SECURITY COUNCIL HEARS BRIEFING ON KOSOVO SITUATION

18 January 2001
SC/6991

SECURITY COUNCIL HEARS BRIEFING ON KOSOVO SITUATION

18/01/2001
Press ReleaseSC/6991

Security Council                                      SC/6991*

4258th Meeting (AM)                                    18 January 2001

SECURITY COUNCIL HEARS BRIEFING ON KOSOVO SITUATION

The Security Council was briefed on the situation in Kosovo this morning by Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping operations. 

In his briefing, the Under-Secretary-General said the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) had continued to work to create inclusive local administrative structures.  To underpin that effort, the outgoing Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Bernard Kouchner -– who has been succeeded by Hans Haekkerup of Denmark -- had emphasized that Kosovars were responsible for building a tolerant society.  He had also urged the province’s political leaders to use their influence to reject intolerance and curb extremism. 

He said the Kosovo Transitional Council had been partially enlarged.  Further enlargement was planned to make it as representative as possible of the province’s religious and ethnic communities.  The structure of the Interim Administrative Council, however, had yet to be reformed.  Any changes would take into account the results of the 28 October municipal elections, which had enabled the Mission to gauge the popularity of political parties on a Kosovo-wide basis more realistically.

Despite incidents of violence, UNMIK had made significant progress in strengthening the rule of law in the province, he added.  The police service had improved in both quantity and quality and, despite threats and intimidation, personnel in that service were largely performing in a professional manner.  He said UNMIK’s initial focus on emergency reconstruction had now shifted to economic development and the promotion of private sector enterprise.

During the discussion that followed the Under-Secretary-General's briefing, speakers expressed their support for the new Special Representative, underlined the importance of cooperation between the parties in the region, and stressed the need to curb continuing ethnic violence and address the issue of Kosovo-wide elections.

The representative of Sweden, speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said the Union welcomed the progress made in Kosovo in the implementation of resolution 1244 (1999) and fully supported the efforts of the new Special Representative to establish democratic, self-governing institutions in Kosovo in order to provide substantial autonomy for the people there.  The Union

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*     Press Release DSG/SM/120-SC/6989 of 16 January should have been

DSG/SM/120-SC/6990.

Security Council - 1a - Press Release

4258th Meeting (AM)

also supported efforts to increase dialogue and cooperation between UNMIK and the relevant institutions of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and condemned the use of violence, extremism and any act which made the coexistence of communities more difficult and which adversely affected regional stability.

The situation in Kosovo remained extremely difficult, the representative of the United States said.  He urged the new Special Representative to continue his successor’s work and to focus on two overriding issues, the first of which was the holding of Kosovo-wide elections as soon as possible, so that the people could govern themselves.  He said that there should be no disagreement about the holding of elections, even if there was disagreement on the final status of the province.  Following the elections, the Council and the international community would face an even greater challenge -– the final status of Kosovo, he said.  Kosovo would never be peaceful and stable until its status was resolved.

The representative of the Russian Federation said the new Special Representative had inherited a difficult situation.  His predecessor had allowed several distortions to resolution 1244 (1999).  Hopefully, that flawed practice would now end.  In his work, Mr. Haekkerup must strictly respect the principle of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia that was enshrined in resolution 1244.  There were new winds in the region and full use must be made of them.  Any decision on matters of great importance to the province must be taken in agreement with the authorities in Belgrade, he added. 

The representative of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia stressed the need to resolve the security problems in the “Ground Safety Zone” in parts of the municipalities of Bujanovac, Medveda and Presevo, brought about by the incursions of ethnic Albanian terrorists.  He underlined his Government’s commitment to resolving the situation in the Zone, as well as for a comprehensive solution for Kosovo and Metohija, in a negotiated, peaceful and diplomatic way, proceeding from full respect for resolution 1244 (1999).  His Government was convinced that only by abiding by democratic principles and building confidence among all residents of the province would lasting reconciliation be possible.

Statements were also made by the representatives of Bangladesh, Jamaica, United Kingdom, Tunisia, Ukraine, Norway, France, Mali, China, Colombia, Ireland and Mauritius.

S. Jayakumar, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Singapore and Council President, made a statement in his national capacity.  Under Secretary-General Guéhenno made brief concluding remarks.

The meeting began at 10:20 and adjourned at 1:03 p.m.

Council Work Programme

The Security Council this morning held an open briefing on the situation in Kosovo, in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.  The Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, addressed the Council.

Statements

JEAN-MARIE GUÉHENNO, Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) had continued to work to create inclusive local administrative structures.  To underpin that, the outgoing Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Bernard Kouchner, had emphasized that Kosovars were responsible for building a tolerant society.  He had also urged the province’s political leaders to use their influence to reject intolerance and curb extremism. 

He said the Kosovo Transitional Council had been partially enlarged.  Further enlargement was planned to make it as representative as possible of the province’s religious and ethnic communities.  The structure of the Interim Administrative Council (IAC), however, had yet to be reformed.  Any changes would take into account the results of the 28 October municipal elections, which had enabled the Mission to gauge the popularity of political parties on a Kosovo-wide basis more realistically.  Reforms of the IAC would also be designed to help prepare for elections.

He said that, on 10 January, the first meeting of the working group on the legal and institutional framework for Kosovo-wide elections was held.  It was attended by Kosovo Albanian and Serb experts nominated by the IAC.  Its work

would concentrate on proposals for the functions and composition of the provisional assembly and on an appropriate electoral formula.  Assemblies in

the 27 municipalities where election results had been certified were now fully established.  Three mandatory committees –- Policy, Finance and Communities and Mediation –- had been established in 12 assemblies. 

In eight other assemblies, he continued, the process of setting up committees was under way.  Eleven chief executive officers and four full boards of directors had been appointed.  The appointment of those senior civil servants, however, had been complicated in some municipalities by the deliberate politicization of the election process by two major Kosovo Albanian parties.  That had partially undermined UNMIK’s efforts to develop functioning, democratic municipal assemblies. 

He said the inclusion of Kosovo Serbs in assemblies in non-Serb areas was still a problem.  Negotiations with leading representatives of the Kosovo Serb community had been complicated by demands from Serb leaders that their communities be allowed to set up their own distinct municipal structures separate and apart from elected assemblies.  That had been rejected by UNMIK as being contrary to resolution 1244.

He said that, on 23 December, Serbian parliamentary elections were held in Kosovo without major incidents.  On 30 December, the Serb National Council Gracanica held its year-end meting.  The Gracanica Assembly strongly criticized Belgrade-based Serb leaders and their representatives in Kosovo who continued to sponsor a policy of non-cooperation with UNMIK.  In a meeting between UNMIK and the representatives of the Yugoslav Government on 14 December, a request by the Mission to allow international doctors to visit and evaluate ill Albanian prisoners in the Yugoslav detention centres was refused.

He said that, on 18 December, the UNMIK municipal building in Zubin Potok was the scene of a shooting and a grenade attack.  Also since the last briefing to the Council, Kosovo Serbs and their property had continued to be the targets of violent incidents, including arson and grenade attacks.  The recent unrest in the province’s northern municipalities had resulted in increased pressure on Kosovo’s Albanians and other minorities in those areas.  Nevertheless, the Mission had made significant progress in strengthening the rule of law.  The police service had improved in both quantity and quality and, despite threats and intimidation, personnel in that service were largely performing in a professional manner.

He said UNMIK’s initial focus on emergency reconstruction had now shifted to economic development and the promotion of private sector enterprise.  Attention had focused on the development of small- to medium-sized enterprises, which should generate the bulk of sustainable job growth.  The security situation in the Presevo valley was still tense, although the risks of major conflict appeared to have diminished. 

Most of the 5,000 ethnic Albanians who fled in November 2000 had since returned to their homes in southern Serbia, he continued.  The situation, however, was not yet stable.  In addition, several incidents in that region had threatened the ceasefire understanding reached in early December of last year.  That included the abduction on 31 December of six ethnic Serbs near a crossing point into Kosovo.  They were, however, released the next day after intervention by the Kosovo Force (KFOR).

In November 2000, an UNMIK-invited team of scientists, led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and including representatives of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), studied the possible presence of radioactivity and around sites where depleted uranium ammunition was used.  Eleven locations were visited.  The team’s preliminary field findings showed three sites with no signs of high radioactivity nor any remnants of depleted uranium ammunition.  At eight sites, the team found slightly higher amounts of radiation.  The final report is expected in March, although a further follow-up mission might be needed.  A public information campaign was being developed to inform Kosovo residents about depleted uranium and about related illnesses such as leukaemia.

RICHARD HOLBROOKE (United States) said, at the outset, that he strongly supported the role of troop-contributing countries in the Council’s deliberations. He added that changes in the rules of the Council should be part of a comprehensive reform.  He then made general comments about the situation in the Balkans.  There was much left to do in Bosnia, but the nation was at peace with itself and with its neighbours, he noted.  In the short term, the strengthening of the national parties in Bosnia following the recent elections was not good news.  The extreme national parties had no future.  There had also been good news, however -- moderate politicians now had a good chance to assemble a functioning national assembly.  He added that the Serb Democratic Party should have been banned a long time ago.  They were the Nazis of the Balkans. 

The situation in Kosovo remained extremely difficult, he said.  He urged the new Special Representative to continue his successor’s work and to focus on two overriding issues, the first of which was the holding of Kosovo-wide elections as soon as possible, so that the people could govern themselves.  He said that there should be no disagreement about the holding of elections, even if there was disagreement on the final status of the province.  He hoped that the elections would be held as early as this spring.  He urged the relevant parties to start planning them now.

Following the elections, the Council and the international community would face an even greater challenge –- the final status of Kosovo, he said.  Kosovo would never be peaceful and stable until its status was resolved.  Resolution 1244 (1999) stated clearly that all options remained on the table, he said.  The Special Representative must facilitate a process that would resolve the issue.  The process should begin as soon as the two sides were ready, and the terms of any settlement must be mutually acceptable to both sides.  He added that his greatest regret was that the major perpetrators of the crimes in the region were not yet in The Hague.

ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said the new Special Representative would have to focus on curbing violence in Kosovo.  That would be one of the top issues on his agenda, as would facilitating the holding of Kosovo-wide elections.  Participation by all of the population, irrespective of ethnicity, was also key.  A greater level of judicial activity must also be seen.  Further, the issue of refugee return must be effectively addressed.  He also stressed the need to deal with the issues of missing persons and detainees, and development and reconstruction.

Kosovo had come a long way in a short time -- from a war-ravaged inter-ethnic hotbed to a society with prospects of a peaceful future, he said.  The task of building a self-governing society from the ruins of war was enormous.  It was particularly so when practices of the past contributed little to the transition into a modern society.  Kosovars should be given some time before the conclusion was drawn that progress was not fast enough –- they deserved the international community’s constant support and encouragement.

GENNADI M. GATILOV (Russian Federation) said Mr. Haekkerup, the new Special Representative, had inherited a difficult situation.  The previous Special Representative, Mr. Kouchner, had allowed several distortions to resolution 1244 to occur, as well as several precedents to be established, which could have led to the separation of Kosovo from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.  Hopefully, this flawed practice would now end.  In his work, Mr. Haekkerup must strictly respect the principle of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia that was enshrined in resolution 1244.  There were new winds in the region and full use must be made of them.  Also, any decision on matters of great importance to the province must be taken in agreement with the authorities in Belgrade.  His delegation welcomed the establishment of such cooperation. 

He said the status of the international presence must be addressed and settled, by the signing of an appropriate agreement with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.  Also, dialogue among the various groups in Kosovo must be encouraged. The timing for Kosovo-wide elections and the parameters of the special autonomy for the province must be decided in close consultation with Belgrade.  Questions about the holding of elections must be decided against the projection of a comprehensive settlement in the province.  He also stressed that any actions that further reduced the ethnic diversity of the province would complicate efforts for the future.

He asked whether the Secretariat of the United Nations had any information on the draft provisional constitution for Kosovo, and whether the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia had been consulted on the creation of that draft.  He drew attention to reports that a weapons stash had been found last month in the province.  That discovery pointed to the fact that everything had not been done to stem the flow of arms into the province.

He said that so-called “Balkan syndrome”, caused by the use of depleted uranium in Kosovo and the resultant impact on the health of Kosovars and international personnel, was a source of concern.  Thorough international expertise was necessary to judge the results of that situation.  The issue was not a secondary matter or minor issue for the Council, but one that fell firmly within its sphere of competence.

M. PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica) said her delegation’s major concerns on Kosovo were unchanged since the Council’s last briefing on the province.  That included the situation in the Presevo Valley.  While she agreed with Mr. Haekerrup’s stated first priority -- speeding up the preparatory process for Kosovo-wide elections –- the question of the province’s assemblies had to be settled before such elections could take place.  Resolution 1244 must be the framework that guided everything. She also encouraged UNMIK to continue its work to reconfigure Kosovo’s administrative structures so as to prepare residents for local self-government. 

Her delegation fully supported the priorities set out by the Under- Secretary-General this morning, she said.  Those included law enforcement to provide a safe environment for Serbs returning to Kosovo and fighting organized crime.  The latter threatened stability.  Jamaica also welcomed the focus on economic development, particularly as it related to small- and medium-sized enterprises.  The priorities underlined in that area by the Under-Secretary-General this morning were essential in light of Kosovo’s future development.

She said if the sources of tension in southern Serbia were to be removed, the spirit of reconciliation must be fostered and the flow of illegal weapons halted.  She reiterated the call to end illegal activities.  Her delegation also welcomed and supported UNMIK’s approval of legislation that made the trafficking in human persons punishable by 20 years in prison.

STEWART ELDON (United Kingdom) said the new Special Representative would face tasks just as challenging as his predecessor had.  It was most important that the Special Representative knew that he had the full support of the Council.  The security condition in the Presevo Valley and southern Serbia continued to be of concern, and he welcomed the action of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) KFOR to address the problem.  He welcomed the restraint shown by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Serbian forces.  Dialogue between the parties was the only way to assure a peaceful resolution, he stressed.

He said that in most meetings on the subject during the past year, his delegation had expressed its concern over missing persons and detainees.  He welcomed the proposal for a draft amnesty law and supported the earliest possible release of political prisoners.  That would be a very important step towards reconciliation.

SAID BEN MUSTAPHA (Tunisia) said the new situation in the Balkans made it possible to envisage the holding of a constructive dialogue on the situation in Kosovo.  The process should take into consideration the rights of all inhabitants of Kosovo, he stressed.  It should also prohibit hatred and attitudes based on ethnic considerations.  He welcomed the fact that the new Special Representative had decided to open an office in Belgrade. 

One of the new Special Representative’s priorities would be to address the security situation and violence in the province, he said.  He pointed out that the violence was of a political, destabilizing nature.  The violence prevented efforts at reconciliation and was unacceptable.  He welcomed the initiative to set up a unit to fight crime in Kosovo.

He encouraged KFOR and UNMIK to rein in the activities of the extremists.  The international presence in Kosovo was needed more than ever.  Any withdrawal should only be undertaken after prior reflection.  The matter of missing and detained persons must be resolved, he added.  Setting up a reliable and impartial judicial system was also essential.

VALERI P. KUCHYNSKI (Ukraine) said that despite international efforts, inter-ethnic violence and lack of security for national minorities, a high level of organized crime and an abundance of illegal small weapons were still among the prevailing features of the current situation in Kosovo.  Therefore, while acknowledging the work done, and being done, by UNMIK and KFOR, he remained of the view that there was still a long way to go to ensure full implementation of resolution 1244 (1999).

He expressed his satisfaction at the priorities set by the new Special Representative.  He said he hoped that one of the first problems to be solved through a closer dialogue between UNMIK and KFOR, on the one side, and the Yugoslav Government, on the other, would be the restoration of proper security conditions in the Ground Safety Zone.  Regrettably, the past month had seen an increase in illegal and provocative activities in the Zone by ethnic Kosovo Albanian fighters.

He added that he had learned with deep concern of the presence of depleted uranium at the sites targeted by NATO during its military operation in 1999.  He welcomed all precautionary measures to protect the civilian population in the province against related ill effects.

OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) said the security situation and level of violence in Kosovo continued to be of deep concern to his delegation.  Combating violence and providing protection for all minorities in Kosovo must remain a top priority for UNMIK and KFOR.  It was unjustifiable that people continued to be killed and attacked because of their ethnic background.  Inter-Albanian violence, often with political connotations, was also a serious threat to attempts to build a democratic society in the province.  The local population must be encouraged to step forward and assist in the identification of suspects.

Elections were another challenge that must be dealt with, he said.  Even with comprehensive international assistance, it would be some time before the proper functioning of the newly elected municipal structures could be seen.  Some time should be allowed for local institutions to gain experience before moving to elections at the next level.  Norway was pleased by the contacts established between UNMIK and the authorities in Belgrade following the democratic changes in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, he added.  He encouraged Kosovo Albanian leaders to explore the new possibilities for a constructive dialogue with the Yugoslav authorities.

JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France) paid tribute to Mr. Kouchner’s resolve and courage during his “remarkable 18-month stint in Kosovo”.  Improving security remained the top priority of the international community in the province.  As

Mr. Kouchner had said, “the spirit of revenge must be eradicated”.  All inhabitants must have rights to safety, security, access to public services and to have their voices heard in public debate.  Any obstacles to the establishment of a plural democratic society in Kosovo could not be tolerated. 

He said France would do its bit to promote economic development in southern Serbia.  Turning to the proposed general elections, he said they must be organized when the appropriate conditions had been met, and only when those conditions had been met.  It was essential that the vote was impeccably well done and that everyone could participate.  Minorities must, therefore, be registered in advance, particularly the Serbs.  In addition, any discussions on the content of substantial autonomy for Kosovo must be carried out by Kosovars under the authority of Mr. Haekkerup, he said.

MAMOUNOU TOURE (Mali) said the integration of minorities in administrative and political structures was an important step in Kosovo’s development.  His delegation also supported UNMIK’s efforts to reform central bodies, as the province moved towards central autonomy.  Violence in the Presevo valley and against Kosovo’s minorities was a source of concern to his country.  Such practices were unacceptable and would undermine efforts by the international community to stabilize the situation in the region.  

He said all efforts for border surveillance and confiscation of weapons should be enhanced. The damaged fabric of Kosovo’s society must be restored.  Minorities were targets and, therefore, Mali would support any special measures by KFOR to protect.  In addition, the international community must make adequate means available to help those who wanted to return home to the province.  The issue of missing persons was still a major concern of his delegation.

SHEN GUOFANG (China) said his delegation believed the situation in Kosovo was still very disturbing.  At present, the ethnic tension in the province had not changed.  He pointed out that the former Special Representative had noted that UNMIK could not effectively protect the province’s ethnic minorities.  The UNMIK should take effective measures to address the situation.  The proposed Kosovo elections were also very worrisome.  Some were trying to politicize the situation, in violation of resolution 1244 (1999).  China believed that resolution 1244 was very clear on the final status of Kosovo.  The UNMIK should strengthen its work to encourage the return of Serbs and others, to ensure the legitimacy of Kosovo-wide elections.

He welcomed cooperation between UNMIK and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.  Dialogue between Kosovo Albanians and the Government of the Federal Republic was also key.  The international community should exert a positive influence in that regard. 

China had noted that investigations would be carried out into NATO’s use of depleted uranium ammunition during the 1999 campaign, he said.  The investigations should be carried out in a fair and transparent manner.  He welcomed the new Special Representative, and noted his determination to create a secure environment for the return of Serbs and to combat violence.  He hoped UNMIK would learn from the lessons of the past.

ALFONSO VALDIVIESO (Colombia) said the new Special Representative’s appointment would help to maintain the direction in which the outgoing special Representative had taken UNMIK.  He welcomed the role of the new Government of the Federal Republic in finding a peaceful solution to the situation in Kosovo.  It was natural to temporarily put on hold discussions of sensitive matters, he said, including the date of general elections for the province and its final status.  Moving forward without Belgrade would have no meaning.

The UNMIK must continue to work to protect all ethnic minorities, he said.  Albanian extremists must feel the disapprobation of the international community.  He called for a joint solution to the problem of displaced persons and refugees. It was important that the situation in Kosovo be considered in a much broader context, he said.  He added that the Council should do all in its power to ensure compliance with the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague.

DAVID COONEY (Ireland) said that while the overall security situation in Kosovo had improved, his delegation was concerned about the ongoing ethnically and politically motivated violence in southern Serbia, and particularly in the Ground Safety Zone.  He strongly condemned the use of violence by armed groups and supported the efforts of UNMIK and KFOR to address that situation, including the recent arrest of presumed terrorists.  He also commended the restraint shown by the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and their commitment to respect the provisions of Council resolution 1244 and the Military Technical Agreement.

He said it was essential that progress be made towards facilitating the return of Kosovo Serbs and others to their homes, and reversing the effects of the wide-scale devastation in the region.  Chief among the tasks of Mr. Haekkerup would be the establishment of a legal framework for elections.  While it was desirable to proceed rapidly, “we must be careful to ensure that certain objectives are met in advance”, he said.  The results of the local elections must be fully implemented, and preparations must be completed in the areas of voter registration, education and information.

He said it was important to find appropriate legal channels for the speedy release of Kosovar Albanian political prisoners, and that amnesty should be considered for people who did not bear arms during the conflict in the province.

ANUND PRIYAY NEEWOOR (Mauritius) said a number of significant changes had taken place in the region during the past year; above all, the holding of presidential elections in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.  In Kosovo, UNMIK had done a valiant job in difficult circumstances in carrying out the mandate of resolution 1244 (1999).  He noted with concern the ethnic divide still persisted in the province, and the inability of many citizens to return to their homes. 

Presently, UNMIK and KFOR were serving as vital lifelines for the people of Kosovo, by providing an essential administrative machinery and promoting peace and reconciliation, he said.  The international community must not be oblivious to the fact that there had to be a lasting and peaceful solution to the present stalemate, and that it was in the interest of all the people of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, including Kosovo, to create an atmosphere for constructive dialogue to take place among them. 

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 Union welcomed the progress made in Kosovo on the implementation of resolution 1244 (1999) and fully supported the continuation of efforts by the new Special Representative to establish democratic, self-governing institutions in Kosovo in order to provide substantial autonomy for the people there.  The Union also supported efforts to increase dialogue and cooperation between UNMIK and the relevant institutions of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

The Union condemned the use of violence and extremism, and any act which made the coexistence of communities more difficult and which adversely affected regional stability.  An important aspect of enhancing the security situation in Kosovo was to reduce the overall level of criminality and to enforce the rule of law.  To that end, he noted, more than 800 civilian police, as well as judges and prosecutors, from Union member States were serving in Kosovo.

A priority for the Union was to contribute to the reconstruction and economic development of Kosovo, he said.  The Union was by far the single largest donor providing assistance to the province, and was at the forefront of the reconstruction effort.  It was important to continue to create favourable conditions for the economic development of Kosovo.

VLADISLAV MLADENOVIC (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) said two different features characterized the situation in Kosovo.  On one side, the international community was making efforts to stabilize the situation.  On the other, there were major security problems in the Ground Safety Zone in parts of the municipalities of Bujanovac, Medveda and Presevo.  Those problems were brought about by the incursions of ethnic Albanian terrorists against peaceful local populations and the Yugoslav security forces.  He also cited serious security problems in many localities in the province.

The Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, he continued, was firmly committed to the quest for a solution to the present situation in the Ground Safety Zone, as well as for a comprehensive solution for Kosovo, established in a negotiated, peaceful and diplomatic way.  That commitment stemmed from full respect for resolution 1244 (1999) and the Kumanovo Military-Technical Agreement.  His Government was also convinced that only by abiding by democratic principles, by building confidence among all residents of Kosovo and Metohija, and by developing a democratic society would it be possible to bring about a lasting peace.

He said the use of depleted uranium during the NATO intervention in Bosnia and Herzegovina and its aggression against his country had led to worldwide protests that were entirely justified.  Considering that the effects of radiation on people and the environment were not limited in space or time, the international community was duty-bound to take urgent and necessary measures to forestall its harmful wide-scale consequences. 

His Government insisted on the establishment of all the facts and, in particular, on the elimination of all the consequences, undertaken with full cooperation from all relevant international actors, including the Council.  The responsibility for the use of those weapons should be borne by those who authorized them, regardless of whether they had or had not been aware of their harmful effects.

S. JAYAKUMAR, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Singapore and Council President, speaking in his national capacity, said the international community’s overall aim must be to return Kosovo to normalcy.  Kosovo could not be allowed to languish in its present state forever.  The security situation in and around the province must be addressed.  He called on all Kosovar ethnic communities to put an end to the violence.  All who engaged in such activities must be dealt with severely. 

He stressed the need for reconciliation among the Kosovar ethnic communities.  Resolution 1244 (1999) was clear on the political status of Kosovo.  The issue should not be allowed to further divide the province, with all that division’s ramifications for the region.  Among other measures, all political prisoners should be released.  He hoped that the issue of missing persons would also be resolved.

Building self-governance capacity and promoting economic recovery was also essential, he said.  UNMIK’s efforts to build the requisite institutions should be commended and supported.  All the ethnic communities in Kosovo should be involved in the process for self-governance.  However, Kosovo-wide elections should only be held when the proper conditions were in place.

Responses to Questions

MR. GUEHENNO, responding to a question raised this morning on work to be done in Berne, Switzerland, on a constitutional framework for Kosovo, said he was not aware of any such project and would, therefore, welcome information on it. 

He also said there was no report on Racak, in reply to a question raised this morning on that issue.

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For information media. Not an official record.