presence deterring threats and preventing clashes, including monitoring and reporting on illicit arms flows within its area of responsibility,
"Commending the personnel of UNPREDEP for their dedication in the continued performance of their mandate and for their contribution to the maintenance of peace and stability in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and in the region,
"Reiterating its call on the Governments of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to implement in full their agreement of 8 April 1996 (S/1996/291), annex), in particular regarding the demarcation of their mutual border,
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"Taking note of the letter of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to the Secretary-General of 29 January 1999 regarding the extension of the mandate of UNPREDEP (S/1999/108),
"Having considered the report of the Secretary-General of 12 February 1999 (S/1999/161),
"Reaffirming its commitment to the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia,
"1. Decides to extend the current mandate of UNPREDEP for a period of six months until 31 August 1999, including to continue by its presence to deter threats and prevent clashes, to monitor the border areas, and to report to the Secretary-General any developments which could pose a threat to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, including the tasks of monitoring and reporting on illicit arms flows and other activities that are prohibited under resolution 1160 (1998);
"2. Decides to remain seized of the matter."
FERNANDO PETRELLA (Argentina) said that the contents of the letter from the Foreign Minister of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia clearly reflected the current complicated situation. Furthermore, the Secretary- General, in the conclusion to his report, had indicated that events in the region, some of which had been reported as recently as today during the Council's consultations, suggested the need to extend the presence of the United Nations Preventive Deployment Force (UNPREDEP) for a further six months.
For those reasons, he said, his country firmly supported UNPREDEP in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, to which it had contributed observers since December 1995. He was convinced that UNPREDEP represented one of the Security Council's central efforts for peace in the region, at a time when delicate and complex negotiations were taking place on the situation in Kosovo. As the Secretary-General had indicated in his report, the presence of UNPREDEP in the territory had had an effect which was both preventive and stabilizing. The fact that the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia had not felt the repercussions of the conflicts that had continued to affect neighbouring countries and the region was clear proof that UNPREDEP was fulfilling its mandate with complete effectiveness.
He said that because the Kosovo situation had not yet been resolved, UNPREDEP's presence as a preventive force had constituted an "irreplaceable reassurance". Also important was the mandate given to UNPREDEP by the Council
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to monitor illicit flows of arms and other prohibited activities under resolution 1160 (1998). It was well known that illegal arms flows increased the tendency of conflicts, creating tragic consequences that hampered reconciliation and peace. In light of that, his country supported the extension of the mandate for a further six months until 31 August, with its present composition and mandate.
NASTE CALOVSKI (The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) said he wished to underline that UNPREDEP was discharging its mandate successfully and that the cooperation with his country and other international organizations was an exemplary one. The situation in his region continued to be very difficult, dangerous, unpredictable and a serious threat to the peace and security of the Balkans. The possibility of a new bloody war in the Balkans should be considered a real one. Unacceptable options of violence, the use of force and achieving something by military means were still there. The forces of peace, particularly in Kosovo, were weak. It was of paramount importance that they be strengthened. In one word, the United Nations should not abandon the region, should not run from troubles, and should prevent the occurrence of the worst. Extension of UNPREDEP's mandate should be seen as an important support to the region's peace forces.
He said that the prevention of new war in the Balkans was of utmost urgency and a very serious obligation of the Council under the Charter of the Organization, in particular under Article 24, where it was requested to act on behalf of the Member States of the United Nations, many who fully supported the extension of the mandate of the first successful preventive peace-keeping mission of the Organization. The veto had been extensively discussed in the Organization. Member States, with the exception of a few, were in favour of not using that right entrusted to the Permanent members of the Council.
He said the main argument against the use of the veto had been and continued to be that the Council, under the Organization's Charter, acted on behalf of Member States and not for an individual Member State. In the case of UNPREDEP, it should be noted quite strongly that the extension of the mandate was supported by all Member States except one. That lack of support was based on bilateral considerations, something which "we all consider to be in contradiction with the Charter of our Organization".
Action on Draft Resolution
The Council President, ROBERT FOWLER (Canada), called for action on the text.
Speaking before the vote, SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation) said that the principal approach of the Russian Federation in assessing the value of the Mission was well known and had been repeatedly described in the Council. That United Nations operation was an important element of a system to monitor,
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among other aspects of stability, an arms embargo, in accordance with Security Council resolution 1160 (1998).
He said that the time that had elapsed since the adoption of that resolution -- which had introduced into UNPREDEP's mandate the relevant monitoring tasks -- had amply shown the growing urgency of those functions. Indeed, those forces were making an important contribution to stabilizing the situation in Kosovo and leading to a peaceful resolution and security of the entire Balkan region. The functions of UNPREDEP to monitor compliance with the arms embargo should become the main component of UNPREDEP's activity and should be highlighted in its mandate.
He said his delegation had proposed corresponding amendments to the current draft, which was under consideration today. Unfortunately, those amendments had not been duly reflected in the final text, which had not fully taken into account the importance of reorienting UNPREDEP to monitor compliance with the arms embargo. The Russian Federation would therefore be unable to support the draft resolution.
The vote on the draft resolution contained in document S/1999/201, authorizing a further six-month extension of UNPREDEP, was 13 in favour, to one against (China), with 1 abstention (Russian Federation). The draft was not adopted due to the negative vote of a permanent member of the Security Council.
Speaking after the vote, A. PETER BURLEIGH (United States) said that since its independence, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia had made enormous strides towards democratization and economic stability. Despite those improvements, however, there were still very real regional threats to its security. There was a distinct risk that tensions elsewhere in the region would reverberate along the border. Kosovo was only the most recent flashpoint posing a threat to stability in the region. Although considerable progress had been made in Rambouillet, much more would be required in the weeks and months ahead. The UNPREDEP itself played a specific, but very important role in achieving the international community's goals for Kosovo. The Mission's current mandate was to prevent the spillover of tensions in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and, by its presence, to deter threats and prevent clashes.
He said his Government very much regretted the decision by one member of the Council to exercise its veto with respect to the present resolution. He believed that the overall interests of security in the region -- particularly during this sensitive period -- should be sufficiently compelling to outweigh other considerations. The UNPREDEP's role was indispensable at the present time. "We hope to begin work immediately with members of the Council to find a way to allow the international community to continue to meet this critical need, without disruption", he added.
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DANILO TURK (Slovenia) said he deeply regretted that the Council had been unable to adopt the necessary decision to extend UNPREDEP's mandate. It was regrettable that the Council was, once again, paralysed by the negative vote of a permanent member. The present solution might produce negative effects in and around the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and in the functioning of the Security Council, which was the principle organ entrusted with the maintenance of peace and security.
The region of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was fraught with uncertainty, which called for an array of responses, among them a preventive deployment force, he said. The Council would have to think deep and hard about how to respond to those and other needs at hand. It was a sad day for the Council, whose authority was being diminished by a variety of factors. The members should make specific efforts to reduce the current negative trends, and it should deal with specific situations from the standpoint of ensuring international peace and security, a point which had been made by several members over the past few months.
He said that today's experience had strengthened the conviction that there was a real need to reform the Council, and to reform the veto as well. The importance of UNPREDEP for the United Nations as a whole had to be seriously reflected upon: it was a success story of United Nations peacekeeping, and of the United Nations in general. It was a model of preventive deployment which could inspire the Organization to deal with incipient crisis situations in various parts of the world. It had been operating ever since the country's independence, and had been playing a vital role along the borders. Equally important was its civil component, which, among other things, assisted in implementing international human rights standards.
The fact that UNPREDEP had operated successfully in a "European hotbed of tension" had underlined its importance, he said, as well as the importance of the presence of the United Nations in all regions where threats continued to exist. The situation in the immediate vicinity of Kosovo gave additional urgency to UNPREDEP's role. In order to stabilize Kosovo at that critical time, the United Nations should not diminish its efforts towards peace and security in that region.
He said he hoped that today's vote on UNPREDEP would not be the last decision of the Council to strengthen peace and security in and around the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. He therefore supported continued consultations, which must lead to an arrangement acceptable both to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and to Council members, and it should ensure the continued pursuit of tasks which made UNPREDEP necessary.
QIN HUASUN (China) said the situation in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia had apparently stabilized in the past few years and its relations
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with neighbouring countries had improved. Peace and stability in that country had also not been adversely affected by regional developments. The Secretary- General, in his recent report, had indicated clearly that the original goals of the Security Council in establishing UNPREDEP had already been met. In that case there was no need to further extend the mandate of the Mission.
He wanted to repeat that Africa and some other regions were still plagued by conflict and instability, and needed more attention and contribution from the United Nations. In view of the Organization's current financial crisis, it would be not be reasonable or fair to continue to assess Member States for UNPREDEP. The already insufficient resources of the United Nations should be used where they were most needed.
ROBERT FOWLER (Canada) said UNPREDEP's continued presence in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was essential at this critical juncture, given the continuing instability of the region, particularly in neighbouring Kosovo. To date, the mission had been an unquestionable success. It was the first and still unique example of preventive deployment under United Nations auspices. "It is our sole reminder of the cost effectiveness of prevention in all aspects of international peace and security", he noted. Given that success, Canada strongly supported renewing the Mission's mandate. However, despite solid majority support for extending UNPREDEP's mandate, the Council had been unable to do so because of the negative vote cast by China. Arguments that conditions no longer warranted the presence of UNPREDEP simply could not be substantiated by an examination of the facts.
He said China's decision, seemingly compelled by bilateral concerns unrelated to UNPREDEP, constituted an unfortunate and inappropriate use of the veto. In the same light, Canada deeply regretted that actions taken by the Government of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia had precipitated the bilateral dispute that had led to the present situation. Canada was deeply concerned that the inability of the Council to agree on mandate extension, in spite of the clear need for such, and despite the expressed will of the majority of Council members, had set a negative precedent at a critical juncture for peace and stability in the Balkans. The credibility and authority of the Council might suffer just when it was most needed in the region and beyond.
DIETER KASTRUP (Germany), spoke on behalf of the European Union, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Iceland and Norway. He said the Union supported the draft resolution and continued to attach great importance to the role of UNPREDEP as a stabilizing and peace-promoting element in the geo- political context of the region. The Mission was the first preventive deployment force of the United Nations and, as such, which was the generally accepted view, a great success. It could serve as a model for future such deployments. He said the European Union saw the value of UNPREDEP not only in
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its military component and its border monitoring, but also in its civilian efforts to promote understanding among the different ethnic groups in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The Union considered that there was real danger of a spill-over of the Kosovo crisis into neighbouring countries. The Rambouillet meeting had established a framework for solution to the crisis, but had not yet brought the parties to full agreement.
He said the European Union deeply regretted that China had decided to veto the draft before the Council. At this crucial moment, in the efforts to bring peace to Kosovo, the withdrawal of UNPREDEP should not be contemplated. He stressed that he earnestly hoped that an arrangement could be found within the next few days to prevent that from happening.
VLADIMIR SOTIROV (Bulgaria) said he aligned himself with the statement made by the Permanent Representative of Germany, on behalf of the European Union, and fully shared the views contained therein. Those issues related to the commitments and efforts of Bulgaria, as a neighbouring country in search of a long-term solution to the conflicts and open issues in the western part of the region. Bulgaria's policy was aimed at achieving concrete results in strengthening regional peace and security in southeast Europe.
An example of those efforts, he said, was the signing of a Joint Declaration between his country and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia three days ago by the Prime Ministers of the two countries. It settled the controversial issues and opened new prospects for a mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation. It also made a valuable contribution to the stability and security in the region and set an example of how difficult problems could be overcome in a spirit of understanding and in the interests of the countries involved.
The peacekeeping activities of the United Nations were at a crucial juncture, he said. The failure of some peacekeeping operations had tarnished its image and undermined its credibility in fulfilling one of the main purposes laid down by the United Nations Charter, namely the maintenance of international peace and security. It was of utmost importance to preserve, and where necessary, to enlarge the mandates of those peacekeeping operations that had proven to be successful.
Regrettably, the Council had been unable to adopt a decision today on UNPREDEP for another six-month period, he said. His country was deeply concerned with the real possibility of a further escalation of the conflict in Kosovo if the current peace process failed to provide for a lasting solution. Such a situation required that available means should be effectively used. One of them was UNPREDEP, which continued to be a stabilizing factor of prevention and deterrence. Bulgaria strongly believed that its extension was in the interest of all nations in the area, and that the present situation on the ground made the withdrawal of the force untimely and inappropriate.
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Mr. QIN (China) said he had taken note of the statements made by other delegations today. He believed that deciding on the merits of an issue was the sovereign right of every State. The accusations made today against China were totally unfounded.
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