16 November 2000


Press Release
SC/6953



SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE IN KOSOVO BRIEFS SECURITY COUNCIL, SAYS RECENT MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS ‘VICTORY’ FOR DEMOCRACY

20001116

Tells Council National Elections Proposed for Spring

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo, Bernard Kouchner, briefed the Security Council this morning on the past 18 months in the province, stressing that the municipal elections of 28 October had been universally recognized as a technical success and a victory for Kosovo’s burgeoning democracy.

The Special Representative added that he had proposed holding national elections in Kosovo in the spring and a working group had already been established to develop a possible provisional constitution.

He went on to say, however, that the situation in province had not radically changed because of the coming of democracy in Belgrade. Kosovo was one of those places in the world where a number of communities had lived side-by-side for centuries without intermingling. It thus remained a society in crisis. Four returnees had recently been brutally killed and extremists continued to try to destroy democracy. Vigilance was required and international commitments must be maintained.

He added that while Kosovo Albanians welcomed the regime change in Belgrade, it would not change their desire for independence. They had uniformly determined that they would never return to a situation of domination from Belgrade.

Responding to the briefing, the representative of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia told the Council that the new Government of his country fully subscribed to Council resolution 1244 (1999) and considered it the main and only basis for a just and lasting solution to the problem in Kosovo. His Government was ready and willing to work towards achieving substantial autonomy for Kosovo. Any other solution outside of resolution 1244 would be fraught with unforeseeable consequences for the region as a whole.

Albania's representative said that a better understanding by all political forces of the need to institutionalize an inclusive, multi-ethnic, multicultural society in Kosovo would lead logically to general elections in the near future. By respecting the right to self-government and accepting the natural process of consolidating the new democracy, the general elections would be a far-sighted action that would contribute to stability in the Balkan region.


Security Council - 1a - Press Release SC/6953 4225th Meeting (AM) 16 November 2000

The representative of the Russian Federation said resolution 1244 was being implemented in an incomplete and unsatisfactory manner. The international presence in Kosovo, instead of confirming the sovereignty of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, was supporting the secession of Kosovo. The crucial principle in the settlement of Kosovo was respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Halting the tendency towards secession should be a priority for the United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK).

The representative of the United States supported the call for early general elections in Kosovo. The idea of a one-year delay was ridiculous, he said. To wait would mean that the elections would turn on the wrong issues. His country strongly opposed the continual foot dragging on the elections issue for what some members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) called technical reasons, but which were really bureaucratic reasons.

The representatives of Bangladesh, United Kingdom, Canada, China, Argentina, Malaysia, Tunisia, Jamaica, Namibia, Mali, Ukraine, France and Austria also made statements.

The meeting, which began at 10:45 a.m., adjourned at 1:40 p.m.



Security Council - 3 - Press Release SC/6953 4225th Meeting (AM) 16 November 2000

Council Work Programme

The Security Council met this morning to hear a briefing from the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK), Bernard Kouchner, on the current situation in Kosovo.

Briefing from Special Representative

BERNARD KOUCHNER, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, said that important progress had been made in the last 17 months in Kosovo, even though many challenges remained. He drew Member States’ attention to a paper he had provided for them, which contained more detail than his verbal presentation.

The municipal elections of 28 October had been universally recognized as a technical success and a victory for the burgeoning democracy in Kosovo, he said. Last Saturday he had presided over the taking of office of newly-elected members of the Pristina Assembly.

There had been 5,000 candidates nominated for the municipal elections, he explained. One third were women. Most of those elected to the Pristina Municipal Assembly represented the two main parties -- the Lidhja Demokratike e Kosoves (LDK) and the Partia Demokratike e Kosoves (PDK). However, Bosnians, Turks and others were also there. There were no Serbs elected in Pristina, although there were some in other municipalities, and he believed the situation in Pristina would change.

The oath-of-office ceremony in Pristina was interrupted by the Pristina head of the PDK, who explained that the oath of office was so important that all those elected should take their oaths before the flags of all the communities represented in the council, he said. That had happened, and when the Serbs arrived to participate, their banner, too, would be used. He had recommended that participants in the ceremony not put their future at risk by using pretexts of discord, but rather work for democracy and peace. This week, the Pristina council had met for the first time to chose a president and prepare a programme of work.

He had related the anecdote, he explained, because the PDK representative in question had been in the mountains only 18 months ago, leading a Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) unit as a guerilla. Now he was an elected representative, following a campaign that was non-violent and democratic. The vote showed that the people of Kosovo preferred moderation and tolerance. Ex-combatants had been elected. Several parties, including the PDK, had grown out of the KLA, and they obtained 35 per cent of votes, but they were now committed to working for a unified administration. That was a noteworthy success. Where else had guerillas joined a democratic political party and gone to the polls a mere 18 months after combat? he asked.

The municipal election was a major success, he said. As a result of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and UNMIK technical effort, a true political transformation had occurred. Democratic interplay and compromise were already occurring, such as that which had occurred over the flags at the oath ceremony.

He contrasted that with the situation in 1999, when the society had been in pieces, the population was traumatized with 800,000 refugees, and there was endemic violence. At the beginning of last year, there were no capable democratic leaders, but rather three parallel governments working against each other. The Albanians had kept their word, given on 15 December 1999, to return to a joint interim structure.

He was proud of the work that was accomplished by the Mission, he said. The United Nations team, and the others that had formed the four pillars, had worked night and day, seven days a week. They were now tired and pleased, but they were also beginning to leave. He appreciated their dedication and perseverance. He also commended the troops from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), without whose efforts the elections would not have occurred.

There had been very little fraud and manipulation and very little violence, he said. The election day itself was the least violent day since the Mission arrived. Some 79 per cent of the electorate had voted, with less than 5 per cent of the ballots void, and very low percentage of potential voters not on final electoral lists. The elections were a remarkable technical success, particularly given that the people had no real experience of democracy and, in some cases, no identity documents. Next year, he hoped to organize national elections in the spring.

Ten days ago he had certified the results for all except three of the municipalities, he said. In those three the rate of participation was too low for certification. He recalled that Serbs, at registration time, were physically prevented from registering. Now all four Serb formations wanted to participate. He would soon appoint members for those municipalities -- and this would include Serbs, as well as representatives of others minorities. Early next year he planned to hold municipal elections in the three. However, in the interim, those appointed would be fully-fledged members.

Leaders of all four Serb groups –- including those who had followed former Yugoslav President Milosevic -- had met last week in the Special Representative’s office and said they were prepared to participate, he said. Of course, they raised conditions regarding their participation, but that was normal at such a stage of negotiations. The prospects for participation had been strengthened by the changes in Belgrade, but the local leaders needed a bit more time to adapt to the new Belgrade attitude. However, he could, and would, now appoint representatives, so that all minorities would be represented in the municipal councils.

Implementation of the results of the elections must now take place, and quickly, he said. The leaders of all parties had committed to accepting the election results. It was now time to begin the institutional transfer of responsibilities. Those would mean that those that had taken up posts one and a half years ago would have to yield to their elected successors. That would be a true test of democracy. The Kosovars were determined to prove their democratic ability.

They had also benefited from the fortunate events in Belgrade, which had led to more harmonious exchanges between Kosovo and Belgrade, he said. Kosovo Albanians welcomed the regime change in Belgrade as a contribution to stability, although it would not change their desire for independence. Indeed, they had uniformly determined that they would never return to a situation of domination from Belgrade, as had been the case in the past.

There was now a need to apply Council resolution 1244(1999), which was the foundation of the international community’s Kosovo initiative, so Kosovo people could benefit, he said. He hoped that general elections would be held as soon as possible. Such elections were a logical part of the implementation of resolution 1244 (1999).

The Kosovars had one major concern following the changes in Belgrade, he said. They feared the attention of the international community would now turn to Belgrade, and that could lead to neglect of Kosovo. They were concerned about the way in which visits to Belgrade were now taking place, since those visitors did not come to Kosovo. Right or wrong, from a political standpoint, that fear must be taken into account. Kosovars were also still sceptical about the building of democracy in Belgrade, and doubted they would see any radical change in Belgrade’s policies towards Kosovo. The reported amnesty proposals were a good way of building goodwill, but he knew that the new regime in Belgrade needed time.

The Council must not forget that there had been a large amount of suffering in Kosovo in the recent past, he said. He hoped that Albanian detainees in Belgrade prisons would rapidly benefit from amnesties, as that could improve relations between communities.

The situation in Kosovo had not radically changed because of the coming of democracy in Belgrade, he explained. The confrontation of 12 centuries had not disappeared. Kosovo was one of those places in the world where a number of communities had lived side-by-side for centuries without intermingling. Thus, Kosovo remained a society in crisis. Four returnees had recently been brutally killed and extremists continued to try to destroy democracy. Vigilance was required and international commitments must be maintained.

Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) was the basis for future arrangements in Kosovo, he said, and the resolution referred to “substantial autonomy”. It was a fact that Albanians wanted independence, so any resolution on the definitive status of Kosovo could, in itself, lead to conflict. However, there would be no stability in the Balkans without stability in Kosovo, and the process of defining substantial autonomy must commence. Institutions in which Kosovars would share responsibility were urgently needed, and even more urgently following the municipal elections, in which most people had voted for moderates.

He proposed the holding of national elections in the spring, he said. A working group had already been established to develop a possible provisional constitution.

Regarding the Yugoslav parliamentary elections, no one had yet asked UNMIK to organize those elections in Kosovo, he noted, and UNMIK could, under no circumstances, organize them. The OSCE election teams had left –- some to Bosnia. Immense security problems remained. It would be necessary to strengthen the presence of NATO troops to organize those elections in Kosovo, and he recalled that the possibility had been rejected by even moderate Kosovo leaders. In addition, there were no electoral lists that included Kosovo Serbs. Whatever other reasons might exist, he wished to make it clear to the Council that UNMIK involvement in those elections was technically impossible.

In conclusion, he noted that the Mission had experienced many unexpected successes, but that each death was a failure.

Statements

RICHARD HOLBROOKE (United States), noting that the success of Kosovo’s elections was essential for stability in the Balkan region, said that the basic problem in the province was that the Albanians and the Serbs simply did not like each other. The bitterness was worse than that in Bosnia and Herzegovina and would take time to work out.

He pointed out that Kosovo was at an earlier stage of development, barely a year after the NATO bombing campaign against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the deployment of KFOR. The unresolved question of Kosovo’s status must be addressed in the near future.

Unlike the superficial ethnic hatred in Bosnia and Herzegovina, he said, Kosovo's ethnic problem was the result of centuries of hatred, exacerbated by years of repression under the Milosevic regime. Kosovo must have the opportunity to develop self-governance, in accordance with Security Council resolution 1244 (1999), and self-administration to include all ethnic groups in the province.

He supported the call for early general elections in Kosovo. The idea of a one-year delay was ridiculous. To wait would mean that the elections would turn on the wrong issues. The United States strongly opposed the continual foot dragging on the elections issue for what some members of the OSCE called technical reasons, but which were really bureaucratic reasons.

ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) noted that UNMIK’s outreach programmes had proved effective in generating a turnout of more than 80 per cent at the polls. The skillful conduct of the process, with virtually no violence or provocations, deserved credit from the international community. The outcome was an important indicator of how Kosovars viewed their future. That the majority of them were inclined to place their trust in moderate leadership only underscored their aspirations for peace. Although there were still deep scars from the wounds of the recent past, many preferred to look forward to a new era for Kosovo, rather than seeking revenge.

The failure of the Serbs living in Kosovo to participate in the elections was regrettable, he said. While it was true that many of them were still waiting as refugees to return to their pre-war homes, there was nothing to be gained by boycotting a democratic process. Choosing their own leaders would have facilitated the process of return and settlement, rather than obstructing it.

He noted that the change in the Serbian leadership had obviously generated mixed feelings in Kosovo. Rather that welcoming the changes wholeheartedly and looking forward with hope, many in Kosovo were viewing the developments with unease and apprehension. On the one hand, there were now greater expectations of better prospects for solving many of Kosovo’s long-standing problems in the new setting. On the other hand, the Kosovars may view the developments in Belgrade as a setback for their aspirations.

GENNADI GATILOV (Russian Federation) said resolution 1244 was being implemented in an incomplete and unsatisfactory manner. The international presence in Kosovo, instead of confirming the sovereignty of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, was supporting the secession of Kosovo. The crucial principle in the settlement of Kosovo was respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. His delegation could not share Dr. Kouchner’s positive attitude. Halting the tendency towards secession should be a priority for UNMIK. During the non-democratic municipal elections in Kosovo, both Serbs and Turks were left outside the process. Kosovar leaders had also not campaigned around municipal issues, but around the independence of the province.

His delegation believed that the problems on the future status of Kosovo needed to be resolved through dialogue with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Kosovar leaders. It was high time to break the inertia and involve the leaders of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in the implementation of resolution 1244. Steps needed to be taken to curb separatism in the province. The head of UNMIK had also violated the sovereignty of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Further, he did not understand why some elections could be organized and others, for technical reasons, could not be held. The Serbs, Gypsies and Turks must be allowed the fundamental privilege of exercising their electoral right in their country. The leadership of UNMIK must create favourable conditions for that, or resolution 1244 would be grossly violated.

He said the arms embargo imposed by Council resolution 1160 (1998) against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia should be lifted, since most of the conditions had already been met. The integration of that country into the international community would be impossible if the restrictions against that country were not lifted.

Sir JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said his country was pleased with the success of the recent municipal elections in Kosovo. That process should pave the way for wider elections in the future and address the autonomy, which was taken away from the province. Conditions for those elections, however, had to be right, with a registration exercise that included Serbs and other minorities.

He said deciding the future status of the province was not a priority, since there were much more pressing issues such as economic regeneration and rebuilding of society. Addressing the Serbian elections in December, his country supported participation by voters in Kosovo, despite the practical difficulties UNMIK could face in organizing that.

PAUL HEINBECKER (Canada) said the demonstrations in Kosovo over the past few days highlighted the importance of proceeding with the release of Kosovars detained in Serb prisons. As a minimum, the charges against them should be specified and due process of law afforded to them. That issue was still a key obstacle in diffusing inter-ethnic tensions in Kosovo. It was also essential that Kosovar Albanians respected the rights of Kosavar Serbs and all other minorities. He stressed that he did share the criticism of Dr. Kouchner voiced this morning by one delegation -– probably the only one. Instead, Canada was struck by the distance travelled since adoption of resolution 1244 -- the progress achieved by UNMIK far exceeded expectations.

He said the municipal elections, held in Kosovo on 28 October, were the first step in the devolution of power to democratically elected authorities. The immediate challenge now was to implement the results of those elections. Of equal importance was the establishment of satisfactory conditions for province-wide elections. The participation of all Kosovars in that entire electoral process would greatly enhance the legitimacy of results. It would also be an indication of the province’s political maturity. There could be no lasting peace without reconciliation and no reconciliation without justice.

WANG YINGFAN (China) said that while everyone was praising the holding of municipal elections in Kosovo, it had been forgotten that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia deemed the elections results null and void because the Serbs, Turks and other ethnic minorities had not participated. The UNMIK was expected to implement measures to ensure the inclusion of those minorities.

He said his country had noted that the elections were regarded as a symbol of Kosovo’s movement towards independence. That was not in accordance with the provisions of Security Council resolution 1244 (1999). The tendency towards independence would have grave consequences for stability in the Balkan region. He hoped that the constructive influence of the international community would produce positive results.

ANA MARIA MOGLIA (Argentina) said two events had occurred since the Special Representative’s last briefing to the Council: the first was the fall from power of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, and the second was the holding of the municipal elections in Kosovo.

She said that although it had been hoped that there would be massive participation by the Kosovo Serbs, it was understood that their non-participation had not been the result of intimidation, but of a principled stand. The municipal elections had been a triumph of moderation. All those elected had a responsibility not to disappoint those who had placed their confidence in them. All those who had not taken part in the elections were urged to join the process.

She said Argentina was aware that reconciliation would not take place without the release of Kosovar detainees held in Serbian prisons. The recent killings of four internally displaced people who had returned to their original homes was evidence that extremist elements were still present in Kosovo.

RANI ISMAIL HADI BIN ALI (Malaysia) said the immediate challenge was to implement the results of the elections in the municipalities. Follow-up actions were an important element of the institution-building process, which would provide the Kosovars with greater responsibility for self-administration and self- government, and inculcate trust and confidence in the democratic process.

The absence of the Serb community in the elections was regrettable, he said. He supported efforts to devise a suitable formula to ensure that representatives of the Serb community and other minorities would be able to take part in the relevant municipal administration.

He expressed his country’s continuing serious concern over the fate of Kosovars detained in Serbia, especially in light of the recent tense situation in Serbian prisons. His Government had repeatedly called for their immediate and unconditional release. It fully supported efforts to find an early and acceptable solution to that problem and to the equally grim issue of missing persons. He called for early concrete action by the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to cooperate with UNMIK in finding solutions to those problems.

Although the overall security situation in Kosovo had improved, the recurrence of ethnically motivated violence showed that the whole situation was not entirely satisfactory, he emphasized. Malaysia joined in condemning the killing of four Ashkali men in the village of Dosevac last week. Those responsible for that horrendous crime should be brought to justice.

ALI CHERIF (Tunisia) said the large election turnout was Kosovo’s expression of a desire for lasting peace, despite the active participation of the Serbs. All minorities must participate in the reconciliation process. His delegation was concerned at the upsurge in political violence. That could undermine international efforts and threaten minorities.

He said reform of the judiciary was crucial to the restoration of peace in the province. Improvements to that system so far were not enough. The refugee question was particularly acute with the approach of winter and there was need for a moratorium on the forced return of displaced people. Returns should not be forced, due to the lack of infrastructure. Also, detainees and missing persons was still a major issue to be addressed by the international community.

M. PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica) stressed the need to consolidate the gains made in Kosovo over the past year, but only in the context of a multi-ethnic society with multi-ethnic institutions. While recognizing that the reality of the situation might sometimes dictate otherwise, that was the only path for Kosovo. A peaceful, stable and democratic Kosovo could not be exclusionary.

Unless the issue of detained and missing persons was dealt with, the basis for peace, coexistence and the healing of wounds would be tentative, she said. All efforts must be expended in obtaining the release of prisoners and information on the fate of missing persons. The proposed submission to parliament of an amnesty law by Yugoslav authorities would be a significant step in dealing with the issue.

She expressed grave concern over reports of human trafficking and prostitution, and called for concerted efforts to address that unacceptable problem. The UNMIK police unit set up to deal with the matter clearly demonstrated a recognition of the problem and the need to address it. She supported the unit’s work as it sought to attack prostitution-related crime.

The return of refugees was of fundamental importance in reconstruction, promotion of peace and moving towards a sustainable future, she said. While the number of returnees seemed to be rising, with more than 82,000 by the end of September, Jamaica was concerned about forced returns, which intensified existing problems of overcrowding in inadequate accommodation. Potential overcrowding in temporary accommodation would become even worse with the approach of winter. She agreed that refugee returns should be halted until early next year.

SELMA ASHIPALA-MUSAVYI (Namibia) said that, in spite of intimidation and politically motivated violence, which had partly contributed to the non- participation of some ethnic minorities in the municipal elections, the people of Kosovo had demonstrated their right to democratic governance. They had given their newly-elected leaders the mandate to plan for the future of all Kosovars.

She said it would be up to the elected leaders, with the assistance of the international community, to start addressing the needs and aspirations of their communities in the spirit of peaceful coexistence and in accordance with Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).

The municipal elections were just the beginning of a process of democratic representation, she said. It was hoped that the Special Representative would be able to engage the elected leaders in a more meaningful dialogue that would contribute to national reconciliation and substantive self-governing administration in Kosovo.

MAMOUNOU TOURE (Mali) said the municipal elections were a decisive turning point in the history of Kosovo. The positive changes in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and that country's willingness to hold negotiations on Kosovo was an important step in bridging the gap between Serbs and Albanians. The briefing this morning, however, showed that challenges still remained as the international community tried to resolve problems in the region.

VOLODYMYR YEL'CHENKO (Ukraine) said the recent municipal elections were a landmark in Kosovo's democratic development. Those elections also marked the completion of a significant period in UNMIK's activities. The boycott by Serbs and Turks, however, was the most negative factor in the whole process. He wanted to know what the Serbian and Turkish attitudes were to the attempts to co-opt them into key appointments? He also wanted to know what would happen if there was no consent by those two groups. The recent elections did not provide solutions to all of Kosovo's existing problems. In that context, he was concerned with the recent upsurge in criminal and political violence.

He said UNMIK must not relent in its efforts to return refugees and ensure public safety. He was also deeply concerned that the leaders of all the Albanian political parties considered the recently concluded elections as a first step towards independence, and also refused to talk to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia about the province’s autonomy in that country. The time had come for the Council to consider ways to bring the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Kosovars to the negotiating table.

JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France) spoke on behalf of the European Union and the associated States of Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus and Malta.

He said the Special Representative gave meaning to resolution 1244 (1999) and he saluted his tenacious efforts. Many Kosovars had now returned to their towns and villages. Both the KFOR and UNMIK had worked to guarantee security in Kosovo and the recent elections reflected favourable changes in the province. Kosovars had shown political maturity in carrying out their civic responsibility. Nevertheless, many instances of intolerance still existed. The recent murder of four minority persons was an act that must be strongly condemned. Impunity must not prevail and provocateurs must answer for their actions, he stressed.

GERHARD PFANZELTER (Austria), speaking in his country's capacity as current Chairman of the OSCE, said the elections had been exemplary: a high turnout of almost 80 per cent; a very low percentage of invalid ballots; no major incidents of fraud or manipulation; and no violence. By their conduct, the Kosovars had demonstrated a clear and unconditional commitment to democracy. Similarly, by accepting the election results, the political parties had shown an encouraging democratic maturity.

He said that the impressive victory of Ibrahim Rugova's Democratic League of Kosovo demonstrated the Kosovo Albanians' support for a moderate political course. Considering the positive democratic changes in Belgrade, that decision could lead to a new and fruitful dialogue between Pristina and the new authorities in Belgrade.

Regarding the democratic representation of minorities, he said the OSCE supported their co-opting into the Municipal Councils by the Special Representative. That was an important means of ensuring a multi-ethnic Kosovo. In the pre-election phase, the OSCE and UNMIK had tried to convince the Kosovo Serbs and Kosovo Turks to register and participate in the elections. Clearly, there had been a great reluctance to cooperate. Now, however, the democratic changes in Belgrade had resulted in a new orientation among the Kosovo Serbs. Much would now depend on the functioning of the Municipal Councils, especially in their dealings with minorities.

VLADISLAV MLADENOVIC (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) said the new Government of his country fully subscribed to Council resolution 1244 (1999) and considered it the main and only basis for a just and lasting solution to the problem in Kosovo. At the current juncture, it was of the utmost importance to proceed urgently to a consistent and comprehensive implementation of that text.

He said that in implementing the resolution, the following were of special significance: the return of all those who fled Kosovo and Metohija and the creation of a secure environment; conclusion of an agreement on the status of the international presence in those two areas; a just solution for all detainees; clarification of the fate of missing persons; holding of the forthcoming elections in the Yugoslav Republic of Serbia in the territory of Kosovo and Metohija; return of a limited contingent of the army of Yugoslavia and police to Kosovo and Metohija; and a solution for the status of para-diplomatic representative offices in Kosovo and Metohija, in accordance with the Vienna Convention and respect for the sovereignty of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

He said President Vojislav Kostunica of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia called on the international community to approach the question of Kosovo and Metohija in a thorough and prudent manner. Similarly, in the quest for the best possible solution, it would be very useful to ensure broad cooperation with the international community and other interested parties and States. His Government was ready and willing to work towards achieving substantial autonomy for Kosovo. Any other solution outside of resolution 1244 (1999) would be fraught with unforeseeable consequences for the region as a whole. His country was now open to cooperation and negotiation on all problems.

AGIM NESHO (Albania) said that a better understanding by all political forces of the need to institutionalize an inclusive, multi-ethnic, multicultural society in Kosovo would lead logically to general elections in the near future. By respecting the right to self-government and accepting the natural process of consolidating the new democracy, the general election would be a far-sighted action that would contribute to stability in the Balkan region.

He said that developments in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the victory of democratic forces in Serbia gave hope for the beginning of a new era of understanding and cooperation in south-eastern Europe. Albania was ready to cooperate with all democratic institutions aimed at Balkan integration, regional peace and stability, and a free and democratic society that looked forward to joining the European Union.

It was essential, he said, that the new democratic leadership of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia dismantle the tragic nationalist policy of the Milosevic regime and respect the basic rights of self-governance and self-determination. By cooperating with international institutions and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, releasing all Kosovo Albanian political prisoners held in Serbia, and by punishing the perpetrators of genocide, the new Yugoslav State would clearly demonstrate its will to cooperate with other Balkan countries.

He said Kosovo's future status would be decided at a later time, when democratic institutions had been consolidated. Efforts to find a partial solution, influenced by enthusiasm for rapid change, would neither result in a long-term solution nor justify the international community's long-standing commitment to the Balkans. It was in the interest of regional peace that comprehensive solutions on the final status of Kosovo be mature and lasting, and that they take into account the legitimate rights of the Kosovar Albanians to self-determination.

Response by Special Representative

Dr. KOUCHNER, responding to queries and commitments from delegates, told the representative of Bangladesh that he was very pleased with the outreach campaign, which had him meet with political leaders, as well as ordinary people in all of Kosovo's cities.

Acknowledging that he and the representative of the Russian Federation were never in agreement, he told that country's delegate that the decision to hold the municipal elections had been taken by the entire Council together. However, the Russian objections were understood and noted.

He said that behind the numbers contained in Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) lay realities beyond the cold piece of paper on which it was written. Middle East resolutions that were 25 years old still had not been implemented. How could resolution 1244 (1999) be implemented fully after only a year?

Regarding Serb participation in the elections, he said some of them had been physically prevented from registering. Other minorities had all participated, including the Kosovo Turks. One Turk party had been persuaded to take part, but registration had already been closed.

In response to another delegate, he said reforming the judiciary was very difficult. It was easy to criticize but very difficult to impose law and order suddenly in a country that had never known it. There was no kit for law and order.

He told Jamaica that the Security Council Mission should be a model for the United Nations.

Thanking the representative of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia for the moderate tone of his statement, he said it was important that his country had declared that it was in favour of resolution 1244.

While deploring last week's killings, he said that the overall situation had nevertheless improved from a time when there used to be 50 murders a week.

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