COUNCIL MEMBERS REGRET 'STALEMATE' IN INSTALLATION OF KOSOVO'S NEWLY ELECTED INSTITUTIONS

21 January 2002
SC/7278

COUNCIL MEMBERS REGRET 'STALEMATE' IN INSTALLATION OF KOSOVO'S NEWLY ELECTED INSTITUTIONS

21/01/2002
Press ReleaseSC/7278

Security Council

4454th Meeting (AM)

COUNCIL MEMBERS REGRET ‘STALEMATE’ IN INSTALLATION

OF KOSOVO’S NEWLY ELECTED INSTITUTIONS

Members Welcome Appointment of Michael Steiner (Germany)

To Replace Hans Haekkerup as Special Representative for Kosovo

Briefing the Security Council this morning on developments in Kosovo since the 17 November province-wide elections, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said that while the deadlock in forming a coalition government and electing a president of the province persisted, the United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK) and interested members continued to impress upon the various actors the importance of an early solution to the current stalemate.   

Mr. Guéhenno was outlining post-election developments in Kosovo, where the election had failed to produce one party with the necessary majority in the Assembly to form a government without entering into a coalition.

Council President Jagdish Koonjul also informed Council members this morning that the Secretary-General had appointed Michael Steiner (Germany) as his new Special Representative for Kosovo.  Many Council members warmly commended Mr. Steiner’s predecessor, Hans Haekkerup (Denmark) for his stewardship in Kosovo, his work with UNMIK and his efforts to organize the recently held elections. 

The representative of the Russian Federation said success in Kosovo hinged on the coordinated efforts of all players concerned.  In that light, he underscored that the new Special Representative of the Secretary-General must avoid the miscalculations that had been made by his predecessors.

Mr. Guéhenno said UNMIK continued to work to create an environment in which Kosovo’s minorities would feel secure to participate in public life, adding that overall the last three months had been calm.  A more robust and active approach by UNMIK and KFOR towards the so-called “bridgewatchers” had also helped to decrease the level of violence in Mitrovica North, and appeared to have undermined some of the support for that element.  It was regrettable, however, that on 17 January, Ismael Hardaraj, a Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) member of the Assembly, was murdered in the Pec region.  UNMIK had launched a thorough investigation, but at this point the motivation for the killing was unclear.

Speakers called on Kosovo’s political leadership to show a spirit of reconciliation and to move the current deadlock forward.  Many others were

steadfast in stressing that the return of minorities to the Province, their freedom of movement, rejection of violence and extremism by Kosovar leaders and the promotion of tolerance were critical to consolidating gains made so far and establishing a peaceful and multicultural Kosovo.  Mexico’s representative suggested that UNMIK help build up an educational system in the Province that would encourage the various ethnic groups to respect one another, a recommendation that was supported by a number of other speakers.

The representative of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia said the self-governing institutions had yet to justify the trust that had been bestowed on them during the elections, or to prove that they were ready to address the difficulties that still plagued the province.  His Government was worried about the lack of security in Kosovo and Metohija, particularly for non-Albanians.  That was a point that had been repeatedly raised in the Secretary-General's reports, which recounted numerous incidents, including the planting of explosives, intimidation and murders -- the victims of which were both Serbian and Albanian. 

He said security for all was a prerequisite for the self-governing institutions to function freely and productively, and to include non-Albanians in their work.  Unfortunately, the international presences in the provinces were still unable to ensure security.  Recent setbacks had included the release of suspects in the case of a terrorist attack on a passenger bus near Podujevo last February.  Also, while the international community was mobilizing resources to combat terrorism, the perpetrators of an attack last year, which left dozens of Serbian internally displaced persons wounded and dead, remained at large in the area administered by UNMIK and KFOR.

Singapore’s representative said UNMIK should be treated like any other peacekeeping operation in terms of management by the Council and the renewal of its mandate.  There was now a need for regular reviews of the Mission’s mandate.  The Council must also have a clear exit strategy for Kosovo, which should be established reasonably soon.  He was not, however, calling for the quick withdrawal of international elements from Kosovo, since a swift exit would destabilize everything achieved so far.  While the exit should be gradual, it would be useful for the Council to know how the international element would be downsized and roughly what time-frames would be involved.

Statements were also made by the representatives of Norway, Syria, Cameroon, Guinea, United Kingdom, China, Ireland, Colombia, Bulgaria, France, United States, Spain (on behalf of the European Union and associated States), Ukraine and Mauritius.

The meeting began at 10:17 a.m. and adjourned at 12:54 p.m.

Background

When the Security Council met this morning, it had before it a report by the Secretary-General on the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).  Dated 15 January, the report covers UNMIK activities and events in Kosovo since 2 October 2001, focusing mainly on the election process and the Mission’s preparations to hand over authority to the new Government.

Kosovo elected a minority Assembly on 17 November, the report notes, and attention is now focused on forming a coalition of the three main Kosovo Albanian parties.  On 10 December, the Assembly held its inaugural session to elect the seven-member presidency, as well as the President of Kosovo, who would then nominate a Prime Minister.  However, the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) failed to submit candidates for its two presidential seats and the Assembly elected only its President, Nexhet Daci of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), and four other members -– one from the LDK, two from the Kosovo Serb Return Coalition, and one from the United Roma Party.

Since then, the Assembly has met twice to elect the President of Kosovo, on 13 December and 10 January, but each time the only candidate, LDK leader Ibrahim Rugova, failed to gain the required two-thirds majority (80 votes) or a simple majority (61 votes).

In the meantime, UNMIK has been setting up administrative and other services to support the Assembly.  As local personnel are trained, international staff will continue in key posts, and the Interim Administrative Council will remain until authority is transferred to the new Government.  UNMIK regional administrations have been redefined to cover security coordination, general oversight of UNMIK staff in regions and municipalities, reporting and auditing, political assessments and coordination of the return of displaced persons.

In an effort to encourage minorities to take part in government, the so-called Common Document was signed in Belgrade on 5 November by the Secretary-General's Special Representative and the Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia.  The Document had two main aims –- to inform the Yugoslav authorities about UNMIK's efforts to assist the Kosovo Serb community, and to provide a solid basis for cooperation with the Yugoslav authorities.

The Document outlines several areas of mutual concern, such as enhanced security and freedom of movement, swift progress on returns, missing persons, integration of Kosovo Serbs into government, the establishment of a multi-ethnic and unbiased justice system and increased efforts on property issues.

Shortly after the Common Document was signed, the Special Representative set up the Office of Returns and Communities.  Work has already begun on a framework for 2002/2003, which will combine economic incentives with other measures to offer longer-term prospects to returnees and internally displaced persons.  The report notes that a total of only 2,432 Serbs, out of 229,900 registered internally displaced persons, had returned to Kosovo by 8 December 2001.

Security and freedom of movement for Kosovo’s minority communities has remained a serious concern, the report continues.  The international security presence (KFOR) has reported an increase in minor inter-ethnic intimidation and violence.  Efforts have continued to remove unauthorized weapons and joint search operations have been stepped up.  On 1 December, KFOR and UNMIK police launched the largest weapons search so far -– involving 3,000 soldiers from all five multinational brigades -– which resulted in the arrest of 12 people and the seizure of an assorted range of weapons.

Over the past few months, UNMIK has continued to build up the Kosovo Police Service and improve the justice system, providing education for judges and prosecutors from all ethnic communities.  The Mission has also focused on the fight against terrorism and organized crime.  The report warns that links between organized crime and terrorism, as well as Balkan regional networks operating in Kosovo, can destabilize political and economic institutions and damage inter-ethnic relations.

The UNMIK has also been heavily engaged in the reconstruction and development of Kosovo.  It has put together a fully funded budget for the incoming administration, which aims to meet all recurrent expenditures from domestic tax revenue.  However, Kosovo still relies largely on donor funding, since it cannot borrow from international financial institutions for capital projects.

Background to Mission

The UNMIK was established on 10 June 1999 through Security Council resolution 1244.  At that time, the Secretary-General appointed Hans Haekkerup (Denmark) as his Special Representative for Kosovo and head of UNMIK.

Resolution 1244 called upon UNMIK to perform several functions.  These included civilian administrative activities, promoting autonomy and self-government, giving political assistance and coordinating humanitarian and disaster relief.  The Mission was also to support the reconstruction of key infrastructure, maintain civil law and order, promote human rights, and assure the safe and unimpeded return of all refugees and displaced persons to their homes.

Since then, the following events have occurred:  in January 2000, joint interim administrative departments were created; in October 2000, local elections took place in Kosovo's 30 municipalities; and in May 2001, the new Constitutional Framework of Kosovo was adopted.

The first province-wide parliamentary elections took place on 17 November. The Democratic League of Kosovo, led by Ibrahim Rugova, won 45.7 per cent of the vote, Hashim Thaci's Democratic Party of Kosovo won 25.7 per cent, the Return Coalition 11.3 per cent, and the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo 7.8 per cent. Since no party reached the required majority, the focus is now on forming a coalition government.

Following the elections, the Security Council said in a press statement that the elections were an important step in implementing resolution 1244, and would allow democratic self-governing institutions to be set up, as specified in the Constitutional Framework for Provisional Self-Government.

On 31 December, Mr. Haekkerup resigned as the Secretary-General's Special Representative to Kosovo, and was replaced by Acting Special Representative Charles Brayshaw.

Under-Secretary-General’s Statement

JEAN-MARIE GUÉHENNO, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said on 17 November 2001 Kosovo-wide elections were held in a generally peaceful environment.  The elections were well organized and executed both within and outside the province.  As the report pointed out, the elections did not result in one party having the necessary majority in the Assembly to form a government without entering into a coalition.

He said the signing of the Common Document in Belgrade on 5 November 2001 by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Hans Haekkerup, and Serbian Prime Minister Covic, was an important step in engaging Kosovo’s Serbs.  As the report elaborated, some steps listed in the Common Document had been taken, including the promulgation of a regulation on transparent and non-discriminatory recruiting procedures in the civil service and the creation of the Office of Returns and Communities in the Office of the Special Representative.

The UNMIK continued to work to create an environment in which Kosovo’s minorities would feel secure to participate in public life, he said.  The fact that there were no serious security incidents on election day was a tribute to the people of Kosovo and the security elements.  Overall, the last three months had been calm, he added.  The deadlock in forming a coalition persisted, but UNMIK and interested members continued to impress upon the various actors the importance of an early solution to the current stalemate.

He said the Mission had also laid the administrative groundwork necessary to restructure its own organization to complement the eventual establishment of provisional self-government.  The 20 Joint Interim Administrative Structures had been consolidated into nine transitional departments.  Those departments would become ministries as soon as a government was formed.  At the municipal level, UNMIK’s administrators had also been handing over responsibility to local authorities, including members of the minority communities. 

He said a more robust and active approach by UNMIK and KFOR towards the so-called “bridgewatchers” had helped to decrease the level of violence in Mitrovica North, and appeared to have undermined some of the support for that element.  The currency conversion from the deutsche mark to the euro had also proceeded smoothly.  The challenge still remained, however, for the European Union-led Pillar on Economic Reconstruction to solve the power problem plaguing Kosovo.

He said it was regrettable that he had to inform the Council that on

17 January, Ismael Hardaraj, an LDK member of the Assembly, was murdered in the Pec region.  The UNMIK strongly condemned that act and its police had launched a thorough investigation.  At this point, the motivation for the killing was unclear, he added.

The Secretary-General said he was taking action on the appointment of a new Special Representative and a letter would be sent to the Council.

Statements

WEGGER STRØMMEN (Norway) said the elections of 17 November and the inaugural session of the Assembly on 10 December 2001 were important milestones in the implementation of resolution 1244. The current deadlock regarding the election of a provincial president showed that there was an urgent need for all political leaders to demonstrate reconciliation and responsible self-government.  The UNMIK and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General would continue to fulfil vital functions in Kosovo.  The elected representatives and self-government officials should recognize the necessity and benefit of close cooperation with them.

He said that despite a decrease in the number of serious incidents, security and freedom of movement for minorities remained unsatisfactory.  No large-scale return of displaced Kosovo Serbs could be expected unless the security situation was considerably improved.  By openly rejecting violence, promoting tolerance towards minorities and making it clear to the people of Kosovo that security and reconciliation were their own responsibility, the newly elected political leaders would have a primary role to play in changing people’s attitudes. While supporting the establishment of an Office of Returns and Communities within UNMIK, he said the issue could not be left only to the international community.  An important measure of success of the new institutions of self-government in Kosovo would be whether larger-scale return could be facilitated.

A main objective of the High-ranking Working Group on Cooperation between UNMIK and Yugoslav authorities must not be perceived as a channel only between UNMIK and Belgrade, he said.  It should promote a constructive, direct dialogue between the democratically elected leaders of Kosovo and Yugoslavia.  He supported UNMIK’s measures to strengthen its capacity to counter terrorism and organized crime.  In addition to efforts of UNMIK and KFOR, the newly elected Assembly members must take the lead in openly rejecting hate speech, ethnically motivated violence, terrorism and organized crime.  Taking note of the release from custody of three Kosovo Albanians suspected of involvement in the bombing of the Nis Express Bus in February 2001, he urged UNMIK Police and KFOR to make all efforts necessary to bring to justice those responsible for that terrorist act.

ROBERTA LAJOUS (Mexico) said the international community still remembered the suffering of Kosovars during that tragic period when they had to leave their homes and fight for survival.  Despite efforts to support them, their suffering and anguish had touched the whole world.  Today, thanks to the efforts of the United Nations, it was possible for an increasing number of those people to return to their homes.

The United Nations Mission in Kosovo had also made it possible to normalize life in Kosovo’s communities, she said.  It was vital to complete the training of the local administrators, so that they could take over an autonomous self-government.  Work that had been done had been recognized, but there was long-term work that still had to be completed.  She welcomed the 17 November elections and also the work of the Assembly.  It would soon be possible to set up the provisional self-government, which would hopefully practise tolerance and respect.

Mexico was proud to have so many ethnic groups living together, she continued.  Education in her country had encouraged tolerance and respect for all of those identities.  Mexico believed that UNMIK could help to build up an educational system in Kosovo that would encourage the various ethnic groups to respect one another.

KISHORE MAHBUBANI (Singapore) said Kosovo was an unusual peacekeeping mission since it functioned more like a trusteeship operation –- the United Nations was holding it in trust until a government could be established.  No territory, however, could be held in trust forever.  Self-government was the goal, and the province must proceed towards that.

He said while there were still complications, the long-term future of Kosovo had to be bright since it had the good fortune to be situated on a great continent –- Europe.  That continent had tremendous potential due to its borderless world.  Kosovars could enjoy the related benefits and the challenge was to help them meet their destiny.  After the elections, it was now clear that the province had to move towards greater self-government and autonomy.  That was the direction for the United Nations to go.  Kosovo’s leaders must show that they could exercise responsibility and care in governing the province.  He also hoped the elected leaders would gain the confidence of the people -- both the majority and the minorities.

It was now appropriate, he said, for UNMIK to be treated like any other peacekeeping operation in terms of management by the Council and the renewal of its mandate -- which was not done periodically like other missions, but went on in perpetuity.  There was now a need for regular reviews of the Mission’s mandate.  He said the Council must also have a clear exit strategy for Kosovo and he hoped that would be established reasonably soon.  But he wished to emphasize that he was not calling for the quick withdrawal of international elements from Kosovo, since UNMIK and KFOR clearly had a lot to do in the province.  A swift exit would destabilize everything achieved so far.  While he stressed a gradual exit, he also said that it would be useful for the Council to know how the international element would be downsized in Kosovo and the rough timeframes involved.

FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria) welcomed the successful election of Kosovo’s legislature in November and the region’s efforts to form a majority government. Since no party had obtained a majority of seats, a coalition government must now be formed, which would bring together and represent the various parties and take over self-government in Kosovo. 

He also welcomed the signing of the Common Document, which would be a solid basis for relations between the UNMIK and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.  The members of the newly elected Assembly were responsible for creating conditions for the coexistence of the various elements of Kosovo’s population.  In that connection, he agreed with the representative of Mexico on the importance of education, which would help to bring the people together and end conflict.

The international community should review and extend UNMIK’s mandate, so that a tangible improvement could be made in Kosovo, he said.  The UNMIK was working to encourage and guide Kosovo into self-government under Security Council resolution 1244.  The upcoming stage was critical, requiring careful management and a continued strong commitment by the international community.

MARTIN BELINGA-EBOUTOU (Cameroon) said expectations in Kosovo ran the risk of living for only one day unless they were really well addressed.  The coming challenges in the province were indeed causes of concern.  The difficulty in electing a president, the tensions between inhabitants, and recent local events showed how fragile, precarious and risk-laden was the situation in Kosovo.  The only possible avenue was vigilance if “we want to capitalize on all the positives to date”.  The task of rebuilding Kosovo had not yet begun, and the renaissance in the province must be consolidated and nurtured.  The nascent administration was taking its first steps, and as with any other body in that situation there was a lack of self-confidence.  “We must assist in preserving and consolidating achievements made so far”, he stressed.

He said that strengthening security for people and property must be given priority.  Joint UNMIK and KFOR action had brought a sense of security, and their measures should be encouraged.  All armed bandits musts be disarmed and minorities should be encouraged to return.  Effective follow-up measures for integration must also be prescribed.

BOUBACAR DIALLO (Guinea) noted that the year 2001 had seen major events occurring in Kosovo, which had had a positive effect on the province as a whole. Those achievements included the successful elections in November and the signing of the Common Document.  The serene atmosphere that had characterized the elections boded well for democratic developments in Kosovo.  The peaceful settlement of conflicts meant elections over weapons.

Minority parties in Kosovo would have a responsibility in the future of the province, he continued.  Difficulties related to the election of a president of Kosovo meant a coalition had to be formed among the various parties.  He called on those parties to cooperate and ensure that security was maintained.  Security and freedom of movement remained a serious concern in the province, and depended largely on mutual tolerance and respect.

STEWART ELDON (United Kingdom) said the main challenge for UNMIK in Kosovo was to get the new institutions up and running, getting the president elected, acting on the Common Document and making progress in the fight against crime and extremism.  It was vital for the elected members of Kosovo’s Assembly to put aside their differences and work together for the province’s future.  That meant electing the president as soon as possible.  A coalition required effort and the current stalemate could not continue indefinitely.  It was also important for all Kosovars to play a role in the shaping of new institutions.

He said the expectations of all the interested parties, including the Council, were high, and both sides were being looked at to deliver results. Organized crime and extremism were key internal threats to the province, and it was important for the elected representatives in Kosovo to speak out against them. Ethnically motivated violence was totally unacceptable and was the biggest blot on Kosovo’s democratic development.  Combating those negatives must remain a top priority for UNMIK and KFOR.  He strongly condemned the murder on 17 January and stressed that those responsible must be brought to justice.

CHEN XU (China) said that the November elections had been an important step in Kosovo.  He was gratified that the people were actively participating in political life there. But he was concerned with the security situation, especially for minority groups.  He hoped that UNMIK and the international security presence (KFOR) in Kosovo would make further efforts to improve security.  The various parties should put aside their differences so that they could set up a broad coalition government that would represent all minority parities.

At present, UNMIK was working to restructure and refocus its work, he continued.  He hoped that would proceed smoothly and that the Security Council would focus attention on the process.  He agreed with the view expressed in the Secretary-General’s report that the success of the provisional mechanisms of self-government depended on the establishment of a broad-based multi-ethnic civil service in the province.  Minorities should be provided with equal opportunities for recruitment in setting up that administration.

GERARD CORR (Ireland) said the new institutions must be seen by Kosovo’s communities as a legitimate and fair way of expressing their interests.  He welcomed the establishment of the High Ranking Working Group as a forum for cooperation and development, and urged UNMIK to continue efforts to implement resolution 1244.

Noting that there was a particular slowdown in the return of Kosovo’s Serbs, he encouraged the rapid establishment of a framework that would offer longer-term prospects for returns.  The process of persons returning home was essential for peace in the province.  He believed that the successful development of Kosovo would help ensure peace and security in south-eastern Europe.  Ireland, through the Stability Pact, would also continue to offer cooperation  and assistance to Kosovo.

ANDRES FRANCO (Colombia) said the elections for Kosovo’s Assembly were the beginning of a new phase for the province, as well as the international community. The foundations for operating the administration with a high level of autonomy were now laid.  What was most important was the good will and commitment of the elected leaders to work together and stabilize the new institutions.

The time when majorities prevailed and only the voices of a few could be heard was past, he said.  Now, the greatness of leadership would be measured by the capacity to work as a team, keeping the future of the province as a lodestone.  The leaders should continue negotiating to find a way out of the current election crisis by electing a president as soon as possible.  If that was not accomplished, the problems of the past would continue to dominate the agenda and the process of creating a multi-ethnic Kosovo would be left suspended in time.

The international community should take an advisory function as soon as the Government was formed, he continued.  There were now elected leaders who could shoulder the responsibilities of the province. 

STEFAN TAFROV (Bulgaria) said the foundations for genuine civil and political life based on the rule of law had now been laid in Kosovo.  The president deadlock, however, was deplorable, and he urged those responsible to abandon partisan attitudes and to find legitimate alternatives.

He said Bulgaria believed that the presence of UNMIK and KFOR was a decisive element in the provision of security in Kosovo.  Their presence was vital to the future of the province.  He also agreed with the analysis by the United Kingdom that violence and extremism were the most serious problems facing Kosovo. 

The socio-economic effect of the informal economy could endanger the stability of the still fragile new institutions, he added.  The only way of prevailing over the vicious cycles that existed in Kosovo was to weave Kosovo into the socio-economic fabric of south-eastern Europe.  That would make it possible for the province to become a part of continental Europe.  He condemned the murder on 17 November, and appealed to the elected members of the Assembly openly and clearly to reject terrorism.

JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France) noted that Kosovo had elected 120 members of its Assembly on 17 November. The people of Kosovo had gone to the polls peacefully in large numbers, acting responsibly and turning a new page in implementing resolution 1244.

Under the constitutional framework, self-governing institutions would take over the major functions of UNMIK, he said.  However, at this point those self-governing institutions were not yet functioning and the government was not yet constituted.  It was important that political leaders helped to establish those self-governing institutions as quickly as possible so that they could discharge functions given them by the international community.  They must elect the Assembly presidency and the president of Kosovo.  All ethnic groups must be involved in that process because boycotting was not a solution.

Combating insecurity, violence and organized crime was once again at the heart of UNMIK activities, and Kosovar political leaders must give their full support to this essential activity, he continued.  Ongoing dialogue with the Yugoslav authorities was also of prime importance.  In that respect, he supported the recently signed Common Document.  It could only help if there was practical cooperation with the Yugoslav authorities on matters of common concern.  Over the short term, progress on prisoners and the missing would be desirable.  The leaders must speak out on that clearly and quickly, so that prisoners and minorities could return to Kosovo.

GENNADY GATILOV (Russian Federation) said success in Kosovo hinged on the coordinated efforts of all players concerned.  He underscored that the new Special Representative of the Secretary-General must avoid the miscalculations that had been made by his predecessors.

Since the new year, there had been dozens of terrorist acts against Serbs and continued threats from Albanian extremists, he said.  Yet, the international presence had not adopted additional security measures to guarantee the security of Kosovo’s Serbs.  Unfortunately, Kosovo today continued to be a threat to its immediate neighbours and the region as a whole. 

Hotbeds of terrorism and crime, he continued, had not yet been eliminated.  That could not be tolerated.  Also, the question of deciding the final status of Kosovo should be frozen for some time, since it was important to develop measures so that self-government structures did not become instruments for acquiring independence for the province.

JAMES CUNNINGHAM (United States) said the international community was at a critical juncture in the process of establishing Kosovo’s self-governing institutions.  There had recently been peaceful elections fostered by UNMIK and others in the international community.  Those elections were successful beyond what could have been imagined when UNMIK arrived in 1999.

However, three attempts to form a government had failed, and a member of the Government had recently been murdered, he continued.  He called on all of the leaders to show a clear commitment to the rule of law and democratic process by coming together to form a government.  It was time for Kosovo to move on, bridge differences and establish provisional self-government, he said.  There should be no more patience with obstructionism.  The path ahead could only be one of commitment to democracy and the rule of law.  The new leaders should rise to the challenge of resolution 1244.  They must not waste the present opportunity.

INOCENCIO F. ARIAS (Spain), speaking on behalf of the European Union and Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta, Turkey and Liechtenstein, said 2001 had been marked by two important events:  the promulgation of the Constitutional Framework for Provisional Self-Government, and the successful Assembly elections of

17 November.  Equally important had been the signing of a Common Document between UNMIK and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which marked a new relationship between UNMIK and Belgrade, and had led to the Federal Republic of Yugoslav and Serbian Governments urging the Kosovo Serbs to participate in the elections.

The year 2002 would mark a new stage for Kosovo, he said.  The inauguration on 10 December of the Assembly was a historic moment.  The European Union was concerned at the delay in the election by the Assembly of the President of Kosovo, and the subsequent delay in the establishment of the institutions of provisional self-government and in the transfer of authority from UNMIK to those institutions, and he called on all elected representatives to demonstrate responsibility and leadership.  He encouraged UNMIK to continue to work in the areas where power remained the preserve of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, as well as to ensure full compliance by the provisional institutions of self-government with resolution 1244, the Constitutional Framework and other relevant UNMIK regulations.  The Union welcomed the fact that the Serbian community had finally decided to participate in the November elections, and was confident that the Kosovo Serb coalition, the third largest force in the Assembly, would become involved in the political life of Kosovo.

Encouraging minority returns needed to be a priority for all in Kosovo, he said.  The number of returnees during 2001 had been discouraging.  He looked forward to the Framework 2002/2003 which the Office of Returns and Communities was working on.  The international community would also need to provide support to that process.  The issue of Kosovo-Albanian detainees in Serbia was still one of particular concern.  Some 160 prisoners remained in detention there.  He urged UNMIK and the Yugoslav Government to agree on rapid review of all cases.  Those found not guilty should be released immediately.  Security and freedom of movement for Kosovo's minority communities also remained a cause of concern.  He urged all political leaders in the province to do everything they could to end violence.

Organized crime and extremism continued to pose a significant threat to Kosovo, as well as to the stability of the region.  He strongly condemned the murder on 17 January of Kosovo Assembly member Ismael Hajdaraj, and urged all Assembly members to show a mature spirit of responsibility facing that new episode of violence.  The Stabilization and Association Process, launched by the European Union, and the Stability Pact aimed both at enhancing regional ownership and promoting regional cooperation.  The Union attached enormous importance to its own efforts to support democracy, ethnic coexistence, peaceful relations among neighbours, and regional cooperation.

DEJAN SAHOVIC (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) said the last time the Council met to review the situation in Kosovo and Metohija, the participants in the debate were satisfied that the province-wide elections had proceeded in a peaceful and democratic manner.  There was a feeling of "cautious optimism" around the Council table about prospects for the future.  In turn, his delegation had stressed that it was of critical importance for Kosovo and Metohija to make sure that its democratically elected representatives established provisional self-governing institutions that could begin working immediately.

Regrettably, he said, that had not been the case -- two months after the elections, those institutions charged with addressing everyday issues, through joint and equal participation of all ethnic communities, were still not active.  That was all the more regrettable since those very institutions had been envisaged as a significant element in the implementation of Council resolution 1244 (1999), as well as a way to inspire confidence within Kosovo and Metohija society. Indeed, the self-governing institutions had yet to justify the trust that had been bestowed on them during the elections, or to prove that they were ready to address the difficulties that still plagued the province.

Those difficulties were indeed many, he continued.  His Government was deeply worried about the lack of security in Kosovo and Metohija, particularly for non-Albanians.  That was a point that had been repeatedly raised in the Secretary-General's reports, which recounted numerous incidents, including the planting of explosives, intimidation and murders -– the victims of which were both Serbian and Albanian.  Sadly, those activities were not an aberration:  just a few days ago another tragic event had occurred -- the tragic killing in Pec of a newly elected member of Parliament.  The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia had condemned that act. 

He stressed that security for all was a prerequisite for the provinces’ self-governing institutions to function freely and productively, and to include non-Albanians in their work.  Such an uncertain environment was not compatible with efforts to improve the overall situation, and, unfortunately, international presences in the provinces were still unable to ensure security.  Recent setbacks had included the release of suspects in the case of a terrorist attack on a passenger bus near Podujevo last February.  Also troubling was the fact that while the international community was mobilizing unprecedented resources to combat terrorism, the perpetrators of an attack last year, which left dozens of Serbian internally displaced persons wounded and dead, remained at large in the area administered by UNMIK and KFOR.

Outstanding problems which needed to be addressed urgently went far beyond the precarious security, he continued.  The return of internally displaced persons, as well as the tracing of missing or abducted persons, had stalled.  His country worked determinedly in partnership with the wider international community to address those and other issues in order to achieve the common goal of a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural Kosovo and Metohija.  To that end, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia had made important contributions to the voter registration and election processes.

His Government appreciated the message from the international community that violence as a means to achieve political power in the provinces would not be tolerated.  That notion was in line with resolution 1244 and the Common Document. That Document was important not only as a good basis for cooperation between his Government and the United Nations Mission, but also for resolving a series of concrete issues contained therein.  His country expected the Document would be implemented fully and consistently in the coming months.

He said progress in those and other areas of cooperation between the Yugoslav Government and UNMIK would be greatly facilitated by the conclusion of a Status of Mission Agreement (SOMA).  In addition to being an important step in the new partnership between his country and the international community, a SOMA would resolve a number of technical and other issues concerning the Mission's functioning.  It would also make the practice of taking separate decisions for every individual issue obsolete.  There was no doubt that the Agreement would facilitate UNMIK's activities and contribute to the implementation of resolution 1244.

VOLODYMYR KROKHMAL (Ukraine) said the elections in Kosovo were marked by important activities carried out by UNMIK.  He appreciated UNMIK’s prudent approach to ensuring security for its staff and power sharing in government.  The Mission now needed to take further steps in creating necessary conditions for the return of refugees and internally displaced persons.

He noted that the two months following the elections had been a difficult test for Kosovo’s leaders in finalizing the Assembly presidency and electing a president of Kosovo.  It was not in the interests of any force to block the democratic process, which would stall the Assembly's work.  Another vital issue was security in the region.  He strongly condemned the recent brutal murder of one of the Assembly members, and hoped that UNMIK would do its utmost to apprehend the assailants.

Further progress in the political recovery of the province would depend on three factors, he said.  First of all, no breakthrough would occur unless the leaders took responsibility for political and economic transformation in the province.  Second, the next phase of UNMIK needed strong commitment from the international community, but that involvement should be based on a single strategy determined by the Security Council.  Finally, progress could only be achieved through enhanced dialogue with the Yugoslav authorities.

JAGDISH KOONJUL (Mauritius), Council President, speaking in his national capacity, said long and arduous work lay ahead in Kosovo as Assembly members sought to shape the future of the province.  The security of minority communities was still a priority issue at this time, as was encouraging those minorities to return to their homeland.  Much work had to be dome to activate the return and reintegration of displaced persons.  He, therefore, called on Kosovo’s political leaders to create conditions to accelerate the return of minorities to the province.  That exercise would also require further assistance from donors, and he called on them to increase their assistance to Kosovo, which was one of the poorest provinces in Europe. 

He said Mitrovica must also be tackled with great care if a crumbling of all the good that had taken place was to be avoided.  He repeated the appeal to Serb

political leaders to call for the unimpeded operation of UNMIK and KFOR in the Mitrovica region.  He also encouraged those two entities to continue their efforts along the border to stop the smuggling of weapons and infiltration of armed elements.  Mauritius condemned the 17 January murder and the bomb attack that had injured a pregnant woman and child.  He stressed that those responsible must be brought to justice.

JEAN-MARIE GUÉHENNO, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said that work accomplished over the past year in Kosovo had helped build the foundations for future achievement.  The provisional institutions had given Kosovo a framework in which its people could learn to work and live together.  The Common Document offered a good basis for relations between the United Nations, Kosovo and Yugoslavia.

However, success in Kosovo would still require a continued sustained effort on the part of the international community.  Some key priorities were central to the success of any strategy, he continued.  One was security, which remained a prime concern.  The UNMIK was working hard to address such problems as organized crime, drug trafficking, money laundering, terrorism and the illegal possession of weapons.  The fight against organized crime, in particular, was a key priority of the Mission and would require additional tools.

Another area of key concern was the security of Assembly members, he continued.  The Kosovo Police Service had already trained 96 officers to protect Assembly members.  The first of its close protection teams would be operational next month.  That division would be expanded in 2002 to provide security service for all the ministries.

Another important security concern was the control of borders.  The UNMIK was making every effort to control Kosovo’s boundaries, especially to combat organized crime and trafficking in weapons.  It had recently launched a huge weapons search with the international security presence (KFOR), which involved 3,000 soldiers and resulted in several arrests and the seizure of assorted weapons.

Beyond security, as UNMIK focused on key targets to provide a good political environment, it would need to address reshaping itself, he said.  Already, the civil administration had witnessed a significant reduction of its personnel.  He expected the new Special Representative to focus on the reshaping of UNMIK in several areas, from an executive to an advisory role.

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For information media. Not an official record.