16/05/2002
Press Release
SC/7399



Security Council

4533rd Meeting (AM)


UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR PEACEKEEPING BRIEFS SECURITY COUNCIL ON KOSOVO;

STRESSES NEED FOR KOSOVO SERBS TO TAKE RIGHTFUL PLACE IN NEW GOVERNMENT


Briefing the Security Council this morning on recent developments in Kosovo, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno stressed that it was essential, before any more time was lost, that Kosovo Serb representatives took up their rightful places in the Government. 


All sides, he added, needed to help each other to find common ground solutions, so that many of the complex situations facing Kosovo -– ones that required concessions on all sides –- could begin to be tackled in a way that would prove effective and sustainable.


On 9 May, the Kosovo Government submitted its draft Programme to the Assembly, he said.  Priorities highlighted in the Programme included consolidating democratic structures, improving education and health care, and promoting economic development.  It also focused on the protection of the rights and interests of communities -– including the right to return -– and regional integration, including meaningful dialogue with the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.


Unfortunately, he said, the Kosovo Serb Return coalition (KP) had not so far put forward candidates for the three government posts it had been allotted.  That was regrettable for two reasons.  First, it meant that the Kosovo Serbs were still not part of the decision-making process and did not participate in the talks on the Government’s Programme.  Secondly, it tended to undermine the KP Assembly members and their ability to be respected by their colleagues in the Assembly.


The municipal elections, he noted, originally scheduled to take place on

21 September, would now be held on 26 October.  An important element of that election was the increase in responsibilities undertaken by the local electoral bodies.  It would also provide an opportunity for those communities that boycotted the 2000 elections, particularly the Kosovo Serb community, to participate.


On the issue of returns, he said the aim was to achieve increasing returns this year to create momentum for more significant numbers of returns during 2003 and 2004.  In its draft Programme, the Government of Kosovo had committed itself to demonstrating its willingness to address the wishes and concerns of internally displaced persons and refugees.  Efforts had continued, he added, to determine the fate of the missing of all communities, which remained one of the major obstacles to reconciliation.


The meeting, which began at 10:10 a.m., adjourned at 10:26 a.m.

Summary of Briefing


JEAN-MARIE GUÉHENNO, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, briefed Council members on developments in Kosovo since the Council was last briefed by Special Representative of the Secretary-General Michael Steiner on    24 April. 


With regard to government institutions, he said that on 9 May the Kosovo Government submitted to the Assembly its draft Programme, which was based on the Agreement of 28 February that formed the Government.  Priorities highlighted in the Programme included consolidating democratic structures; improving education and health care; and promoting economic development.  It also focused on the protection of the rights and interests of communities –- including the right to return –- and regional integration, including meaningful dialogue with the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. 


Unfortunately, he said, the Kosovo Serb Return coalition (KP) had not so far put forward candidates for the three government posts it had been allotted.  Although three names appeared in the local press on 7 May following a KP meeting in Leposavic, it appeared that those candidates had been rejected by the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.  That was regrettable, first of all, because it meant that the Kosovo Serbs were still not part of the decision-making process and did not participate in the talks on the Government’s Programme.  Secondly, it tended to undermine the KP Assembly members and their ability to be respected by their colleagues in the Assembly.


As was to be expected, the division of responsibilities between the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government and the United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK) under the Constitutional Framework was causing some friction, he noted.  For example, on 9 May the Assembly debated two issues that lay within the reserved responsibilities of the Special Representative:  the security situation in Mitrovica; and the border demarcation agreement between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.


Mr. Steiner intervened in the debate, recognizing the natural desire of the elected representatives to discuss issues important to them.  To uphold the division of responsibilities outlined in the Constitutional Framework, the issues were discussed in an “informal session” of the Assembly.  At the same time,

Mr. Steiner underlined that such discussions should not sidetrack the Assembly from focusing on the many urgent matters for which it did have responsibility.


Turning to the situation in Mitrovica, Mr. Guéhenno said that it had calmed down somewhat.  The UNMIK was continuing its dialogue with local representatives in northern Mitrovica and with Belgrade, and was working closely with the Kosovo Force (KFOR) to maintain calm.  Regarding the border with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, UNMIK was working in the Joint Expert Committee to find practical arrangements that would allow Kosovo Albanian farmers access to their lands on the border with that country. 


With regard to municipal elections, he said that they were originally scheduled to take place on 21 September.  Due to a delay in approving the election budget –- which was approved by the Permanent Council of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) -– the elections would now take place on

26 October.  An important element of this year’s election was the increase in responsibilities undertaken by the local electoral bodies.  Those elections would provide an opportunity for those communities that boycotted the 2000 elections, particularly the Kosovo Serb community, to participate.  The aim was to have all Municipal Assembly members elected, not appointed as in some cases, for the next mandate period, which would be four years.


Effective maintenance of law and order, he said, required UNMIK to look beyond the boundaries of Kosovo.  At the end of April, agreement was reached with the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and of Serbia on a draft Agreement on Police Cooperation that laid out the framework for a more systematic sharing of information on a wide range of law enforcement areas.  On 29 April, UNMIK’s institution-building pillar published its fourth “Review of the Criminal Justice System of Kosovo”, which concluded that, while areas of concern remained, the foundations of a sustainable system based on human rights and access to justice had been laid.  The areas of concern it focused on were the independence of the judiciary, detention and mental health issues.


On the issue of return, he said that UNMIK, together with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), briefed donors on 7 May on the principles guiding the return process and outlined the financial requirements for 2002, which amounted to over 16 million euros.  The aim was to achieve increasing returns this year to create momentum for more significant numbers of returns during 2003 and 2004.  In its draft Programme, the Government of Kosovo had committed itself to demonstrating its willingness to address the wishes and concerns of internally displaced persons and refugees.


Efforts had continued, he added, to determine the fate of the missing of all communities, which remained one of the major obstacles to reconciliation.  At the beginning of May, a group of international forensic experts began work at the former International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia-run morgue in Orahovac, with the aim of identifying the remains of around 1,250 people by the end of the year.


It was essential, he stressed, that before any more time was lost, the Kosovo Serb representatives took up their rightful places in the Government.  All sides needed to help each other to find common ground solutions so that many of the complex situations facing Kosovo -- ones that required concessions on all sides –- could begin to be tackled in a way that would prove effective and sustainable.


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