UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR PEACEKEEPING BRIEFS SECURITY COUNCIL ON KOSOVO; DESCRIBES PROGRESS TOWARDS PROVINCE-WIDE ELECTIONS
UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR PEACEKEEPING BRIEFS SECURITY COUNCIL ON KOSOVO; DESCRIBES PROGRESS TOWARDS PROVINCE-WIDE ELECTIONS
4277th Meeting* (AM)
UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR PEACEKEEPING BRIEFS SECURITY COUNCIL ON KOSOVO;
DESCRIBES PROGRESS TOWARDS PROVINCE-WIDE ELECTIONS
Council Members Stress Concerns on Recent Violence in Mitrovica,
Need to Ensure Participation of All Ethnic Groups in Electoral Process
For the elections in Kosovo to take place this year, decisions on the key elements of the institutional framework must be completed by April, the Security Council was told this morning.
Briefing the Council on the next phase of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno said that, while there had been progress in the establishment of the municipal assemblies, it would take eight months to prepare for province-wide elections.
Elections were among the main priorities for future work of the Mission, he said. Others included a legal framework for provisional self-government in Kosovo; an effective law enforcement and judicial system; regular dialogue with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia; and resolution of legal property issues. Currently, UNMIK was elaborating the key principles that would serve as the foundation for future discussions on the legal framework for provisional self-government.
He added that the democratic changes in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia had provided an opportunity for a more constructive and meaningful relationship with Belgrade. The establishment of an UNMIK Belgrade office had been agreed in principle, and negotiations continued on detainees and missing persons from Kosovo.
In response to Mr. Guéhenno’s briefing, most Council members agreed that it was essential to define the mandate and composition of a Kosovo-wide assembly prior to the election and to ensure participation of all ethnic groups. Speakers also expressed concern about recent violence in Mitrovica, condemning attacks on international personnel there. Another area of concern was the Presevo Valley, which was important for the overall security of the region.
The representative of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia said now that his Government had adopted a plan for the resolution of the problems in southern
* The 4276th meeting of the Security Council was closed.
Serbia caused by Albanian extremists, it was up to the ethnic Albanian community to accept it. The plan envisioned resolution of the crisis by peaceful means, with participation of the representatives of the Albanian ethnic community and with the support of the international community. He also said that his country would soon adopt a new amnesty law, which, he hoped, would have a positive effect on such issues as the return of ethnic Albanian detainees. However, the problem of the Serbs and other non-Albanians missing in Kosovo and Metohija since the deployment of the NATO-led security force -- KFOR –- remained.
Jamaica's representative said that peace and reconciliation in Kosovo would be elusive without law and order. Increased cooperation with Belgrade could lead to a solution of the problem. He reiterated that provisions of resolution 1244 (1999) must be fully implemented as the basis for future work. He supported UNMIK's work to prepare the province for substantial autonomy, saying that it was important to clearly determine the principles of autonomy prior to elections, so that there would be no controversy in the post-election period.
The representative of the Russian Federation said the events in Kosovo and neighbouring regions showed no real breakthrough for a comprehensive settlement of the problem in compliance with resolution 1244. Speedy elections were a subject of dispute, for they would not be representative without the return of refugees. The regional bodies must be developed not only with direct participation of the various groups in Kosovo, but also with direct participation of Belgrade. He reiterated that the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia should not be politicized. Anti-Serbian bias remained within that institution and was expressed by its Prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte.
The representatives of France, Bangladesh, United Kingdom, Singapore, United States, Ukraine, China, Ireland, Colombia, Norway, Mauritius, Tunisia and Sweden (on behalf of the European Union and associated States) also spoke.
The meeting, which started at 11:05 a.m., was adjourned at 1:20 p.m.
Council Work Programme
The Security Council met this morning to hear a briefing from Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, on the situation in Kosovo.
On 10 June 1999, after the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) suspended its air operations following the withdrawal of the security forces of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia from Kosovo, the Security Council, in resolution 1244, authorized the Secretary-General to establish an interim international civilian administration under which the people of the province could enjoy substantial autonomy. The United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) has authority over the territory and people of Kosovo, including all legislative and executive powers, as well as the administration of the judiciary. A NATO-led force, known as KFOR, is deployed to provide an international security presence.
As chief of the Mission, the Secretary-General's Special Representative, Hans Haekkerup, presides over four sectors involved in rehabilitating and reforming Kosovo:
-- Humanitarian assistance, led by the Office of 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 services 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.
Statement by Under-Secretary-General
Briefing the Council on the latest developments in Kosovo, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations JEAN-MARIE GUÉHENNO said that four priorities for the next phase of UNMIK’s work included: establishment of a legal framework for provisional self-government in Kosovo; creation of an effective law enforcement and judicial system; establishment of regular dialogue with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia; and resolution of legal property issues.
He said that UNMIK was currently elaborating the key principles, which would serve as the foundation for future discussions on the legal framework for provisional self-government. Once that exercise had been completed, the Mission would begin close consultations with its local interlocutors and the international community. For the transfer of power to be effective, the mechanisms through which power would eventually be transferred to a provisional self-government required careful scrutiny. The final decision on the powers and competencies would be taken by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General.
According to the latest estimates, he said, it would take eight months to prepare for province-wide elections. Decisions on key elements of the framework must be completed by April for elections to be held this year. Progress had already been made in the registration of Kosovo residents, which was essential for updating the voters’ lists needed for general elections. Meanwhile, UNMIK had begun to restructure the Joint Interim Administrative Structure to take account of the municipal election results, which provided a gauge of the level of support enjoyed by Kosovo’s political parties.
The UNMIK had identified some areas, including law enforcement and the judiciary, where powers should be retained by the Mission, he continued. Departments were being encouraged to assume responsibility for the budgetary aspects of their activities, for the Kosovo Consolidated Budget should become increasingly reliant on domestically generated funds. There had also been progress in the establishment of the Municipal Assemblies. So far, 18 of Kosovo’s 30 municipalities had appointed their chief executive officers, and seven had set up their boards of directors.
The provision of law and order remained a high priority for UNMIK, he said, and a more unified judicial, police and civil administration structure was being considered. An assessment of the performance of over 400 local judges and prosecutors was now being undertaken, and screening mechanisms for prospective candidates were in place. That was a delicate task. Negative political consequences, as well as local resistance, were possible. The UNMIK had
12 international judges and five international prosecutors responsible for dealing with the most sensitive cases. One of their key responsibilities was to ensure that human rights were respected and that ethnic bias did not intrude into cases. The Mission must balance the need for effective and non-biased justice with the importance of rehabilitating Kosovo’s judiciary. The UNMIK had also established the Police Organized Crime Intelligence Unit, he added. So far, 3,138 cadets had been graduated from the Kosovo Police Service School.
The democratic changes in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Serbia proper had provided an opportunity for a more constructive and meaningful relationship with Belgrade, he said. The establishment of an UNMIK Belgrade Office had been agreed in principle. Negotiations continued on detainees and missing persons from Kosovo. Attention had focused on the exchange of accurate and complete information regarding the detainees, release of humanitarian cases, and the proposed amnesty bill. The UNMIK had requested that the bill should be extended to include all Kosovo Albanian detainees. Those not covered by the bill should be considered for release under other mechanisms available to the Serbian authorities. The Mission had also suggested that any remaining Kosovo Albanian detainees should be handed over to UNMIK for a judicial review of their cases.
About 68 per cent of the Kosovo Consolidated Budget was now funded from local resources, with 32 per cent coming from donor contributions. In comparison, contributions had been split 50/50 in 2000. Efforts were being made to encourage direct foreign investment in Kosovo and to restore the viability of the Trepca Industrial Complex. Policy issues under consideration included generating support from the international community, a structure for engaging Kosovo residents in deliberations, and a strategy to engage the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in the process.
Regarding security, he said that there had been recent demonstrations in south Mitrovica, sparked by the death of a Kosovo Albanian youth from a grenade attack in January. The demonstrations had become a focus for protest against what Kosovo Albanians perceived to be KFOR’s inability to provide security. In response, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and the Commander of KFOR had visited Mitrovica and consulted with the Kosovo Albanian and Serb leadership. A joint declaration was signed with the Mitrovica Municipal Assembly and local political and other representatives calling for enhanced security, an expansion of the Zone of Confidence, ensuring freedom of movement for all residents and return of displaced persons. However, representatives of all local Kosovo Serb factions had signed a statement of non-concurrence with the joint declaration, arguing that the plan excluded Kosovo Serbs. The UNMIK was continuing its efforts to elicit Kosovo Serb support for the plan.
Clashes, illegal checkpoints and training activities had been reported in the Ground Safety Zone, he continued, as well as recruiting activities of ethnic Albanian fighters. The KFOR had over 100 suspected ethnic Albanian fighters in detention. Discussions were continuing with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Serbian and ethnic Albanian leaders to stop displacement and encourage returns to the Presevo area. An inter-agency team was conducting an assessment of basic humanitarian needs in the region.
Regarding minority communities, he said that there appeared to be a rise in attacks on Kosovo Serbs and their property in several areas, and pressure on Kosovo Serbs to sell their property remained high, particularly in mixed municipalities. Dialogue had begun with a wide range of political and community leaders concerning the framework for Serb returns to Kosovo. The UNMIK Department of Reconstruction was preparing to assess damaged housing and public buildings in 24 locations identified as having the potential for Kosovo Serb returns, pending identification of funding. Similar efforts were being reviewed for the return of other communities, such as Romas and Turks.
Despite efforts to assist economic recovery, unemployment in Kosovo remained very high, he said. Social assistance programmes for the neediest unemployed had been established. A public works scheme was under development to provide temporary employment for uneducated and unskilled people.
A draft report on the effects of depleted uranium, prepared by the World Health Organization (WHO) assessment team, had concluded that the threat to public health and the environment from that type of ammunition was minimal, he said. An information campaign had been recommended to encourage public reporting of discoveries of depleted uranium rounds, improved medical health data, and a comprehensive health information system to monitor the situation.
In conclusion, he said that the four priorities set out by the Special Representative in January were the roadmap for UNMIK’s activities in the coming months. The development of the framework for elections and provisional self-government was a complex issue, which should not be rushed. Other pressing issues included the serious challenges related to security and the ongoing struggle to establish durable and universal law and order. The situation in the Presevo Valley and the current unrest in Mitrovica had had a significant impact on the activities of the Mission and KFOR. In the short run, those challenges may increase in scope and intensity. The UNMIK would continue to look to the Council for political support as it sought to balance the day-to-day demands of administering Kosovo with the longer-term requirement of implementing provisional self-government.
JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France) said it was essential that violence was curbed in Kosovo. Impressive progress had been made and the international community had played a decisive role in that. The KFOR had met the challenge and had taken courageous action to preserve the security of the people. Diminishing tension was, however, the responsibility of the people in Kosovo themselves. The political leaders in Kosovo bore a particular responsibility. He supported KFOR’s and UNMIK’s efforts to curb the fear felt by ethnic groups in the area.
Before elections were held, it was necessary to define the nature and functions of the provisional institutions for which elections would be held, he continued. All communities, particularly the Serb community, had to be able to participate. Regarding the situation between Kosovo and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on its southern border, political steps by Belgrade were part and parcel of the attempt to find a peaceful solution. That determination of Belgrade should be strengthened. Support of the international community for political, social and economic measures for the people in the area would also be necessary. The KFOR had strengthened its presence on the border, which would make it possible to closely monitor illegal activities. Cooperation between KFOR and Belgrade was also necessary.
SERGEY V. LAVROV (Russian Federation) said, in spite of efforts made by the international community, the situation in Kosovo remained complex. The UNMIK had become involved in massive conflicts in Mitrovica, and there was increasing tension in the Presevo Valley. The Special Representative had called that situation the most serious threat to the stability of the Balkans. However, the events in Kosovo and neighbouring regions, unfortunately, showed no real qualitative breakthrough for a comprehensive settlement of the problem in compliance with resolution 1244. There was also no resolution to the problem of refugees.
Speedy elections were a subject of dispute, he said. Without security, there could be no return of refugees and, therefore, such elections would not be representative. The regional bodies must be developed, with direct participation of the various groups in Kosovo, as well as with direct participation of Belgrade. Before the start of any campaign, there should be clarity about the so-called autonomy in compliance with resolution 1244. Preparations for such election frameworks should necessarily involve authorities in Belgrade. The Council itself had to play a role in the solution regarding autonomy and in determining the time frame for elections.
Regarding the Ground Security Zone in southern Serbia, he said the latest proposals from Belgrade needed support. Attention should be paid to statements made by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia about the possibilities for discussions with Albanian leaders in the area. He emphasized that without close cooperation with Yugoslav authorities there could be no compliance with resolution 1244.
He continued to be concerned with contradictions in the activities of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. He had spoken before, he said, about the inadmissibility of politicizing that body and of using the selective approach towards determining who was guilty of the Yugoslav tragedy. Anti-Serbian bias remained and was expressed by the Prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte. Ms. Del Ponte had sanctioned distribution of a report summary regarding the tragedy in Raçak, but not the text in full. The summary received was vague in nature and did not give a clear picture as who was to blame. The Council members must get a full report on that tragedy. The extreme secrecy in which the Tribunal had veiled that report was inappropriate. He noted that the Tribunal was responsible to the Council and could have no secrets from it.
He believed that the studies conducted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the WHO on the NATO use of ammunition with depleted uranium had not answered all questions. He advocated the conduct of an independent expert study in that regard. The relevant expenditures should be taken on by NATO countries that had operated in the area. The Council must keep considering all aspects of the situation in Kosovo. He thought it was appropriate to consider sending a new Security Council mission to Kosovo, which should also visit Belgrade and -- if security allowed -- the Presevo region.
ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said the Council last month had underscored a number of priorities for Hans Haekerrup, and he had already acted on some of them, including the declaration for creation of a legal framework for the forthcoming general elections and guaranteeing security as the top priority of UNMIK.
Curbing violence and improving security would continue to be the top priority in Kosovo, he continued. He was concerned that yet another spate of violence had occurred in Mitrovica later in January, directed against the United Nations peacekeepers. He hoped that the declaration signed after the incident by the Kosovo Albanian leaders would work to restore calm in the city. Regarding missing persons and detainees, he was encouraged by the new amnesty law currently in the Serbian Parliament for the release of prisoners. Those who did not fall under the scope of the amnesty law should also be returned to Kosovo.
A greater level of judicial activity had been seen in Kosovo, he said. The appointment of about a dozen international judges to look into ethnically related crimes had brought great improvement in judicial actions. The Council should watch the question of links between depleted uranium and medical cases in Kosovo. He was somewhat relieved that the team of experts of the WHO had found no proven link between exposure to depleted uranium and the onset of health problems. That viewpoint should be confirmed by a larger body of independent experts.
He said in the past 19 months, Kosovo had come a long way from a war-ravaged society to one with prospects of a peaceful future. The constant support of the international community was crucial at this point to sustain and consolidate the gains achieved and move towards a future of peaceful coexistence.
ALISTAIR HARRISON (United Kingdom) said that the recent violence in Mitrovica and security situation in the Presevo Valley was a cause for concern. Acts of violence had been committed by extremists who worked against the wishes of their communities, and he condemned those activities. It was important to stress that the only way the situation could be resolved was through dialogue. More needed to be done to improve the law and order situation in Kosovo, and he supported the attention given to that issue by both the Special Representative and the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations. Another important question to be addressed was the issue of international judges and prosecutors. Did UNMIK have a sufficient number of those international personnel?
Continuing, he welcomed the recent plan for southern Serbia, which his delegation was studying carefully. He welcomed the fact that a peaceful solution was being sought for the area. He also welcomed the draft amnesty law by the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and called for the release of all Kosovo Albanian detainees held without charges. Such action would improve the security situation in Kosovo.
KISHORE MAHBUBANI (Singapore) said that the new violence in Kosovo seemed to send a warning that events could move away from normalcy, especially in Mitrovica. All the necessary steps should be taken to improve the situation there, for violence could not be condoned. The practical effects of such a security situation were obvious, and the Council needed to react to it. He hoped that UNMIK and KFOR would take all necessary measures to rectify the situation.
Regarding the situation in the Presevo Valley, he said that violence there must cease, and extremist groups should dissolve. The calls of the international community must be heeded. In that respect, it would be useful for the Council to conduct periodic evaluations of the implementation of its calls. The solution must be a political one, and he hoped that ethnic Albanians would heed the calls of the international community.
Turning to the non-security issues, he supported the priorities spelled out in the briefing. All relevant parties must participate in the formation of the new self-government structures. The issue of the release of civilian detainees should be resolved as a matter of priority. That would contribute to the reconciliation. Economic reconstruction was also important. All of that required a continued international presence in the area.
HOWARD STOFFER (United States) said the prospects of lasting peace in the Balkans had brightened somewhat. The municipal elections in Kosovo in October had reassured him that progress on implementation of resolution 1244 was being made. He urged UNMIK to move quickly towards the organization of Kosovo-wide elections as soon as possible in 2001.
The continuing tension and outbursts of violence threatened progress, he said. It was promising that UNMIK and KFOR had been joined by key Albanian leaders, whose declaration was promising, focusing on confidence-building measures and the establishment of functioning political structures. Serbs could best address security concerns by cooperating with KFOR and UNMIK and participating in the police force and municipal assemblies. He encouraged Serb refugees to return to their home.
Condemning the violence across the Kosovo border, he said all material support for the extremists in that area should be curbed. He encouraged local leaders to cooperate with Yugoslav authorities to find a political solution. The Belgrade plan provided a sound basis, although he had some concerns, and he applauded Belgrade’s restraint
VALERI KUCHYNSKI (Ukraine) said during the past month both general improvement of the situation in Kosovo and some worrying security developments had been witnessed. The proper elaboration of the legal framework for the Kosovo-wide general elections was of particular importance. He believed the Council should be briefed on the results of the work for clearly defining all aspects of the elections, before UNMIK proceeded further with the holding of the elections. In the context of improving the security situation, he believed that recent UNMIK’s police actions across the province to seize drugs and illegal weapons had proved effective and should continue.
Establishment of a proper dialogue and close cooperation between UNMIK and the Yugoslav authorities was a necessary prerequisite for furthering the peace process in Kosovo, he continued. He encouraged the head of UNMIK to do his utmost to ensure the earliest possible opening of UNMIK’s office in Belgrade. He was alarmed at a new flare-up of violence in Mitrovica and joined the calls on the local communities to exercise restraint and tolerance.
The situation in the Presevo Valley had reached its critical stage and could destabilize the whole region, he said. Every effort should be made to end the continuing Albanian insurgency in the Presevo Valley to avoid the worst scenario. He supported the proposal by the Russian Federation to send a new Security Council mission to Kosovo and to Belgrade to get first-hand information on the situation on the ground. Preservation of sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was one of the basic provision of resolution 1244 and a key factor contributing to stability in the Balkans. That premise should remain a starting point for further UNMIK and KFOR activities in Kosovo and the basis for Council assessments of those activities, he said.
SHEN GUOFANG (China) said that the situation in Kosovo was still disquieting. He condemned the recent violence, which was among the key issues there, as well as the tension between the ethnic communities. While long-term efforts were needed to promote tolerance, urgent measures must be taken to stop the violence. The UNMIK had identified four priorities in its work, and he hoped that the steps taken by the Mission would contribute to harmony and tolerance in Kosovo.
All residents of Kosovo should live in an environment of safety, he continued. Speeding up the safe return of ethnic minorities, easing tension and elections were among the priorities. Today’s briefing had helped the Council members to better understand the situation. He hoped that all the residents of Kosovo, in particular the ethnic Serbs, would participate in the elections. He welcomed strengthened dialogue with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Increased cooperation was needed with that country, as the solution to the Kosovo question must have its full participation.
The sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia must be fully respected, he said. As such, he was very concerned about the volatile situation in the Presevo Valley. He welcomed the peace plan proposed by the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which demonstrated its political will to resolve the situation. He hoped that the plan would be positively accepted by the ethnic Albanians.
In conclusion, he supported the proposal by the Russian Federation to send a Security Council mission to Kosovo, which should be seriously considered by the Council. As for depleted uranium, he hoped that the investigation into its use would proceed smoothly and that the Council would be promptly informed about the harm caused to the population and the environment.
DAVID COONEY (Ireland) said that full implementation of Council resolution 1244 must remain the aim of the international community. He welcomed the substantial progress and said the Council must sustain a positive momentum in implementing the resolution. Last month, Hans Haekkerup had become the new Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the region and, since then, he had had an opportunity to consult widely and further develop his approach. While he fully understood the impatience of the people in the region to push ahead with elections, he supported Mr. Haekkerup’s view that a legal and administrative framework must be established before the elections could take place.
Last month’s briefing by Chairman-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) had confirmed that eight months of conceptual and technical preparation were needed, he said. Ireland believed that it was essential, in order to define the mandate and composition of a Kosovo-wide Assembly, to fully implement the results of last year’s local elections and to complete voter registration, so that ethnic groups could be properly represented in the next elections. It would be necessary to define an executive body, which would be accountable to the Assembly, and a judicial body for review of legislation.
Continuing, he expressed concern about recent incidents within Kosovo, mainly in the area of Mitrovica, and said such violence could have only negative consequences. Condemning the violence, he said that the international community must be allowed to fulfil its duties without being subjected to such unacceptable violence. He was also extremely concerned about the ongoing ethnically and politically motivated violence in southern Serbia. That endangered not only the Presevo Valley, but the overall security in the region. He commended the restraint shown by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and its commitment to respect the Military Technical Agreement and the provisions of resolution 1244.
Ireland believed that the recent political changes in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia would continue to have a positive effect on the stability and prosperity of the region, he said. However, the situation for the Kosovar Albanian political prisoners held in Serbia was still unresolved, and he joined with others in calling for appropriate legal channels to be found for the speedy release of those people. Progress must also be made towards resolving the issue of missing people and the return of Kosovo Serbs and others to their homes. He urged all governments of the region to develop further confidence-building measures and to work towards peace.
ALFONSO VALDIVIESO (Colombia) condemned attacks against United Nations staff, which were providing unconditional service to the people. The rights of all minorities should be respected and he appealed to the parties to comply with the provisions.
KFOR action against the attacks of Albanian extremists in the Presevo Valley had been successful, he said, but the situation in the area continued to be a matter of concern. The situation in the Presevo Valley should not be allowed to become a greater problem in the region. General elections in Kosovo were necessary, but he was not clear on which authorities were to be elected. That was something that had to be clarified. Regarding the peace plan proposed by the Prime Minister of Serbia, he said that including the Albanian population was an initial step towards security in the area. If the parties involved wanted the international community’s help, it would do so. However, if they thought the international community should be simply observers, that should be accepted as well.
Regarding the remarks about unacceptable secrecy on the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, he said administrative justice was difficult and risky, and some holy sacrosanct were involved, one of which was the obligation to preserve secrets and not to publish evidence that could have a negative impact on investigations.
OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) said elections in Kosovo should only be held when all necessary requirements were met. Among the steps to be taken was defining the role and functions of a provincial assembly. In elaborating a framework for elections, it would be crucial to ensure arrangements to facilitate minority participation. Ethnically based violence must be curbed and the widespread criminality combated. The lack of public trust in the law enforcement agencies, as well as the judiciary, made that an urgent task. The recent surge in tension and violent clashes in Mitrovica underlined the need for additional confidence-building efforts.
Developments in the Presevo Valley continued to give reason for deep concern, he said. The tense situation in the area threatened to make it the next focal point of conflict in the Balkans. The Belgrade authorities had taken a constructive approach to the situation in southern Serbia. He welcomed the elaboration of a comprehensive plan on how to address the crisis. It required rapid implementation. While it was urgent to initiate further confidence-building measures, it was also important to provide international assistance, as requested by Federal Republic of Yugoslavia authorities, without delay. Given careful and speedy implementation, the constructive participation of all involved, and adequate international assistance, the plan would contribute to reducing tension in the area.
The KFOR and UNMIK must further strengthen their efforts to curb violations of the Ground Safety Zone, he added. That should be carried out in close cooperation with the Belgrade authorities. Local Albanian leaders must be discouraged from providing overt or implicit support to the armed groups.
CURTIS A. WARD (Jamaica) said it was very important for the Council to be fully informed about the situation in Kosovo. The violence in the Presevo Valley and more recently in Mitrovica was of particular concern, and he condemned it. He was also concerned about the potential for the destabilization of the entire region. The plan for future UNMIK activities had his full support, as well as confidence-building measures in the region. He was concerned that the UNHCR had been forced to pull its staff from the area of Mitrovica, and he stressed the importance of humanitarian work there.
He went on to say that, in the past his delegation had addressed the situation of the trafficking in persons. A recent verdict against a person guilty of that crime in Kosovo sent the right message. Efforts against drug trafficking were also commendable.
Peace and reconciliation in Kosovo would be elusive without law and order, he continued. Increased cooperation with Belgrade could lead to a solution of the problem. Enhanced communications with the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia were reassuring, as was the proposed amnesty law. He reiterated that provisions of resolution 1244 must be fully implemented as the basis for future work. He also supported the work of UNMIK to prepare the province for substantial autonomy. The people of the province must take increasing responsibility for the situation there. It was important to clearly determine the principles of autonomy prior to elections, so that there would be no controversy in the post-election period.
ANUND PRIYAY NEEWOOR (Mauritius) said that the situation in Kosovo had not undergone significant change since the last briefing. Violence had continued, and that was a cause of concern. The first and foremost task for UNMIK and KFOR was to curb all violence, so that peace-building could proceed. He commended the plan to restore peace and normalcy in Kosovo, stressing that there was no other destiny for Kosovars, but inter-ethnic coexistence.
For the proposed elections, it was important to ensure full participation of all ethnic groups, he said. Opening the office in Belgrade would facilitate participation in the elections by the Serbs not currently in the province. The legal and administrative authority in the province should provide for representation of all ethnic groups. In conclusion, he urged the release of the ethnic Albanian detainees and expressed full support for the work of UNMIK.
The President of the Council, SAÏD BEN MUSTAPHA (Tunisia), speaking in his national capacity, said new and important developments in the Balkans demonstrated the existence of a clear political will to arrive at a final and comprehensive settlement. Those developments dictated that the international community go along with that will.
He was concerned about the eruption of violent acts in the Presevo Valley, which could jeopardize peace and security and undermine the efforts of the international community in the region. He expressed optimism over the path chosen by Belgrade authorities to contain the crisis and to put in place a peaceful plan to guarantee the rights of ethnic Albanians and improve their living conditions.
The top priority with regard to the situation in Kosovo must be addressing the root causes of the problems, he said. The situation could not be overcome without permanent reconciliation among the ethnic groups, guaranteeing their coexistence in peace and safety. Reconciliation was impossible without a final and comprehensive solution to the question of the missing persons and detainees. Arrangements should be made to facilitate the safe return of refugees and displaced persons.
Justice was the basis of civilization, he said, and in Kosovo an impartial judiciary would reassure the residents and contribute to the normalization of the situation. He urged UNMIK to continue efforts to reform the judiciary, with a view to implementation of non-discriminatory laws. The legislative elections represented an important step in developing a practical plan for the implementation of a Kosovo-wide assembly. The elections should be held within a legal context that guarantees participation of all citizens.
PIERRE SCHORI (Sweden) spoke on behalf of the European Union and Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta, Turkey and Iceland. He said he welcomed the progress made in Kosovo in the implementation of resolution 1244 and the efforts of the Special Representative to establish a legal and administrative framework for Kosovo-wide elections. Certain steps needed to be carried out before elections could be held, including the implementation of the results of the municipal elections, preparations for a new and inclusive voter registration and the definition of the mandate and composition of a Kosovo-wide assembly, as well as other Kosovo-wide institutions.
He urged Yugoslav and Serb authorities to find the appropriate legal channels for a speedy release of remaining Kosovo Albanian and other prisoners held without charges or on political grounds. He also reiterated the Union’s call on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia/Serbian authorities to comply with their obligation to fully cooperate with the International Criminal Tribunal. The Union condemned the use of violence, extremism and any act which made the coexistence of communities more difficult. He encouraged further confidence-building measures. It fully supported the right of all displaced people from Kosovo to return to their homes in peace, security and dignity. Deeply concerned about the recent upsurge of violence in the town of Mitrovica, he said the substantial international political, military and financial support Kosovo was receiving required the active cooperation of all citizens of Kosovo and their leaders.
Another priority for the Union was to contribute to the reconstruction and economic development of Kosovo, he said. It would remain at the forefront of the reconstruction efforts there. It was important to continue to create favourable conditions for the economic development of Kosovo by establishing viable and efficient economic structures in the fiscal area.
He strongly condemned the violence and illegal actions by ethnic Albanian armed groups in the Ground Safety Zone in southern Serbia and called upon all involved to exercise maximum restraint and to resolve any differences exclusively through peaceful dialogue. The Union was strongly concerned with increased tensions in the area that could impede Transport Corridor X, which constituted one of the main northern outlets of the Balkan countries. He welcomed specific measures taken by KFOR and UNMIK to address the problem, including increased surveillance of the administrative boundary. In order to further contribute to the stabilization of the situation, the Union was considering an enhanced presence of its monitoring mission in the affected area.
VLADISLAV MLADENOVIC (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) said that the situation in Kosovo and Metohija, the autonomous province of the Yugoslav constituent Republic of Serbia, continued to be unsatisfactory. That was due primarily to the fact that the key provisions of Council resolution 1244, particularly those concerning a secure environment and protection of Serbs and other non-Albanians, had not been fulfilled. Not enough was being done to put the tensions to rest and ensure the return of the Serbs and other displaced persons.
The problems of Kosovo and Metohija were very complex, he continued, and attempts at solving them hastily would only exacerbate the situation. Such an attempt was to hold so-called Kosovo-wide elections. The elections could not be free, fair and democratic, unless there was a precise definition of the authorities they were to be held for and their competencies. Conditions also needed to be created for a safe return of all displaced persons. The elections should be prepared in cooperation with the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Republic of Serbia.
It was necessary to find a just solution for all detained, missing and abducted persons, he said. That would contribute to building mutual trust. His country would soon adopt a new amnesty law, which, he hoped, would have a positive effect on many issues in that area. However, the problem of the Serbs and other non-Albanians missing in Kosovo and Metohija since the deployment of KFOR remained, and he demanded a more robust investigation of their fate. His Government was ready to strengthen its cooperation with UNMIK and KFOR. It was also prepared to conclude an agreement on their status in the Serbian province.
The difficult and tense situation in the Ground Safety Zone also caused grave concern to his Government, he continued. That was yet another reason to ask whether those responsible had used all the possibilities and the authority at their disposal to fully meet their responsibilities stemming from resolution 1244. The situation in southern Serbia, brought about by the armed groups of Albanian extremists and terrorists, was unacceptable. The Council should take resolute steps to fulfil the demands contained in its presidential statement of 19 December 2000, calling for an urgent and complete end to violence, disbandment of extremist groups of ethnic Albanians and their immediate withdrawal from the region.
His Government had recently adopted a plan and programme for the resolution of the crisis caused by the activities of the Albanian terrorist groups in municipalities of Bujanovac, Presevo and Medvedja. The plan envisioned resolution
of the crisis by peaceful means, with participation of the representatives of the Albanian ethnic community and with the support of the international community. Among the goals of the plan were: the establishment of State sovereignty and territorial integrity of Serbia and the Federal Republic in that part of their territory; preservation and development of the multi-ethnic character of the region; protection of human rights of the Albanian ethnic community; and protection of the basic interests of Serbs in the region.
The plan should create conditions for economic and social development in the region in accordance with agreed priorities and projects, he said. In adopting the plan and calling the Albanian community in the municipalities of Bujanovac, Medvedja and Presevo to negotiations, his Government had made a decisive commitment to resolving the crisis by peaceful and democratic means. He appreciated the support of the international community for that approach. It was now up to the ethnic Albanian community to demonstrate whether it was truly ready to accept that plan. It was important to start a dialogue without delay, for with the passage of time fewer chances would remain to resolve the crisis in a peaceful, diplomatic manner.
Responding to the comments from the floor, Mr. GUÉHENNO addressed the questions about security and provision of international judges. Trust was a building block for any stable peace, and the consolidated perception of impartiality of international judges made it easier for local judges to resist the pressures exerted on them. The number of international judges had been significantly increased for the five regions of Kosovo. The question of a further increase of their number needed to be carefully considered, for it was a delicate issue of ensuring the balance between the international and local aspects of justice.
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