"The Secretary-General congratulates the people of Kosovo on the commitment to democratic norms through peaceful adherence to the electoral rules shown throughout the campaign and on election day," Mr. Annan's spokesman, Manoel de Almeida e Silva, said in a statement at UN Headquarters in New York.
The all-inclusive nature of the elections would provide a solid basis for the institutions of provisional self-government that would be established in accordance with the Security Council resolution on Kosovo, he added.
"The Secretary-General is gratified that members of the minority communities turned out in significant numbers and express the hope that the elected representatives of all communities will take up their rightful place in the institutions of provisional self-government," Mr. de Almeida e Silva said.
The 15-member Council said in a press statement by its current President, Ambassador Patricia Durrant of Jamaica, that the elections were an important step in the implementation of its resolution 1244 of 10 June 1999 and would enable the establishment of democratic self-governing institutions as specified in the Constitutional Framework for Provisional Self-Government.
Council members also recalled the responsibility of Kosovo's elected leaders and all concerned to respect fully all the provisions of resolution 1244, in particular the final status provisions, and to comply with the Constitutional Framework.
"Full respect for resolution 1244 will contribute to building a democratic, pluralist and prosperous future for all the communities of Kosovo," Ambassador Durrant said. "The stability in southeast Europe will also be strengthened."
The Council members commended Mr. Annan's Special Representative for Kosovo, Hans Haekkerup, the UN mission (UNMIK) and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and all those who contributed to the successful conduct of the elections, Ambassador Durrant said.
On Saturday, Kosovars voted for a legislative assembly, casting ballots in Kosovo, Serbia and Montenegro, as well as by mail from 36 countries. By Saturday night, with three-quarters of precincts reporting in, UNMIK and the OSCE said that some 63 percent of eligible voters in Kosovo, as well as select polling stations in Serbia and Montenegro, turned out to vote.
Annan encourages voters to turn out for Kosovo's Assembly elections
16 November United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today encouraged all eligible voters in Kosovo to turn out for Saturday's Assembly elections, saying democracy was about "participation and inclusiveness."
A statement issued by Mr. Annan's spokesman in New York called tomorrow's poll a "major step forward" in the implementation of the UN Security Council resolution dealing with Kosovo by giving the people there provisional self-governing institutions to ensure conditions for a peaceful and normal life for all inhabitants. "This should be a milestone in the development of an inclusive, prosperous and democratic Kosovo," the statement said.
"The Secretary-General fully supports the arrangements in place for the elections," the statement said. "He hopes that all eligible voters, irrespective of ethnic backgrounds or political affiliation, will exercise the democratic right to vote and choose their leaders."
Voters will be choosing a 120-seat Assembly and a provisional self-government of nine ministers at some 1,600 polling stations in Kosovo. There will be about 170 more in Serbia and between 10 and 20 in Montenegro. The results of the legislative elections will be announced Monday.
Speaking to reporters today, the head of the UN mission in Kosovo, Hans Haekkerup, said: "We will soon have an assembly, a government, a President of Kosovo," adding that the purpose of this process was to overcome differences and bring about reconciliation in Kosovo.
Security Council calls on 'all women and men of Kosovo' to vote in elections
9 November Applauding the role played by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in advance of the election in Kosovo, the Security Council this morning called upon all women and men of the province to take part in the vote on 17 November.
In a statement read out in an open meeting of the Council by its current President, Ambassador Patricia Durrant of Jamaica, the 15-member body welcomed the helpful role played by Yugoslav President Vodislav Kostunica, his Government and that of the Republic of Serbia, in recommending Kosovo Serb participation in the elections. The Kosovo Serbs' vote, the Council said, would allow them to help shape the province's multi-ethnic future.
The statement also welcomed the signing by the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and Belgrade on 5 November of a Common Document, which was consistent with Security Council resolution 1244 and the Constitutional Framework for Provisional Self-Government in the province.
The Council encouraged the further development of a constructive dialogue between UNMIK and Yugoslav authorities, emphasizing the responsibility of the provisional institutions of self-government and all concerned to fully respect the final status of resolution 1244. It also underlined its continued commitment to the full implementation of that resolution, which it said remained the basis for building Kosovo's future.
Today's action by the Council follows its 5 October statement urging all Kosovars to vote and calling on the province's leaders to publicly condemn violence and ethnic intolerance.
Kosovo: UN mission reaches accord with Belgrade on Serb vote in upcoming elections
6 November The head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) has signed an agreement with the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on the provision of security and other guarantees for the Serb minority in Kosovo ahead of elections in the predominantly ethnic Albanian province.
UNMIK said in a statement it was "extremely pleased with the decision by both Serbian and Yugoslav governments to endorse Kosovo Serb participation" in the 17 November elections.
According to the UN Mission, the Common Document reaffirms principles already contained in Security Council Resolution 1244 and the Constitutional Framework regarding the rights of Kosovo Serbs and the obligations towards them.
"It reaffirms our commitments to improving conditions for Kosovo Serbs and other non-Albanians," UNMIK said.
Following a status conference this morning on Mr. Milosevic's case, the Court said the trial would start on 12 February.
Yesterday, Mr. Milosevic appeared before the Tribunal to hear new charges against him involving crimes allegedly committed in Croatia.
Prosecutors are also preparing an indictment for alleged crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Kosovo: head of UN mission optimistic about joint declaration on Serb vote
30 October Commenting on his talks with the Government of Yugoslavia on ways of encouraging Kosovo Serbs to vote in the upcoming elections, the head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) today said he and Yugoslav President Kostunica thought they could find areas of cooperation that would "meet the concerns of Kosovo Serbs and improve their situation."
Today in Pristina, Hans Haekkerup briefed members of Kosovo's Interim Administrative Council on his talks with Belgrade authorities concerning the creation of a common document aimed at fostering Kosovo Serb participation in the 17 November elections.
"The situation for Kosovo Serbs is not easy, and we will try to find language to make it possible for President Kostunica to support Kosovo Serb participation in the elections," Mr. Haekkerup told the press after his meetings. "None of what we do will be outside [Security Council resolution] 1244 or in contradiction of the Constitutional Framework. We think we can find areas of cooperation."
The UNMIK chief added that time was running out in terms of organizing elections for the internally displaced persons outside of Kosovo.
Speaking to Kosovo's Interim Administrative Council, and later to members of the press, Mr. Haekkerup said he would present President Kostunica with a document that explains what the UN operation has been doing and will do in the future to improve conditions for Kosovo Serbs.
"There is strong international pressure for Kosovo Serb participation, and we want to make it easier for the authorities to support participation," he said.
Asked about reports in the Belgrade press about President Kostunica's declaration prepared for possible endorsement by the UNMIK chief during the visit, Mr. Haekkerup said he had not seen the document.
"I will read it with interest, and if it is within [UN Security Council resolution] 1244 and the Constitutional Framework, we're ready to discuss practical cooperation," he said.
Kosovo: UN mission issues 1 millionth ID card in preparation for elections
16 October As part of the overall effort to register Kosovars for elections, a top official of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in the territory (UNMIK) today gave the one millionth identification card to a Kosovo Serb, Bojan Nicic, at a ceremony in Gracanica.
Speaking at the event, UNMIK acting head Tom Koenigs announced that a regulation would be issued soon making registration compulsory for the people of Kosovo. In due course, the UN Mission would start the process of registering people under the age of 16 years, he said.
While registration did not mean that the people had to participate in the elections, they had a "political and democratic obligation" to vote, Mr. Koenigs said, adding that it was not, however, "a legal obligation."
The acting chief also said that when the registration exercise began, the UN Mission did not think it would be so "complicated and time consuming." He congratulated both Kosovo Albanians and Kosovo Serbs working in processing centres in Pristina and Gracanica for the fine job they had done, and thanked the donors who had financed the entire ID cards operation.
A senior official involved in the effort, Margot Eelman, said processing centres were a good example of team work, where people from all communities were working together to establish a reliable civil registration database.
Security Council members call on Kosovo Albanian leaders to support security efforts
5 OCTOBER After a briefing by the top United Nations official in Kosovo on preparations for the 17 November elections in the province, the Security Council today called on Kosovo Albanian leaders to actively support efforts to promote security and to combat extremism, including terrorist activities.
In a presidential statement delivered by the Council President, Ambassador Richard Ryan of Ireland, the 15-member body also called on all Kosovo leaders "to publicly condemn violence and ethnic intolerance" and assume their responsibility for ensuring that the campaign and the elections are "peaceful, democratic and inclusive."
The Council commended the Yugoslav authorities, particularly president Vojislav Kostunica, for their encouragement of the Kosovo Serbs to register, and called on Belgrade to promote the fullest possible participation in the vote.
In his briefing, Mr. Hans Haekkerup, the head of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), told Council members that more than 1.2 million people would be eligible to vote at the elections leading to the creation of a Kosovo Assembly. Some 83 per cent of them were Kosovo Albanian, 12 per cent Kosovo Serbs, and the remainder Kosovo Bosniac, Gorani, Turk, Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian. "All of Kosovo's communities are now in a position to participate in the 2001 Assembly Election," Mr. Haekkerup said.
He informed the Council that 26 political entities had been certified to stand in the elections, including a Kosovo Serb citizens' initiative, presenting "a genuine and critical opportunity" for Kosovo Serbs to participate in the shaping of Kosovo's future. Women should comprise more than 20 per cent of the Assembly, due to requirements that a percentage of candidates were women.
Election Day would be under "100 per cent international supervision," Mr. Haekkerup said, with observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe. In addition, more than 6,000 voters were expected to be certified as domestic observers, including representatives from a well-regarded Yugoslav non-governmental organisation.
After the certification of the elections, the Assembly would hold its inaugural session and elect the Assembly's Presidency and the President of Kosovo. The President would then appoint the Prime Minister, who would present a proposed list of ministers to the Assembly for ratification. Ten ministries would constitute the executive branch of the provisional self-government, with one minister from the Kosovo Serb community and another from other non-Albanian communities.
UNMIK was on the verge of moving into "a determining phase of interim administration," Mr. Haekkerup said, with its role moving from one of direct administrative responsibility to one of oversight of self-government. The mission would transfer many of its responsibilities to the provisional self-government institution, but would continue to monitor and support these institutions in their work, and its mandate would remain the same during all stages of the transition.
Kofi Annan appeals for violence-free electoral campaign in Kosovo
4 OCTOBER With the Kosovo-wide vote six weeks away, Secretary-General Kofi Annan has appealed to all communities to participate peacefully in the United Nations-led election process.
"This is a defining moment for Kosovo, and I call on all political leaders and representatives of civil society to ensure that the upcoming election campaign is free of violence," Mr. Annan says in his quarterly report to the Security Council on the activities of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) released today at UN Headquarters. "It is imperative that, on the eve of provisional self-government, all Kosovo leaders understand that their responsibilities entail obligations to all the people of Kosovo."
Mr. Annan says all minorities have a "crucial obligation" to participate in the UNMIK-led election process and in the 17 November vote. "It is imperative that all communities participate in the elections and in the ensuing institutions of provisional self-government if they wish to have a say in the daily running of their own affairs."
The Secretary-General commends the Yugoslav authorities, and particularly President Vojislav Kostunica, for their encouragement to the Kosovo Serb community to register, resulting in a "significant number" of registrations. He also lauds UNMIK's efforts to encourage minorities to participate in public life.
In addition to preparing for the November election, UNMIK has been focusing on accelerating the transfer of authority to municipalities, helping build institutions at the central level and working to create a solid economic basis. A crucial priority is to lay the financial groundwork for the upcoming provisional self-government to begin economic management with a balanced budget, Mr. Annan writes.
Continuing inter-ethnic violence and criminal activity remain a major concern, Mr. Annan says. However, despite some difficulties, UNMIK has made significant strides in strengthening security and law and order - by establishing a new police and justice pillar to coordinate international and local judges and police officers, draft anti-terrorism legislation and carry out anti-crime and border security operations.
Top UN official in Kosovo addresses last meeting of transitional council
2 OCTOBER Opening the final session of the Kosovo Transitional Council, the top United Nations official in the province said today that the Council's members had contributed to changing Kosovo into a more democratic place, and that a form of dialogue had been carried on in that body since its formation.
Hans Haekkerup, the head of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), told Council members that the future of Kosovo and international support for the province depended on the security situation. "I appeal to all of you to make Kosovo a violence-free society," he said, stressing that the success of the elections depended on a violence-free atmosphere.
The Council was holding its last meeting on the eve of the start of the electoral campaign for the 17 November elections. At a joint special session with the Interim Administration Council, security and justice issues were discussed, UNMIK said.
The electoral campaign will be launched tomorrow by Mr. Haekkerup and the head of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Daan Everts. According to UNMIK, Kosovo's 20 administrative departments will be clustered into nine transitional administrative departments, which will be in place until the new ministries are formed. International officers will run these transitional departments until the new ministers are appointed. All Kosovo co-heads will go on leave from 3 October.
Kosovo body to hold final meeting on eve of election campaign: UN mission
26 SEPTEMBER The Kosovo Transitional Council's joint session with the Interim Administrative Council on 2 October will mark the body's final meeting, the United Nations mission in the province said today.
According to the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), the decision to hold the last Council session on 2 October - a day before the beginning of the campaign for the 17 November elections - was made in light of the fact that most Council members would be contesting the elections, and continuing its meetings would interfere with political activity. However, the Interim Administrative Council would continue working until the establishment of the future self-government, UNMIK said.
UNMIK head Hans Haekkerup told the Interim Administrative Council that since the election campaign was starting on 3 October, all its co-heads - most of whom were contesting elections - would have to take leave. The process of amalgamating the Joint Interim Administrative Structure into the nine ministries would also commence by 3 October, Mr. Haekkerup said.
At today's session, the Interim Administrative Council also endorsed three additional draft regulations - on Essential Labour Law, on the Rights of Persons Arrested by Law Enforcement Authorities and on Payment Transactions.
Kosovo's Detention Review Commission supports detention of bus bombing suspects
21 SEPTEMBER The Detention Review Commission in Kosovo has decided that the detention of three suspects in connection with the Nis bus bombing last February is justified, the United Nations mission in the province said today.
The Commission was established by the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) to review extrajudicial detention by executive order. Three judges -- from Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States -- convened yesterday in Pristina. Following the review of available information, the panel determined that the detention of three suspects based on executive order was justified, and extended the period of pre-trial custody of the suspects for another three months.
The panel stated that there were "reasonable grounds to suspect that each of the detained persons has committed a criminal act, and that circumstances exist which suggest the strong possibility of flight." The decision of the Commission cannot be appealed.
Eleven people died and 18 were injured in the 16 February attack, when the first of a convoy of buses carrying Kosovo Serbs crossed a culvert packed with explosives, which were detonated by a command wire.
More than 1 million Kosovo residents registered: UN mission
20 SEPTEMBER More than 1 million Kosovo residents have been registered as a result of the process that began last year, according to the United Nations mission in the province.
Peter Schumann, co-head of the Department of Public Services, told the Kosovo Transitional Council yesterday that 1,121,645 "habitual residents" of Kosovo had registered as of last week, as a result of the various ongoing projects for civil registration. Most Kosovo residents now possess identity cards issued by the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), Mr. Schumann said. In addition, more than 50,000 have UNMIK travel documents, and many have used them to travel outside Kosovo.
Mr. Schumann said special programmes were encouraging registration of Kosovo Turks and Serbs, who did not participate in the exercise last year, as well as others who might have returned from abroad or turned 16. Some 5,600 Kosovo Turks were added to the civil registry this summer, as well as over 48,000 people belonging to the Serb and other communities.
According to Mr. Schumann, the identity card system was totally overhauled thanks to the work of Public Services' Kosovar staff, who re-entered data for 900,000 residents into the registrar's computer system after errors plagued last year's ID project. All but 100,000 identity cards had been picked up from the Public Services Department, and UNMIK was aiming at delivering the remaining cards to people who are over 60 years old.
Security Council members welcome increased Belgrade-UN dialogue in Kosovo
17 SEPTEMBER Members of the Security Council today called for intensified dialogue between Yugoslavia and the United Nations mission in Kosovo, and urged participation of all communities in the forthcoming Kosovo-wide elections.
The call came in a press statement by the Council President, Ambassador Jean-David Levitte of France, which was released late Monday after the Council met in closed-door consultations to hear a briefing by Nebojsa Covic, Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia). The head of the UN Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK), Hans Haekkerup, was also present at the meeting.
Welcoming Mr. Covic's appointment as head of the Yugoslavia/Serbian joint coordination centre, as well as the increased cooperation between Belgrade and UNMIK, Council members stressed their support for all measures contributing to the implementation of Security Council resolution 1244 adopted in 1999.
Council members stated that the 17 November elections in Kosovo should enhance the democratic process and called for "proper organization and adequate security." They also welcomed Belgrade's support for the registration of ethnic-Serbian electors in Kosovo.
"The participation of Kosovo Serbs would allow the fullest representation of views," the statement stressed, calling for "all possible measures" to ensure participation of all communities in the elections, the return of refugees and displaced persons, and their participation in elections.
Acknowledging the need to improve security and law enforcement, Council members welcomed the establishment of a new "Law and Order" Pillar, the adoption of legislation to combat organized crime, illegal weapons possession and terrorism, as well as enhanced efforts by the international security force, KFOR, to strictly control borders and boundaries.
12 SEPTEMBER The top United Nations official in Kosovo and the Kosovo Transitional Council today expressed outrage over the terrorist acts against the United States yesterday, while a rally of solidarity with the victims was held in the streets of Pristina.
"I wish to express my deepest sympathies to the families of the victims," said Hans Haekkerup, the head of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). He added that the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., were not only aimed at the United States "but also at the fundamental values upon which the US and the UN are built: peace, democracy and human rights."
Meanwhile speakers in the Kosovo Transitional Council, representing political parties, civil society and ethnic and religious organizations, voiced their shock at the attacks and expressed support for the victims.
Many Council members called today a day of mourning for all of Kosovo, and all endorsed the holding of a silent rally of solidarity in Pristina, which took place in front of the city's National Theatre.
UN top official in Kosovo, Serb Deputy Prime Minister hold talks on Mitrovica
10 SEPTEMBER The top United Nations official in Kosovo and the commander of KFOR, the international security force in the province, met on Friday in Pristina with the Serb Deputy Prime Minister to discuss the issue of the divided city of Mitrovica, the UN mission in Kosovo reported.
In the third of a series of such meetings, Mr. Hans Haekkerup, head of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), the chief of KFOR, Lieutenant-General Thorstein Skiaker and the head of the Joint Coordinating Committee, Serb Deputy Prime Minister Nebojsa Covic, met on Mitrovica and northern Kosovo, discussing security structures and confidence-building measures.
According to UNMIK, there was an agreement to continue these meetings, with a view to improving living conditions in Mitrovica and northern Kosovo, as well as in the Serbian enclaves, on the basis of a united Kosovo under Security Council resolution 1244. In addition, the parties discussed education and in particular the issue of higher education, UNMIK said.
UN official calls on Belgrade to encourage Kosovo Serb participation in elections
28 AUGUST Briefing the Security Council today on efforts to engage Kosovo Serbs in the forthcoming province-wide elections, a senior United Nations official called on Belgrade to encourage Serb participation in the political process.
Addressing an open meeting of the Council, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, urged the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to "fully support" UN efforts to have "as many Kosovo Serbs register as possible and to encourage them to participate in the elections" scheduled for 17 November.
The UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) is in the midst of voter registration, which began on 30 July and is set to run until 8 September. Over 39,000 people have registered in Kosovo, over 25,000 in Serbia and some 500 in Montenegro, while the International Organisation for Migration in Vienna has received nearly 28,000 mail-in applications.
Calling the registration figures "disappointingly low," especially for the Kosovo Serb community, Mr. Guehenno stressed that over the weekend both Yugoslav President Kostunica and Prime Minister Djindjic had called on Kosovo Serbs to register. "We hope that now Kosovo Serbs will register in greater numbers," said the Under-Secretary-General.
Mr. Guéhenno reported progress in relations with Belgrade, primarily on the issues of missing persons and returns. Efforts were continuing to develop instruments of law and order enforcement, including legislation against organized crime and a refurbished witness protection programme, he noted.
Mr. Guéhenno said UNMIK and the international security force, KFOR, remained committed to countering Albanian extremism and severing possible ties between radical Kosovo elements and the National Liberation Army in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Since 31 May, KFOR had detained over 600 individuals and seized over 600 rifles, 1,400 grenades, 1,000 anti-tank weapons and 139,000 rounds of ammunition, mainly in the border area.
In the ensuing debate, in which 18 countries took part, speakers stressed the importance of all ethnic groups participating in the elections, and underscored the need to ensure the return of refugees, guarantee law and order, and curb the activities of Albanian extremists.
Some 900 refugees return to FYR of Macedonia from Kosovo: UNHCR
28 AUGUST As NATO started its arms collection programme in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, around 900 refugees went back to the country from Kosovo yesterday in the largest return in recent days, according to the United Nations refugee agency.
Millicent Mutuli, a spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) told reporters in Geneva today that nearly 30,000 refugees have now returned from Kosovo, including some 5,600 since the signing of a peace agreement on 13 August. "Most have gone back to urban centres, indicating a lack of confidence in the security situation in their home villages where the situation remains unstable," she said.
"UNHCR is concerned about returns to insecure areas," Ms. Mutuli said, "and is worried that NATO's temporary presence may be giving a false sense of security." In particular, the required pullback of ethnic Albanian rebels and Macedonian security forces to permit arms collection from the rebels created a security vacuum which could endanger the civilian population, particularly the returning refugees and displaced people.
According to UNHCR, nearly 29,595 refugees had returned to the FYR of Macedonia as of Sunday, mainly to Skopje and other urban centres, while over 51,000 remain in Kosovo.
Kosovo: UN mission chief holds 'constructive' talks with top Serb official
27 AUGUST Hans Haekkerup, the head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), today held "long and constructive" talks with Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Nebojsa Covic, the UN Mission said in Pristina.
During the meeting, the two men saw representatives of the families of the missing from Gracanica and discussed ways to establish the truth about the whereabouts of all those who were still missing.
On the question of detainees, Mr. Haekkerup raised the question of the Kosovo Albanians still detained in Serbia, while Mr. Covic expressed concern about the Serbs held in detention in Kosovo. Mr. Haekkerup agreed that if there were genuine grounds to review any of these cases, this would be done in accordance with normal judicial process.
According to UNMIK, Mr. Haekkerup and Mr. Covic agreed on the need to encourage a higher participation in registering for the November 17 elections by Kosovo Serbs and internally displaced people in Serbia.
Meanwhile, the KFOR international security force continued to patrol the border with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and interdict the movement of people and weapons, according to the force's spokesman.
KFOR spokesman Roy Brown told a press briefing that the force was maintaining a "strong presence" along the border - a policy that had resulted in the detention since last Friday of 149 suspected members of the ethnic-Albanian National Liberation Army (NLA) who had illegally crossed into Kosovo.
"We have no intention of allowing these people to utilize Kosovo as a safe haven or as a hiding place for their weapons," he said.
Kosovo: UN enacts regulation to monitor property sales in mixed neighbourhoods
24 AUGUST The head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), Hans Haekkerup, has signed a new regulation to ensure that all proposed contracts for property sales in certain mixed neighbourhoods in Kosovo would be thoroughly reviewed by a municipal administrator before being approved.
The measure is intended to monitor inter-ethnic property sales in areas where minorities have been fleeing, UNMIK said, and not to prevent property exchange, but to ensure that irregular sales that are detrimental to minority rights or Kosovo's multiethnic character are not validated by the courts.
To designate areas where proposed sales should be reviewed, Mr. Haekkerup will take into consideration security concerns that could arise from the sale of the property, evidence of a systematic pattern of sales of minority properties at unrealistic prices and areas specifically designated for the early return of minorities.
The regulation also establishes a regional review committee for consistent implementation and calls for Mr. Haekkerup to review it every six months to see if it is still needed.
Kosovo: with FYR of Macedonia border blocked, UN mission forced to ration fuel
23 AUGUST The border crossing between the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Kosovo remained blocked for the sixth straight day, forcing the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) to ration fuel, the UN Mission said today.
As a further consequence of the blocking of the Blace border crossing by demonstrators on the FYR of Macedonia side, the number of daily returns of ethnic Macedonian refugees from Kosovo remained low. A UN spokesman described the blocking as "unacceptable."
According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), an estimated 53,000 refugees from the FYR of Macedonia remain in Kosovo, while another 60,000 people are believed to have been displaced within the country itself.
Kosovo: members of transitional council back UN dialogue with Serbian leader
22 AUGUST A large number of members of the Kosovo Transitional Council (KTC) have backed the initiative by the head of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) of holding talks with a top Serbian official, the UN Mission said today.
KTC members voiced their support today after hearing a briefing by Hans Haekkerup, the head of UNMIK, on his 15 August meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Nebosja Covic. According to the UN Mission, the purpose of the meeting was to address the problems plaguing the territory and to seek Mr. Covic's help in encouraging Kosovo Serbs to participate in the province's institutions.
Noting that the meeting had gone "very well," Mr. Haekkerup told the KTC that he had informed the Serbian leader that no parallel structures would be accepted in Kosovo, and had underlined the fact that full security and administrative responsibility for Kosovo rested with UNMIK peacekeepers and troops from the NATO forces known as KFOR. Mr. Covic agreed, stressing that he wanted to resolve problems and not create them, Mr. Haekkerup said. He added that Mr. Covic had been supportive in urging Kosovo Serbs to register.
Other issues discussed during the encounter included the Kosovo Albanian detainees in Serbian prisons, the Kosovo Serb prisoners in Kosovo, missing persons, and Mitrovica. The issue of educational systems had also come up, but it needed to be discussed again in the future, Mr. Haekkerup said.
Responding to reservations expressed by some KTC members about the role of Mr. Covic, the UNMIK chief emphasized that the purpose of talking to the Serbian leader had been to resolve problems. In no way did it infringe the authority of UNMIK and KFOR under UN resolution 1244. "Mr. Covic understands that," he said.
Kosovo: head of UN mission condemns killing of Albanian family
21 AUGUST The head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) today condemned what he called the "ghastly and horrific killing" of five members of a Kosovo Albanian family last night near Gllogavc/Glogovac.
"The cold-blooded killing of members of the Hajra family is shocking, monstrous and incomprehensive," Hans Haekkerup said in a statement issued in Pristina.
The head of Mission said "this foul murder is not just a tragedy for the Hajra family but for all of Kosovo, once again drawing attention to what is wrong in Kosovo society rather than what is right."
"Such acts of violence threaten the progress toward self-government and a democratic future," Mr. Haekkerup said. "My deepest condolences go out to all those close to the Hajra family at this dark moment."
Kosovo: UN launches probe into allegations of sexual assault by police officer
20 AUGUST A police officer serving with the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) has been arrested on allegations of sexual assault, a spokesman for the mission said today.
The officer, who was stationed in Mitrovica, was taken into custody and interviewed by UN police, UNMIK police spokesman Dean Olson told reporters in Pristina.
Once the investigation has been completed, an international prosecutor will evaluate the facts and decide whether to proceed to trial before an international judge.
"This is a criminal investigation, not an internal one, and will be treated accordingly," said Mr. Olson, who declined to provide more information on the case.
Meanwhile, UNMIK expressed concern over the closure of the border between Kosovo and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, which has impeded rotations of UN police.
The border closure currently does not effect shipment of medical supplies but could pose a problem at the end of the week when the next delivery is due, an UNMIK spokeswoman said.
Senior UN Kosovo official meets with Deputy Prime Minister of Yugoslavia
17 AUGUST A senior United Nations official in Kosovo today met with the Deputy Prime Minister of Yugoslavia to discuss the province's judicial system and the ongoing hunger strike by 16 detainees.
Following their meeting at the Mitrovica Detention Centre, Jean-Christophe Cady, the official in charge of police matters for the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), and Nebojsa Covic, who is also head of the Coordinating Centre for Kosovo, issued a joint statement that said both sides sought concrete solutions to the issues behind the hunger strike in order to end it.
"We also engaged in a wider discussion on how both UNMIK and the Serbian Ministry of Justice can contribute to improving further the judicial process and to build on the ongoing efforts to enhance the trust of the people in the judicial system," the statement said. Both the Serbian and UNMIK officials agreed that the goal was a multiethnic judicial system for Kosovo, "available to all communities on an equal and impartial basis."
The two officials also reiterated the need to increase the number of Serb judges, prosecutors and lawyers in the ongoing efforts to build a multiethnic judicial system in Kosovo without creating parallel systems in the province.
Kosovo UN chief meets Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister for wide-ranging talks
15 AUGUST The head of the United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK) today met with the Deputy Prime Minister of Yugoslavia for wide-ranging talks on the current situation in the province.
UNMIK chief Hans Haekkerup, along with the commander of the international force in Kosovo (KFOR), Lt. Gen. Thorsten Skiaker, emphasized to Deputy Prime Minister Nebojsa Covic the importance of implementing the key Security Council resolution throughout Kosovo, especially the need for ensuring that no parallel security and administrative structures were present in the province.
Mr. Haekkerup and Gen. Skiaker also welcomed Belgrade's positive attitude regarding voter registration for the upcoming Kosovo-wide elections and encouraged full participation by the Serb community in those elections.
In other news, UNMIK has confirmed - following an investigation - that there was no evidence of a refrigerated truck containing bodies at the bottom of a lake, as reported in the Serbian media.
The UN police Missing Persons Unit and a fully-equipped KFOR diving team participated in the investigation, and said that nothing was found at the bottom of Radonijicko Lake, near Djakovica.
UN police have also failed to uncover - after more than a year of searches - any evidence to support reports of places in Kosovo where Serbs are being illegally held, UNMIK said.
Kosovo: two UN police officers repatriated due to 'professional misconduct'
13 AUGUST The United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) today said two of its police officers had been repatriated to their home countries because of professional misconduct.
The repatriation occurred following an UNMIK investigation into charges that four of its police officers were involved in the movement of women for the purposes of prostitution.
"The investigation has now been concluded," said Derek Chappel, UNMIK police spokesman. "Two officers were found to have contravened the Code of Conduct. They have been repatriated. Two other officers have received letters of reprimand."
While the four policemen committed professional misconduct "to varying degrees," evidence was not found to support criminal charges, the spokesman said.
More people returning from Kosovo to FYR of Macedonia: UN refugee agency
9 AUGUST The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported today that many people have continued to return to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia from Kosovo over the past three days, although the pace of the movements slowed down yesterday.
"Obviously the developments on the ground have frightened people off," said UNHCR spokesperson Astrid van Genderen Stort at a press briefing today in Pristina. "Many are thinking twice before returning and waiting for better days.
Since the beginning of the conflict, more than 78,000 people have arrived in Kosovo from the FYR of Macedonia, while approximately 24,000 of that number have returned back, leaving about 54,000 refugees in Kosovo, Ms. van Genderen Stort said.
In other news, UNHCR remains "extremely concerned" that, more two years after the entry of the international community in Kosovo, there was still no freedom of movement for most of the province's minority inhabitants. "There is no guarantee of security for any non-Albanian and attacks on completely innocent members of the minority population continue," Ms. van Genderen Stort told the press. "Just looking through the police reports of the past month - arson, shooting incidents, assaults directed at members of the Serbian, RAE, Bosniak and Gorani communities continue to happen on a daily basis. The return of all communities to Kosovo is being hampered by these incidents, and so is the creation of a multi-ethnic society that strives to achieve an autonomous status."
According to the spokesperson, UNHCR focuses on the improvement of living conditions in order to allow members of all ethnic communities to return to their homes. "Displacement is a status no one prefers to be in," she said. "It is the responsibility of all people of Kosovo to ensure a secure environment for themselves and for others and allow others to return in safety and dignity."
UN official in Kosovo condemns attack against Serb convoy
7 AUGUST Reacting to this morning's ambush of a Serb convoy in Kosovo that injured three people, a top United Nations official today strongly condemned the attack as a threat to peace in the province.
"This violent and irresponsible behaviour by a small element of the society is seriously jeopardizing the future of all citizens of Kosovo," Gary Matthews, the deputy head of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), said of the attack that had taken place near Podujevo as a group of Serbs was travelling in a convoy to Serbia.
"As we move towards elections in November, such acts of violence are extremely destabilizing as they undermine our efforts to bring peace and stability to Kosovo," Mr. Matthews said, adding that it was the second attack over the past 24 hours.
In a separate development, UNMIK retook control of a building in Gracanica in which an Office of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia's Committee on Kosovo had been inaugurated on 3 August without any prior consultation with UNMIK.
UNMIK said that it had repeatedly made clear to the Committee that the Office could not be opened with the UN's authorization. On 5 August, the UN Mission requested the Yugoslav authorities to take immediate action to close the Office and restore the building to its former status. "The request was not followed," UNMIK said.