24/04/2002
Press Release
SC/7375



Security Council

4518th & 4519th Meetings (AM & PM)


SECURITY COUNCIL, FOLLOWING BRIEFING BY SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR KOSOVO,


WELCOMES PROGRESS, REAFFIRMS IMPORTANCE OF RULE OF LAW


Presidential Statement Also Condemns 8 April Attack in Mitrovica;

Council Hears from Serbia’s Deputy Prime Minister, 18 Others in Debate


Following a briefing by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Kosovo on recent events in the province and subsequently hearing from some 19 speakers, the Security Council today welcomed the progress made in forming inclusive self-government institutions and reaffirmed the fundamental importance of the rule of law in Kosovo’s political development. 


In a statement read out by its President, Sergey Lavrov (Russian Federation), the Council also strongly condemned attacks against United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK) police in Mitrovica on 8 April and called on all communities to fully respect UNMIK authority throughout Kosovo in line with resolution 1244 (1999).  It supported the continuing efforts of UNMIK and the multinational force in the province – KFOR -- together with the Kosovo Police Service, in combating crime, violence and extremism. 


Further by the statement, the Council called on the leaders of the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government to actively demonstrate their commitment and support efforts to promote security, returns, human rights, economic development, and a multi-ethnic and fair society with peaceful co-existence and freedom of movement for the entire population.  It also welcomed progress made in the formation of the executive bodies of the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government to include representatives of all communities. 


Further, the Council welcomed the decision of the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to transfer Kosovo Albanian prisoners into the custody of UNMIK, and encouraged further progress regarding the return of displaced persons.  It considered that further development of dialogue and cooperation between the Provisional Institutions, UNMIK and the Federal Republic authorities was vital to the full and effective implementation of resolution 1244 (1999).


It commended the efforts of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNMIK and welcomed the priorities outlined in the Secretary-General’s most recent report, as well as his request to develop benchmarks to measure progress in Kosovo’s institutional development, consistent with resolution 1244 (1999) and the constitutional framework. 



During the meeting that directly preceded the Council’s adoption of the presidential statement, the Special Representative, Michael Steiner, gave an overview of recent developments in the province, including the holding of Kosovo-wide elections, which had been universally recognized as free and fair.  He said now that there were Provisional Institutions of Self-Government, UNMIK could see more clearly how to structure the path forward.  The road was not endless -– “we have a vision on how to finish the job”.  The Mission was transferring its responsibilities to the provisional institutions in the process of building substantial autonomy.


He noted that a series of benchmarks were being put in place to measure progress.  The benchmarks were:  existence of effective and functioning institutions; enforcement of the rule of law; freedom of movement; respect for the right of all Kosovars to remain and return; development of a sound basis for a market economy; clarity of property title; normalized dialogue with Belgrade; and reduction and transformation of the Kosovo Protection Corps in line with its mandate.  He invited the Council to return to Kosovo and see what had been achieved.  “We have to finish the job we started together”, he said.  "It still takes time, but this is now the decisive phase.”


Nebojsa Covic, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia, and President of the Coordination Centre for Kosovo and Metohia of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Serbia, said his country had proved its genuine intentions by normalizing relations with all its neighbours and cooperating with The Hague Tribunal.  It had also proven its intentions by encouraging, supporting and strongly campaigning for the registration and participation of the Serbs in the Kosovo elections, among other things. 


Pointing out that solutions arising out of improvisation and pressure had proved disastrous in the Balkans, he stressed the need to avoid repeating past mistakes.  Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) had not been drafted for ethnic Albanians only, but also for Serbs and other ethnic communities as well.


Statements were also made by the representatives of Norway, United Kingdom, Syria, Mexico, China, Singapore, United States, France, Colombia, Ireland, Guinea, Bulgaria, Mauritius, Cameroon, Russian Federation, Spain (for the European Union and associated States), Ukraine and Albania.


Mr. Steiner and Mr. Covic both took the floor for a second time at the end of the first meeting to respond to questions and comments made during the debate.


The first meeting was called to order at 10:42 a.m. and adjourned at 2:06 p.m.  The second meeting was called to order at 2:06 p.m. and adjourned at 2:11 p.m.


Background


The Council had before it the Secretary-General's report on the United Nations Interim Mission in Kosovo (document S/2002/436), covering the period since 15 January.  He says that the most important development during the reporting period was the formation of a Government in Kosovo following several months of deadlock.


The Secretary-General reports that on 28 February, the three major Kosovo Albanian parties agreed to form a coalition Government to be headed by Bajram Rexhepi of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) with Ibrahim Rugova of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) as candidate for President.


Under the agreement, four Ministries were assigned to LDK and two each to PDK and the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK), the report states.  One Ministry was assigned to the Kosovo Serbs and one to the non-Serb minority community, the last being filled by a member of the Bosniac/Gorani Vatan coalition.  The agreement was endorsed on 4 March by more than two thirds of the Kosovo Assembly.


According to the report, the Kosovo Serb Return Coalition (Koalicija Povratak -- KP) has not yet put forward a candidate for its assigned Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development, and has called for the allocation to it of a Ministry of Returns as a quid pro quo for its participation in the Government.


The report says that while the issue of return is of key interest to the Kosovo Serb community, it is a reserved responsibility of the Secretary-General's Special Representative, Michael Steiner, who has suggested instead the creation of a Cabinet-level post of Inter-Ministerial Coordinator on Returns in the Office of the Prime Minister, to be filled by KP.


With the Government's formation, the transitional departments were transformed into 10 ministries and the Assembly Presidency now has a full complement of seven members, the report says.  However, efforts to create a multi-ethnic civil service have had mixed results so far.  At the municipal level, the Institute for Civil Administration, run by the institution-building pillar of the United Nations Interim Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) continues to train municipal staff and Municipal Assembly members for the formation of an apolitical, multi-ethnic professional civil service.


The Secretary-General states that the overall security situation in Kosovo improved during the reporting period.  Nevertheless, ethnically motivated attacks still occurred and incidents of harassment came with increased freedom of movement.  A disturbing new development has been a continued increase in violence against the multinational force in Kosovo -- KFOR -- and UNMIK police, as well as other members of UNMIK and officers of the Kosovo Police Service.  One of the worst incidents followed the arrest at the end of January of three former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) on charges of war crimes against fellow Kosovo Albanians during 1998 and 1999.


Violence flared again in Mitrovica at the beginning of April following nine months of calm, the report says.  KFOR and UNMIK have strengthened cooperation to ensure a safe and secure environment, removing or reducing the influence of parallel security structures and combating crime.  In February, UNMIK opened a community office in northern Mitrovica to deliver administrative services, including civil registration and to stimulate economic development.


The report notes that KFOR and UNMIK police continued to uncover weapons caches.  On 30 January, UNMIK police seized a large quantity of weapons smuggled from Albania.  A month-long weapons amnesty came into effect on 15 March, allowing the population to turn in any weapons without fear of prosecution.  In addition, UNMIK’s capability to combat organized crime has been boosted by the establishment of a Sensitive Information and Operations Unit.


Regarding relations with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the report states that Mr. Steiner visited that country on 3 April to seek constructive support for the participation in the Government.  Mr. Steiner emphasized that recognition of UNMIK authority and the non-acceptance of parallel structures were key to a constructive relationship.


On relations with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the report says Mr. Steiner met with President Trajvoski in Skopje on 18 March and agreed on the establishment of a Joint Expert Committee to address the practical situation on the ground resulting from the border demarcation agreement between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.  Agreement was also reached on the need to initiate police cooperation to establish a memorandum of understanding to deal with overall crime prevention and combat organized crime.


Statements


MICHAEL STEINER, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Kosovo and Head of United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK), said the Kosovo-wide election had been universally recognized as free and fair.  The Assembly, the President and the multi-ethnic Government of Kosovo were now in place and working, and an inclusive public service was being built.  More than 20 per cent of posts had been set aside for non-majority communities and 18 per cent had been set aside for Kosovo Serbs. 


He said there was a functioning police and justice system.  The crime rate had gone down steadily.  The economy was slowly beginning to function.  The 2002 Kosovo Consolidated Budget of €374 million was now over 95 per cent funded from local taxes and revenues.  Starting this month, people were paying income taxes. 


The social infrastructure had been rebuilt from scratch, he said.  There were now more than 1,100 schools with a total of 450,000 pupils.  Five regional hospitals had been refurbished and equipped.


He said there were now the provisional institutions of self-government.  Now, UNMIK could see more clearly how to structure the path forward.  The road was not endless -- “we have a vision on how to finish the job”.  He stressed the need to look both inside and outside.  Authority must be transferred within Kosovo to the provisional government.  The people of Kosovo must also be convinced to look beyond Kosovo to Belgrade and the region.


He emphasized the need to establish reliable institutions, to boost the economy and to solidify the rule of law.  In the latter regard, an effective police and judiciary were essential.  UNMIK would gradually transfer policing responsibilities to the multi-ethnic Kosovo Police Force under UNMIK supervision.  Capabilities to combat organized crime, terror and corruption were also being enhanced.  He noted that as that process moved forward, a criminal backlash could be expected.


Another priority for the Mission was the issue of returns, he said.  Now that the Kosovo Serbs would be part of the Government, UNMIK could focus more efficiently on an integrated effort to facilitate returns.  This year and next would be decisive.  The Mission was committed to create the preconditions for a substantial returns process. 


He stressed the need to follow a dual-track approach to returns.  Multi-ethnicity and integration were mutually reinforcing elements.  There would be no multi-ethnicity without integration, but there would also be no integration without multi-ethnicity.  Integration within Kosovo needed to be complemented by strengthening relations with Belgrade, as well as cooperation within the region.


He said the Mission was transferring its responsibilities to the provisional institutions in the process of building substantial autonomy.  That would bring closer the political process designed to determine Kosovo’s future status.  That would be one of his main responsibilities.  However, the time for that had not yet come.  Kosovo society and institutions would have to show that they were ready for the process, without prejudging its outcome. 


He said he was, therefore, embarking on a benchmarks process.  The benchmarks were:  existence of effective and functioning institutions; enforcement of the rule of law; freedom of movement; respect for the right of all to remain and return; development of a sound basis for a market economy; clarity of property title; normalized dialogue with Belgrade; and reduction and transformation of the Kosovo Protection Corps in line with its mandate.


“I offer this to you as an exit strategy, which is, in reality, an entry strategy into the European integration process”, he said.  The benchmarks complemented the preconditions that Kosovo needed to meet to qualify for the stabilization and association process.  The next stages of the authority transfer would only succeed with the help of the Council.  Only with its backing would Kosovo be able to develop normalized dialogue and meaningful relations with Belgrade and its neighbours.  “The more we invest now, the more stable, sustainable and fair a society we will leave behind”, he said.


He invited the Council to return to Kosovo and see what had been achieved.  “We have to finish the job we started together.  It still takes time, but this is now the decisive phase”, he said


NEBOJSA COVIC, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia, and President of the Coordination Centre for Kosovo and Metohia of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Serbia, said his country had proved its genuine intentions by normalizing relations with all its neighbours and cooperating with The Hague Tribunal.  It had considerably improved the political environment and inter-ethnic relations in southern Serbia, both in multi-ethnic Serbo-Albanian communities and in the settlements with an Albanian majority.  Of the total number of 12,500 displaced individuals, almost 10,000 Albanian refugees had already returned to that part of the country.


He said his country had also proven its genuine intentions by encouraging, supporting and strongly campaigning for the registration and participation of the Serbs in the Kosovo elections, by exhumations of all mass grave sites in Serbia proper, by opening a DNA laboratory centre in Belgrade and by the expeditious transfer of ethnic Albanian prisoners from Serbia-proper detention facilities to Kosovo.  But, despite the signing of an agreement on the transfer of Serbian detainees, not a single Serbian detainee had been transferred from prisons in Kosovo to prisons in Serbia proper.


There had been no steps, even symbolic ones, to facilitate the return of a quarter of a million internally displaced persons and refugees to Kosovo, he said.  Furthermore, the donors’ conference designed to address that problem had been postponed.  Little had been done for the preservation and protection of property.


He stressed that the return of internally displaced individuals and refugees could not be limited to north Mitrovica or a few enclaves.  It was essential to have returns in cities, as well, and to return the property -- from which certain groups of ethnic Albanians had already made enormous profit -- to its legal Serbian and other non-Albanian owners.  Furthermore, unforgivably little had been done to clarify the fate of 1,300 kidnapped and missing individuals.


Noting that it was UNMIK’s duty to keep preparing ethnic Albanians for a dialogue, he said, the Mission must work with Serbs as well.  Regrettably, that had not been the case.  While the idea of a greater Serbia and greater Croatia had been discarded and suppressed, the idea of another great, ethnically clean country in the region had been neither discarded nor suppressed.  That anti-European and anti-civilization project had been preserved and strengthened in the presence of international mediators.


Pointing out that solutions arising out of improvisation and pressure had proved disastrous in the Balkans, he stressed the need to avoid repeating past mistakes.  Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) had not been drafted for ethnic Albanians only, but also for Serbs and other ethnic communities as well.  A few Serbs were being brought to justice before international and domestic courts for crimes and injustices committed against Albanians, but there were no signs yet that Albanians would be brought to justice, as well, for murders committed against those who did not belong to their religion or ethnic group, for usurpation of their neighbours’ property, for destruction of Serbian cultural heritage, or for the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo.


WEGGER STROMMEN (Norway) welcomed the progress made on the formation of the political and administrative structures of the provisional self-governing institutions.  That was essential to the successful implementation of resolution 1244 (1999), which presumed both the possibility and the willingness of all communities to participate in Kosovo’s structures.  A democratic and efficient Government structure in Kosovo also required a multi-ethnic civil service.  But, the recruitment of minorities remained hampered by security concerns.  It was unacceptable that the lack of security for minorities continued to have negative implications for the normalization of everyday life, as well as for the implementation of resolution 1244 (1999).  Concerted efforts were needed to overcome those obstacles. 


He condemned the recent violence in northern Mitrovica and the attacks on representatives of UNMIK police and KFOR.  The respect for law and order in Kosovo must be enhanced.  That was not just a minority issue, but a civil issue affecting all segments of the population.  He urged Kosovo’s elected leaders to publicly reject hate speech and other incitement of ethnic intolerance and violence.  Sustainable security, freedom of movement and a multi-ethnic society could only be created by the people of Kosovo themselves. 


The return of displaced persons and refugees remained an important challenge, he added.  The necessary conditions for sustainable return had yet to be created, which was also a question of political leadership and courage.  He stressed that the developments in Kosovo could not be seen in isolation from developments in neighbouring countries. 


STEWART ELDON (United Kingdom), associating himself with the statement to be made on behalf of the European Union, strongly supported Mr. Steiner’s priorities for UNMIK, as well as the work he had set in hand to define benchmarks against which to measure progress made in critical areas.


Expressing strong support for proposals to strengthen minority representation at the political and official levels, he said his country was nevertheless disappointed at the delay in the appointment of a Serb Minister to the coalition Government.  The delay harmed the interests of Kosovo’s minority communities.


Despite the stark differences evident in the presentations of Mr. Steiner and Mr. Covic, he said, teamwork between Belgrade and Pristina was essential, in order to make progress in all critical areas.  It was important that concrete progress be made rapidly in all aspects of the Common Document, particularly in the fields of security, returns and missing persons.  That was an important element of inter-ethnic confidence-building.


He said his country was keen and willing to fund the return process and would encourage as many partners as possible to join it.  The United Kingdom remained concerned about the levels of organized crime and extremism, which were holding back progress at all levels and holding back returns on a substantial scale.  The United Kingdom was also concerned about attacks against KFOR and UNMIK and would continue to support robust action against those involved.


FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria) said Mr. Steiner’s briefing had been very useful.  He welcomed the report of the Secretary-General, which contained reference to many positive developments, including the formation of the new Government.  With the formation of the Government, many transitional administration bodies had been transformed into ministries to discuss long-term priorities.  The new Government, he noted, had insisted on the need to provide work opportunities and had stressed the need for inclusion of all ethnicities.  He encouraged the facilitation of participation of ethnic minorities in civil society. 


He welcomed the efforts being made to facilitate the return of refugees and displaced persons.  The initiative of the new Government to lay a foundation for economic progress was a cause for optimism.  Economic crimes facing the development process –- such as the black market -– must be fought.  While the security situation had improved, he noted, acts of violence continued to occur against UNMIK and KFOR and those acts must be combated.  He added that he supported the different observations contained in the report of the Secretary-General, as well as Mr. Steiner’s efforts.


ADOLFO AGUILAR ZINSER (Mexico) said Kosovo had embarked on the consolidation of its institutions, with a view to giving fluidity and solidity to the political process and to its autonomy.  Yet, reports from the province fluctuated between optimism and pessimism, reflecting progress, on the one hand, and continuing ethnic tensions and slow inter-ethnic integration on the other.


He said that sometimes it seemed there were two Kosovos.  One was moving towards civility, democracy, tolerance, respect for human rights and the restoration of the rule of law.  Yet, there was another Kosovo characterized by inter-ethnic discord, the rejection of tolerance and the promotion of violence.  The Secretary-General’s report and the monthly reports by KFOR sparked attention, because of the clarity with which they described violence against KFOR and UNMIK.


What was most important was the achievement of reconciliation among all the inhabitants of Kosovo, he said.  The building of a multi-ethnic and democratic society in which all groups felt fairly represented was an essential element of UNMIK’s work.  Exclusion would make democracy impossible and fan the flames of future conflicts.


The aspirations of all Kosovars could only be achieved by solid actions, including the return of more than 200,000 refugees and displaced persons, he said.  Kosovo was experiencing organized crime, as well as political violence, and the establishment of the rule of law was a matter of the utmost priority, made even more urgent by the need to strengthen economic growth and investment.


WANG YINGFAN (China) welcomed the recent progress made by the provisional government in including the various ethnic groups.  He hoped that progress would be conducive to the efforts of the provisional government to gradually establish a multi-ethnic society.  He also hoped that UNMIK and the Government would make further efforts to ensure security and improve the living conditions of minorities. 


He was concerned by the situation in Mitrovica and hoped that UNMIK would effectively address it, in consultation with the Government in Belgrade.  All parties and factions in Kosovo must respect UNMIK.  The legitimate concerns of all ethnic groups must also be respected.  He hoped UNMIK would make efforts to really accommodate the concerns of minorities, address the situation in Mitrovica and create favourable conditions for the return of refugees and displaced persons. 


YAP ONG HENG (Singapore) supported the three priorities set out by Mr. Steiner.  At this stage, those priorities were at the nub of ensuring the further implementation of resolution 1244 (1999).  He was glad to note substantial progress made in the political sphere.  Despite the best efforts of UNMIK and KFOR, the rate of returns was still low and ethnically motivated attacks continued.  He supported stepping up efforts to address concerns and create a society where all could live in peace.  He called on all Kosovars to respect the rule of law. 


Dialogue and cooperation between UNMIK, the Federal Republic and the provisional institutions of self-government had yielded positive results, he noted.  He stressed the importance of periodic assessment of the implementation of Council resolutions, such as 1244 (1999).  He supported the elaboration of benchmarks to measure progress.  Undercutting the achievements made so far must be avoided.  The aim, at the end of the day, must be the establishment of a viable Kosovo.  He looked forward to discussing the political road map for the province.


JAMES CUNNINGHAM (United States) said the formation of the provisional government in Kosovo was welcome news and provided a firm basis on which to move forward.  In particular, the United States applauded the concept of benchmarks.  They should not be tied to any specific political outcomes, but be seen as a means to build processes that were fully representative of, and responsive to, the needs of all Kosovars.


Describing the views of Serbia’s Deputy Prime Minister as important and constructive, he assured him that the United States would continue to support enhanced cooperation between Belgrade and UNMIK.  He also welcomed progress in the transfer of detainees from Serbia to Kosovo and noted the intended focus on returns of refugees and internally displaced persons.


He noted that some Kosovo Serbs thought they could achieve their interests by participating in the coalition Government, while others thought their interests could best be realized by through parallel institutions.  Some thought those interests could be achieved by the rule of law, while others thought the best way forward was through action on the street.  It was obvious which view the United States supported.


The United States opposed efforts to simplify events in Mitrovica as merely the expression of a Kosovar Serb point of view, he said, referring to similar previous violence by Kosovo Albanians.  Stressing the need for the rule of law, he said the United States had no tolerance for attacks on UNMIK and KFOR and was pleased to see a similar point of view expressed by Kosovo political leaders on both sides.  Interlocking progress on all issues was the best way forward.


JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France) said Bernard Kouchner, the first Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Kosovo, took advantage of his stay in New York to come today and listen to the statements of Mr. Steiner and the Deputy Prime Minister, in hopes of indicating France’s support for UNMIK.  He supported the statement to be made later for the European Union.  After just two months, the Special Representative had already achieved significant positive accomplishments.  The prerequisites for an effective implementation of the constitutional framework were about to be met.  He encouraged elected officials to effectively exercise those powers delegated to them by the constitutional framework. 


As stressed by the Secretary-General, it would be useful to establish a means to assess progress made, he said.  It was gratifying that the Special Representative and the Yugoslav authorities had developed an extensive dialogue on issues of mutual interest.  New substantive progress was indispensable, particularly regarding the return of members of minority communities and the issue of missing persons. 


The rule of law, economic development and the creation of an equal society for all were inextricably linked imperatives, he said.  Progress must be made in all three areas, as called for by the Secretary-General and Mr. Steiner.  He stressed the need to condemn and effectively address the recent violence in Mitrovica.  All communities must respect the authority of UNMIK throughout Kosovo.


ALFONSO VALDIVIESO (Colombia) said that despite many difficulties, substantial progress had been achieved in establishing interim institutions in Kosovo, such as the provisional coalition Government.  There had also been progress in economic advances, including the introduction of the euro and the collection of taxes.


He said that progress in regional cooperation was reflected in the transfer of detainees from Serbia to Kosovo, in the exchanges with the Governments of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, as well as Belgrade’s recognition of UNMIK.


Now, more than ever, he said, UNMIK required political, financial and technical support, as the Mission was moving to an increasingly dangerous phase -- as reflected in such reactions as the attacks on the Kosovo Police Service.  Colombia appealed to all communities in Kosovo and to the coalition Government to ensure respect for UNMIK and KFOR.  The establishment of benchmarks would make it possible to measure progress in restoring the rule of law, and in ensuring the return of refugees and displaced persons.


GERARD CORR (Ireland) noted his delegation’s agreement with the statement to be made later for the European Union.  He welcomed the further progress made on ensuring participation by all communities in the provisional self-governing institutions, following the elections by the Kosovo Assembly of Ibrahim Rugova as President and Bajram Rexhepi as Prime Minister of Kosovo, as well as the formation of a Government.  He urged Kosovo Serb leaders to make all possible efforts to rapidly resolve the outstanding issues surrounding the participation of the Kosovo Serb coalition, Povratak, in the institutions, and to give voice to the electorate that they represented.


He said he particularly welcomed the emphasis placed by Mr. Steiner on economic reform and reconstruction, which were essential to ensuring real stability in Kosovo, and without which progress in combating crime and violence would inevitably be limited.  Kosovo’s population, and in particular its young people, must be given a sense of hope and real possibilities for the future:  jobs would be a key element.  He welcomed the elaboration of a series of benchmarks to measure progress in the institutional development of Kosovo.  He added that the creation of a society based on the rule of law was fundamental to the future development of the province.  Democracy could not take hold in an environment where crime and violence flourished.


BOUBACAR DIALLO (Guinea), noting that the Council’s regular consideration of the question of Kosovo allowed it to take the necessary measures in accordance with resolution 1244 (1999), said the Secretary-General’s latest report had allowed it to see a defusing of the situation in the province.  Guinea appreciated the latest developments, including the transformation of the transitional departments into government ministries.


He said his country also welcomed efforts to establish a collegial presidency of the Assembly.  Guinea also supported efforts towards the holding of municipal elections, which would hopefully take place in September.  Guinea was encouraged by the cooperation between Belgrade and UNMIK and by the work accomplished on the Common Document.  Also welcome was the Special Representative’s meeting with the President of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.


The success of any programme depended on taking into account the interests of all those concerned, as well as those of the region, he said.  Guinea condemned the attacks on UNMIK and encouraged its continued cooperation with KFOR.  It also welcomed the gradual transfer of police functions to the Kosovo Police Service.  Guinea was encouraged by actions under way for the return of refugees and internally displaced persons, the transfer of detainees and the integration of ethnic minorities.


STEFAN TAFROV (Bulgaria) noted his delegation’s support for the statement to be made later for the European Union.  He supported the approach of Mr. Steiner to define major priorities, emphasizing the establishment of a viable society.  He welcomed the establishment of the central organs of the new Government.  The establishment of an effective multi-ethnic government would contribute to normalizing the lives of all in the province.  He supported UNMIK’s activities aimed at improving security and combating organized crime and violence in all its forms.  He also supported statements made regarding the need to more forcefully combat organized crime.


Attacks against UNMIK personnel must be condemned, he said.  It was unacceptable for any group to undermine stability and the efforts of the international community to bring life in Kosovo back to normal.  He called for an investigation of the brutal murder of a Bulgarian citizen in Kosovo.  Continued cooperation between UNMIK and the Federal Republic was of particular importance.  The agreement reached on several questions, including the transfer of prisoners and refugee return, represented an improvement in the general situation in Kosovo.  Bulgaria would continue to support and participate in peacekeeping efforts in Kosovo. 


JAGDISH KOONJUL (Mauritius) said the security situation of Kosovo’s minority communities remained a high priority for the international community, especially ethnically motivated attacks.  Mauritius noted with satisfaction the efforts to integrate minorities and stressed that their concerns must be addressed.  Their full engagement in the administration was the way towards building confidence.


Parallel institutions and opposition to UNMIK’s authority was not the way forward, he said.  Mauritius deplored the recent attacks in Mitrovica against UNMIK and KFOR and supported the extension of their full authority in the region.  That would prevent further attacks, contain the spread of extremism and establish the rule of law in the area.  Mauritius called on the Kosovo Serbs to cooperate fully with UNMIK in a new Kosovo, where all inhabitants could enjoy a full life.


He said the agreement between Belgrade and UNMIK on the Common Document following long-protracted discussions was a huge step forward.  Mauritius also noted the work to determine the fate of missing persons.  It was only through constructive dialogue that progress could be made on that issue and Mauritius, therefore, encouraged the provisional coalition Government to continue its cooperation with Belgrade.


MARTIN BELINGA-EBOUTOU (Cameroon) said he was very pleased at the presence of both the Deputy Prime Minister and Mr. Steiner.  Mr. Steiner’s tact and ability to listen had helped the situation in Kosovo greatly.  He welcomed the steps taken to ensure the emergence of a multi-ethnic society in Kosovo.  Kosovo’s survival depended on multi-ethnicity and the integration that flowed from that concept.  He was pleased to see that Mr. Steiner had put forward a set of benchmarks to assess progress made. 


Violence, death and murder in Kosovo must cease, he said.  He called for the effective participation of all political parties in the political process.  The United Nations had set noble goals for itself in Kosovo.  It was duty-bound to achieve them.  The benchmarks defined by Mr. Steiner must be the focus. 


Council President SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation), speaking in his national capacity, said the discussion provided an opportunity to summarize the activity of the international presences in Kosovo after three years and to determine the vital problems requiring immediate resolution.  While there had been progress on socio-economic issues, transfer of police functions, elections and the establishment of the provisional coalition Government, such improvement affected only the Kosovo Albanians.


A layer of substantive problems remained untouched, he pointed out.  The return process of non-Albanian refugees had made no progress at all, smuggling was flourishing, as were threats to regional stability.  It was also important to pursue the war on organized crime, to achieve genuine multi-ethnic structures free from extremism and to ensure security for all, regardless of their religious or ethnic affiliation.  Other problems included disarming the KLA, preventing the militarization of the Kosovo Protection Corps and enhancing the effectiveness of UNMIK and KFOR.


He said the use of force and ultimatums were unacceptable in resolving problems in Mitrovica.  Only political means could resolve that situation.  Two communities must be established in Mitrovica with their own representative bodies.  In addition, there had been great speculation about the final status of Kosovo.  Any attempt to shift that problem to a practical plane would be harmful.  It could only be done when the situation had stabilized, as haste could only destabilize Kosovo and the region.


Regarding the establishment of benchmarks, he welcomed Mr. Steiner’s assurance that they were not intended to be a pointer towards independence.  However, such attempts had been made today in comparing the prospects for Kosovo with the situation in East Timor.  That was very unfortunate.


Noting that attempts had been made during a meeting in Kosovo to revise the constitutional framework and to cast doubt on the demarcation process for the border with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, he asked if there had been any reaction on the part of UNMIK.  He also asked where Albanian prisoners were, and what UNMIK's assessment was regarding war crimes by the KLA.  What about the debts owed by enterprises being privatized in Kosovo and the property of Serbia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in Kosovo? he asked.


INOCENCIO F. ARIAS (Spain) spoke for the European Union, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta, Iceland and Liechtenstein.  The Union had already expressed its support for the Special Representative's priorities of laying the foundation for economic progress, tackling crime and violence, and building a fair and just society with dignity for all communities.  He encouraged all actors in Kosovo to concentrate their work on those priorities in line with Council resolution 1244 (1999) and the Constitutional Framework.


He said the three priorities were closely interrelated.  A better functioning economy would certainly encourage returns and discourage further emigration from the province, as well as reduce the grounds for crime and violence.  At the same time, the establishment of a political culture based on the rule of law and the eradication of organized crime and violence would create an atmosphere more conducive to investment and economic growth.  The Union welcomed the concept of benchmarks to measure future progress.


He noted that the Union had repeatedly stressed the paramount importance of fighting organized crime and violence.  While welcoming the improvement in the overall security situation, he was dismayed that ethnically motivated attacks continued.  Democracy would not take root in Kosovo in the midst of insecurity and fear, he stressed.  He welcomed the work undertaken by UNMIK in coordination with Belgrade to enable the return of all refugees and internally displaced persons to Kosovo.  The past few years had shown that, when conditions were established on the ground, especially for minority returns, progress could be quickly achieved. Regional actors must spare no efforts in creating conditions and providing resources to aid in the process.


VALERY KUCHINSKY (Ukraine), supporting the European Union statement, said that despite the positive comments made in the Council today, his country was deeply concerned about the return of minorities, which might require new strategies.  Confidence-building measures were required to further improve security in Kosovo.  All leaders in the province should actively support reconciliation and vehemently oppose extremism.


He said the international community still lacked a general vision and a comprehensive solution to the status of Kosovo as a multi-ethnic society.  UNMIK and KFOR remained in a situation of firefighters acting on an ad hoc basis.  There was a need to start comprehensively developing a way to ensure a democratic and stable Kosovo.  There must be greater commitment to a partnership between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Kosovo, as well as between Kosovo Albanians, Kosovo Serbs and other minorities in the province.


Welcoming the transfer, he said attention should be turned to the fate of missing persons from all communities in Kosovo.  As UNMIK moved to a potentially more dangerous phase, efforts must turn to establishing the rule of law, the creation of jobs and other burning issues on which the international community must now focus.


AGIM NESHO (Albania) said his delegation supported Mr. Steiner’s briefing.  Kosova was a great triumph for the international community.  The desirable and difficult reconciliation between the peoples there had been seen.  His Government fully supported the work and future activity of UNMIK.  All parties must fully support the Mission and implementation of resolution 1244 (1999).  The creation of democratic institutions and a multi-ethnic society were the most important aspects of the resolution. 


He stressed that the old ideas for a greater Serbia, Croatia or Albania belonged to history.  Albania fully supported the activities of Mr. Steiner.  He suggested that in future meetings of the Council, representatives of the elected institutions of Kosova be present.


Responding to Council members comments and questions, Mr. STEINER said the agreement on detainees identified 16 prisoners who had been asked by lawyers from Belgrade if they wanted to leave Kosovo for Serbia.  Not one had taken up the opportunity to be transferred to Serbia proper, despite UNMIK's readiness to facilitate that.


Regarding Mitrovica, he said that on 8 April policemen exercising their duties had been attacked with bullets and hand grenades.  Twenty-two of them had been wounded, one seriously.  Such criminal acts could not be resolved through agreements on the redrawing of maps.  What was necessary in Mitrovica, once the situation was calm, was an unhindered international presence, including in the north.  Once that was established, the delegation of competencies to communities could be discussed.  It should not be forgotten that 90 per cent of the municipality's 130,000 inhabitants were non-Serbs and that any action must take their views into account.


Concerning minority returnees, he said a Coordinator of Returns would have a decisive role to play in that issue, because most people wishing to return were Kosovo Serbs.


Regarding the border agreement between Belgrade and Skopje, he said he had made it clear that the Council had called for respect for its position, which was also that of UNMIK.  It had also been made clear to the provisional institutions in Kosovo that they had no competence to take any decisions to the contrary.


On prisoners, he said those found guilty by international judges were imprisoned in north-east Kosovo and would remain there.  Those who had been found not guilty would be released.  On war crimes, he said judicial processes could not be disclosed.  The Prosecutor of The Hague Tribunal had said it was investigating three cases and those indicted would be arrested.


Regarding privatization of enterprises and the property of Serbia and Belgrade, he said ownership was highly disputed.  There was a freeze on the whole question, which was too complicated to be addressed at present without harming the economy.


He told the representative of Singapore that the final status of Kosovo would be addressed in the form of a dialogue with Belgrade when the time was ripe.  However, it was necessary to take several steps prior to addressing the issue.  Standards must come before status, in accordance which the wishes of Kosovo's people.  Most of them were young people who wanted jobs, reliable institutions and security.


Mr. COVIC, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia, stressed the importance of sincere cooperation with UNMIK, based on mutual respect and not on the past, when there had been an undemocratic regime in Belgrade.  He noted that Mr. Steiner would finish his mission and leave and that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia would remain in the region.  He was grateful to the international community for its efforts to solve the crisis. 


There would be no integration without the respect for the right to return and there would be no freedom of movement without security, he said.  There were deep roots in that part of the world in regard to the connection between crime and politics.  He supported Mr. Steiner’s invitation to the Council to visit Kosovo, and hoped that participants would then go to Serb enclaves. 


He said he was happy to hear that there would be a concept of benchmarks for monitoring progress, but was disappointed that he had not had a chance to discuss the issue with Mr. Steiner earlier.  The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia had certain standards that should be reflected.  He was genuinely interested in being included in the further elaboration of the benchmarks, which he hoped would not prejudge the final status of Kosovo.  He supported all positive statements made by certain members of the Kosovo government and hoped those statements would bear fruit. 


Regarding Mitrovica, he said the Federal Republic did not support any violence or conflict.  At the same time, it could not support any statements made by certain police commanders regarding “Serbian animals”.  His Government was fully committed to addressing the problem there.  Ethnic communities must be able to live normally and exercise their rights.  Any hasty moves about addressing the final status of the province could have a very negative impact.  Confidence-building measures were essential.  The benchmarks must address confidence-building measures between the different ethnic communities. 


He appealed to the Council to bear in mind that the resolution 1244 (1999) was still in force and that Kosovo and Metohija was a part of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.  His Government wanted to be an equal partner in the process.  He was sorry that when Mr. Steiner had spoken about three allies, he had not mentioned Belgrade as a fourth ally.


Presidential Statement


In a separate meeting following the debate, the following statement, which will be issued as S/PRST/2002/11, was read out by the President, Sergey Lavrov (Russian Federation):


“The Security Council welcomes the report of the Secretary-General (S/2002/436) and the briefing by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, and supports all efforts by the United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK) and the international security presence (KFOR) to implement fully resolution 1244 (1999) of 10 June 1999, which remains the basis for building Kosovo’s future.


“The Security Council welcomes progress made in the formation of the executive bodies of the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government in Kosovo, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to include representatives of all communities.  It commends the efforts of the Special Representative and welcomes the priorities outlined in the Secretary-General’s report as well as his request to develop benchmarks to measure progress in Kosovo’s institutional development, consistent with resolution 1244 (1999) and the constitutional framework.  The Council encourages the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government, in full cooperation with the Special Representative and in strict compliance with resolution 1244 (1999), to take on the tasks assigned to them by the constitutional framework.


“The Security Council reaffirms the fundamental importance of the rule of law in the political development of Kosovo.  It strongly condemns attacks against UNMIK police in Mitrovica on 8 April and calls on all communities fully to respect UNMIK authority throughout Kosovo in line with resolution 1244 (1999).  It supports the continuing efforts of UNMIK and KFOR, together with the Kosovo Police Service, in combating all kinds of crime, violence and extremism.  It supports all efforts to control borders and boundaries, thus fostering regional stability.  The Council supports and encourages further efforts to facilitate return of all displaced persons from the Kosovo Serb and other communities.  Interlocking progress in the areas of public security, political development and economic reform and reconstruction contributes to sustainable returns and requires maximum support from member States and regional organizations.  The Council calls on the leaders of the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government actively to demonstrate their commitment and support efforts to promote security, returns, human rights,

economic development, and a multiethnic and fair society with peaceful co-existence and freedom of movement for all the population of Kosovo.


“The Security Council welcomes the decision of the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to transfer Kosovo Albanian prisoners into the custody of UNMIK, and encourages further progress regarding the return of displaced persons to Kosovo and efforts to trace those still missing from all of Kosovo’s communities as well as the other issues identified in the Common Document for cooperation between UNMIK and the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia signed on 5 November 2001.  It considers that the further development of dialogue and cooperation between the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government, UNMIK and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia authorities is vital to the full and effective implementation of resolution 1244 (1999).


“The Security Council will remain actively seized of the matter.”


* *** *