Date: 15 July 1999 UNMIK/PR/11
KOUCHNER TAKES UP POST AS UNMIK HEAD IN PRISTINA
PRISTINA-Bernard Kouchner arrived in Kosovo today to take up the post of Special Representative of United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Kouchner, 59, a former Health Minister of France, heads the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), mandated with preparing Kosovo for autonomy.
UNMIK was established on 10 June with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 and has been led by the Secretary-Genberal’s interim Special Representative, Sergio Vieira de Mello, Under-Secretary-General of the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
As chief of the UN mission in Kosovo, Kouchner will preside over the four sectors involved with implementing the civilian aspects of rehabilitating and reforming Kosovo. Known as the "four pillars," they are humanitarian assistance, led by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; civil administration, under the United Nations itself; democratization and institution-building, led by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe; and economic reconstruction, managed by the European Union.
Kouchner arrived this afternoon at the Pristina airport, accompanied by the newly appointed Principal Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Jock Covey (USA); Joly Dixon (Ireland), Deputy Secretary-General for Reconstruction; Eric Chevalier, Kouchner’s Special Adviser; and UNMIK’s new Director of Information, Nadia Younes.
"I have an agenda," Kouchner told reporters at UNMIK’s Pristina headquarters today. "First to make sure that immediate humanitarian needs are met. Second to ensure essential public functions, specifically law and order. And third to lay the foundation for economic recovery and development….It’s simple, but ambitious. The job can be done."
Kouchner met this evening with Democratic League of Kosovo leader Ibrahim Rugova at UNMIK headquarters. Earlier he met with KFOR Commander Gen. Mike Jackson and Vieira de Mello. He was to be briefed later tonight by the Deputy Special Representatives in charge of the four sectors.
Kouchner is a medical doctor who founded Médecins sans Frontières in France in 1971. He created and ran several other global humanitarian organizations before beginning his political career in the late 1980s. He has written books and screenplays and has been awarded several international prizes for his humanitarian and human rights activities.
"In our hearts, we know this is about reconciliation," Kouchner said. "In our heads, we know that real peace takes time. But it is in our hands today to begin making Kosovo safe for all people, all decent people."