SRSG Bernard Kouchner's New Year's Address
New Year's Day is the start of a new millennium, a new beginning for the people of the world and more specifically for the people of Kosovo, for all the communities of Kosovo. This is a time to look to the future. I am not saying that we should forget about the suffering of the past. We must not forget but we need to start to forgive.
Hope is renewed for a millenium of harmony and oneness - in no other place would this be more appropriate than Kosovo, where the wounds of war are still so fresh and where there is an urgent need to heal. Both communities have suffered, are suffering. The international community must stand by and assist in this process of recovery. We are here to help as needed and not to impose anything that the population is not ready for. It is for this reason that we no longer talk about reconciliation but rather about the first step of co-existence. Today, on the bridge of Mitrovica, the town where strife is most obvious, I shall offer an olive branch for whatever hand reaches out - north or south.
Over the last six months you world has followed UNMIK's every move. You have realized how daunting the problems are, a task that was given us to solve at such short notice and with so few resources. Our efforts have been concentrated on the following three areas: Restoring the social order and security, reestablishing normal life and establishing a climate for a democratic Kosovo. UNMIK is not here to create miracles. But things are improving in all these three areas. I listened to the people of Kosovo, to all the communities, and their desire to be a part of this interim administration. Their role is vital to the future of Kosovo. Their involvement is vital for the people of Kosovo. Our greatest achievement, working with the leaders of three main political parties, is the establishment of the Joint Interim Administrative Council. That is the first step. We must now work to make sure that a Serb representative fills vacant seat, waiting for him or her, so that we can all begin to work together.
Security is always at the top of our agenda. UNMIK police, together with the Kosovo Police Service recruited from all ethnic groups, has improved the social order. I have recently signed a regulation adding hundreds of prosecutors and judges to make the judiciary system more efficient and effective. Despite the fact that there are still incidents of violence, which we all condemn, the overall picture has shown those rates of criminality have fallen considerably.
Reestablishing normal life has been one of our key goals. Since UNMIK and KFOR arrived more than six months ago schools have reopened and basic free health care services are being provided for all. The electricity system is still erratic, but we are working with the Kosovo Electric Company to restore aging plants in very poor condition.
Despite our efforts, Kosovo remains a region full of difficulties. We are facing tremendous challenges. We are facing the ugly consequences of an inter-ethnic war where individuals still continue to seek revenge. Minorities mostly live in enclaves in a climate of fear. This is unacceptable. Victims of yesterday become todays' perpetrators. UNMIK has launched an agenda for coexistence aimed at establishing a climate of security and peace for all communities. But it takes time - time for genuine reconciliation to grow and be accepted.
But we need money to continue the progress that has been made so far. I have been travelling all over the world in the last few months advocating for more funds for schools, hospitals, and other basic social services. We have to pay minimum wages to civil servants. The infrastructure must be rebuilt. Kosovo needs massive investment and for that, Kosovo needs confidence.
All these efforts on the parts of our friends in Kosovo will make an enormous difference if we all share the same vision of a democratic and tolerant Kosovo. In order to achieve this, together we must build the foundations for free and fair elections. I know that working together - UNMIK, KFOR and all the people of Kosovo - we will achieve these goals for the millenium.
I wish you a happy New Year, and if I had to say one more sentence I would say: "We have to change all together to transform the spirit of revenge into a spirit of tolerance and it comes with democracy.
Happy New Year!