SECURITY COUNCIL EXAMINES INPUT FROM RECENT MISSION TO KOSOVO, SEES POLITICAL COMMITMENT OF MINORITIES AS MAJOR CHALLENGE

22 June 2001
SC/7083

SECURITY COUNCIL EXAMINES INPUT FROM RECENT MISSION TO KOSOVO, SEES POLITICAL COMMITMENT OF MINORITIES AS MAJOR CHALLENGE

22/06/2001
Press ReleaseSC/7083

Security Council

4335th Meeting (AM)

SECURITY COUNCIL EXAMINES INPUT FROM RECENT MISSION TO KOSOVO,

SEES POLITICAL COMMITMENT OF MINORITIES AS MAJOR CHALLENGE

Ensuring the political engagement of all communities, particularly the Kosovo Serb community, remained a major challenge for the United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK), the Under-Secretary-General of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations told the Security Council this morning as it met to discuss its recent mission to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, including Kosovo.

[All 15 members of the Council, under the leadership of its President, Anwarul Karim Chowdhury (Bangladesh), visited the area from 16-18 June at the invitation of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Kosovo, Hans Haekkerup.]

Under-Secretary-General Jean-Marie Guéhenno said progress had been made on the issue of return of Kosovo Serbs.  Return should be in secure and sustainable conditions.  The Kosovo Serb community had legitimate grievances: in particular, it continued to suffer disproportionately from major crimes and ethnically motivated acts of intimidation.  Those factors undermined UNMIK’s efforts to convince the Kosovo Serb community that they would derive tangible benefits from cooperating in the UNMIK-led process.

The positive signals in favour of Kosovo Serb voter registration were encouraging, but the Kosovo Serbs must also take part in the elections and take their rightful place in the provisional self-government. Cooperation was preferable to marginalization.  The Council’s mission had succeeded in delivering firm and balanced messages: the United Nations and the international community were committed to ensuring the protection of the rights of all communities, but the people of Kosovo must accept their share of the responsibility.  The Kosovo Albanians must respect the rights of the minority communities, and the minority communities must accept the risks of participation, he said.

The representative of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia noted that his Government had called on the Serbian community to take part in the registration process for the election.  However, the decision on whether Kosovo Serbs would actually go to the polls would depend on whether the conditions for free and fair elections really existed at that time.  Unfortunately, so far those conditions had not been created.  As the situation now stood, Kosovo and Metohija were on the way to being totally transformed into a mono-ethnic community.  Two thirds of the Serbian population had left for other parts of the country, as had many members of other ethnic communities.  Pristina had been cleansed -– of its 40,000 Serbs only 200 remained.  The return of displaced persons to safe areas should begin immediately. 

Albania’s representative said the Albanian Government fully supported the holding of the general elections.  The United Nations and the political forces in Kosova should work together in preparing the appropriate steps that would contribute to the creation of confidence-building and the achievement of a multi-ethnic society.  He called for increased efforts to resolve the issue of missing persons and the release of political prisoners –- a problem that continued to impede the process of reconciliation among the ethnic groups in the province.

The representative of the Russian Federation called for an end to violence, terrorism and drug trafficking, and for the creation of conditions suitable for the return of displaced persons.  The disarmament of illegal armed units must also be completed, and the fight against smuggling and other crime must be stepped up.  His country’s position on the Constitutional Framework was well known -– the document had a whole range of substantive shortcomings.  One of those was that there was no reference in it to the need to comply fully with resolution 1244, including its basic provision -- respect for the integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. 

The representative of Jamaica noted that during the mission a group of women -- representatives of non-governmental organizations in Kosovo -- had met with Council members and had raised the need to involve women in peace negotiations and in the political process.  The international community’s support in that endeavour was needed.  Equally necessary was regular dialogue between local women’s groups and UNMIK.

The President of the Council, Anwarul Karim Chowdhury (Bangladesh), speaking in his national capacity, said a peaceful future in Kosovo and in the region hinged on greater tolerance and mutual accommodation by different ethnic entities.  Despite some progress, wounds were still open, mistrust was widespread, and ethnically motivated violence was active.  Regarding democracy, he said some success had been achieved in representation of different communities in the interim institutions, although political engagement of Kosovo Serbs remained a challenge.  The authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia had an important role to play in that engagement.

Statements were also made this morning by the representatives of the United States, Singapore, China, Ukraine, Ireland, France, Norway, Tunisia, United Kingdom, Mauritius, Mali, Colombia and Sweden (for the European Union and associated States).

Ambassador Chowdhury (Bangladesh) also made a brief statement during the meeting in his capacity as Council President. 

The meeting was called to order at 10:26 a.m. and adjourned at 12:55 p.m.

Background

The Security Council met this morning to consider the report on the Council mission to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, including Kosovo, on 16, 17 and 18 June  (document S/2001/600).  All 15 Council members were included in the mission, which was led by the Council’s President, Anwarul Karim Chowdhury (Bangladesh), who had introduced the report during a Council meeting of 19 June.

According to the report, the latest Council's visit was the first ever mission comprising all 15 members of that body and led by the Council’s President.  It was undertaken on 16-18 June to enhance support for the implementation of relevant Council resolutions; observe the operations of the United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK) and the situation on the ground; and to convey a strong message to all the parties concerned on the need to reject all violence and promote safety and reconciliation.

During that time, the Council members had several important meetings, which included those with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General; the President and members of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Committee on Kosovo; the United Nations Regional Administration in Mitrovica; Kosovo Albanian and Kosovo Serb representatives; the Kosovo Force (KFOR) Commander; the President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Vojslav Kostunica; and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was visiting the region. 

The report states that following the visit, the Council members came to the conclusion that UNMIK had now reached a critical stage in the implementation of its mandate.  Continued effectiveness of the Mission required major efforts by UNMIK, KFOR and UNMIK Police, which required close attention from the Security Council and sustained input of resources from the international community.  While the mission was left in no doubt that strong reservations existed, not least in Belgrade, about taking forward the elections, it also recognized that the status quo was unacceptable.  The Council mission underlined that elections would enhance the democratic process in Kosovo and the stability of the region, and stressed the need to ensure secure conditions for the elections.  It was necessary to encourage the participation of all communities in the elections, the return of refugees and displaced persons and their participation in the vote.

According to the report, the current political process is crucial to combating extremism and encouraging moderates on all sides.  Key to the success of this process is the active engagement and participation of all communities.  The mission supports UNMIK's efforts to create a multi-ethnic Kosovo, which remains one of the main challenges.  Current obstacles include inadequate physical, social and economic security for the communities, in particular alongside a lack of freedom of movement and equal access to public services.  The mission emphasized the need for a coordinated approach to those issues in an effort to show all Kosovo communities the tangible benefits of cooperation with the international community.

To improve security and law enforcement, the mission welcomes the establishment by the Special Representative of Pillar I and key legislation to combat organized crime, illegal weapons possession and terrorism.  It notes the need for additional resources in the key areas of justice and policing, and the need to create a new Assistant Secretary-General position to head Pillar I.  The mission recommends that a formal request be sent to KFOR to regularly provide detailed information regarding the weapons seized and to pursue all possible violations.  More attention should be devoted to the issue of the missing members of all communities and detainees, for it is clearly vital that further progress be made in that area. 

Mitrovica was a further issue raised by all of the Kosovo representatives, the report states, and the mission supports efforts to develop a comprehensive strategy to resolve the complex situation there.  In supporting the efforts currently undertaken by UNMIK and KFOR, the mission underlines the responsibility of the Kosovo leadership for creating conditions to improve inter-communal relations and promote reconciliation.  The mission conveyed firm and balanced messages to all community leaders that the responsibility lies with them to clearly and openly reject violence, extremism and terrorism.

According to the report, it is important that the majority ensures that the rights of the minority communities are respected.  The mission's strong message to the Kosovo Albanian leadership was the need to improve treatment of the minority communities.  Promoting a culture of peace and non-violence is crucial for success.  In turn, minority communities, too, must realize that there is no alternative to establishing a multi-ethnic society.  The mission acknowledges that the minority communities have legitimate grievances and urges UNMIK and KFOR to address them, but believes that the only viable future for all communities lies in participation.  The Kosovo Serb community, in particular, must integrate into the structures being set up by UNMIK, rather than set up parallel structures.

The mission believes that UNMIK must continue and enhance its dialogue with the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and notes the enormity of the tasks faced by UNMIK. 

UNMIK Background

On 10 June 1999, after North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) suspended its air operations following the withdrawal of security forces of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia from Kosovo, the Security Council, in its resolution 1244, authorized the Secretary-General to establish an interim international civilian administration under which the people of the war-ravaged province could enjoy substantial autonomy.  The United Nations Mission, UNMIK,  had authority over the territory and people of Kosovo, including all legislative and executive powers, as well as the administration of the judiciary. 

As chief of the Mission, the Secretary-General's Special Representative presides over the four sectors involved in implementing civilian aspects of rehabilitating and reforming Kosovo, also known as the "four pillars".  They are:

-- Humanitarian assistance, led by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR);

-- Civil administration, under the United Nations itself;

-- Democratization and institution-building, led by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE);

-- And reconstruction and economic development, managed by the European Union.

The work of UNMIK was envisaged in five integrated phases:

-- Phase I:  The Mission would set up administrative structures, deploy international civilian police, provide emergency assistance for returning refugees and displaced people, restore public serves and train local police and judiciary.  It would also develop a phased economic recovery plan and seek to establish a self-sustaining economy;

-- Phase II:  The focus would be on administration of social services and utilities and consolidation of the rule of law.  Administration of such sectors as health and education would be transferred to local and possibly regional authorities. Preparation for elections would begin.

-- Phase III:  UNMIK would finalize preparations and conduct elections for a Kosovo Transitional Authority;

-- Phase IV:  UNMIK would help Kosovo's elected representatives organize and set up provisional institutions for democratic and autonomous self-government and transfer its remaining administrative responsibilities while supporting the consolidation of Kosovo's provisional institutions;

-- Phase V:  The concluding phase would depend on a final settlement of the status of Kosovo.  The UNMIK would oversee the transfer of authority from Kosovo's provisional institutions to institutions established under a political settlement.

The Council also had before it the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (document S/2001/565).

In the report, he states that in the face of considerable political, security and economic challenges, UNMIK continues to make steady progress in the implementation of its mandate.  Through complex negotiations, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General has laid the groundwork for provisional self-government with the elaboration of the Constitutional Framework, which will form the basis of Kosovo-wide elections on 17 November.  The Constitutional Framework represents a balanced elaboration of the concept of “substantial autonomy” envisaged in Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) and can work to the benefit of all Kosovo communities.

It is now important to move ahead with elections, the report states, for which the preparations are already under way, including crucial public administration capacity-building measures to prepare the residents of Kosovo for the task of self-government that lies ahead.  The majority of Kosovars yearn for stability through self-government.  In turn, a more stable Kosovo will contribute to regional stability.

It is critical to seek the active engagement of all communities in the process of building the institutions of provisional self-government, the report continues.  That is the only way to ensure that both the process and the outcome are successful.  A major challenge in that regard is securing the participation of the Kosovo Serb community.  The Kosovo Serb community should realize that it cannot hold itself outside of the UNMIK-led process and that the benefits of cooperation are preferable to marginalization.  For the Kosovo Serbs, participation in that process and in the coming elections will decide whether that community can become fully reintegrated into Kosovo society.

The tense security situation, punctuated by outbursts of violence against Kosovo minority communities, remains the single most important threat to the attainment of the international community’s goals, according to the report.  The Secretary-General welcomes the robust policies of UNMIK towards improving the law and order situation, including the recent establishment of a separate security and justice pillar, and clear initiatives to tackle terrorism and organized crime.  Those initiatives are extremely important as continued insecurity undermines the advancement of the democratic process in Kosovo.

It is important for UNMIK that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia engage in the process of implementing Security Council resolution 1244 (1999), the report continues.  Despite existing differences, there is steady improvement in UNMIK relations with the Yugoslav authorities.  Those have been enhanced by substantive gestures on Belgrade’s part, such as the return of the “Djakovica Group”, which was most appreciated.  The Secretary-General calls again on the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, however, to release the remaining detainees to the authority of his Special Representative, who can arrange for a review of their cases by UNMIK.  He adds that he is pleased to see the beginning of dialogue on the missing, which is a crucial confidence-building measure.

The way ahead for UNMIK in the coming months is clear, the report states.  In the short term, the political and security challenges to achieving the Mission’s goals may loom large, but they will not dissuade UNMIK from remaining on track to achieve the long-term objectives of holding Kosovo-wide elections, implementing the Constitutional Framework and setting the stage for self-government and economic viability.  In addition to the continued unity of effort of its components, in close cooperation with KFOR, in the crucial period in the run-up to elections, the Mission will require the ongoing support of its activities by the international community, including material support, and, above all, the strong and committed support it has enjoyed from members of the Security Council and Member States since its inception.

Statements

JEAN-MARIE GUEHENNO, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, introducing the Secretary-General’s report, said the mission’s report concurs with the views expressed in the Secretary-General’s report, and points out that the key challenges are interrelated: security, return of refugees and internally displaced persons, the issue of the missing and detainees, confidence-building measures and the holding of Kosovo-wide elections later this year.  The mission’s main message to the representatives of all communities was the need for multi-ethnicity.

As both the mission’s and the Secretary-General’s report pointed out, the political engagement of all communities, particularly the Kosovo Serb community, remained a major challenge for UNMIK.  That challenge could only be rendered more difficult by the continuing divisions within the Kosovo Serb community itself, he said.

The authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia were still concerned about some aspects of the Constitutional Framework, but they had accepted that the document could not be changed.  Instead, there was a need for the creation of confidence-building measures vis-à-vis the Kosovo Serb community.  He was pleased to see an increasing dialogue between the Secretary-General’s Special Representative Hans Haekkerup and the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.  “It is only through consistent and patient dialogue that we will be able to move the process forward”, he said.  He encouraged the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to assist in conveying a clear message to the Kosovo community that participation and integration into the structures UNMIK is establishing were in their best interest.

Progress had been made on the issue of return of Kosovo Serbs.  A vital element in that process was the acceptance, by the majority population, of minority return.  He welcomed the identification of 10 sites where it was planned that return could take place.  Return should be in secure and sustainable conditions, he said.

The Kosovo Serb community had legitimate grievances.  One of the main challenges in that regard remained the fragile security situation, particularly for the minority communities.  The Kosovo Serb community, in particular, continued to suffer disproportionately from major crimes and ethnically motivated acts of intimidation.  Those factors continued to undermine UNMIK’s efforts to convince the Kosovo Serb community that it would derive tangible benefits from cooperating in the UNMIK-led process.

Mitrovica had been identified as a key area for confidence-building measures to dispel the hatred and mutual distrust that still existed on both sides.  One area in the context of confidence-building measures was the issue of the missing on all sides.  The Constitutional Framework was an important step in the implementation of resolution 1244 (1999).  Moving the process forward on the basis of a broad consensus was essential to combating extremism and encouraging moderates on all sides.  That would have a beneficial effect on the security situation and the prospects for return.

The positive signals in favour of Kosovo Serb registration were encouraging, but the Kosovo Serbs must also take part in the elections and take their rightful place in the provisional self-government.  Cooperation was preferable to marginalization.  The Council’s mission had succeeded in delivering firm and balanced messages:  the United Nations and the international community were committed to ensuring the protection of the rights of all communities, but the people of Kosovo must accept their share of the responsibility.  The Kosovo Albanians must respect the rights of the minority communities, and the minority communities must accept the risk of participation, he said.

ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh), Council President, noted that the report had been presented to the Council on 19 June –- the first available afternoon after the mission’s return to New York.  The mission’s findings, which were well articulated and considered, were contained in document S/2001/600.  The mission had conveyed a firm and balanced message and he hoped it would make some difference in the situation there.

ANDREY GRANOVSKY (Russian Federation) said the result of the mission’s work confirmed the timeliness and value of the visit, which had been proposed by his delegation.  The mission had held substantive meetings with the parties involved and he especially noted the substantive talks with the President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.  The main outcome of the trip was a clearly stated demand that the relevant authorities must ensure full and comprehensive implementation of resolution 1244, primarily regarding security for minorities.  A key event of the visit had been the meeting between the mission and Russian President Putin, at which it had been stressed that the problem of extremists in the province must be addressed.

He called for an end to violence, terrorism and drug trafficking, and for the creation of conditions suitable for the return of displaced persons.  The disarmament of illegal armed units must also be completed and the fight against smuggling and other crime must be stepped up.  A key issue now was to prepare the Kosovo-wide elections.  His country’s position on the Constitutional Framework was well known -- the document had a whole range of substantive shortcomings.  One of those was that there was no reference in it to the need to comply fully with resolution 1244, including its basic provision which was respect for the integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. 

To hold the elections, he said, security conditions must be established that would ensure genuinely free expression of will of all ethnic communities in the province.  It was only once the Serbs could feel safe everywhere that a normal, multi-ethnic life could be established in Mitrovica.  Unless there was solid cooperation with Belgrade, UNMIK would not be able to discharge its mandate, he added.  To stabilize the situation in the Balkans, approaches based on the political will of the States of the region, with the active participation of the international community, were needed.  This was why his President had proposed holding a summit on the Balkans.

JAMES CUNNINGHAM (United States) said that as the Under-Secretary-General had noted, the mission had sent clear messages to its interlocutors and had been very useful.  Meeting with Presidents Kostunica and Putin had been key events.  He strongly supported the efforts of the Special Representative and UNMIK, including those on the importance of improving security and moving towards the holding of Kosovo-wide elections.  He stressed that the United States would support all those who favoured dialogue and political process and condemned any use of violence.

CHRISTINE LEE (Singapore) said the United Nations involvement must continue.  The political status in Kosovo was clearly stated in resolution 1244 (1999).  The most critical area to be addressed was the need for reconciliation among the ethnic communities.  Promoting ethnic tolerance was the key to bring those communities together, as experience in her own country had shown.  She condemned all ethnic violence.  

She welcomed the establishment of Pillar I and urged that measures be taken to improve the security environment.  The initial economic reconstruction and progress had produced encouraging results.  Economic growth was a strong incentive for working towards a secure environment, which would stimulate that growth.

She stressed the importance of full participation of all communities in establishing substantial autonomy.  It was crucial to the success of the elections that all communities, including refugees, participate in the process.  The UNMIK was an interim administration, and its task must be to develop Kosovo’s capabilities.  It was, however, clear that Kosovo’s return to normalcy would take many years.  It was imperative that the United Nations did not terminate its activities prematurely.

SHEN GUOFANG (China) said the mission’s report was balanced and candid and had presented clear demands.  The degree in which those demands were met would serve as a benchmark. Mr. Haekkerup, UNMIK and KFOR had achieved positive results in a number of areas.  However, the security situation needed improvement, as the security of minorities had not been assured and their return had been minimal.  He emphasized that without broad participation, the outcome of the elections would only further aggravate inter-ethnic tensions.

He encouraged UNMIK to continue to enhance the cooperation with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Government and establish a mechanism for regular dialogue.  He hoped that the minority communities would actively participate in the general elections, on the condition that the security situation was improved and that their plight was adequately addressed.  The UNMIK should establish inter-communal confidence measures, so that the findings of the mission would be translated into concrete action.

He emphasized that accomplishment of national reconciliation would be a long process and would require sustained efforts on the part of the international community.  Any efforts to nudge Kosovo towards independence would lead to new tensions.  The Council must endeavour to stem that tendency.  The efforts of the international community must be put in the context of the situation of the entire region.  The situations in Kosovo and in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia were closely interrelated.

VALERY KUCHINSKY (Ukraine) said his Government welcomed progress made by UNMIK in implementing Council resolution 1244 in the two years since its establishment.  He believed that the recent UNMIK efforts in pursuing the goals of holding Kosovo-wide elections, implementing a constitutional framework and setting the stage for self-government and economic viability would lead to a more stable and secure Kosovo.  “But the alley of trees would be a blind alley unless a security environment for the elections and the participation of all Kosovo communities, refugees and displaced persons was ensured”, he said. 

The engagement and political presence of the Serb community was of utmost importance, and his delegation fully supported the recent statements of the Yugoslav authorities encouraging Kosovo Serbs to register for elections, he said.  As for interim institutions, he paid special tributes to the activities of the Interim Administrative Council and the Kosovo Transitional Council.  The involvement of all communities in those structures was yet another vital element to further the democratic processes in the region, and he called on UNMIK to redouble its efforts.

Without any doubt, the establishment of a new police and justice pillar of UNMIK, aimed at strengthening the fight against ethnic violence and crime was commendable.  The general criminality in Kosovo was one of the most dangerous security challenges, and he was encouraged by the robust measures UNMIK was taking to combat it and to bolster a legislative basis for prosecuting terrorism and organized crime. 

RICHARD RYAN (Ireland) said despite progress made, problems remained to be resolved, including deep-rooted divisions between ethnic communities.  He had no doubt that UNMIK and KFOR would achieve their mandates and supported their work fully.  The future of Kosovo was as a multi-ethnic society.  Ireland understood very well the profound concerns expressed by the Serbs about security in Kosovo.  He welcomed the recent decision to establish a peace and justice pillar.  Quantifiable progress must be made in the area of peace and security.  All terrorist activity in Kosovo must cease. 

The UNMIK’s administration must cooperate even more closely with the authorities in Belgrade.  He had been impressed by the honesty and realism of those authorities, and he had no doubt that they would use their influence widely.  In the interim, all parties must work towards the creation of a positive environment for Serb participation in the elections.  He agreed that the city of Mitrovica played a key role in the situation as a whole and the conditions fueling extremism must be addressed.

YVES DOUTRIAUX (France), aligning himself with Sweden’s statement on behalf of the European Union, said it was essential that the political process continue.  The status quo was not acceptable and could not last.  The elections on 17 November opened up a political prospect for essential stability in Kosovo.  All communities must be able to participate, in particular the Serb community.  It was in the interest of the Kosovo Serbs to participate in the elections.  Provisions in the Constitutional Framework would enable them to exercise their rights.

He supported the strong measures taken to ensure law and order in Kosovo, such as regulations against illegal border crossings and against terrorism.  The pillar on security and justice would make it possible to control crime and extremism in a stronger way.  He proposed a new Assistant Secretary-General post in that regard.  Extremists should not expect any indulgence.  Isolating them was in the interest of everybody.  Everyone, also in the Albanian community, must strongly condemn violence, he said.

He supported the recommendation to step up the dialogue between UNMIK and Belgrade and welcomed the increase in contacts between Mr. Haekkerup and authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the opening of an office in Belgrade.  Closer cooperation between the United Nations and Federal Republic of Yugoslavia would be helpful.

NOUREDDIN MEJDOUB (Tunisia) said the mission had been a complete success, because it had been able to observe first-hand the level of commitment by the parties and the obstacles facing them.  The meetings with Presidents Putin and Kostunica had enabled the mission to hold a fruitful exchange of views on the perils facing the entire sub-region.  The meetings held with the various Kosovar communities had enabled those groups to express their concerns and had allowed the Council to express that the establishment of a multi-ethnic society was indispensable to peace in Kosovo.  Establishing lasting confidence-building measures among the various communities was the cornerstone of that effort. 

He was gratified that UNMIK had focused its activities in the field within the context of the need to promote coexistence and full compliance with resolution 1244.  Stronger political and financial support for UNMIK during the current phase was essential.  The time had come for the Kosovar parties themselves to undertake a dialogue on the many issues facing the region.  In that context, it must be made clear that resolution 1244 was non-negotiable. 

The political process in the province must proceed and all parties must take part, he added.  The situation in Mitrovica illustrated how wide the gulf between the Albanian and Serb communities was.  That situation must be resolved.

STEWART ELDON (United Kingdom) aligned himself with Sweden’s statement on behalf of the European Union.  He said the United Kingdom strongly endorsed the findings of the mission.  He underlined the need for a clear message from the Belgrade authorities to the Serb community about participation.  It was in all communities’ interest to participate in the elections and secure their place in shaping Kosovo’s future.  That message from Belgrade was vital, particularly since some progress had been made regarding the return of refugees.

Normalizing the situation in Mitrovica could also be stimulated by Belgrade, he said.  He underlined the importance of confidence-building measures.  Extremism and organized crime were at the heart of problems in Kosovo and in the wider region, and he supported UNMIK and KFOR in tackling that issue.  He asked for a progress report on Pillar I, in particular regarding the appointment of prosecutors and judges.

ANUND PRIYAY NEEWOOR (Mauritius) said the report of the mission broadly summed up the important work accomplished.  The visit had provided an opportunity to see the situation in Kosovo first-hand and had provided clearer insight into the deep-rooted issues facing the people there.  He noted the importance of the many meetings with the parties that had been held.  The crisis had been a real human tragedy.  Although the conflict was largely over, people in Kosovo continued to live in a situation of bitter ethnic divide, mutual hate and fear.  Both Serb and Albanian minorities remained confined to their homes because of fear, and great numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons remained.  In such circumstances, UNMIK and KFOR were valiantly engaged in maintaining peace and security and deserved to be commended and fully supported. 

The task of rebuilding a multi-ethnic community was as daunting as the situation was complex, he said.  The most immediate challenge was organizing Kosovo-wide elections, which must be inclusive.  The security situation must improve so that all could participate, and every effort must be made to ensure that voters, particularly Serbs, had the opportunity to register to vote without hindrance.  Another important challenge for UNMIK was aiding in the process of economic reconstruction.  The future of Kosovo lay in the establishment of a multi-ethnic community, he stressed.

MAMOUNOU TOURE (Mali) said despite multiple political, economic and security problems, UNMIK had made considerable progress.  He was grateful for the promulgation of the Constitutional Framework and the declaration that elections would be held on 17 November.  That Framework did not enjoy consensus among the political actors in Kosovo.  However, it provided moderates to make progress and keep extremists on the fringes.  The electoral process could strengthen stability in the region, and encouraged all communities, particularly the Kosovo Serbs, to participate in the elections.

He was concerned about continuing ethnic violence and organized crime.  They were an obstacle towards achieving democracy, he said, as well as an obstacle to return of returnees.  He welcomed the establishment of Pillar I and hoped it would lead to improvement of security.  The high unemployment and disastrous state of the economy was a matter of concern, but he welcomed the establishment of tax-collection points.

The situation of thousands of refugees from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was a source of concern, and the questions of missing persons and detainees were also important.  He encouraged UNMIK to urge Federal Republic of Yugoslavia authorities to release all detainees.  The opening of an UNMIK office in Belgrade would encourage cooperation between UNMIK and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. 

ALFONSO VALDIVIESO (Colombia) said he shared the Secretary-General’s assessment of the need for the establishment of the rule of law in Kosovo, and he therefore supported UNMIK initiatives in that regard.  Open meetings concerning the missions of the Council were very useful for assessing their outcome.  He noted the constructive exchanges held with the Presidents of the Russian Federation and the Federal Republic, as well as the many other useful meetings. 

He underlined the valuable contribution of both UNMIK and KFOR in addressing the situation.  UNMIK’s achievements over the past few years were notable, but the remaining challenges were considerable.  He stressed the need to ensure participation by all in the upcoming elections –- in that regard, security guarantees were essential.  The problem of missing and detained persons must be resolved, as must the problems in Mitrovica.  Mitrovica reflected all the problems facing Kosovo, and UNMIK must work with KFOR to ensure that all actions were coordinated.  He added that the citizens of Kosovo must become aware of the key role they must play in resolving the situation.  He appealed to all Kosovars to reject violence and to participate in the political process.

M. PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica) said there had been progress in the area of peace and security.  The situation for minority communities remained, however, a matter of concern, particularly in Mitrovica.  Unless that situation improved, peace and reconciliation were doomed to fail, preventing the return of refugees and sustained economic development.  She was pleased with the establishment of Pillar I, and welcomed the regulations on illegal border crossings and possession of illegal weapons. 

As Chairperson of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1160 (1998), she drew attention to paragraphs 25 and 33 of the report and their importance to law and order in Kosovo.  They highlighted discussions with KFOR on the strengthening and monitoring of the arms embargo.  The discussions had been fruitful and she appreciated the promised detailed information on weapons seized.  The quantity of weapons seized was encouraging.  One issue on which all communities pleaded for assistance was that of missing persons.  She encouraged UNMIK to promote conditions conducive to return of refugees and internally displaced persons.

She said a group of women, representatives of NGOS, had met with mission members and had raised the need to involve women in peace negotiations and the political process.  To achieve that, the international community’s support was needed.  Equally necessary was regular dialogue between local women’s groups and UNMIK.  The economic situation continued to be a matter of great concern, with high unemployment, particularly among youths, and unresolved issues concerning property rights.  Those problems could influence the return of refugees and internally displaced persons, she said. 

OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) said that as a major provider of personnel and assistance to Kosovo, his Government had a strong interest in the successful implementation of self-government in Kosovo, based on the Constitutional Framework and resolution 1244.  The single most important challenge was the security situation.  Minority communities, in particular Kosovo Serbs, continued to suffer from ethnic violence and major crimes.  Neither did extremists shun violence against fellow ethnic Albanians to advance political or criminal interests.  He therefore firmly supported the Special Representative’s initiatives to improve law and order, including through a new justice pillar.

His Government would do its share and fulfil its commitments to Kosovo, he said.  But it was a two-way street.  All involved must do their part.  Creating security and conditions for return could not be left to the United Nations and KFOR alone.  It was up to the Kosovar leaders to demonstrate in deeds the political will to create a multi-ethnic society which was ready for meaningful self-rule in accordance with resolution 1244.  Norway had not supported a community which had suffered repression and violence only to see members of that same community inflicting suffering on others.  Those who had fought for their own rights must now stand up for the equal rights of others.

PIERRE SCHORI (Sweden) spoke on behalf of the European Union, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta, Turkey, Iceland and Liechtenstein.  He said the Constitutional Framework was a landmark step in the implementation of resolution 1244 and constituted a decisive move towards the establishment of meaningful and democratic self-government in Kosovo.  He urged all individuals and communities in Kosovo to participate actively and constructively in the election process and in the future provisional institutions of self-government.  The Union welcomed the Yugoslav Government’s support for the registration of Kosovo Serbs, and called upon Belgrade to continue to cooperate with UNMIK in order to ensure their participation in the elections.

He said the Union supported the mission’s findings that there was a need for intensified efforts on issues such as increased security for all communities, in particular for the Kosovo Serbs, freedom of movement, the fate of missing persons, and the return of refugees and displaced persons.  Both reports before the Council pointed to the fact that the level of violence and crime in Kosovo remained unacceptably high.  Concerted effort to enhance the overall security situation in Kosovo was of vital importance to the stability of the province and the entire region.  The Union remained deeply concerned about the serious security situation in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.  In order to establish a durable peace there, it was imperative that the ceasefire be maintained.  It was also important that KFOR maintain a robust border control and take a firm stance against ethnic Albanian extremists operating from Kosovo.

DEJAN SAHOVIC (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) said that the discussions the mission held in the Federal Republic, in Kosovo and Metohija and Belgrade had been very useful.  He supported the position of the mission that the political process in Kosovo and Metohija had to be further promoted in accordance with Council resolution 1244 (1999).  That required substantial additional efforts by UNMIK, KFOR and the UNMIK police, as well as the full attention of the Council.  He also agreed with the assessment that basic obstacles to the creation of a multi-ethnic Kosovo and Metohija were the lack of physical, social and economic security of the population, as well as lack of freedom of movement and equal access to public services. 

His Government had repeatedly emphasized that it supported in principle the elections in Kosovo and Metohija and the creation of interim institutions in accordance with Council resolution 1244, especially its provision on respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.  Therefore, his Government had called on the Serbian community to take part in the registration process for the election.  However, the decision on whether Kosovo Serbs would actually go to the polls would depend on whether the conditions for free and fair elections really existed at that time.  Unfortunately, so far those conditions had not been created.

As the situation now stood, Kosovo and Metohija were on the way to being totally transformed into a mono-ethnic community, he said.  Two thirds of the Serbian population had left for other parts of the country, as had many members of other ethnic communities.  Pristina had been cleansed -– of its 40,000 Serbs, only 200 remained.  The process of the return of displaced persons had not yet started, and flight from the province continued on a daily basis.  The return of displaced persons to safe areas should begin immediately.  He added that his country’s position on the Constitutional Framework was well known –- relevant legislation should be enacted to improve the content of the Framework, and additional confidence-building measures should be put in place.

AGIM NESHO (Albania) said the Albanian Government fully supported the holding of general elections in Kosova.  The elections would create central institutions and increase the responsibility of the Kosovars in the process of self-governance.  The United Nations and the political forces in Kosova should work together in preparing the appropriate steps that would contribute to the creation of confidence-building and the achievement of a multi-ethnic Kosova.  He called for increased efforts to resolve the issue of missing persons and the release of political prisoners –- a problem that continued to impede the process of reconciliation among the ethnic groups in the province.

The international community and the Belgrade regime should try to influence the Serb community in Mitrovica to abandon the policy of cantonization and isolation of Mitrovica.  Resolution 1244 aimed at creating a free and democratic society in Kosova, where all its members were free and equal.  The solution to the problem of Mitrovica would eradicate not only a source of tension and conflict, but would also help create a feeling of responsibility among Albanians of Kosova to respect all of the democratic rules and live in equal coexistence with the other ethnic groups.  He added that he welcomed the recommendation of the Council’s mission regarding Mitrovica’s need for multi-ethnic initiatives in the social, economic and religious areas, with the objective of rebuilding confidence between the communities, in particular in the field of economic development.

To achieve the necessary confidence and reconciliation in Kosova, the Albanians should work further for respecting the rights of the minorities.  At the same time, the minorities, in particular the Serb minority, should understand that only by participating in the process of democratic institution-building, and in the upcoming general elections, would they contribute to the goal of a multi-ethnic Kosova.  He supported the continued presence of UNMIK and KFOR in Kosova.  As a neighbouring country, Albania would like to establish broad cooperation with

Kosova with the aim of making Kosova a model for the entire region.  He supported the integration of Kosova into the European Union.

The President of the Council, ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh), speaking in his national capacity, said a peaceful future in Kosovo and in the greater region hinged on greater tolerance and mutual accommodation by different ethnic entities.  Despite some progress, wounds were still open, mistrust widespread, and ethnically motivated violence active.  The only practical way out of that was to significantly improve the environment so that all communities felt safe and secure.  Resolution of the issue of detainees and missing persons was crucial in that regard.  The mission to Kosovo had carried a strong message urging the communities to do their utmost to create a truly multi-ethnic society.

The democratic process in Kosovo had started with municipal elections last year.  Some success had been achieved in the representation of different communities in the interim institutions, although the political engagement of Kosovo Serbs remained a challenge.  The authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia had an important role to play in that engagement. There might be difficulties in taking forward the elections in Kosovo on the basis of the Constitutional Framework, he said, but the initiative must be pursued.

He was pleased the mission had been able to meet with women’s groups in Kosovo.  The international community should increase its support to enable women non-governmental organizations and women’s groups to reach across the ethnic divide.  Resolution 1325 provided for their greater participation in peace negotiations and in the political process, and their activities should be supported by UNMIK.  Civil society had played a significant role in enhancing the objective of a multi-ethnic society in Kosovo.

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For information media. Not an official record.