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  VI. EUROPE PEACE OPERATIONS

PEACEKEEPING MISSIONS

 

Kosovo - UNMIK

 

In the context of its overall mandate under Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) to support the establishment of substantial autonomy and democratic self-government in Kosovo, the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) focused on promoting its “standards before status” policy, first elaborated in 2002. The policy sets out benchmarks in a number of areas that need to be reached before Kosovo’s future status can be addressed. These areas include: democratic institutions; the rule of law; the return of refugees and displaced persons and minority rights; freedom of movement; economic development; property rights; the Kosovo Protection Corps, a civilian emergency organization; and dialogue with the authorities in Belgrade.

 

A major development for Kosovo was the announcement of a mechanism to review progress by the Kosovo Provisional Institutions in meeting those standards, elaborated further in the “Standards for Kosovo” document drawn up by UNMIK in December. The mechanism provides for periodic reviews and envisages the possibility of a comprehensive review of progress in mid-2005. The initiation of the political process to determine Kosovo’s future status will depend on the outcome of the comprehensive review.

 

The gradual transfer of specific responsibilities4 from UNMIK to Kosovo’s Provisional Institutions was completed in December. Among the competencies transferred were specific powers over industry, agriculture, education, culture, health and the environment, while UNMIK continued to retain overall authority. A range of reserved powers remained in the hands of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General until the determination of Kosovo’s future status. These included full authority in the field of external relations, authority over law enforcement institutions, final authority to approve the Kosovo Consolidated Budget, and authority to ensure the full protection of minority rights.

 

While there were improvements in the functioning and effectiveness of Kosovo’s Provisional Institutions in the areas of policy-making and legislative processes, more remained to be done to ensure that adequate levels of minority representation and employment would be reached at both the central and local levels of government. UNMIK remained opposed to the continuing existence in Kosovo of parallel administrative structures supported by Belgrade. The Secretary-General repeatedly called on the Belgrade authorities to work with UNMIK to dismantle these bodies.

 

Kosovo’s overall security environment continued to improve gradually. However, the year was marred by a number of acts of violence and intimidation directed against minorities, particularly Kosovo Serbs, threatening the process of normalization and reconciliation in the province. UNMIK Police and local Kosovo Police Service officers were also targeted, resulting in the death of one international and three local police officers. In addition to working to bolster the justice system, UNMIK sharpened its focus on the fight against organized crime and terrorist activities.

 

Georgia - UNOMIG

 

The United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) continued to verify the implementation of the ceasefire agreement signed in 1994 by the Government of Georgia and the Abkhaz authorities in the country. The Mission performed its observation tasks on both sides of the ceasefire line by carrying out daily ground patrols. UNOMIG helicopter patrols remained suspended owing to security concerns. Throughout the year, the Mission worked closely with the peacekeeping force of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

 

Concern persisted regarding security in the conflict zone, including the Kodori Valley, a remote mountain area on Abkhaz territory—the upper part of which is under Georgian control—where, in June, four UNOMIG personnel on routine patrol were taken hostage and held for six days by an unidentified armed group before negotiations secured their release. Subsequently, UNOMIG patrols in the Kodori Valley were suspended, and the Mission had to rely on reports from the CIS peacekeeping force and the Georgian and Abkhaz parties. In addition to its peacekeeping activities, UNOMIG stepped up efforts to build common ground between the parties. Senior representatives of the Group of the Friends of the Secretary-General—France, Germany, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States—met under the chairmanship of the United Nations in February and July to make recommendations on the way forward and review progress towards a comprehensive settlement. Both the Georgian and Abkhaz parties were present at the July meeting.

 

UNOMIG remained committed to creating conditions conducive to the return of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) to their homes in safe and secure conditions. In this connection, the Security Council endorsed in July the recommendation by the Secretary-General that a civilian police component of 20 officers be added to UNOMIG to strengthen its capacity to carry out its mandate. By December, the deployment of the civilian police officers was partially completed.

 

In March, Georgia and Russia agreed to establish bilateral working groups on IDP return and economic issues, and agreed to proceed with the reopening of the railway between Sochi and Tbilisi in parallel with the repatriation of refugees and IDPs.

 

UNOMIG’s efforts, along with the bilateral agreements between Georgia and Russia, gave a boost to the peace process and were ultimately aimed at advancing towards a comprehensive political settlement of the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict through substantive negotiations on the future status of Abkhazia within the State of Georgia.

 

Cyprus - UNFICYP

 

In the absence of a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem, the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) continued to supervise the 1974 ceasefire in the island and to maintain a buffer zone between the two sides. UNFICYP’s military component monitored the buffer zone from its observation posts, while its civilian police component was responsible for police matters with inter-communal implications. The military situation along the ceasefire lines5 remained stable.

 

In April 2003, for the first time in almost three decades, the Turkish Cypriot authorities opened several crossing points to civilians for visits in both directions, which resulted in an average of approximately 13,000 crossings per day. UNFICYP facilitated movements through the buffer zone at the designated crossing points.

 

The Security Council decided in June to increase the mission’s civilian police by up to 34 officers to meet the increased workload following the opening of additional crossing points and the significant increase in the number of incidents requiring UNFICYP’s involvement outside the buffer zone—including attending and monitoring incidents arising from unauthorized crossings.

 

The Secretary-General welcomed the partial lifting of restrictions on movement between the north and the south. However, he regretted the Turkish Cypriot authorities’ failure to provide unhindered access and full freedom of movement to UNFICYP, and urged that the mission be allowed to carry out its mandate throughout its entire area of responsibility.

 

On the political front, the Secretary-General undertook major efforts to assist the two sides in reaching a comprehensive settlement. Although the two Cypriot leaders had agreed to negotiate on the basis of the third version of the Secretary-General’s comprehensive settlement plan6 presented to the parties in February, direct talks failed to result in an agreement which would have allowed a united island to sign the Treaty of Accession to the European Union in April.

 

After the talks failed, the Secretary-General announced that he would not take a new initiative unless and until both Cypriot parties, as well as Greece and Turkey, demonstrated the political will necessary for a successful outcome. He informed the Security Council that he would continue to monitor developments in Cyprus and stand ready to re-engage in the talks when the parties would be unequivocally prepared to finalize the plan, with the assistance of the United Nations, and put it to separate simultaneous referenda soon thereafter.

 

While the Office of the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on Cyprus closed in April 2003, members of the Security Council continued to urge all concerned to resume negotiations on the basis of the Secretary-General’s plan to reach a comprehensive settlement.

 


4 The responsibilities being transferred from UNMIK to the Provisional Institutions are outlined in chapter 5 of the Constitutional Framework for Provisional Self-Government in Kosovo promulgated in May 2001.

 

5 The ceasefire lines extend approximately 180 kilometres across the island while the buffer zone between the lines varies in width from less than 20 metres to some 7 kilometres and covers about 3 per cent of the island, including some of the most valuable agricultural land.

6 The first version of the Secretary-General’s comprehensive settlement plan was presented to the parties on 11 November 2002 and its second version on 10 December 2002.

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