KOSOVO SERBS TO PARTICIPATE IN WORKING GROUP ON SUBSTANTIVE AUTONOMY, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD
KOSOVO SERBS TO PARTICIPATE IN WORKING GROUP ON SUBSTANTIVE AUTONOMY, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD
4309th Meeting (AM)
KOSOVO SERBS TO PARTICIPATE IN WORKING GROUP ON SUBSTANTIVE AUTONOMY,
SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD
Briefing the Security Council today on the situation in Kosovo, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, said that despite the violence in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and southern Serbia, the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) had continued to move forward with its key priorities.
Those priorities, Mr. Guéhenno said, were elaborating a legal framework for provisional self-government, and the holding of Kosovo-wide elections this year.
He said that although there was still no Kosovo Serb representation in the working group, President Kostunica, during a visit of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Hans Haekkerup, to Belgrade, had indicated his support for the participation of a Kosovo Serb expert.
Tackling law and order remained a high priority for UNMIK. Work had continued to realign the police and judicial institutions into a single new UNMIK pillar. UNMIK needed more international judges and prosecutors to deal with the increase in sensitive cases, such as those relating to ethnic extremism and organized crime.
Regarding economic reconstruction, he said a key element of provisional self-government was financial responsibility, for which Kosovo’s public finances needed to be developed. Tax collection points were being established along the boundary line with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and would contribute key funding to the Kosovo Consolidated Budget at a vital time in the run-up to provisional self-government.
In his briefing, and in answers to Council members' questions, Mr. Guéhenno also addressed relations with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the opening of an UNMIK office in Belgrade, and the issue of missing persons, as well as the situation in southern Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
The representative of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia said that the continued violence in Kosovo against non-Albanians, particularly Serbs, was still a cause for serious concern. He said the question of Serb participation in the UNMIK working group for the legal framework had been resolved. With the proper guarantees of security and equal participation, Serb experts were ready to begin work.
Regarding the situation in the Ground Safety Zone, he said that despite the violence, casualties and unresolved abductions committed by Albanian extremists, his country would not be deterred from attempts at dialogue and a peaceful solution.
The representative of the Russian Federation said work on the legal framework of the elections and the timing of the elections should be conducted strictly in keeping with resolution 1244, with the participation of Belgrade. The modalities and the procedure of the elections must be endorsed by the Security Council. He reiterated that a mission from the Council to the area was needed before decisions were taken in that respect.
At this stage, the international presence should make more active efforts to ensure security for all, including the Serbs and other non-Albanian communities, he continued. So far, that security had not been accomplished.
During this morning's meeting, Council members asked questions about refugees and internally displaced persons, the inclusiveness of the Kosovo-wide elections, illegal cross-border activities, and trafficking in illicit arms, particularly small arms, among other things. They stressed that a solution to the Kosovo question should be part of a comprehensive solution to the problem of the whole Balkan region, and that Kosovo leaders should act within the mandate of resolution 1244 and respect national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
At the beginning of the meeting, Council members observed one minute of silence in memory of the victims of the genocide in Rwanda, seven years ago.
The representatives of China, Bangladesh, Tunisia, United States, France, Jamaica, Singapore, Colombia, Norway, Ukraine, Mali, Ireland, Mauritius, United Kingdom and Sweden (on behalf of the European Union and associated States) also spoke.
The meeting, which began at 11:58 a.m., was adjourned at 1:25 p.m.
The Security Council met this morning to hear a briefing on the situation in Kosovo by the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jean-Marie Guéhenno.
On 10 June 1999, after the 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 Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) was given 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 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 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; and
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 current Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Kosovo is Hans Haekkerup of Denmark.
The Secretary-General’s most recent report (document S/2001/218, summarizing UNMIK’s activities and developments in Kosovo since 15 December 2000) states that, despite the challenges facing the Mission, there has been considerable progress in the implementation of its mandate. The emergency phase is largely over, and emphasis is now on capacity-building. The groundwork for a legal framework for provisional self-government has been laid, and consultations with Kosovo communities have begun.
He goes on to say that reliance on donor contributions for the Kosovo consolidated budget has decreased, as revenue-generating commercial activity takes root, although some DM 1.346 million in donations will still be needed in 2001.
The Kosovo political leadership must finally decide and demonstrate that it is ready to take responsibility for self-government of a tolerant and all-inclusive society -- something it has seemed reluctant to do, the report continues. The speed of development of substantial autonomy will depend on the willingness of Kosovo communities to engage and participate fully. It will also be necessary for the international community to speak with one voice.
Initial signs of the commitment of the new Government in Belgrade have been encouraging, the Secretary-General reports, but more substantive gestures must follow. In particular, it should reconsider its decision to withdraw the Kosovo Serb representative from the working group on the interim legal framework, as this decision deprives Kosovo Serbs of the possibility of directly influencing a process that could lead to better future for all in Kosovo. It could also encourage Serbs to participate fully in the interim administrative structures, including voter registration.
Furthermore, the Secretary-General continues, it could also take swift action on Kosovo Albanian detainees. He calls on the Government to release the detainees or transfer them to the Kosovo justice system. Linked to that is the need for the Kosovo Albanian community to cooperate with UNMIK to resolve the fate of those missing in Kosovo.
Continuing violence remains the single most important threat to attainment of the international community’s goal, he reports, and it was also the most serious threat to the right of ordinary people to peaceful and secure lives. Most residents abhor violence, but remain unwilling to cooperate with UNMIK in tackling its causes and its perpetrators. Kosovo leaders must, with support from the international community, speak out against the violence.
The continuing conflict in the Presevo Valley of southern Serbia and conflict in the north of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is a serious threat to the region, the Secretary-General reports. The UNMIK commends the restraint shown by both countries in dealing with these problems and cautions that the solutions to the problems were not purely military. The actions of authorities in dealing with Albanian minorities outside Kosovo were watched closely by the people of Kosovo, the Secretary-General observes. Any overreaction would inevitably have serious consequences in Kosovo.
Briefing by Secretariat
Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations JEAN-MARIE GUÉHENNO said UNMIK continued to be engaged in an intensive exercise to elaborate a legal framework for provisional self-government. A joint working group was discussing areas of responsibility to be transferred under provisional self-government, the composition of the Assembly, and the electoral system to be used. The Kosovo Albanian members of the working group had advocated the fullest possible transfer of authority to local control following Kosovo-wide elections, and persisted in their demand to name the document an “interim constitution”. Throughout the consultations, UNMIK had staunchly advocated the protection of the rights and interests of all communities and the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, in accordance with resolution 1244 (1999).
There was still no Kosovo Serb representation in the working group, he said. President Kostunica of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia had indicated his support for the participation of a Kosovo Serb expert. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. Haekerrup, had supported, and had indicated, that UNMIK would take specific steps to ensure that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia authorities were also informed directly about the work on the legal framework.
Kosovo’s other communities were actively engaged in the consultation process he said, including those not directly represented in the working group. To date, representatives of the Kosovo Bosniac, Turkish, Roma, Ashkali and Gorani communities had met twice with the Kosovo Bosniac member of the working group. The working group was scheduled to complete its work in the very near future. Progress made so far should make elections possible this year, he said. Along side the elaboration of the legal framework, a key aspect was the establishment of democratically functioning municipal assemblies, and progress had been made on these.
There had been mixed progress on the assumption of reserved seats by the communities. Representatives of Kosovo Turks, Bosniacs, Romas, Ashkalis and Egyptians had accepted their appointments as co-opted members, and were also represented as additional deputy presidents in three assemblies. Progress had been slower with the Kosovo Serb community, where participation was limited to five municipalities. There had been, however, recent signs that more Kosovo Serbs were now willing to participate.
The institution-building pillar had begun preparatory work for Kosovo-wide elections on the basis of a “2 plus 6” timeline, with a two-month build-up and six months for registration and election operations. A key priority was out-of-Kosovo registration and election operations to enable those who left Kosovo after
1 January 1998 to register and participate in the elections, he said.
Tackling law and order remained a high priority for UNMIK. Work had continued to realign the police and judicial institutions into a single new UNMIK pillar. The new pillar would oversee the planned expansion of the Kosovo Police Service from the present target goal of 4,000 to a total of 6,000 police officers by the end of 2002. Continued efforts to break the cycle of criminal impunity and tackle organized crime had met with some success over the past weeks. Four suspects had been arrested in connection with the Merdare bus bombing, in which 10 Kosovo Serbs were killed in mid-February. The trial of a high-profile suspect accused of organized criminal activity was scheduled to be completed. The UNMIK needed more international judges and prosecutors to deal with the increase in sensitive cases, such as those relating to ethnic extremism and organized crime.
Regarding economic reconstruction, he said a key element of provisional self-government was financial responsibility, for which Kosovo’s public finances needed to be developed. Tax collection points were being established along the boundary line with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and would contribute key funding to the Kosovo Consolidated Budget at a vital time in the run-up to provisional self-government. Infrastructures in Kosovo were in significantly better shape now than 18 months ago, he said.
Relations with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the opening of an UNMIK office in Belgrade were important in trying to engage the Federal Republic’s authorities in substantial and constructive cooperation on issues of common concern. The Special Representative and President Kostunica had, in a recent meeting, also discussed continuing negotiations on detainees and missing persons from Kosovo. Approximately 218 of 662 Kosovo Albanian detainees had been released from prisons in Serbia. The Special Representative had pointed out the potential to begin to build lines of communication between families from all communities. It was agreed that there should be further discussion between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and UNMIK on rendering the necessary safeguards to the Kosovo Serb population of Mitrovica.
Progress had taken place against the backdrop of violence along the Kosovo border with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and continuing instability in southern Serbia. One of the consequences had been the interruption of the supply of fuel, food and essential medical supplies. The UNMIK continued to assist KFOR (NATO’s force in Kosovo) through the redeployment of Special Police Units to back up the security presence in those areas from where military units had been redeployed. The UNMIK also continued to encourage Kosovo Albanian leaders to speak out publicly against the use of violence. The border closures did not prevent the flow of an estimated 8,000 ethnic Albanian refugees from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia into Kosovo.
Despite the adverse effects of the conflicts in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and southern Serbia, which had the potential to trigger large, destabilizing movements of people into Kosovo, UNMIK had continued to move forward with its key priorities, he said. Progress on the legal framework should allow the holding of Kosovo-wide elections this year, serious measures to tackle law and order were beginning to bear fruit, and increased cooperation with the Federal Republic’s authorities would pave the way for progress in the key areas of security and return, which had so far blocked Kosovo Serb participation in integrated structures.
SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation) said that he appreciated efforts to re-establish normalcy in Kosovo, and Mr. Haekkerup’s recent visit to Belgrade was important in that respect. Without cooperation from Belgrade, the Mission would not be able to fulfil its mandate. The question of Kosovo-wide elections was of central importance now. Those elections should be really democratic, with fair participation of all ethnic communities of the province. He attached great importance to the return of displaced persons and refugees, as their participation was important. He wanted to warn against excessive haste in holding elections, for that could reinforce radical nationalistic tendencies.
Work on the legal framework of the elections and the timing of the elections should be conducted strictly in keeping with resolution 1244, with the participation of Belgrade, he continued. The modalities and the procedure of the elections must be endorsed by the Security Council. He reiterated that a mission from the Council was needed before decisions were taken in that respect.
At this stage, the international presence should make more active efforts to ensure security for all, including the Serbs and other non-Albanian communities, he said. So far, that security had not been accomplished. There had been no decrease in the number of attacks against the non-Albanian population, and those attacks were clearly organized in nature. In that connection, he wanted to seriously warn against any hasty steps in Mitrovica. Without taking into consideration the interest of the Serbs there, there was a serious danger of the whole area being ethnically cleansed.
The leaders of several radical parties in Kosovo had openly expressed their full support for extremists belonging to the so-called national liberation army in Macedonia, he said. That was well-known, and UNMIK and KFOR must step up their efforts to put an end to extremism in Kosovo and prevent the export of violence from the province. The root cause of the situation lay in the policy of placating Kosovo extremism pursued by the previous leadership of the Mission. Bosnia was already suffering from after-effects of the Kosovo problem, with extremists there following the same methods as those in Kosovo.
He drew attention to the need for clearer and more consistent implementation of resolution 1160 regarding the arms embargo in Kosovo. The situation warranted measures be taken to finally conclude the demilitarization of the former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), without which it would be difficult to stabilize the situation in the region. For example, recently a huge illegal stash of weapons was found close to the Macedonian border, and KFOR had to use four trucks to export it. No comment was needed on that.
Success depended on a new approach, based on the political will of States in the region and active help from the international community, he said. For that reason, Russian Foreign Minister Ivanov had recently put forward a proposal stressing the need to adopt a legally-binding document determining mutual responsibility in the region, based on the inviolability of borders, non-use of force, and no incitement of terrorist activities against neighbouring States. The Security Council could become a guarantor of such an agreement, sending a clear message that no re-carving of boundaries in Europe could take place, including the Balkans.
WANG YINGFAN (China) said that while the situation in Kosovo remained unstable, he was pleased that contact between UNMIK and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Government had increased. He hoped such contacts would continue and would be beneficial in the long run. At present, he was most concerned about the progress of preparations for elections, which had direct bearing on the whole problem, and on peace and stability in the region. China believed that preparations for Kosovo-wide elections must be carried out strictly within the framework of resolution 1244, ensuring fair and equitable representation from all ethnic communities.
He said that the working group on legal framework had achieved considerable progress, especially on future self-government of Kosovo. That could not be achieved without full representation of Kosovo Serbs, however. He asked what effect the lack of full participation of Serbs would have on the future situation in the area. His other question had to do with the fact that nearly 10,000 Federal Republic of Yugoslavia citizens had fled the area during the crisis. Would their presence have any impact on the Kosovo-wide elections? What measures would be taken by UNMIK to take care of such refugees?
In conclusion, he supported Russia’s proposal that the Council should send a mission to Kosovo and Belgrade to get a first-hand impression of the situation.
ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said the recent meeting between
Mr. Haekerrup and Federal Republic of Yugoslavia President Kostunica on 5 April had been a milestone, which would open up opportunities for resolution of outstanding issues. Regarding preparations for the elections, he said UNMIK’s call to all communities to register and participate in the elections was a key aspect for holding fair elections. The return of Kosovars to Kosovo to participate was also very important.
The legal framework for provisional self-government should be drafted with the participation of all communities, he said, and rights and interests of all communities needed to be reflected in that framework. The support of President Kostunica for the establishment of that framework was important, as well.
Regarding the missing persons, he said the idea of a joint committee should be pursued. He was encouraged by economic reconstruction efforts, particularly for tax collection and infrastructure improvement. He supported the idea of a Security Council mission to Kosovo.
NOUREDDINE MEJDOUB (Tunisia) believed that, since Security Council resolution 1244 had been unanimously accepted by all parties to the conflict, its implementation should be total and swift. That resolution had emphasized the establishment of autonomy and substantial self government. The UNMIK should define those aspects on the basis of consultations with all parties, including the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. He encouraged Mr. Haekerrup to continue his work to find a clear-cut definition of a legal framework and to work to implement the results of the elections.
A solution to the Kosovo question should be part of a comprehensive solution to the problem of the whole Balkan region, he said. He welcomed the sprit of cooperation shown in Belgrade. He was concerned about the continuation of pockets of tension along the borders, which was not conducive to the return of refugees and the security of Kosovo itself. It prolonged the crisis. It was important to strengthen security, particularly where minorities resided, and to ensure non-discriminatory justice for all inhabitants. He welcomed the decision of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to reopen the border with Kosovo, which would make it possible to ship essential goods to the Kosovo inhabitants.
JAMES B. CUNNINGHAM (United States) said that today’s briefing showed that, while there were some nuances in approach, the fundamental issue was whether the problem would be resolved through armed conflict or by peaceful means. It was encouraging that progress was being made in the political direction. The Council should support UNMIK and KFOR efforts to resolve the situation. Violence remained the most serious threat in the region, and he strongly supported new measures being developed against organized crime and extremism. He invited Kosovar leaders to join those efforts. It was essential for the Mission and KFOR to have support from the Albanian population to be successful. It was time to move from words to deeds both inside and outside Kosovo.
Elections served a key function in the process, and he supported holding them as soon as possible, he said. They would solidify the discussion of whether it was possible to achieve progress by peaceful means. It was gratifying that UNMIK was establishing a legal framework, and he noted the observations that the elections would be held this year. He also noted the significant progress in ensuring participation of all people of Kosovo in the process. Kosovo Serbs were being encouraged to participate, and that was a step forward.
Turning to the question of depleted uranium, he noted recent World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) studies showing no demonstrative link between the use of such ammunition and the incidence of cancer. Those results coincided with other studies.
Responding to questions, Under-Secretary-General GUÉHENNO said that according to the available information, refugees from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia were very peaceful, and humanitarian agencies were taking care of their needs. As the situation returned to normal, most of those refugees would return to the country. As they were not Kosovo residents, their return should have no impact on the elections.
If Kosovo Serbs did not participate in the election, it would not bode well for the area, he said. For that reason, every effort was being made to ensure their participation. He was encouraged by the results of the meeting in Belgrade. It was indeed essential that Kosovo-wide elections had full participation from all those who had a right to do so. Among the participants must be those currently absent from the province. Their non-participation would further divide the population, and close cooperation was needed between the Mission and Belgrade to ensure their participation. However, any undue delay in the election would give “more power to the gun than to the vote”. Elections would enable communities in Kosovo to have a say in the situation. If they were held properly, they would reduce tension.
JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France) said Mr. Haekkerup should continue to work in close coordination with representatives of all communities in Kosovo, to provide a clear-cut definition of the competencies to be transferred to the to-be-elected institutions. He was encouraged by the signals from Belgrade regarding the participation of the Serb community. The elections were an indispensable phase in the process of deepening democracy in Kosovo. The participation of minorities was indispensable in that regard, he said, and painstaking preparations were required.
Mr. Haekkerup’s visit to Belgrade had been a very important event, he said, and he was gratified to see a positive relationship developing between UNMIK and Federal Republic of Yugoslavia authorities. The opening of an UNMIK office in Belgrade was a step forward in that regard.
Ethnic violence, however, remained the crux of the matter. Cooperation between KFOR and UNMIK was welcome, but elected officials in Kosovo must do more to make their voices heard to condemn ethnic violence and promote cooperation. They should do everything in their power to prevent violence. A ministerial meeting of the Contact Group on the former Yugoslavia, in which Mr. Haekkerup would participate, would be an opportunity to look at the situation in south-east Europe in general.
M. PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica) welcomed the results of the discussions between Mr. Haekkerup and President Kostunica, which could be a basis for further discussion on refugees, missing persons and organized crime. A joint commission could act as a confidence-building measure. She asked whether UNMIK had sought international assistance regarding DNA testing for identification.
She underlined the importance of the elections and thorough preparation for them. The registration of internally displaced persons was another confidence-building measure, but could only take place in a secure environment. She hoped Kosovo Serbs could be persuaded to participate in the municipal institutions, and was disturbed about polarization along political and ethnic lines. She supported the proposal for a Security Council mission to Kosovo.
She reiterated her concern about the proliferation of small arms in Kosovo and requested a detailed report on what was done to confiscate illegal weapons. She also wanted to know what KFOR did to prevent weapons from entering Kosovo, and called for increased surveillance of the borders to stop the flow of illegal weapons.
KISHORE MAHBUBANI (Singapore) said that as Kosovo was being discussed by the Council almost once a month, it was important to see if the international community was moving in the right direction. A global strategy on the issue was needed in order to take the item of Kosovo off the agenda. It was also important to bear in mind that Kosovo was one of the more expensive peacekeeping operations, and one of the most difficult ones as well. It was important to ask if the international community was going in the right direction in the long run.
The goals in Kosovo had been spelled out in resolution 1244, he continued. Province-wide elections were frequently discussed, and it had been said that they were a better choice than the use of the gun. But could they also have a destabilizing effect? It was important to ask the question. Which of the political parties were more likely to be successful and what effect would that have?
He went on to say that it was impossible to stage “Hamlet” without a ghost appearing in the play. Similarly, every time Kosovo was discussed, it seemed that a ghost was hanging over the Council, asking what general direction was being followed. It was important to determine what was to be accomplished. Rebuilding a broken nation also resembled moving a big bolder up a mountain. Was it currently going up or rolling backwards? As for dispatching a mission to the area, he supported that idea.
ANDRÉS FRANCO (Columbia) said that the question of refugees and displaced persons remained among the most complex issues in Kosovo. He asked for additional details about their situation. Negotiations to settle disputes in southern Serbia were important, and he appealed to Albanian extremists to comply with international efforts to resolve the situation. He also asked about the hostages recently taken in southern Serbia and said that more information was needed regarding the measures to control illicit trafficking in arms in the area. What were KFOR and UNMIK doing towards that end? Regarding the relationship with Belgrade, he supported efforts to improve the dialogue. Development of the legal framework and efforts to ensure participation of Serb population in the elections were welcome. He praised the work of UNMIK and the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to ensure fair elections.
OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) said that he wanted to stress his country’s full support for Special Representative of the Secretary-General Haekkerup and UNMIK’s efforts. The work on the legal framework was progressing, and Kosovo-wide elections were intended to be held this year, and as part of that process, more Kosovar energy should be directed into the legal and political arena. Norway deeply regretted and condemned violent attacks against minorities, which seemed increasingly well-organized and aimed at undermining efforts to ensure a multi-ethnic Kosovo.
Continued extremist violence (also against fellow ethnic Albanians) showed that progress towards elections was not matched by improvement in the security situation, he continued. For elections to be held, a security framework was needed, as well as a legal one. Kosovo Albanian leaders should know that the best support they could give to the election process was to take vigorous, public measures to prevent violence and create conditions conducive to the return of refugees and displaced persons. However desirable province-wide elections might be, their success would depend on whether those requirements were met. He asked if it was Mr. Guéhenno’s impression that Kosovar leaders fully appreciated the need to do more on the security situation.
To ensure legitimate elections, it was essential that Kosovo Serbs and other minorities were properly represented in the preparations, voting and institutions, he said. He believed that closer cooperation between UNMIK and Federal Republic of Yugoslavia authorities would contribute to that end. Norway fully supported the efforts OF THE Secretary-General’s Special Representative to involve Yugoslav authorities, and welcomed his visit to Belgrade last week. It was important to open a full-fledged UNMIK office in Belgrade now, and he wanted to know what the situation was in that respect.
Norway was encouraged by recent steps by Belgrade to bring to justice persons indicted for war crimes, he said, as well as those to implement the Covic plan in the Presevo region. To build further confidence, all political prisoners should be released from jails in Serbia without delay. Ethnic Albanian leaders should, for their part, do more on the issue of missing persons. Lack of public trust in the law enforcement agencies and the judiciary in Kosovo was a serious challenge. Tackling the alarming increase in trafficking in women and children was another of the most urgent tasks. Finally, he said he would like to hear Mr. Guéhenno’s assessment of the possible implications for resolution 1244 if Montenegro should secede from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
Under-Secretary–General GUÉHENNO, addressing a question on DNA testing, said the Mission would like to draw on the expertise of certain non-governmental organizations and would be in touch with those organizations. However, there was a need for funding.
He said progress had been made on the participation of Kosovo Serbs in municipal assemblies. Serb representatives had walked into assemblies in several municipalities, including in Pristina. He assured the Council that in municipalities where Serbs were not participating, UNMIK made sure that municipal resources were allocated to the Serb community.
Regarding the flow of weapons, he said UNMIK had enacted a regulation outlawing the possession of weapons, which included serious sanctions. An information campaign was going on, which would be followed by a one-month grace period during which weapons could be handed in. That period would last until the end of May.
Addressing a question about the destabilizing effects elections could have because of the issue of independence, he said Kosovo politicians were still in a competition with each other to see how nationalistic they could be. From the experience of the municipal assemblies, he noted that the more emphasis that was put on the management of Kosovo, the more tension was diffused.
He said the return of internally displaced Serbs to Kosovo was indeed a very important issue. It would take place in a gradual way for security reasons. The political context for a massive return was not there yet. The negotiations taking place in southern Serbia had started slowly, he said in answer to another question. He appreciated the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia’s redeployment of forces in that area, but emphasized that the forces being redeployed should not include troops that had been associated with events in Kosovo. Perceptions played a very important role in that regard.
Regarding illicit activities across borders, he said 100 per cent control of the mountainous and forested border area was impossible, but several weapon seizures had taken place. KFOR and UNMIK were studying the possibility of strengthening the legal framework within which they could act in apprehending those who were illegally crossing the border.
He had impressed upon the Albanian Kosovo leaders that there had been a lot of international sympathy for Kosovo, but that that sympathy would vanish if the commitment of all leaders to a multi-ethnic Kosovo was in doubt. During his visit to Kosovo, he had told leaders that democracy was not the dictatorship of the majority, but respect for the minority.
Regarding the regional dimension of the situation, he said a clear message from the international community was needed that endless fragmentation was leading Kosovo nowhere. It was important that all Kosovo communities understood that tinkering with fundamental principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity would not lead to stability. Stability, however, also needed a bottom-up approach, where local communities would “integrate those principles into their own minds”. He had noticed that in Mitrovica, the political agenda of the communities had overshadowed the everyday management of the city.
MARKIAN KULYK (Ukraine) said full participation of Kosovo Serb’s representative, assisted by legal experts from Belgrade, in the activities of the Working Group could be a solution to the important issue of the Yugoslav authorities’ involvement in the process. UNMIK should redouble its efforts to determine the fate of 3,000 missing persons in Kosovo, as well as to ensure security conditions for Serb returnees. He asked Mr. Guéhenno for more details concerning media reports about prospects for signing an agreement on cooperation between Belgrade and UNMIK.
He said despite a number of positive developments, the general security situation in the province remained tense. Inter-ethnic violence and intolerance still persisted. Kosovo Albanian political leaders must not only distance themselves from all such acts, but also send a strong political message aimed at their prevention in the future. Recent military activities by ethnic Albanian extremist groups in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and southern Serbia showed how volatile the situation remained. Those events testified to the need for an effective regional approach by the international community to the problems. He condemned all acts of violence by extremist groups that endangered the security situation in the entire region.
He noticed a gradual de-escalation of the situation in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and welcomed the decision in Skopje to re-open the border with Kosovo. He looked forward to progress in the all-parties negotiations, which would include representatives of ethnic Albanians, to be launched by the Macedonian Government, and said he hoped that they would build momentum for national consensus.
SEKOU KASSÉ (Mali) said that it was time to say no to ethnic violence and condemn it. It was important to encourage UNMIK and KFOR to redouble their efforts to resolve the situation in the area. He noted with satisfaction the priorities set out by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General. They could be implemented at this stage. He agreed with the points made today regarding the framework for holding elections. Cooperation with Belgrade must increase to overcome some important difficulties. It was also important to put an end to violence. He supported proposals to dispatch a Security Council mission to Kosovo at an appropriate time.
DAVID COONEY (Ireland) thanked Under-Secretary-General Guéhenno for an informative briefing. He stressed the need to overcome friction between the Albanian population and other ethnic communities in Kosovo. The level of violence was unacceptable, and the Council must insist that those with influence use it to stop the violence. It was also important to emphasize the need for an early return of refugees, as well as the release of all remaining political prisoners. He was surprised to hear that about 400 Kosovo Albanians remained in detention. He supported a joint committee to verify the fate of the missing, but inquired about the details of that arrangement.
ANUND PRIYAY NEEWOOR (Mauritius) said important progress had been made towards finalization of the legal framework, within the mandate established in resolution 1244 and he welcomed the recent talks between Mr. Haekkerup and President Kostunica. That dialogue was extremely important for the implementation of resolution 1244.
In order for elections in Kosovo to be credible, they must not only be free and fair, but all communities must be able to participate. For that to happen, secure conditions for minorities must exist. It was important that all refugees and internally displaced persons should be encouraged to return. The voter registration process should access every potential voter.
The legal framework must be such that minority communities felt assured that they would have full rights to be adequately represented in the legislature and the administration, he said. As the elections in Kosovo would undoubtedly have implications for the whole region, the outcome of the elections should be fully credible. UNMIK should look at examples of elections in other multi-ethnic situations. He hoped the Security Council would have the opportunity to discuss the draft for the legal framework.
The President of the Council, JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom), speaking in his national capacity, said law and order was a full priority, and he welcomed the establishment of the new pillar. The United Kingdom stood ready to respond positively to the need to double the number of international judges and prosecutors, but needed a formal request. There was also the matter of funding, which should be looked at.
He acknowledged the risk that the wider question of the future status of Kosovo would be opened up during the elections, but said that risk had to be taken. Community leaders should be made to understand the framework within which they were working. He was pleased that the Special Representative had held constructive discussions with leaders in Belgrade, and expressed the hope that all parties would begin to understand the need for ethnic reconciliation.
DEJAN SAHOVIC (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) said that the continued violence against non-Albanians, particularly Serbs, was still a cause for serious concern in Kosovo. That lack of security, along with the absence of conditions for the return of displaced persons, was among the many issues that remained unresolved. The issue of missing persons should also be given urgent attention. There were positive developments, however, which included, most importantly, President Kostunica's meeting with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General. Opening an UNMIK office in Belgrade would further promote cooperation between his country and the United Nations Mission.
He said the question of Serb participation in the UNMIK working group for the legal framework had been resolved. With the proper guarantees of security and equal participation, they were ready to begin work. In addition, Serb participation in self-government should be increased. The elaboration of the legal framework was crucial for holding province-wide elections, as were the definition of electoral structures, adequate representation of Serbs and other non-Albanians, and the return of displaced persons. The Federal of Yugoslavia should play an appropriate and active role in that whole process, given due regard to its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Regarding the situation in the Ground Safety Zone, he said that despite violence and unresolved abductions committed by Albanian extremists, his country would not be deterred from attempts at dialogue and a peaceful solution. Security Council resolution 1345 was constructive, as were the recent additional efforts of KFOR to more effectively control the borders. A lasting solution to the whole problem of Kosovo required full and consistent implementation of Council resolution 1244, as well as dialogue and cooperation -- to which his country remained committed.
Speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, PIERRE SCHORI (Sweden), said that his statement had been distributed to the members of the Council, but he wanted to draw attention to several important issues. First of all, the Union was deeply concerned about the level of inter-ethnic violence in Kosovo. The most recent report prepared by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on the situation regarding minorities there indicated that the security situation of several minority groups, in particular the Serb and Roma communities, was deteriorating. It was distressing that attacks against those groups showed signs of being increasingly well-organized and coordinated. He strongly condemned extremism and the use of violence and any acts seeking to alienate communities. He urged all political leaders in Kosovo, and in particular Kosovo Albanian leaders with political or moral authority, to isolate the forces behind those acts, in words as well as deeds.
Also important was the problem of missing persons, he continued. The release of political detainees would help create an atmosphere in which that issue could be pursued more vigorously. That would constitute a concrete example of confidence-building, which could facilitate a first step towards possible contacts between the associations of families in Kosovo and elsewhere in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The Union supported development of a legal framework for provisional institutions for self-government, which should include adequate safeguards for minority rights.
He went on to say that the European Union welcomed measures taken regarding the situation in south-east Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and fully shared the objectives of Security Council resolution 1345 in that regard. At a time when new perspectives for the region were opening up, he wished to underline that there was no future for those who sought to achieve their aims by violent means, be it for nationalist or other causes. In that context, he welcomed the signing today of the stabilization and association agreement between the European Union and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Under-Secretary-General GUÉHENNO, addressing a question about Montenegro, said he did not want to prejudge the elections. Responding to a question about developments on an agreement between Belgrade and UNMIK, he said that agreement concerned the status of the UNMIK office in Belgrade. The agreement would help address substantive and practical issues.
Answering another question, he said some 400 Albanians were still being detained in Serbia proper, because the amnesty law had excluded those sentenced on terrorism charges. However, that particular category would be dealt with soon, he said.
In conclusion, the Council’s President, Mr. GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom), said the Council would continue to monitor the issue closely. This morning’s discussion had emphasized that the election process was of vital importance. The
inclusiveness of the political process was of importance to the Council. The Council welcomed the fact that the matter of the Serb representative in the working group had been resolved.
Law and order was another priority, he said. Council members had emphasized the need to stop traffic in illegal arms. The Council had welcomed progress made regarding ethnic violence, but stressed that much remained to be done regarding extremism. Ethnic leaders must lead on that issue, emphasizing law and order. The Council welcomed the fact that economic reconstruction was beginning to work. It would monitor progress made in return of refugees and the internally displaced.
The regional context had not been forgotten in this morning’s discussion, he said. UNMIK should work closely with KFOR and local communities, and he called on KFOR to provide briefings. The United Kingdom’s Council presidency would follow up on the proposal for a Council mission to Kosovo. The timing of that mission, however, must not interfere with the preparations for elections.
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