BRIEFED BY SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE OF SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR KOSOVO, COUNCIL REVIEWS PERSISTENT CHALLENGES FACING PROVINCE
BRIEFED BY SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE OF SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR KOSOVO, COUNCIL REVIEWS PERSISTENT CHALLENGES FACING PROVINCE
4592nd Meeting (AM)
BRIEFED BY SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE OF SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR KOSOVO,
COUNCIL REVIEWS PERSISTENT CHALLENGES FACING PROVINCE
Deputy Prime Minister of Yugoslav Republic of Serbia Also Briefs Members
Following a comprehensive briefing this morning by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Kosovo and head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), the Security Council welcomed progress there and discussed the persistent challenges relating to strengthening self-government, reintegrating returnees, reforming the judiciary, combating terrorism and organized crime, and ensuring multi-ethnic participation in the coming municipal elections.
Special Representative Michael Steiner said a multi-ethnic government with 10 ministries and with Serb participation was finally in place in Kosovo. Last Friday, he promulgated the first law of the Assembly, on pensions. Preparations for the second municipal elections were on track. Kosovo’s institutions were taking shape. "Kosovars can be proud", he said. He added, however, that the most difficult stage of creating a functioning administration and a political culture suited to self-government was only just beginning.
The people of Kosovo were tired of lawlessness, he told Council members. He had been working hard to establish UNMIK authority in northern Mitrovica. Belgrade had indicated there could be no partition, no mono-ethnicity and no parallel structures -- but on the ground “we are not there yet”. On crime and corruption, the policy was zero tolerance, and UNMIK police and the Kosovo police service were cracking down on organized crime and had conducted successful anti-smuggling operations, confiscating cigarettes, fuel and alcohol.
On the economic side, he said he was working on a new deal for Mitrovica. But business and investment would not flow into the gray zone of illegal parallel structures. A framework for privatization in the province had also been established, and the Kosovo Trust Agency was in place thanks to support by the United Nations Secretariat, as well as the European Union and World Bank. To seize the opportunities of privatization and regenerate the economy, however, meant finding a way to replace declining donor funding. Overall, Kosovo’s economy was still far from being self-sustainable, he cautioned.
Immediately following the briefing, the Council heard a statement by Nebojša Čović, Deputy Prime Minister of the Yugoslav constituent Republic of Serbia and President of the Coordination Centre of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Republic of Serbia for Kosovo and Metohia. He highlighted certain successes, including the appointment of Serbs to ministerial-level posts, and noted that
agreement had been reached on such issues as appointing judges and public prosecutors and on police cooperation. Still, many challenges remained to building a multi-ethnic society in Kosovo and Metohia.
Among them were the persistent human rights violations in Kosovo and Metohia confronting the remaining non-Albanian population and the few returnees on a daily basis, said Mr. Čović. International peacekeepers and Mission personnel had been unable to prevent the spate of murders and robberies, despite the Principles for Return of Internally Displaced Persons from Kosovo and Metohia, which he had presented to the Council in April, and UNMIK's own Concepts of Rights to Sustainable Return. Despite the uniformity of both texts, the return process remained more of a "dead letter" than real action on the ground. He urged determination in realizing a planned return to the province.
All 15 Council members participated in the ensuing exchange of views, with many stressing the promotion, in earnest, of dialogue with Belgrade. Speakers also repeatedly emphasized the need to resolve the question of returnees. Highlighting the absence of "real" security, the representative of the Russian Federation noted that Serbs had accounted for less than half the number of returnees, and outflows had continued. Until that problem was resolved, it was not possible to talk about a multi-ethnic, cohesive Kosovo. In addition, border issues should be settled and full respect should prevail for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
Participants from the Balkans region included the representative of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, who said that, in order to facilitate the movement of citizens of Kosovo into his country, his Government had abolished visas for those holding UNMIK travel documents and decided to recognize the license plates issued by UNMIK. A new border crossing had been opened, the Protocol on Police Cooperation was in the final stage of signing, and other memorandums concerning customs and bus transportation were being prepared.
The representative of Albania said the work of UNMIK was a testament to the international community's desire to see a successful transformation in the region and ensure that Kosovo was on the "fast track" towards economic, social and commercial reintegration in the Balkan region. Nevertheless, an atmosphere of mistrust had cast a shadow over the future of the region and threatened to compromise the creation of a multi-ethnic society.
In addition to the participation of all Council members and representatives from countries in the region, the representative of Denmark spoke on behalf of the European Union.
The meeting began at 10:38 a.m. and adjourned at 1:38 p.m.
The Security Council met this morning to consider the situation in Kosovo and to be briefed on the latest developments there by Michael Steiner, the Secretary-General's Special Representative.
Along with the Secretary-General's latest report on the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), the Council had before it several draft resolutions, including texts on matters related to the imposition of an arms embargo on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia; the end to hostilities and maintenance of ceasefire; compliance with North Alliance Treaty Organization (NATO) and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) verification missions in Kosovo; the humanitarian situation in and around Kosovo; and on non-compliance with preceding resolutions establishing both an international security and a civil presence in Kosovo.
In his report on the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) (document S/2002/779), the Secretary-General observes that for the first time since the deployment of UNMIK, the conditions for genuine inter-ethnic dialogue have been put in place. An important development during the reporting period (since 22 April, was the final formation of Kosovo’s multi-ethnic Government, following the nomination at the end of May of Kosovo Serb representatives for several ministerial positions. On 12 June, all members of the Government swore an oath of office, pledging their commitment to work for the benefit of all communities. In accordance with the 2001 Constitutional Framework on Provisional Self-Government in Kosovo, UNMIK continued to transfer its responsibilities to the executive branch of self-government provisional institutions.
According to the report, gradual progress was made in the advancement of the legislative process. The first law passed in Kosovo was a bill on pension levels. Further draft legislation, on education and forestry, is now at the committee stage. Both the executive and legislative branches have taken steps to protect the rights and interests of communities. The Assembly decided to enlarge the membership of its functional committees to ensure adequate representation of minority communities. The Office of the Prime Minister has established an Expert Group on Diversity Review.
Building a professional civil service remained difficult, due, in large part, to the low salaries that could be offered by the Kosovo consolidated budget. An important step forward was a recent short-listing of candidates for the key posts of permanent secretaries in government ministries and in the Office of the Prime Minister. Progress in recruiting minority members of the civil service remained mixed, although Kosovo Serbs have started to join the administration.
Strengthening the rule of law throughout Kosovo remains a high priority, the Secretary-General further states. Recent arrests of former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army, however, clearly demonstrated that no one was above the law. Continued support for the Mission’s fight against crime, through criminal investigation leading to arrests, and capacity-building of local police and judiciary, will lead towards normalization in Kosovo. UNMIK’s regional approach to fighting crime promises to be effective, and the initial signs of progress are encouraging in that respect.
Also according to the report, UNMIK has enhanced its focus on removing the remaining barriers to return and reconciliation. Gradual progress has been made in determining the fate of missing persons from all communities. In that connection, the report emphasizes the importance of the cooperation of the Kosovo Albanian community with UNMIK. The Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Michael Steiner, has also given encouragement to families of the missing on all sides to engage in a dialogue.
Stressing the need for UNMIK to exercise its authority throughout the whole of Kosovo, the Secretary-General further states that his Special Representative is seeking immediate and long-term solutions to the untenable situation in Mitrovica. He is also calling on the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to use their influence to dismantle the parallel structures still operating in Kosovo, and to publicly support UNMIK authority in northern Kosovo. In general, the Secretary-General notes enhanced dialogue with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia authorities on many issues, expressing hope that, in the near future, provisional institutions would take part in that dialogue, as well.
Regarding the Mission’s relations with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the document notes that the implementation of the agreement on border delineation and demarcation has continued to have practical consequences, in particular, for farmers whose grazing lands were affected by the agreement. The UNMIK sought to find practical solutions to the problem. In June, Macedonian authorities agreed in principle to a joint access permit for farmers and endorsed proposals to establish an additional provisional border crossing for the population of the border areas. Also in June, the Government in Skopje took a decision to abolish visas for the holders of UNMIK travel documents. That is expected to significantly improve the freedom of movement.
The report concludes that UNMIK is committed to achieving sustainable returns in the course of this year. The Secretary-General welcomes the fact that both the majority and minority communities are now becoming an integral part of the process. For UNMIK to achieve its goals, however, it should have adequate financial assistance. The reporting period was marked by a $61 million reduction in the amount approved for the Mission for the 2002-2003 budget cycle. This reduction will necessitate a transfer of responsibility and authority to the provisional institutions earlier than planned.
While no reductions are planned in the number of civilian staff in the police and justice pillar, as well as UNMIK police and formed police units, the budget envisions a $12 million decrease in operational requirements. Currently, there is a concern that the lack of funding may represent an impediment to the important process of returns, and the Secretary-General calls on the donor community to continue its support to see it through.
According to resolution 1160 (1998), the Council, acting under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, decided for the purposes of fostering peace and stability in Kosovo to ban the sale or supply to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, including Kosovo, of arms and related materiel of all types, including weapons and munitions, military vehicles and equipment and spare parts. It also decided that States should prevent arming and training for terrorist activities there.
Underlining that the way to defeat violence and terrorism in Kosovo was for the authorities in Belgrade to offer the Kosovar Albanian community a genuine political process, the Council urgently called upon the authorities in Belgrade and the leaders of that community to enter without preconditions into a meaningful dialogue on political status issues. It also urged the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia to begin gathering information relating to the violence in Kosovo that might fall within its jurisdiction.
The Council also had before it resolution 1199 (1998), by which it expressed grave concern at recent intense fighting and the flow of refugees from Kosovo and the excessive and indiscriminate use of force by Serbian security forces and the Yugoslav Army, and demanded that all parties, groups and individuals immediately cease hostilities and maintain a ceasefire in Kosovo. That resolution had been adopted by a vote of 14 in favour to none against, with 1 abstention (China).
Acting under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, the Council also demanded that the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Kosovo Albanian leadership take immediate steps to improve the humanitarian situation and to avert the impending humanitarian catastrophe. It called upon them to enter immediately into a meaningful dialogue without preconditions and with international involvement, and to a clear timetable leading to an end of the crisis and to a negotiated political solution to the issue of Kosovo.
The Council insisted that the Kosovo Albanian leadership condemn all terrorist action. It also urged States and international organizations represented in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to make available personnel to carry out effective and continuous international monitoring on the objectives of resolution 1160 (1998).
The Council is also expected to consider its resolution 1203 (1998) by which it demanded that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia cooperate fully with the OSCE and NATO verification missions to be established in and over Kosovo, respectively.
Also, the Council endorsed and expressed support for the agreements reached with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to establish the OSCE mission to be stationed in Kosovo and the NATO operation to provide air surveillance, both of which will be in place to verify compliance by all concerned in Kosovo with the requirements of resolution 1199 (1998).
Stressing the urgent need for the parties to enter into negotiations towards a political solution to the issue of Kosovo, the Council also demanded that both parties cooperate with international efforts to improve the humanitarian situation and that they respect the freedom of movement of the OSCE verification mission and other international personnel. The Council, insisting that the Kosovo Albanian leadership condemn all terrorist actions, also demanded that such actions cease immediately.
By resolution 1239 (1999), also under consideration today, the Council expressed its deep concern for the enormous influx of Kosovo refugees into Albania, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and other countries, as well as the increasing numbers of displaced persons within Kosovo, the Republic of Montenegro and other parts of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
Also by that text, the Council stressed the importance of effective coordination of humanitarian relief activities undertaken by States, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and international organizations in alleviating the plight and suffering of refugees and internally displaced persons.
The Council also had before it resolution 1244 (1999), by which it regretted that there had not been full compliance with the requirements of previous resolutions and authorized Member States and relevant international organizations to establish both an international security and a civil presence in Kosovo.
By that text, the Council decided that the responsibilities of the international security presence would include deterring renewed hostilities, maintaining and, where necessary, enforcing a ceasefire, conducting border monitoring duties, and ensuring public safety and order until the international civil presence could take responsibility for that task.
The main responsibilities of the international civil presence would include performing basic civilian administrative functions where and as long as required, supporting the reconstruction of key infrastructure and other economic reconstruction, protecting and promoting human rights, and assuring the safe and unimpeded return of all refugees and displaced persons to their homes in Kosovo.
MICHAEL STEINER, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Kosovo and head of UNMIK, said that a multi-ethnic government with 10 ministries and with Serb participation was finally in place. Last Friday, he had promulgated the first law of the Assembly, on pensions. Preparations for the second municipal elections were on track. Kosovo’s institutions were taking shape. Kosovans could be proud, but the most difficult stage of creating a functioning administration and a political culture suited to self-government was just beginning.
He said he had urged the country’s institutions to focus on the urgent tasks within their competence, including health, environment and public services. The pace at which UNMIK could transfer authority to the Provisional Institutions depended upon their readiness to assume real responsibilities. Transfer of power was about the internationals being able to let go and about the Kosovans taking hold -– taking hold of responsibility for day-to-day life. On crime and corruption, the policy was zero tolerance. UNMIK police and the Kosovo police service were cracking down on organized crime and had conducted successful anti-smuggling operations, confiscating cigarettes, fuel and alcohol.
The people of Kosovo were tired of lawlessness, he went on. Meanwhile, he had been working hard to establish UNMIK authority in northern Mitrovica. Belgrade had indicated there could be no partition, no mono-ethnicity and no parallel structures, but on the ground, “we are not there yet”. The core strategy was effective policing, with full support from General Marcel Valentin, Commander of the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR). UNMIK police were established and carried out regular policing in northern Mitrovica. Soon the Kosovo police would also be in place. Progress in Mitrovica depended upon replacing parallel structures with legitimate institutions.
On the economic side, he said he was working on a new deal for Mitrovica. But business and investment would not flow into the grey zone of illegal parallel structures. So those had to go first. Significant progress had been made with regard to the economy as a whole, but a serious “hit” had occurred 10 days ago when a disastrous fire overtook one of the two main power plants in Kosovo. More than half the power capacity was lost at a single stroke of lightning, and, as a result, there would be power shortages.
Also on the economy, a framework for privatization had been established, and the Kosovo Trust Agency was in place, thanks to support by the United Nations Secretariat, the European Union and the World Bank. But to seize the opportunities of privatization and regenerate the economy meant finding a way to replace declining donor funding. Kosovo’s economy was still far from being self-sustainable. He asked the Council’s help in finding a way to gain access to credit, which would require political support to develop procedures to conclude international loan and guarantee agreements.
He said there was no denying that the returns process had been “too slow”. It was disgraceful that in 2002 there were still enclaves in Europe. This year, however, the trend on returns had been reversed. The number of minority returns now exceeded outflow. About 1,000 people returns in the first six months of 2002, while 268 had left. The number of returnees was not large, but it indicated that the climate was improving. The KFOR had been able to remove fixed checkpoints. Serbian could be heard in the streets of Pristina. Political support for returns was also growing, although in some municipalities improvement was still needed.
Both the Kosovo Assembly and the Association of Municipal Assemblies had issued resolutions demanding freedom of movement and unconditional return, he continued. His concept for returns was based on the choice of individuals to return to their own homes and stay. A genuine option for returning implied safety and freedom of movement. It meant a place to live, a job, and equal access to basic services and public utilities. It meant the ability to repossess property. It was his job to help create those preconditions. How many returned, then, depended on the displaced persons themselves. So that was not about numbers; that was about a real choice.
He said that progress on many of the issues that mattered to Kosovans required intensive dialogue with Belgrade. Kosovo’s political leaders had yet to participate in that dialogue. Normalization of relations was a key benchmark. Meanwhile, he looked to Belgrade to support UNMIK’s policies in words and deeds. Parallel structures had to go. Clearly, Kosovo had not yet achieved the standards that either the international community or its own people demanded. But he could see progress. He could not predict with certainty the shape of Kosovo’s future, but he could say there would be no partition, no cantonization, and no return to the “status quo ante” of 1999. The outcome could not be mono-ethnic; it must be multi-ethnic. It must be a democratic, safe and respectable Kosovo on the way to Europe.
NEBOJSA COVIC, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia and President of the Coordination Centre of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Republic of Serbia for Kosovo and Metohia, emphasized the improvements made in solving the region's various problems. T he Kosovo and Metohia Multi-ethnic Assembly had been formed, the Government had been elected, and members of the Serbian national community had been appointed to various positions, including the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development, and the High Councillor in the Office for Return and Communities of the Secretary-General.
Furthermore, he continued, an agreement on appointing judges and public prosecutors had been reached, the Memorandum of Understanding concerning Police Cooperation had been signed, as had the Technical Agreement between UNMIK and the Serbian Railway, and the Protocol concerning the Movement of Registered Vehicles. The UNMIK and KFOR operations took place under very complex circumstances, and their efforts deserved particular praise. And while the overall process of cooperation was slowly moving forward, many things still needed to be done in order to create the conditions for building up civil society in Kosovo and Metohia.
Full democratization required not only time, he said, but the support of the international community and all the progressive forces in Kosovo and Metohia, along with the full cooperation of the democratic leadership in Belgrade. “Our principles are unambiguous”, he continued, “to build a multi-ethnic society in Kosovo and Metohia with full respect and implementation of Council resolution 1244 (1999), the Constitutional Framework, and the Joint Document.” The Serbian and the Albanian people, despite their changing roles in the past, must achieve reconciliation and make an effort to create and sustain conditions for the implementation of multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-confessional principles.
With that in mind, he said, the reality in Kosovo and Metohia required him to share some very disturbing facts. The deployed international peacekeeping forces, members of the international police task force and United Nations administration in Kosovo and Metohia were all still incapable of preventing violations of human rights. The remaining non-Albanian population and the few returnees to the region continued to be subjected to terror, murders and robberies on a daily basis. He reminded the Council that last April he had presented the Principles for Return of Internally Displaced Persons from Kosovo and Metohia. In May, UNMIK had produced its Concepts of Rights to Sustainable Return.
Both those documents, he said, were based on the conviction that return was a voluntary act -– that everyone had the right to return to his of her home across Kosovo and Metohia, and, above all, that those returns must be supported by local self-government and made sustainable through the provision of safety, freedom of movement and realization of property rights. Despite the uniformity of those goals, the process of return unfortunately remained more of a “dead letter” than real action on the ground.
He said that in the three years since the massive expulsion of some 280,000 Serbs and other non-Albanian populations from Kosovo and Metohia, the patience of the displaced had been exhausted. That was why the realization of planned return must be tackled in a determined manner. The UNHCR had reported the numbers of displaced persons returning to the area in the period 2000-2002 –- some 4,205 persons of various ethnicities -- but failed to show how many returnees had come back to Central Serbia and Montenegro after they had been unable to find their previously held jobs.
He said there were no Serbs left in public services, industry, agriculture or public utilities. If the seriousness of the situation was not grasped, and particularly if decisive measures were not taken to alleviate the difficult situation and living conditions of the displaced persons, the international community would have to bear the heavy responsibility of neglecting basic human rights. The fact was that Serbs had become a minority in part of their territory and were deprived of their human rights in Kosovo and Metohia. In order to create the necessary conditions for a multi-ethnic Kosovo and Metohia, the international community must implement all the mechanisms of pressure at its disposal.
That would guarantee the actual implementation of principles of impartiality and equality before the law, equal employment in public services and State enterprises, and the right to receive business development funds. He said stability in the region would be in vain if mountain passes in Kosovo and Metohia continued to be used as passageways for sophisticated weaponry. A deep gap of distrust divided the Serbian and Albanian people today, but both sides needed to evaluate whether such a division was unbridgeable and whether joint action could be undertaken in an economically backward society. That was a most important question in light of the upcoming elections. In that exercise, Albanians should demonstrate that their goal was a tolerant society and the safe coexistence of all communities.
He said political stability in Kosovo and Metohia required the formation of stable institutions. The establishment and strengthening of local democracy was a precondition in that regard. The process of the transfer of power would promote general and local democratization, as well as raise awareness of individual and communal responsibilities. In order to accomplish decentralization efficiently, it was necessary to provide outstanding security, political, cultural and economic guarantees for the Serbs, as well as for the Albanians and other national communities in Kosovo and Metohia.
STEFAN TAFROV (Bulgaria) associated himself with the statement to be made on behalf of the European Union. He welcomed developments to strengthen regional peace and security, and believed that efforts under way by the Provisional Institutions should help solve the practical problems faced by all inhabitants of the province. He sought greater coordination between UNMIK and those institutions, as that could lead to actual positive results in all aspects of social life. Economic measures were also very important since they helped improve the economic situation in the province, particularly unemployment reduction. Privatization must be carried out in a transparent manner to enable the international community to follow developments. The interests of creditors must also be protected.
He welcomed UNMIK’s action on security, combating terrorism and organized crime, as well as affirming the primacy of the rule of law. Important gains had been made in that regard, including the arrest of Kosovo Liberation Army members accused of various war crimes, and the prosecution and trial of those accused of terrorist activities. Capacity-building and maintenance of law and order by the multi-ethnic police force were of paramount importance. Citizens’ confidence in the judiciary would also boost development. Strengthening the police force and the judiciary, however, required the international community’s support. There was a growing awareness in Kosovo that respect for the rule of law could cement order and stability. Important progress had been made recently, but the complete devolution of power by the international community to Kosovo itself was still a long way off.
MIKAHIL WEHBE (Syria) expressed satisfaction at the many positive developments in Kosovo, particularly the election and swearing in of a government that included representatives of the Coalition for Returnees to Kosovo. He also commended the activities of UNMIK as the mission worked with local authorities to ensure that any measures taken were in line with the rules and benchmarks of resolution 1244 (1999) and the constitutional order. He also welcomed the cooperative spirit being shown by other governments in the region, and the work of all who were trying to stem the tide in cross-border smuggling. Combating regional crime required cooperation with neighbouring States.
He also appreciated the ongoing cooperation on the economic and monetary fronts. He would encourage more cooperation on efforts to ensure safe return and reintegration efforts, which would add to stability in the region. Syria also looked forward to the upcoming October elections and hoped that all ethnic groups would be able to participate in that exercise. He asked Mr. Steiner to clarify what measures could be undertaken to accelerate the return of refugees and internally displaced persons. How could their rights be guaranteed? He also wondered what measures were being taken to address the situation of missing and abducted persons.
YAP ONG HENG (Singapore) said that following last month’s meeting on Kosovo, he had commended Mr. Steiner in writing. He did so today in person. He had agreed fully with the Secretary-General on the purposes of the benchmarks, and was pleased to learn that the Provisional Institutions had embraced them and were working towards taking tangible steps to meet the benchmarks. Substantial progress had been made in a number of critical areas, including returnees and the establishment of law and order. Yet Kosovo was “still not out of the woods”, as much more remained to be done to bring security, stability and advancement to the province.
He asked Mr. Steiner to provide an assessment of the factors that had led to the substantial recent progress, and how those could be harnessed to bring the province closer to the vision he had set for it. One key issue in which there had been little movement forward was Mitrovica. UNMIK’s inability, thus far, to establish its authority there was worrying. Hopefully, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia would cooperate with the Mission on that question, as it had done on others. He asked Mr. Steiner about confidence-building measures to bring Mitrovica closer to a solution.
ROBERTA LAJOUS (Mexico) said the situation in Kosovo and Mitrovica was of great importance to her country, which had also made recent important progress in respecting the autonomous position of indigenous position. She said it was most important to establish a mulit-ethnic, multi-cultural society and government in the region. Mexico looked forward to the upcoming Kosovo elections and had been encouraged by the broad participation of local groups and non-governmental organizations in the run-up to that exercise. She hoped that all groups –- including internally displaced persons and returnees -- would be able to participate in those elections.
She went on to say that, for the first time in the region, there appeared to be the genuine feeling that successful and sustainable return of refugees and internally displaced persons was possible. She hoped that those conditions would prevail and improve, and that UNMIK would do the utmost to sustain the current spirit of progress achieved thus far.
Mexico was concerned, however, with the situation of Mitrovica and believed that the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia must be brought in to address the issue of parallel structures. She was also concerned by the reduction of UNMIK’s budget, which would certainly affect the way the Mission carried out its duties. She added that it was particularly important for the international community to work to promote the integration of Kosovo’s economy into the region, as well as into a wider Europe. She wondered if any economic activities had been initiated so that returnees could participate in the rebuilding of their communities.
BOUBACAR DIALLO (Guinea) said he also welcomed the recent significant progress, including the commencement of the Assembly's work. At the same time, he stressed the need to ensure multi-ethnic representation and inclusion in the civil services. Also welcome were the preparations under way to organize municipal elections in October, which would surely strengthen the democratic process. Implementation of economic programmes should go hand in hand with strengthening the rule of law throughout the province. He endorsed the establishment of local capacity-building aimed at concretizing law and order.
He said that the return and reintegration of refugees and internally displaced persons was very important to the fate of Kosovo. Missing persons and the return of property should also be given adequate attention. He supported the appeal by the Secretary-General to the donor community, and he encouraged the use of the media for consciousness-raising among the province’s communities. He had been pleased at efforts to improve relations between Kosovo and its neighbours, which had built confidence and led to continuing dialogue. He was concerned, however, at the substantial reduction of UNMIK’s budget, requiring it to transfer authority to the Provisional Institutions earlier than had been scheduled. Could Mr. Steiner identify measures envisaged to offset that shortfall?
JOSE RIVAS (Colombia) said his country was pleased with many of the current activities under way in Kosovo, including the successful transfer of functions to local authorities. That would certainly help soothe tensions and promote broad participation of all ethnic groups. Once again, positive news had been received about measures taken by the legislative branch, and he was particularly encouraged by the steps taken to ensure the success of the upcoming elections, as well as the political and social reintegration of Kosovars. There must be monitoring units established for those elections, and the United Nations must support the participation of all groups. Efforts must be also taken to strengthen the judicial system and the rule of law.
He was concerned that there appeared to be a high level of unemployment. The Secretary-General’s report referred to the consequences of stagnation in the business community. That report also noted that more must be done to promote economic growth in the region. He said the reintegration process must be reviewed in order to ensure the sustainable return and reintegration of displaced persons into society. That essential process must be founded on a model of pluralistic and multi-ethnic participation.
ZHANG YINGSHAN (China) welcomed Mr. Steiner's efforts to stabilize the situation, promote the political process, strengthen the capacity of the police and the judiciary, and restore and develop the economy. He supported the continuation of UNMIK’s mandate and hoped that, on the basis of existing work, it would take further measures to combat organized crime, protect the freedom of minorities, facilitate returns of refugees, and resolve the problem of missing persons, so that a multi-ethnic society could be established soon in Kosovo. He also sought further cooperation between the provisional government in Kosovo and that of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
He asked Mr. Steiner’s view on the question of the proper name of Kosovo, and wondered whether that issue had been resolved. Regarding the security situation along the border, the Secretary-General had said that the overall trend remained encouraging and that most crimes there had an economic basis. Only six major crimes had been listed -- down from eight on the list in the last report -- and no crimes involving drugs or weapons had been included. He had understood that border smuggling was still a concern, which was related to the reduction of KFOR forces. Could Mr. Steiner comment?.
KHEMRAJ JINGREE (Mauritius) was encouraged by positive developments in Kosovo, and noted with satisfaction that minority communities were now actively participating in local activities. Still, he noted with concern the encroachment of the Kosovo Assembly upon the various duties and responsibilities assigned to UNMIK. He called on the Assembly to concentrate on the competencies entrusted to it and to follow the guidelines established on responsibilities and duties.
Mauritius was pleased to hear that preparations for the upcoming October elections were on track. He hoped they would include the broad participation of multi-ethnic groups. He called on local authorities and UNMIK to do the utmost to promote the participation of groups from around the region. He encouraged the Mission to do all it could to initiate minority returns throughout the province. He believed that two important questions needed to be addressed in order to bring long-lasting and sustainable peace to Kosovo: the need to combat organized crime, transported terrorism and smuggling was a priority, he said, calling on neighboruing countries to help in that regard. There was also a need to ensure the flow of resources to promote sustainable economic stability.
JOHN PAUL KAVANAGH (Ireland) said he was encouraged by the increased focus of the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government on their assigned tasks. Adoption by Kosovo’s Assembly of the first piece of legislation and work under way on further bills was an especially important step, but that was only a first step. The Assembly must not allow itself to be distracted in the coming period from the very important range of areas for which it was responsible. There was, for example, a continuing need for urgent progress in the health and education sectors, progress that had been delayed as the Kosovo Assembly strayed into other areas.
Beyond further progress on legislation, there was a continued need for political leaders to develop a substantive dialogue, both within and between the various communities. Political leaders would be unable to represent their constituencies effectively without real progress in that regard. Political dialogue was also a key aspect of preparation for the municipal elections scheduled for 26 October. The views of the Kosovo Serb members of the Assembly should be given due consideration, and he encouraged the Special Representative to address that and other issues before the Assembly.
Also encouraging had been the initial phase of preparation for the municipal elections, as well as progress by the Provisional Institutions in establishing concrete actions to meet the benchmarks outlined by the Council in April by the Special Representative. Meanwhile, improved cooperation must be accompanied by real progress towards the creation of a society based on the rule of law. Kosovo’s future development depended upon such an environment. There had been some improvements in the overall security situation, particularly with regard to a decrease in violent crime. Democracy could only take hold where crime and violence ceased to hold sway. Progress on returns was intimately linked to dialogue with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
IYA TIDJANI (Cameroon) said that thanks to the commitment of the men and women working for Kosovo there had been many positive achievements in the region. The establishment of a multi-ethnic government, parliament and police force were examples of what had been accomplished. Cameroon also welcomed the inter-ethnic dialogue under way, which could lead to reconciliation and to the sustainable returns and reintegration of refugees.
Cameroon was concerned, however, that, in some cases, the interests of minorities were not taken into account by the Parliament. He went on to say that the various initiatives to encourage the participation of the private and banking sectors in the economic revitalization of the region were welcome. Cameroon supported the notion of regional cooperation to combat organized crime. But that could only be successful if the judicial and police forces lived up to the hopes invested in them. Overall, the situation was fairly positive, but constant vigilance must be maintained. The international community must also be realistic and pragmatic.
He said the Secretary-General had expressed real concerns about the exact delimitation of powers to be transferred under the Constitutional Framework, and the precise nature of the powers that would remain with the Special Representative. The Kosovo authorities were urged to respect the powers outlined in the Framework attributed to them. Returning to normalcy in Kosovo would take a long time, he said, requiring patience and perseverance. It would take a lot of work to ensure that Kosovo was retuned to the larger Balkan family. A major step in that regard would be the successful and transparent holding of the upcoming elections. He applauded the work that had been done to ensure the participation of all ethnic groups in that exercise.
YVES DOUTRIAUX (France) said the positive balance sheet first noted in April was holding. That was decisive in implementing resolution 1244 (1999), and such progress led to hope that the peace aims of the international community would become a reality. The benchmarks identified by the Special Representative were an appropriate standard for measuring the effectiveness of government institutions and the creation of a pluri-ethnic society, as well as the return of refugees and the establishment of positive relations with Belgrade. Considerable progress had also been made since the establishment of the coalition Government in March and of functioning democratic institutions.
He said the legislative process had been gradually evolving, as seen by the recent adoption of legislation on refugees and displaced persons. The coming municipal elections were an opportunity to further reinforce the democratic basis and a chance for true multi-ethnic participation. That should be an important goal of UNMIK in the coming months. The establishment of an equal society, governed by respect for the rule of law, remained a critical precondition to success in Kosovo. That goal must be the subject of simultaneous efforts by the Mission and KFOR. Equally welcome had been progress with regard to the inter-ethnic dialogue. Development of regional cooperation was also crucial.
JAMES CUNNINGHAM (United States) said the Council had heard two very informative presentations today, and it was clear that there was much common ground about the objectives of the international community, particularly the implementation of benchmarks for good governance. He applauded that initiative as it properly put standards of good governance before issues of political status. In order to fully succeed, the people of Kosovo must overcome their painful history, and such reconciliation finally appeared to be happening in all parts of the population. Still, the elected Government must rule democratically and the rule of law would be respected. On matters related to security, crime prevention and the justice system, he said the United States applauded ongoing work to increase the number of Serb judges and prosecutors. And the Kosovo police service had been a success far beyond what anyone had suspected.
He said the United States was encouraged by progress on the political side, and it was appropriate that one of the Assembly’s first activities had been to address the issue of pensions, a fundamental social issue. He went on to say that although progress was uneven throughout Kosovo, new political parties were emerging during the run-up to the October elections. The United States appreciated the work of UNMIK. It had contributed some $8 million to the UNHCR and non-governmental organizations in the region and encouraged all donors to do their utmost to provide the necessary resources that would lead to the revitalization of Kosovo. He added that the United States had committed significant resources on a wide range of issues. Considerable challenges remained, but donors must be prepared to participate no matter what those challenges might be.
OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) welcomed the protocols signed on 8 July in Belgrade between UNMIK and the Serbian Ministry of Justice, regarding the return of
40 Kosovo Serb judges and prosecutors to the province. That was a positive step in building the rule of law in Kosovo and strengthening cooperation between Pristina and Belgrade. Further, it could contribute to building trust among Kosovo-Serbs in the efforts of the international community. He also welcomed the first significant organized return of internally displaced Serbs, expected to begin in the Pec and Klina municipalities.
He said that despite the overall bleak picture of actual returns, it was encouraging that in the first six months of 2002, more people had returned than had left. He fully supported Mr. Steiner's focus on that issue. He also emphasized the importance of coordination between organizations involved in facilitating returns -- a threat underlined by the current funding crisis of the UNHCR and the threat that posed to its continued operation in Kosovo. The UNMIK, UNHCR, the Kosovo Coordination Centre and authorities in Belgrade and Pristina should do their utmost to coordinate return-related efforts. The international community should do its part by ensuring that the UNHCR had the necessary funding needed for that very important work.
The occurrence of several unfortunate recent incidents in Kosovo (including attempts on 14 July by Kosovo Albanian leaders to prevent some 100 Kosovo Serbs from holding a religious ceremony in the destroyed Orthodox monastery in Zociste) were a disappointing setback. He strongly emphasized that Kosovo Albanian leaders must publicly condemn such acts. Another setback had been the display of "hate posters" recently seen in Pristina, Pec and Mitrovica. The posters had depicted a Serb soldier cutting the throat of an Albanian boy with the text, "Do not allow criminals to come back to Kosovo."
GENNADY GATILOV (Russian Federation) said the Secretary-General’s report gave a full picture of the situation. He agreed with the general assessment and conclusions, but he felt that the situation in Kosovo was more complex and problematic. He welcomed the measure of progress towards implementing resolution 1244 (1999), as well as the normalization of life in Kosovo. There were grounds for congratulating the Mission on its success. That could be seen primarily in the further dialogue with Belgrade, steps towards solving the problem of Mitrovica, and further participation by the Serbs in the upcoming municipal elections.
He highlighted the importance of settling the problem of ensuring Serb participation in the police force in the northern part of the province. Also important was to find ways to encourage legal experts to join the judiciary being set up in Kosovo. He appreciated Mr. Steiner’s efforts to advance those positive trends. The UNMIK had moved ahead in establishing the Provisional Institutions of self-government. But, despite the expression of commitments to multi-ethnicity, those institutions often disregarded the interests of minorities. The coalition had now set up a mechanism to protect minorities, in accordance with the Constitutional Framework.
The Albanian parties should be more respectful of the rights of other communities, he went on. That was particularly important in light of the upcoming elections. He welcomed more regular contacts between the Special Representative and the coalition leaders. Dialogue between Mr. Steiner and Mr. Covic was yielding results. UNMIK’s measures to strengthen law and order were also important. Another positive development had been the arrest of former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army. At the same time, he was concerned at the critical reaction to the international presence and efforts to discredit it. The protection force was a paramilitary organization that was simply following on from the Kosovo Liberation Army, so the position of KFOR was unacceptable.
He noted recent statistics about returnees, and indications that Serbs had accounted for fewer than half. Outflows had also continued. Presently, therefore, it was mot correct to say that substantial progress had been made to resolve that matter. Unless the problem was resolved, it was not possible to talk about establishing a multi-ethnic, cohesive Kosovo. The main reason for the lack of movement was the absence of real security for all communities and serious problems related to restricted movement. For example, stones had been thrown at Kosovo Serbs’ cars. Border questions should be settled, and full respect should prevail for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, he said. The overall recent positive dynamic emerging in the Balkans should be strengthened.
Speaking in his national capacity, Council President JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom), associating his statement with that made on behalf of the European Union, applauded the work of the Special Representative. He said, while much remained to be done, the “glass should be seen as half full rather than half empty”. He also expressed support for the work of KFOR on the ground. The United Kingdom was pleased to see the Deputy Prime Minister and the Special Representative working together on difficult issues. He welcomed the update on the benchmarking exercise and was pleased to note that deeds were being undertaken on the ground which were reflective of commitments made on paper.
He said that the Kosovo Assembly must act within the terms of resolution 1244 (1999) and the Constitutional Framework, adding that the Special Representative had been right to declare null and void all activities that fell outside that agreement. Finally, the United Kingdom agreed with the precept of standards before status, which was the right order of priories.
ELLEN MARGRETHE LØJ (Denmark), speaking on behalf of the European Union, expressed appreciation for the work done by Mr. Steiner and the United Nations Mission, but said that only sustained efforts by all parties would ensure the full implementation of resolution 1244 (1999). An important element of ensuring that implementation was the creation of a culture based on the rule of law. She said that, over the past two years, Kosovo had successfully worked towards a more open political environment. That trend must continue, as it was important for all parties -- including those that had boycotted the 2000 elections -- to be allowed to participate in the October municipal elections.
She said the constitutional framework provided a clear distinction between the transferred responsibilities and those of the Special Representative. The European Union noted with satisfaction that guidelines had now been issued to Provisional Institutions of self-government on entering into agreements with governments and international organizations. The participation of minorities was a vital element of the legitimacy of the Kosovo judicial system, she continued. The Union, therefore, welcomed the recent understanding between UNMIK and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on securing Kosovo Serb participation in the multi-ethnic judicial system.
The European Union expressed strong concern regarding the slow pace of the return process, but had been encouraged by the Secretary-General's observation that a more favourable climate towards acceptance of returnees was emerging in local communities. UNMIK's commitment to achieving sustainable returns during the course of the year had also been encouraging. She added that not knowing the fate of missing relatives constitutes a serious strain on all communities in Kosovo and had been a major obstacle to reconciliation. She commended the efforts of the Special Representative in that regard. She added that the European Union was also concerned by the situation in Mitrovica. The illegal parallel structures must be dismantled and the full authority of UNMIK restored.
DIMCE NIKOLOV (The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) said his Government welcomed efforts by UNMIK to further improve the situation. The positive developments and the stabilization process would continue by working together with the Kosovo Provisional Institutions of self-government in building a multi-ethnic society and democratic institutions. That would also serve to consolidate the economy and lead to substantial progress in the area of security, rule of law, judicial reform, as well as combating terrorism and organized crime. The recently defined benchmarks were of significant importance to the further democratization of Kosovo.
He said that, in order to facilitate the movement of citizens of Kosovo into the Republic of Macedonia, his Government had recently abolished visas for those holding UNMIK travel documents. It had also decided to recognize the license plates issued by UNMIK. At the same time, intensive efforts had been made to find practical modalities for issuing temporary permits for Kosovo citizens, owners of the grazing lands on the territory of the Republic of Macedonia, as well as for the citizens of that country. The Protocol on Police Cooperation were in the final stage of signing. Other memorandums regarding customs and bus transportation were being prepared.
Also, he said his Government had decided to open a new border crossing, Tanusevci–Codra Fura, between the Republic of Macedonia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The Macedonian authorities had also established a solid channel for communication with UNMIK, regarding consultations on the above-mentioned issues, in order to find practical solutions. He once again welcomed the prompt and decisive reaction of Mr. Steiner to the renunciation by the local Kosovo authorities of the border agreement between the Republic of Macedonia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The United Nations and the international community should continue to prevent any activities that could destabilize the border area and regional peace as a whole.
AGIM NESHO (Albania) praised the concrete results on such issues as establishment of the rule of law and of a democratic and multi-ethnic society where no one was above the law. He praised all efforts to ensure a democratic and undivided Kosovo integrated into a democratic Europe. The work of UNMIK was a testament to the international community’s desire to see a successful transformation in the region, and to ensure that Kosovo was on the “fast track” towards expanding its economic, social and commercial reintegration with the Balkan region.
Obviously, he continued, all that success had been achieved in an atmosphere of mistrust that sought to overshadow the region’s future. He said that parallel structures had attempted to compromise the establishment of a multi-ethnic society. The Albanian Government would continue to extend its support to the Mission and the Special Representative. He applauded the Special Representative’s request that the legitimate representatives of Kosovo’s Parliament be present at meetings where the future of Kosovo would be discussed. Unfortunately, that invitation had been misinterpreted by some promoting narrow interests. He would appreciate further calls by the Special Representative to ensure the presence of Kosovar representatives at future meetings.
Response by Deputy Prime Minister, Special Representative
Deputy Prime Minister COVIC, took the floor to respond to comments and questions. He said that returns could not be seen simply as one of 30 projects awaiting realization. The situation with displaced persons in Yugoslavia was both difficult and dramatic. With some 700,000 refugees and displaced persons remaining in his country, he really believed that financial support was necessary in that respect. He applauded the suggestion made by the representative of Norway to coordinate efforts in that area. As far as benchmarks were concerned, those had received his full support.
He said it was not time to talk about the final stages of Kosovo and Mitrovica until certain standards had been met. The question of Mitrovica was a problem for everyone, and progress was occurring slowly . Everything that had been achieved thus far had been done, not by pressure, but by agreement. “Bandits” was not a good word for any group. He had sat with members of the former Kosovo Liberation Army in southern Serbia and he had never used the term “bandits” because he had wanted to solve the problem. Parallel structures and gate-watchers were the consequence of fear and the violation of basic human rights of Serbs in Kosovo and Mitrovica.
As far as Macedonia was concerned, he said he had been very pleased at progress and had hoped that Macedonia would respect the demarcation border agreement. Finally, he was grateful for the Council’s support, but he had not come here to listen to praise. It was his job to undertake significant efforts to continue being successful, with the Council’s help. He liked compliments, but he could not live on them: the half-full/half-empty glass still could not quench a thirst.
Also responding to members' questions and comments, Mr. STEINER first addressed the issue of returns. He urged the Council not to lose sight of the fundamentals -- 1999 was only three years in the past. It would take time for the many thousands of people driven out of the country to return to their homes. One encouraging example of a successful returns programme had been the one initiated in Bosnia and Herzegovina. At first, he said, even he had thought there would not be many returns to the region, but now there were significant minority returns to even the most difficult cities.
He went on to say that the Council and the international community had requested the mission to take the necessary steps on the ground to ensure sustainable returns. That process had begun this year. But it would cost money. No programmes or projects would work without support.
He said appropriately addressing public concerns about missing or kidnapped persons was an absolute necessity for the psychological reconciliation of all the peoples of the region. The recently created Office of Missing Persons had held meetings with relatives and, as of today, the first medical death certificates were being delivered to families. That constituted an important step, as it would provide families security concerning the death of loved ones.
He went on to say that in reality, for Kosovars, the benchmarks were the way to Europe. They would fulfil the essential preconditions to enter the wider European community. Still, they were not a formal prerequisite but a goal and aim in and of themselves. The benchmarks were what the people wanted and could provide them with the means to address such issues as judicial reform and employment.
On Mitrovica, he said a strategy was now in place to address several decisive elements, particularly the continued existence of the parallel structures, but they were in contradiction to 1244 (1999). The key was policing that worked in the interest of the people. He reported that the picture on the ground in Mitrovica was much changed. A “zero tolerance” policy for crime and corruption was in effect on the ground, and if criminal activity was proved, arrests would be made. The population of Mitrovica was sick and tired of the illegal groups operating in the “gray zone”.
He said the economic situation in northern Mitrovica was miserable and should be addressed, but business or investment opportunities would not arrive while illegal institutions were still operating. On the issue of safety, he said that UNMIK could ensure that there would be no incursion from the south if the common legal institutions that would govern the whole of Kosovo were accepted.
He added that micro-credit schemes were a crucial element of the revitalization of the region, particularly if started in small rural communities. It was indeed true that reductions in UNMIK's budget had limited its capabilities somewhat. That had been particularly frustrating as it was precisely the wrong moment to curtail certain activities, particularly cutting down efforts aimed at fighting crime and corruption.
He said that “Kosovo” was the official name applied in the Constitutional Framework and resolution 1244 (1999). At the same time, if someone used another appellation in Parliament or in written communications, there would be no official ramifications.
It was encouraging that some 73 parties had applied for participation in the October elections, he said. Further, on the rights of minorities in the Kosovo Assembly, the Constitutional Framework foresaw exceptionally powerful minority protection mechanisms. He was pleased that the Serbs had recently used those mechanisms on issues pertaining to education.
Finally, Mr. Steiner thanked the Council for its support. He suggested that now was the time for the members to visit Kosovo and see first hand the work under way. He proposed that the Council schedule a visit to Kosovo during the upcoming October elections. Such a visit would be a helpful and positive expression of support by the international community for what was happening on the ground.