17/12/2003
Press Release
SC/7958



Security Council

4886th Meeting (AM)


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


HIGHLIGHTS LAUNCH OF REVIEW PROCESS FOR ‘STANDARDS BEFORE STATUS’ POLICY


Briefing the Security Council this morning on the situation in Kosovo, Under-Secretary-General Jean-Marie Guéhenno said that the past two months had been eventful politically, especially with the launch last week of a process of periodic and comprehensive reviews of implementation of the “standards before status” policy.


He said that the initiative of Special Representative Harri Holkeri had been designed to give new momentum to the “standards before status” policy.  He hoped it would structure and refocus the work of the Kosovo Provisional Institutions on meeting the benchmarks contained in the eight standards:  functioning democratic institutions; rule of law; freedom of movement; returns and reintegration; economy; property rights; dialogue with Belgrade; and the Kosovo Protection Corps.


Depending on progress made towards reaching the standards, as assessed during periodic reviews, a general review of accomplishments of the Provisional Institutions would be held around mid-2005.  If the comprehensive review called for by mid-2005 determined that Kosovo’s progress in achieving the standards had been insufficient, then another review date would be set.  Achievement of the eight standards was a prerequisite for any discussion of future status.  Meeting them would lead to a qualitative change in Kosovo, which was a goal in itself, and an essential precondition to a democratic and multi-ethnic society.


The United States’ representative said that only when substantive progress had been made could the international community begin to address the question of Kosovo’s future status.  In order to keep the focus on achieving the standards, there should be no decision on process or outcomes of status discussions until the standards were met.  As a first step, he called for the resumption of direct dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina.  He also called on all in Kosovo to refrain from violence, and he reiterated the need to work within the legitimate institution of Kosovo to address political grievances.


Characterizing the review mechanism as an important step, the speaker from the Russian Federation welcomed the declaration on standards, also presented last month by the Special Representative, which established the criteria for assessing progress.  Despite some gains, however, a host of important challenges were still “far from being resolved”, including the status of non-Albanians and the return of refugees and displaced persons.  Security was uneven throughout the region, and equal fundamental rights and freedoms were also absent.  Nor was there appropriate representation of Serb minorities in the Provisional Institutions, and ethnically motivated violence persisted.


The German representative, commending both Pristina and Belgrade for their positive attitude to the Kosovo review mechanism, said he was disappointed, however, that Serbia and Montenegro had appeared unsupportive of some of the provisions of the Kosovo document.  All sides had much to gain if the blueprint was realized.  Only a democratic and tolerant Kosovo offered the prospect of economic development, the return of refugees, and freedom of movement for members of all ethnic communities.  Above all, it offered both Belgrade and Pristina an integrated future in Europe, rather than isolation.


The current stage of making the “standards before status” policy operational signified a new and exceptionally important step, agreed the representative of Serbia and Montenegro.  But, the “standards for Kosovo” document launched by Mr. Holkeri last week raised “serious” concerns.  Primarily, it failed to define the standards in a manner that would open prospects for the creation of a multi-ethnic society in Kosovo and Metohija.  The plan should devise a set of measurable criteria for assessing achievement of the standards, and it should preclude the possibility of lowering the level of the standards themselves, or opening them up to different interpretations.


Albania’s speaker expressed his full support for the Kosovo document, which provided fresh impetus for implementation of the “standards before status” policy and demonstrated the political will of the international community to find a “final and timely” solution to the Kosovo issue.  That would advance the process towards settlement of the final status question and boost confidence among the parties.  The eight standards constituted a clear-cut agenda for work for the Kosovar Provisional Institutions, the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), and the Kosovars themselves, he said.


Statements were also made by the representatives of Mexico, France, Syria, Guinea, Pakistan, Angola, Spain, Cameroon, Chile, China, United Kingdom, and Italy on behalf of the European Union.  The Foreign Minister of Bulgaria presided over the meeting and delivered a statement in his national capacity.


The meeting began at 10:20 a.m. and was adjourned at 12:41 p.m.


Background


The Security Council met this morning to hear a briefing on the situation in Kosovo by the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, Jean-Marie Guéhenno.


Briefing


JEAN-MARIE GUEHENNO, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said that the past two months had been eventful, particularly with regard to political developments that charted the way forward.  On 5 November, an initiative to establish a mechanism to review the Kosovo Provisional Institutions’ progress towards meeting the benchmarks in the “standards before status” policy endorsed by the Council was launched, under the auspices of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Harri Holkeri.


He said that the initiative had been designed to give new momentum to the “standards before status” policy, and to structure and to refocus the work of the Kosovo Provisional Institutions on meeting the benchmarks contained in the eight standards -– functioning democratic institutions; rule of law; freedom of movement; returns and reintegration; economy; property rights; dialogue with Belgrade; and the Kosovo Protection Corps.  Depending on progress made towards reaching the standards, as assessed during periodic reviews, a general review of the Provisional Institutions’ progress would be undertaken, perhaps around mid-2005.


If the Provisional Institutions had not fulfilled the standards by that time, it had been proposed that they be given a further period in which to work on meeting them, during which the periodic reviews would continue, leading up to the next general review, he explained.  Clearly, there was no deadline and the future status process would not start automatically on the review date.  A prerequisite for any discussion on Kosovo’s future status remained achievement of the eight standards.  At the same time, achieving the standards would lead to a qualitative change in Kosovo, which was a goal in itself, and an essential precondition to advance democracy and a multi-ethnic society.


He highlighted as an important step in the process the launch of the “Standards for Kosovo” document on 10 December by Mr. Holkeri.  That text elaborated on the original standards/benchmarks paper and contained detailed benchmarks within each of the eight standards, which Kosovo’s Provisional Institutions would be required to meet.  That document, together with the upcoming joint “implementation work plan” would provide the basis for the periodic reviews.  The Kosovo President and Prime Minister, as well as several leaders of non-Serb minority communities, had stated their commitment to the process.  Assembly President Daci and AAK leader Harakinaj did not attend the launch and both appeared to be manoeuvring to be able to criticize the document publicly should a political opportunity arise.


He added that Kosovo Serb leaders had also distanced themselves from the document, following a statement issued by the Government of the Republic of Serbia that, in its current form, it was unacceptable.  There was also disagreement between the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and the Provisional Institutions on the introduction originally contained in the statement.  Thus, that introduction had had to be omitted for the time being, due to opposition by the Kosovo Albanian leaders of the Provisional Institutions to the term “applicable law”.  Mr. Holkeri had stated that he would continue his efforts aimed at ensuring that an introduction would be incorporated in the document at a later stage, drawing on language from the 12 December presidential statement.


He said the standards document would be followed by a joint “implementation work plan” for the Provisional Institutions to provide transparency and clarity to all involved.  That would set out in detail the specific, concrete and measurable steps that those institutions would need to fulfil towards achieving the benchmarks, and it would differentiate between the respective responsibilities of UNMIK and the Provisional Institutions.  As was the case with the standards document, UNMIK intended to keep Belgrade fully abreast of the process of the elaboration of the work plan.  The Council would be kept regularly informed on development and, once the plan was complete, that would be presented to that body.


Turning to the functioning of democratic institutions, he said that UNMIK had continued the transfer of non-reserved responsibilities to the Provisional Institutions.  It would finalize the transfer of the non-reserved competences in chapter 5 of the Constitutional Framework by the end of 2003.  A small number of specific responsibilities would not become operational until the relevant legislation was passed -- for example, on the creation of an independent media commissioner.  In addition, UNMIK had continued to seek to increase the involvement of the Provisional Institutions in an advisory and consultative capacity in the administrative and operational functions.  While no laws had been promulgated in the past two months, the Government had approved seven draft laws and forwarded them to the Kosovo Assembly.


For the first time, he continued, the Assembly had initiated a draft law on gender equality.  The Assembly had held a number of public hearings on draft laws concerning anti-discrimination, gender equality and health, and the budget and finance and economy committees had been holding twice-weekly meetings with municipalities and offices to discuss budget proposals for 2004.  Recent plenary sessions of the Assembly, however, had been marked by severe procedural violations and inconsistency in the counting of votes.  Several Assembly members had raised objections, but that practice had not yet been corrected.  On 11 December, the Assembly adopted a decision to abrogate all laws, decisions and acts relating to Kosovo enacted in Yugoslavia and Serbia after 22 March 1989.


He said that the civil administration had reported signs of improvement in the municipalities acting within the scope of their responsibilities.  Meanwhile, representation of Kosovo Serbs and non-Serb minorities remained poor in the Provisional Institutions.  None had reached the target percentages and the disparity in the proportional representation persisted in senior-level positions.  Progress also remained slow in that regard within the 30 municipalities.  Generally, non-majority communities also had little impact on the decision-making process, particularly in the municipalities.  The use of official languages in assembly sessions in municipalities tended to be satisfactory, but the translation of official documents in many of them remained reliant on UNMIK.


The past two months had been characterized by an increase in serious crimes, including attacks against Kosovo Police Service officers.  Two of them were murdered near the town of Decani in the region of Pec on 24 November.  Encouraging successes in organized crime investigations might be a cause for some of those attacks.  Crimes directed against Kosovo Serbs had decreased, as had ethnically motivated crimes.  Several public demonstrations had taken place, and two significant public order incidents had occurred in Mitrovica.  UNMIK police had made progress in the arrest of the perpetrators of serious crimes, including the suspect in the case of the bombing of the railway bridge in northern Kosovo earlier this year, as well as suspects on charges relating to war crimes committed against Kosovo Albanians in 1999, trafficking and suspected terrorist activities.


Continuing, he said that freedom of movement remained an obstacle to many people in Kosovo, although controls on movement between the southern and northern parts of Mitrovica had been lifted.  The rate of minority returns had continued to increase, although overall returns remained low.  As of 30 November, a total of 3,370 members of non-majority communities had returned this year, including over 1,300 Kosovo Serbs, reaching a total of 9,485 overall.  The 2004 Strategy for Sustainable Returns had been launched last week, with detailed information on returns funding needs for 2004, totaling 38.5 million euros.  Seven million euros were allocated from the 2002 surplus in the Kosovo Consolidated Budget for returns, with five million being used in municipal returns projects and two million supporting municipalities that contributed positively to returns.


Returns projects were ongoing in several municipalities, with the active involvement of municipal authorities, he said.  Security had remained a problem in some areas, although resistance was generally dealt with effectively through dialogue.  Responding to pressure to ensure fair share financing, municipalities were spending more on minority needs.  Despite gradual improvement, less than one third of the municipalities had met the minimum levels, and the level of integration between communities had remained extremely limited.  Kosovo Albanians and Kosovo Serbs had continued to use separate health care and education facilities.  No Albanian language schools offered classes in minority languages, including Serbian, and no Serbian language schools offered classes in Albanian.


Regarding the economy, he noted that uncertainties about legal and operational modalities according to which socially owned enterprises should be privatized had slowed down privatization.  Yesterday, the KTA Board had decided to proceed with the privatization of all 23 enterprises from the first and second waves, and agreed that a third wave of 19 enterprises would be soon carried out for privatization.


As for dialogue with Belgrade, the direct dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina had not moved forward since the 14 October launch of the dialogue in Vienna.  That was partly due to the position of the Kosovo Government, which had not yet publicly endorsed the process.  The UNMIK hoped that would change following the launch of the standards document, which included dialogue with Belgrade as one of the eight standards.  Another obstacle was the Serbian parliamentary election campaign, which had recently resulted in the unwillingness of the Coordination Centre for Kosovo to discuss preparation for the dialogue.


With respect to the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC), the Special Representative ordered the suspension of 12 KPC officers on 3 December for an initial period of six months, after a joint KFOR/UNMIK inquiry regarding allegations of association with organized crime, abuse of function and other activities.  A police investigation was being carried out to determine whether grounds existed for the dismissal or criminal prosecution of the KPC members.  In an unrelated incident in October, the head of the KPC was arrested in Slovenia under a one-year-old warrant issued by an extra-legal parallel court operating in Nis in southern Serbia, but was released following an intervention by the Special Representative, who informed the Slovenian authorities of the invalidity of the arrest warrant.


The KPC has made progress towards meeting the standards by continuing to improve its work within the mandated function of a civil emergency agency, training more members and fulfilling planned tasks in a professional manner.  Non-majority members had reached 5 per cent in the KPC’s membership, and it had intervened in emergencies ranging from forest fires to floods, and had continued to perform outreach in non-majority communities.  However, a lack of funding for equipment and training could hinder further progress.  UNMIK’s supervision and intervention and KFOR’s day-to-day supervision on the ground remained necessary, particularly regarding serious allegations of misconduct.


Concluding, he said achieving the eight standards had remained a prerequisite for the start of the political process leading to a determination of Kosovo’s future status. During the entire process, UNMIK would remain active on the ground to continue the forward momentum.  It would also continue to monitor, and intervene as necessary, to ensure compliance of the Provisional Institutions and municipalities with resolution 1244 (1999), the Constitutional Framework and other law.  The support of the Council and key Member States for UNMIK would be vital in fully implementing resolution 1244 (1999), including the review process, to structure the way towards launching the political process to determine Kosovo’s future status.


Statements


GENNADY GATILOV (Russian Federation) said that an important step was the establishment of a monitoring mechanism, on the basis of the principle of “standards before status” and under the comprehensive political monitoring of the Security Council.  The Special Representative had published a declaration on standards, which established criteria for assessing the region’s progress towards establishing a multi-ethnic and democratic society, in which equal rights for all was guaranteed, in particular, security, mobility and a return to their homelands of all representatives of the Kosovo communities.


He regretted the removal of the preambular portion of that declaration, which had contained basic and important provisions and references, including to 1244 and the Constitutional Framework.  That approach hardly met the objectives of the international community in Kosovo.  The region must conduct significant work in achieving the standards set by the international community.  Despite some gains, a whole host of important challenges were still far from being resolved, including the status of non-Albanians and the return of refugees and displaced persons.  Further, there was no equal security throughout the region, and equal fundamental rights and freedoms were also absent, including in employment hiring.  Nor was there appropriate representation of Serb minorities in the Provisional Institutions.


Against the backdrop of a general level of decline in crime, serious ethnically motivated incidents with the use of violence persisted, he said.  He condemned all acts of violence, especially when those had ethnic overtones.  He conveyed his condolences to those involved in the incident in northern Mitrovica and drew the Council’s attention to the particular responsibility of the leadership to avoid situations, which, in conditions of higher tensions and sensitivities, could provoke an uncontrolled spillover of such actions with unforeseeable consequences.  The statements of the leaders in the regional Provisional Institutions on their commitment to multi-ethnicity must be reinforced by “real” actions.  In practice, the interests of minorities were still being ignored.  Without a “radical improvement” in the situation, the process of building a democratic and multi-ethnic society would “continue to spin its wheels”.


CARLOS PUJALTE (Mexico) said the Kosovo standards document presented several challenges, particularly the tentative date for overall review of level of compliance with the standards.  The document was a critical road map to be used in the coming 18 months, before there could be any discussion of Kosovo’s status.  The document described a society which little resembled the present reality, and Kosovo would need to make considerable progress in achieving the eight standards.  Several factors continued to impede it from becoming multi-ethnic, tolerant and prosperous.


Progress had been observed in the spheres of self-government and legislation, he said, but officials continued to take decisions beyond the scope of their authority.  Rebuilding Kosovo’s public administration had become vital.  Establishing the direct dialogue was a step in the right direction, which must intensify and continue.  Parallel structures had continued to be a considerable obstacle to normal life in Kosovo, and Belgrade must stop supporting those structures.  The return of refugees and internally displaced persons –- a prerequisite for a multi-ethnic and tolerant society –- was still quite limited.  Establishment of the rule of law was also fundamental to the future of Kosovo.


JOHN D. NEGROPONTE (United States) had been pleased to join the Council last Friday when it welcomed Mr. Holkeri’s standards paper and the launch of the review process to assess progress towards meeting the eight endorsed standards.  He looked forward to the rapid implementation of the plan, which would provide specific indicators for achieving the standards.  Only when substantive progress had been made could the international community begin to address the question of Kosovo’s future status.  If the comprehensive review called for by mid-2005 determined that Kosovo’s progress in achieving the standards had been insufficient, then another review date would be set.


He said that the international community stood ready to assist Kosovo in that endeavour.  In order to keep the focus on achieving the standards, however, there should be no decision on process or outcomes of status discussions until the standards were met.  That transparent approach would motivate real progress.  At the same time, it guaranteed that the outcome of the future status could only be determined in the overall context of resolution 1244.  It was important now for Kosovo’s Provisional Institutions to focus on achieving the standards.  As a first step, he called on all parties to resume a direct dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, as that could provide tangible benefits to all citizens in such important areas as transportation and the return of refugees and missing persons.


The violent attacks of late summer primarily targeted minorities of the Serb community and UNMIK officers, he added.  The deadly 24 November attack against police officers and the recent attacks in Mitrovica against the Prime Minister and international representatives were the latest examples of violence that endangered Kosovo’s future.  He called on all in Kosovo to refrain from violence, and he reiterated the need to work within the legitimate institution of Kosovo to address political grievances.  He called on law enforcement officers to redouble their efforts to find the perpetrators, and on the citizens to cooperate with UNMIK and the Kosovo police service in their investigations of those crimes.  Substantial progress must be made in solving the murder and assaults against ethnic minorities and law enforcement officers.  Although Kosovo had made notable progress, much work remained.


JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIERE (France) said no time should be wasted in ensuring that the current Kosovo initiative proceeded as the Council had decided.  The first step had been taken last week when the Special Representative, Harri Holkeri, had published the standards for Kosovo document, while the next was to adopt an implementation plan for the standards.  That must be established by Secretary-General in close consultation with authorities in Kosovo responsible for its implementation.


Mr. Holkeri would have a vital role to play in the upcoming months, he said, monitoring and reviewing progress made.  His presence on the ground would be necessary, and he must double his efforts.  The international community expected the Provisional Institutions to act during the next 18 months in a way that was consistent with established authorities, and only established authorities.  He regretted the decision to unilaterally put an end to a portion of the regime of applicable law in Kosovo.  That vote was taken in vain, had no effect, and ran counter to the wishes of the international community.


MILAD ATIEH (Syria) said that the review process would give new momentum to implementing the “standards before status”.  The review initiative required international support, which was why the Security Council had expressed that in its Presidential Statement of 12 December.  That also required direct dialogue between the concerned parties, as that would advance the political process, leading to agreement on practical issues of concern to Belgrade and Pristina.  He hoped that the period leading to the mid-2005 review would show progress in all areas, particularly with regard to the eight benchmarks, so that the Council could determine the final status of Kosovo in the future.


He said he supported the transfer of responsibilities to the Kosovo Provisional Institutions in a gradual and organized manner, in cooperation with all governmental institutions.  He looked forward to establishing a tolerant and multi-ethnic society in Kosovo, which required consolidating the rule of law and improving the security situation, as well as promoting the rights of minorities and returnees, supporting economic development, combating organized crime and prohibiting the trafficking of weapons and narcotics.  All of that would lead to establishing a climate conducive for encouraging the returns of the internally displaced persons and refugees, where they could then contribute to the political and economic reconstruction.


PAUL GOA ZOUMANIGUI (Guinea) noted that progress in Kosovo had included enacting a constitutional framework, successful legislative elections, and the establishment of Kosovo’s Assembly.  Two years later, that progress had been followed up with other actions, although various concerns still remained.  It was now up to all parties in Kosovo to work together in tolerance and unity to resolve any problems that were pending.  The leaders of the Provisional Institutions must comply with the powers that had been given to them, and must contribute more to active reconciliation, using the media to educate their communities.


Regarding the rule of law, he said, recent murders and attacks had demonstrated that security was still very much a concern.  There was a need to strengthen the police and prisons, and to combat impunity.  He was pleased with efforts to uncover fraudulent actions on the part of public institutions, and stressed that that work must continue.  Establishment of the Implementation Plan would allow UNMIK to assess progress made by the Institutions in satisfying their efforts to achieve the eight standards.  Lasting success in Kosovo depended on the ongoing commitment of all Kosovars to engage in questions of common concern.


MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan), referring to the standards document introduced last week in Pristina, said his reservations on the “standards before status” issue were well known.  That policy had been devised only for Kosovo and should not set a precedent for other situations in similar circumstances.  Moreover, the standards that had been set up in the standards document should be implemented in a manner that served the broader interests of the people of Kosovo.  Standards should not become an excuse to avoid addressing the status question, which was the underlying problem in Kosovo.  Nevertheless, he had joined in welcoming the standards document and he would study the work plan being devised by UNMIK to implement its provisions.


He noted the statement of the Prime Minister of Kosovo, who said that each sentence in that document was a challenge in itself, but the leader looked forward to working together to overcome all of them.  In devising the work plan, it must be ensured that its objectives were achievable and that the benchmarks were realistic.  Efforts must be made to guard against the possibility of that process being derailed by the intransigence of one or the other party.  While he attached high importance to all eight standards, he emphasized that among the most crucial were those related to:  the upholding of rule of law; freedom of movement; the use of languages; sustained returns of refugees and displaced persons; and the protection of the rights of all communities.


Also important, he stressed, was Kosovo’s socio-economic recovery, which the international community must continue to support generously.  The issue of a dialogue between the parties on practical measures must be strengthened and regularized.  That was a useful confidence-building measure, which could contribute to addressing the more delicate issue of status.


ISMAEL ABRAÃO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola) said that UNMIK’s standards strategy was the real key for achieving implementation of resolution 1244, and the final status of the region.  The eight standards would lead to a coherent and comprehensive status, and implementation must be equally coherent to be satisfactory.  He fully supported the goals that all parties were now striving for in Kosovo.  The Provisional Institutions for self-government must respect all Kosovars, including all ethnic minorities.


Supporting a comprehensive and periodical review of the Provisional Institutions, he stressed that the rule of law was paramount to the standards strategy, and should be enforced by effective police operations that were based on the legal framework.  All aspects of law enforcement must be improved, so that refugees and displaced persons could enjoy security and freedom of movement.  He strongly hoped that constructive dialogue and confidence-building could be strengthened, leading to concrete agreement on the remaining issues that Kosovo was now facing.


INOCENCIO F. ARIAS (Spain) said he fully endorsed the statement to be made on behalf of the European Union.  He had unreservedly supported the “standards before status” policy.  The initiative of the Special Representative reflected in the standards for Kosovo document had reaffirmed that policy and set up the way forward towards full implementation of 1244.  The establishment of some objectives for compliance with the standards through an implementation plan, which included measures and precise impartial criteria, was the necessary complement to making the “standards before status” policy a tangible reality.  Complete compliance with the provisions of both documents was a necessary precondition to consideration of the question of status.


He said that the objective set forth by the international community in Kosovo was only to ensure democracy and stabilization of the Province and the establishment of a multi-ethnic society, which guaranteed fundamental rights and freedoms for all of its citizens.  Since that was the nature of the “standards before status” policy and the objective of 1244, as well as the general European strategy for the region, the anticipated 2005 review process should consider comprehensively whether the institutions had reached the desired level of achievement.  That was not so much a question of timetable, but rather of placing emphasis on the substantial elements of the policy.


The European Union had a general strategy for the region, namely, a process of stabilization and association, he said.  That applied to the five regions.  The implication was that Kosovo should apply the same standards and have the same institutions as its neighbours.  Hence, the parties in Pristina should be the first interested in establishing sustainable, substantive and direct dialogue with Belgrade.


MARTIN BELINGA EBOUTOUA (Cameroon) said one of the most urgent challenges in Kosovo was developing an implementation plan for the eight standards, given the crucial impact it would have on finding a permanent settlement to the region.  Its drafting and finalization must be carried out with all parties and on a consensual basis.  Progress made recently on Kosovo had provided clarification of “standards before status”, which his county had always supported.  The standards were necessary elements for a calm debate of the region’s final status.


He noted continued acts of violence in the region, stressing that fear and mafia methods could not be allowed to reign.  Direct dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade was now beginning and institutions were running more effectively.  The economy was resurfacing on the solid and reliable foundations of a market economy, and training of the police was almost complete.  He was optimistic about a future, multi-ethnic and prosperous Kosovo, where peace and harmony reigned.


CRISTIAN MAQUIEIRA (Chile) said that, without tangible progress on the eight standards, the general mandate of UNMIK would not be completed in accordance with resolution 1244.  Two important events had recently taken place:  the initiative of the review mechanism on 5 December; and the “standards for Kosovo” document presented on 10 December.  That had inspired implementation of the standards and led to much hope.  Moreover, he trusted that the implementation work plan to be presented by the Special Representative would serve as an objective basis for assessing the scope, speed and sustainability of progress achieved by the Provisional Institutions, in compliance with the standards.


Thus, he said he awaited the results of the periodic report.  Faithful proof of positive results would have a key impact on progress towards the process for determining future status.  He reiterated that, without a significant and sustainable return of internally displaced persons and refugees, it would be impossible to build a multi-ethnic society that was democratic and which could integrate all inhabitants of Kosovo, without any exclusions.  He supported the recent measures adopted by Mr. Holkeri to investigate the recent bombing of the railway bridge.  In addition to dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, a furtherance of dialogue between UNMIK and the Kosovo Assembly would certainly contribute to the achievement of positive results.


GUNTER PLEUGER (Germany) commended both Pristina and Belgrade for their positive attitude to the Kosovo review mechanism, and for voicing their acceptance of the underlying rules and tentative time frame.  He was disappointed, however, that Serbia and Montenegro had appeared unsupportive of the standards for Kosovo document.  All sides had much to gain if the blueprint was realized, and a democratic and tolerant Kosovo respecting the rule of law was created.  Only that outcome offered the prospect of economic development, the return of refugees to their homes, or freedom of movement for members of all ethnic communities.  Most important, it offered the prospect for both Belgrade and Pristina to have a future in Europe, rather than in isolation and stagnation.


The region’s immediate priority was to start the direct dialogue at the level of the expert working groups, he said.  It was disappointing that, months after the official launch of talks between Pristina and Belgrade, groups focusing on such issues as energy, transportation and returns had not begun to meet.  In addition to being an essential standard that must be fulfilled, direct dialogue was the best way to build trust between the parties.


Another area requiring rapid progress was privatization, which was vital to economic development in Kosovo.  The vast majority of outstanding privatization contracts could be approved and another round of privatization tenders organized without great difficulty.  He urged the Institutions of Self-Government and the Kosovo Trust Agency Board to certify and transfer to private owners all of those socially owned enterprise that had been duly screened as soon as possible.


CHENG JINGYE (China) said that some progress had been made.  Meriting special mention had been the first direct dialogue in October between the parties.  In order to facilitate implementation of the “standards before status” policy, the Special Representative had recently unveiled the Kosovo document, which was subsequently endorsed by the Council.  He welcomed those positive developments, which were of crucial significance for advancing the Kosovo political process.  Presently, however, the Province was facing multiple challenges, including in the areas of security, violent crimes, and freedom of movement.  The return of refugees remained “at a trickle”.


He said that a comprehensive settlement of the Kosovo question was a “formidable” challenge requiring redoubled efforts by the parties and the international community.  In resolving that question, 1244 was the basis and the “standards before status” policy was the guiding principle.  Dialogue and cooperation was another effective way forward.  He hoped the parties would assiduously fulfil their obligations to meet the standards and actively strive for harmony among the ethnic communities.


EMYR JONES PARRY (United Kingdom) said the standards for Kosovo document was a vital step forward, and was basic to the future of the region.  Kosovo had been given a chance to come out of the shadow of darkness and to move forward.  If its status was to be discussed, the region must become an entity based on the standards currently enjoyed by others in Europe.  The eight standards represented a process that all nations of the European Union had successfully completed.  Unilateral actions and rhetorical resolutions would not help, or deter, Kosovo from achieving its aims.


Council President SOLOMON PASSY, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, speaking in his national capacity, said he welcomed the initiative of the Special Representative to set up more concrete guidelines for progress to operationalize the “standards before status” policy and launch a comprehensive review mechanism as a logical tool.  A first opportunity for an overall review could occur around mid-2005 or earlier if sufficient progress had been made.  He was satisfied that the Kosovo document had been endorsed by the Council on 12 December.  The eight standards were a sound basis for building a tolerant and just society.


Once those were reached, he said, the pace must be maintained and implementation further developed.  He had proposed to include, as an additional criteria in the work plan, the sustainable application of the standards.  That would serve as a guarantee of accelerating development and as an important impetus for emerging civil society.  Dialogue between the parties should continue without further delay.  He was ready to host one of the working groups.  He expected that the Kosovo authorities would adhere strictly to a democratic, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious society, and cooperate actively with UNMIK to improve returns of refugees and displaced persons.  A multi-ethnic society could not function without the participation of all ethnic groups in public and political life.


DEJAN SAHOVIC (Serbia and Montenegro) said that the current stage of making the “standards before status” policy operational signified a new and exceptionally important step.  He emphasized his principled support for that concept, including the sequence of events it clearly defined.  Democratic standards leading to a multi-ethnic society based on the rule of law and respect for human rights must be achieved before consideration of a political discussion aiming to determine the final status of the Province.


At the same time, he said that the “standards for Kosovo” document launched by Mr. Holkeri last week as the first stage of fulfilment of the “standards before status” policy raised “serious” concerns.  Primarily, the document failed to define the standards in a manner that would open prospects for the creation of a multi-ethnic society in Kosovo and Metohija.  As the Government of Serbia stated on 8 December, UNMIK, among others, rejected the proposals to set, as a key standard for Kosovo and Metohija, the unconditional and progressive return of refugees and displaced persons, full protection of cultural heritage, and the listing of measures to reform the KPC.


The last-minute deletion of the introductory paragraph of the “standards for Kosovo” document under pressure from the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government was of equally serious concern, he said.  How could one justify the removal of the reference to Security Council resolution 1244, the Constitutional Framework and other applicable law in Kosovo and Metohija? he asked.  Meanwhile, he welcomed the fact that the Special Representative had promptly declared the Assembly’s decision invalid.  He looked forward to further information of steps taken to avoid that kind of action in the future.  Dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina was one of the standards envisaged in the original UNMIK standards/benchmarks, as well as the new “standards for Kosovo” document.


Recalling that the launching of that dialogue on 14 October in Vienna foresaw the speedy commencement of expert-level talks in four working groups, he noted that that had not yet happened.  Once again, he expressed his full readiness to engage in discussions on practical issues of mutual interest, which would improve the daily lives of all inhabitants.  He also reiterated that the composition of the working groups of Pristina had to be multi-ethnic.  Regarding the KPC, it seemed necessary to remind that the original standards/benchmarks required the KPC to thoroughly comply with its mandate as a civilian emergency organization.  According to the investigation, however, 12 KPC officers were suspected of involvement in the terrorist bombing of the railway bridge.


Bearing that in mind, as well as the general security context in the Province, he said it was difficult to believe that those officers were essentially offered a six-month paid leave, pending the results of the police investigation.  He was not aware of any similar examples of “tolerance” for that kind of activity anywhere else.  Further, he had not considered it an auspicious start to establishing security for all and the rule of law in the Province.  On the matter of privatization, he continued to seek the full respect of owner/user rights and the rights of the Republic of Serbia in that process and in defining the status of public and commercial debts.  Serbia was a major creditor to companies from Kosovo and Metohija.


As such, he continued, the Republic of Serbia provided guarantees for foreign loans granted to them.  It should be obvious that those companies could not be put up for sale without the consent of major creditors.  That issue should be properly addressed in the near future.


Overall, he concluded, cooperation with Serbia and Montenegro in preparation of the “standards for Kosovo” document had been insufficient and lacked substance.  That plan should devise a set of measurable criteria for assessing the achievement of the standards.  It should preclude the possibility of lowering the level of standards themselves, or opening up the possibility for different interpretations.  He expressed Serbia and Montenegro’s willingness to constructively engage in the preparation of the plan.  Implementation of the “standards before status” policy was a real opportunity to translate the principle of cooperation into practice, for the benefit of all concerned.  The implementation plan should also establish a continual mechanism for transparently reviewing progress.


MARCELLO SPATAFORE (Italy), speaking on behalf of the European Union, underlined the continued validity of UNMIK’s “standards before status” policy, and supported the Special Representative’s initiative to set out more concrete guidelines to operationalize the strategy.  It was necessary to build on current momentum by working out a relevant implementation plan, and setting up a continual mechanism to review progress achieved as soon as possible.  That process must be led by the Special Representative, Harri Holkeri, through regular consultations with the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government and other relevant parties.


Considerable work must be done to achieve the agreed standards, he said.  Democratic governance must take hold in a multi-ethnic Kosovo to advance towards the comprehensive review envisaged for mid-2005.  The stabilization and association process tracking mechanism was an important complementary instrument to that end.  The direct dialogue begun on 14 October in Vienna remained an indispensable element of the “standards before status” strategy.  Structural reforms in Kosovo, of which privatization was key element, were also vital.


LUBLIN DILJA, Minister Plenipotentiary of Albania, said he fully supported the Kosovo document of 10 December and welcomed its endorsement by the Council.  That plan gave new momentum to the implementation of the “standards before status” policy and demonstrated the political will of the international community to find a final and timely solution to the Kosovo issue.  The eight standards constituted a clear-cut agenda for work for the Kosovar Provisional Institutions, UNMIK and the Kosovars themselves.  Hard work remained and standards needed to be met.


He said his Government would encourage the Provisional Institutions and the people of Kosovo in that very crucial endeavour.  He reaffirmed his support of UNMIK and of the Special Representative in the new phase of their mission in Kosovo.  He supported and urged a broader cooperation and confidence between all concerned parties.  The Kosovo document, leading to a comprehensive review, would advance the process towards a determination of the final status of Kosovo and boost confidence among the parties.  He urged the people of Kosovo, their institutions and political parties to reflect the awareness that all eight standards, together and separately, were of great importance for the building of a democratic Kosovo where the rule of law, justice, peace and tolerance prevailed.


A big challenge remained, which must be met successfully, he stressed.  Hard work, change and constant progress must be the trend.  Then, the democratic institutions and the rule of law would function better with each passing day, the process of returns and reintegration would hasten, and dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade on practical issues would constructively proceed.  Meanwhile, he called on all interested parties in Kodovo and the region to make a positive contribution to that process.  Violence ran counter to the standards and must be ended.


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