SPEAKERS IN SECURITY COUNCIL EXPRESS STRONG SUPPORT FOR EFFORTS OF UN MISSION IN KOSOVO

5 September 2002
SC/7495

SPEAKERS IN SECURITY COUNCIL EXPRESS STRONG SUPPORT FOR EFFORTS OF UN MISSION IN KOSOVO

05/09/2002
Press ReleaseSC/7495

Security Council

4605th Meeting (AM)

SPEAKERS IN SECURITY COUNCIL EXPRESS STRONG SUPPORT

FOR EFFORTS OF UN MISSION IN KOSOVO

Speakers in the Security Council this morning strongly supported efforts of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) towards fostering the rule of law in that province, following a briefing by Hedi Annabi, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations.

Mr. Annabi said that, as part of those efforts, long-term investigations had led to the arrest by UNMIK police of several former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), on charges of crimes committed against fellow Kosovo Albanians in 1999.  The UNMIK police and the NATO Kosovo Force (KFOR) had also attempted, unsuccessfully, to arrest Milan Ivanovic, leader of the Serb National Council, on charges of attempted murder during the demonstrations of 8 April in Mitrovica.

Prime Minister Rexhepi, he said, had expressed full support for those actions, but several demonstrations to protest the arrest of former KLA members had occurred, including one in Decani on 15 August that turned violent. 

Mr. Rexhepi then had issued a statement on 19 August calling for UNMIK to stop the arrests.  There were also some protests against the arrest of Mr. Ivanovic by the Kosovo Serb community.

He said that UNMIK had acted to calm emotions and dispel the idea it was intentionally targeting former KLA structures, explaining the details of the arrests to relevant actors.  Since then the reaction of Kosovo Albanian leaders had toned down, and some leaders had spoken out against violence. 

Support for the UNMIK actions was expressed by all 15 Council members who spoke.  Colombia's representative said UNMIK must be able to take appropriate action to restore rule of law, as justice and security were inextricably linked. 

Representatives of countries in the region, as well as countries active in Kosovo, echoed that support.  The representative of Denmark, speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated countries, deplored statements of the Kosovo government that imputed a political motivation to efforts to uphold the rule of law.  The Union, she said, recognized that UNMIK’s actions had taken place in accordance with Council resolutions as well as established judicial processes, and without regard to ethnic affiliation of the suspects.

In other areas, Mr. Annabi said that Kosovo had also moved forward in its preparations for the municipal elections on 26 October and worked on creating conditions conducive for the return of minority communities.

Preparations for the municipal elections were proceeding smoothly, he said.  The process of updating the Voters List had closed on 23 August, with around 3,400 new voters registering in Serbia proper and Montenegro.  As of 30 August, the Election Commission had certified 500 out of a total of 5,500 candidates, with the remaining candidates slated for certification this week, from a broad range of political entities, representing the gamut of Kosovo's ethnic communities.

Concerning the return of internally displaced persons (IDPs), he said that threats of Kosovo Serb IDPs to force the issue of en masse returns were a cause of concern.  The UNMIK’s return policy was based on the right of individual return in an organized, sustainable way, with careful preparation of infrastructure and inter-community relations.

Those efforts also received wide support in today's meeting.  Improved security was an essential precondition for the return of internally displaced persons, Yugoslavia's representative said.  Genuine return meant the return to all parts of Kosovo and Metohija, including urban areas, where prospects must be opened for all communities to live together in peace.

Solomon Passy, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, spoke in his national capacity.  (Bulgaria holds the Presidency of the Security Council for the month of September.)

Statements were also made this morning by the representatives of Cameroon, Russian Federation, France, Singapore, United States, Colombia, Syria, Norway, Mexico, China, United Kingdom, Mauritius, Ireland, Guinea, Ukraine and of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

The meeting, which opened at 10:46 a.m., adjourned at 1 p.m.

Background

The Security Council met this morning to consider the situation in Kosovo, under the agenda item “Security Council resolutions 1160 (1998), 1199 (1998),

1203 (1998), 1239 (1999) and 1244 (1999)”.

Along with the Secretary-General’s latest report on the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) (document S/2002/779), 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.  [For further information, please see Press Release SC/7472 of 30 July 2002.]

Statement by Assistant Secretary-General

HEDI ANNABI, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations of the United Nations, said that in the period since the Council was last briefed on developments in Kosovo, the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) continued its efforts to uphold the rule of law, moved forward in its preparations for the municipal elections on 26 October and worked on creating conditions conducive for the return of minority communities.

Regarding efforts to uphold the rule of law, he said that long-term investigations had led to the arrest by UNMIK police of several former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) on charges of crimes committed against fellow Kosovo Albanians in 1999.  Cases against other KLA members had also progressed.  The UNMIK police and the NATO Kosovo force (KFOR) had also attempted, unsuccessfully, to arrest Milan Ivanovic, leader of the Serb National Council on charges of attempted murder during the demonstrations of 8 April in Mitrovica.

The KFOR, he said, had carried out several arrests of its own during the period, including arrests of Kosovo Albanians suspected of recruiting others for armed actions and Algerian nationals charged with photographing KFOR installations.  Prime Minister Rexhepi had expressed full support for all the above actions, but several demonstrations to protest the arrest of former KLA members had occurred, including one in Decani on 15 August, that turned violent.  Mr. Rexhepi then issued a 19 August statement calling on UNMIK to stop the arrests.  There were also some protests against the arrest of Mr. Ivanovic by the Kosovo Serb community.

He said UNMIK had acted to calm emotions and dispel the idea it was intentionally targeting former KLA structures and had explained the details of the arrests to relevant actors.  Since then, the reaction of Kosovo Albanian leaders had been toned down, and leaders had spoken out against violence. 

On the building of functioning democratic institutions, Special Representative Michael Steiner had convened a Special Panel to consider Kosovo Serb objections to the Higher Education Bill adopted by the Assembly in July.  Its recommendations would be presented for the Assembly’s consideration.  Work also continued on building a professional civil service and 70,000 people had applied for basic pensions with 21,000 having begun to receive them.

Preparations for the municipal elections were proceeding smoothly, he said.  The process of updating the Voters List had closed on 23 August, with around

3,400 new voters having registered in Serbia proper and Montenegro.  As of

30 August, the Election Commission had certified 500 out of a total of 5,500 candidates, with the remaining candidates slated for certification this week.  They came from a broad range of political entities, 21 of which were Kosovo Albanian, 26 Kosovo Serb, five Roma, Egyptian or Ashkali, five Bosniac/Gorani, and one from Kosovo’s Turkish community.

The electoral campaign, he said, was slated to begin on 10 September, with support from leaders from all communities.  Serbian authorities had requested that Kosovo Serbs in Kosovo be enabled to vote in the Serbian Presidential elections scheduled for 29 September.  The UNMIK would not stand in the way of Kosovo Serbs exercising their right to vote.

Concerning the return of internally displaced persons (IDPs), he said that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had arranged “Go and See” visits to Pristina town for Kosovo Serb IDPs.  The Gnjilane region had seen a considerable increase in spontaneous returns over the summer, along with some violent reaction and international work to reduce tensions.

In that vein, he said, recent statements by Kosovo Serb IDPs of plans to block crossing points on the boundary with Kosovo if they were not allowed to return en masse were a cause of concern.  The UNMIK’s return policy was based on the right of individual return in an organized, sustainable way, with careful preparation of infrastructure and inter-community relations.  Several incidents in the reporting period illustrated the fragility of the reconciliation and confidence-building process.  Return-related projects required further funding as well, and UNMIK had had extensive contact with the donor community in that regard.

In other areas, UNMIK had continued discussions with the authorities of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on border issues and crossing points.  Concerning the energy situation, Mr. Steiner had appointed an international expert to manage repairs to the damaged Obilic power plant.  However, Kosovo still faced critical energy shortages, and donors were called upon to assist in that area.

In all the above areas, he said provisional institutions faced formidable challenges.  He looked forward to their engagement on those challenges together with UNMIK.  He also looked for elected representatives to ensure that the lead-up to the second round of municipal elections was free of violence and conducted in an atmosphere of inclusion and tolerance.

Statements

IYA TIDJANI (Cameroon) emphasized the need to build on the positive signs evident from the Secretary-General’s report to consolidate the still fragile return to normalcy.  Strengthening security and encouraging the return of minorities should be priority actions.  The implementation of those priorities was already beginning to bear fruit. 

Cameroon supported the plan for regional cooperation in combating organized crime, he said.  That could not happen unless the police and judicial systems responded to the hopes placed in them.  The situation required increased cooperation.  Mr. Steiner had said after the presidential elections that the time had come to transfer authority in Kosovo to Provincial administrative institutions.  He reiterated Cameroon’s support in that regard and called upon authorities of Kosovo to respond to their mandates as defined by the Constitutional Framework. 

Kosovo could not exist as a province without the rule of law, he continued.  The fragile rebirth of democracy in a multi-ethnic Kosovo must be strengthened.  The return to normalcy would be a long process.  To achieve a final stage a crucial intermediary stage was needed, including the upcoming municipal elections.   Cameroon could not subscribe to any idea that would hamper reconciliation.  The extension of UNMIK throughout Kosovo and respect for the rule of law deserved the Council’s particular attention. 

The UNMIK’s success depended on cooperation, including among the various political components in Kosovo and the international community, especially in financial terms.  He reiterated his encouragement to all international organizations that were working on the ground to bring about a true peace in Kosovo.

SERGEI LAVROV (Russian Federation) noted with satisfaction the progress in Kosovo.  However, the local authorities had a long way to go before consolidation and the full participation of minorities.  If that participation was not elicited, conditions for further progress and return of minorities would not improve.  One of the most problematic areas was the southeast, where, according to NATO reports, there was much ethnic intimidation, aiming to expel the Serbs.  That was intolerable.

The main problem was the resistance of former KLA fighters and other radical groups, which had representatives in government structures in Kosovo, he said.  The UNMIK should continue to take robust action to restore law and order, according to Security Council resolutions, with the Council helping to create the necessary political background.  The situation in Mitrovica was also very sensitive and should be handled in a political manner.  He supported further Security Council missions to the area, in support of a comprehensive settlement.

YVES DOUTRIAUX (France) noted the tensions in the wake of certain arrests in recent weeks.  Regarding human rights, security, and fighting organized crime, the message must be one of unanimous support for UNMIK’s and KFOR’s actions, as well as the actions of Mr. Steiner.  They were committed to an active campaign to return the rule of law.  The UNMIK must be fully supported.  He was pleased that among the Kosovo authorities there was greater understanding of UNMIK’s involvement in returning to the rule of law.

The upcoming elections would present an important challenge, he said.  He was pleased that preparations for the October elections were taking place on schedule.  The Serbian authorities had called upon the Serb community to participate fully.  The international community and the Security Council would be following the elections.  It would be another test in the restoration of a fully normal situation in Kosovo.  He recalled France’s commitment to Kosovo, UNMIK and KFOR. 

KISHORE MAHBUBANI (Singapore) condemned the negative reactions to the recent arrests.  They were a direct challenge to UNMIK’s efforts to restore the rule of law in Kosovo, which was a key condition to determine the final status of the territory.  The benchmarks process was essential in that regard.  He called on Kosovo leaders to play their part in support of UNMIK’s efforts to restore the rule of law.

The situation in Mitrovica, the energy situation and mass spontaneous return of refugees were also of concern, he said.  He hoped that all concerned would work together to overcome them.

JAMES CUNNINGHAM (United States) said the United States had long called for and supported UNMIK's efforts to strengthen the rule of law in Kosovo.  UNMIK had handled the recent arrests and prosecutions fairly and without prejudice.  He strongly expected all leaders in Kosovo and the region to cooperate in efforts to prosecute serious crime.  He regretted Prime Minister Rexhepi's initial statements criticizing UNMIK and speaking of political prisoners, but welcomed his call to end protests and his expressed commitment to work with UNMIK.  He noted considerable support from many of Kosovo's political leaders and intellectuals in support of the arrests.  Some called for Kosovo's leaders to react responsibly through the provisional institutions of self-government and not through mobs in the streets.  Those statements were encouraging, and they reflected a commitment to the benchmark process launched by Mr. Steiner, which the United States strongly supported.  He trusted that Mr. Ivanovic would be apprehended in the near future.

On political process and elections, he said much more needed to be done to deepen Kosovo's provisional institutions of self-government.  For example, the Kosovo’s assembly should meet on a set schedule and forego the temptation to react on an ad hoc basis to the latest headlines.  He was pleased that preparations for elections were on track and noted that positive signs continued to grow in Kosovo that supported a democratic government representing all communities.

On refugees, he was encouraged by continued progress on the return of refugees and internally displaced persons.  That was necessary for long-term stability.  Unorganized mass returns would be irresponsible, destabilizing and would not promote multi-ethnic democracy in Kosovo.  Careful preparation and sustainable returns were needed to create stability.  The focus should be on making progress on the benchmarks, continuing the important work that had been done on returns and supporting participation by all groups in Kosovo's municipal elections in October.

ALFONSO VALDIVIESO (Colombia) reiterated his support for the Special Representative’s efforts, especially for UNMIK’s efforts to restore the rule of law.  The protests against the arrests were disturbing.  The UNMIK must be able to take appropriate action to restore the rule of law, as justice and security went hand in hand.  Therefore, UNMIK should continue its efforts, and leaders should support them.

On refugees, he invited the Serbian community to re-think its plans to try to affect mass spontaneous return, and he advocated ending parallel structures in Mitrovica.  He expected transparent efforts in the upcoming elections and called for wide participation.

MIKHAIL WEHBE (Syria) said the arrests conducted by UNMIK were not directed to a particular group or affiliation.  The UNMIK was working in complete accordance with its mandate under Security Council resolution 1244.  That resolution had mandated UNMIK to establish the rule of law.  The Mission’s mandate was not confined only to the Security Council but to the wishes of the Kosovo population.  The arrests had been made after a long investigation, which had started in early 1999.

The work of UNMIK had demonstrated its interest in establishing democratic institutions and a stable society that provided the necessary protection for all peoples in Kosovo, he said.  He had the greatest hope that the elections would be democratic and representative of all factions, minorities and ethnic groups in Kosovo and that they would provide the necessary atmosphere for security and the establishment of necessary economic structures. 

In general, Syria supported efforts made by UNMIK and establishing the rule and law and justice in accordance with resolution 1244, he said.  He hoped that the returns of minorities would be a priority since that would help bring stability to Kosovo and spare the Kosovar society of problems related to its multi-ethnic nature, in particular extremism.  It was necessary to protect crossing points where the returnees returned to their homes.  He welcomed

Mr. Steiner’s proposal to dispatch a field mission of the Security Council in the near future to examine the situation first-hand and provide genuine support to the mandate and work of UNMIK.

OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) said he fully supported Mr. Steiner's efforts to establish the rule of law in Kosovo and UNMIK's firm policy on arresting individuals suspected of criminal activity, regardless of their ethnic or political affiliation.  Political leaders in Kosovo must fully support UNMIK's efforts.  Allegations of UNMIK having "political motivations" for the arrests were completely unacceptable, as was incitement of non-cooperation with UNMIK.

Norway was concerned about the financial situation for the Housing and Property Directorate.  Regularization of property rights was a pre-condition for returns and economic investments, which were priority tasks for UNMIK.  He called upon donor nations to provide more resources to the Directorate.  Norway had contributed 375,000 euro and was seconding five lawyers to the institution.

He asked how UNMIK planned to deal with the illegal occupation of a large number of apartments belonging to displaced Kosovo Serbs and other minorities.  In welcoming the progress in the preparations for local elections in October, he said members of ethnic minorities and women must be secured proportionate representation in the local governments, as well as meaningful participation as civil servants. 

ROBERTA LAJOUS (Mexico) said that peace in Kosovo continued to be a challenge to the international community.  Acts of aggression among groups continued, and refugee return was precarious.  She hoped the current return programme would establish secure conditions for refugee return.  She also regretted opposition to UNMIK’s actions to further the rule of law. 

Democracy and the rule of law went together, and a reliable judicial system was needed, she said.  The international community must improve the justice system without increasing the number of international judges.  She called for greater inter-ethnic tolerance and respect for human rights in Kosovo.

ZHANG YISHAN (China) said that since the Council’s last meeting the situation had changed in Kosovo.  Some of the developments since then were encouraging, while others were disturbing.  The arrest of former KLA members would help the establishment of justice in Kosovo.  He hoped that UNMIK would intensify its efforts and bring all perpetrators of crime to justice.  He condemned all attacks against United Nations personnel and appealed to all parties to ensure their safety.

On the return of refuges and IDPs, he said recent developments had hampered the return of some ethnic minorities.  He hoped UNMIK would take measures to create an environment that was conducive to the return of refugees and create a favourable atmosphere for the October municipal elections.

STEWART ELDON (United Kingdom), associating himself with Denmark’s statement on behalf of the European Union, said the United Kingdom continued to support Mr. Steiner’s benchmarking approach, as well as efforts in other areas, including cooperation between Belgrade, UNMIK and provisional institutions.  He regretted recent messages of support for Mr. Ivanovic from Belgrade, as well as efforts for mass returns.

He supported plans for privatization to encourage private investment.  He also encouraged the early promulgation of the UNMIK energy programme.

JAGDISH KOONJUL (Mauritius) said UMMIK personnel had worked relentlessly to fulfil the Mission’s obligations, and it was most unfortunate that UNMIK had been the subject of criticism recently.  Any arrests by UNMIK should not be construed as politically motivated but as an essential part of its duty within the authority given to it by the Council.  He encouraged the Government to continue its collaboration with UNMIK and KFOR in the fight against crime.

Broad participation in the upcoming municipal elections was necessary to ensure a free, fair and democratic election.  He called on all Kosovars, especially the Serb minority, to participate fully so they could be represented in all levels of decision-making.  Leaders must not make public statements that could destabilize the process. 

Regarding refugees and IDPs, he welcomed steps taken by UNMIK to ensure their return and hoped that the number of returnees would increase.  On the economic situation, he noted positive developments and encouraged the donor community to continue its support.

RICHARD RYAN (Ireland), associating himself with the statement of Denmark on behalf of the European Union, fully supported the work of UNMIK, particularly the anti-crime programme.  All Kosovo leaders should support UNMIK in those efforts.  He welcomed the way UNMIK and KFOR had calmed the situation after the recent protests. 

The Kosovo assembly, he said, should remain fully engaged, and Kosovo’s minorities should be fully integrated.  Kosovo must be for all its people.  Ireland was encouraged by recent developments in minority representation.  In addition, as many individual returns as possible should be encouraged.  He welcomed progress in relations with Belgrade and the erasure of parallel structures.  He called for increased health resources, economic stability and growth, and further work towards European integration.

FRANÇOIS LONSENY FALL (Guinea) welcomed the major progress that had taken place since the beginning of the year in many areas.  The UNMIK’s efforts had been commendable, and he staunchly supported them.  Efforts to resolve the remaining problems and finish the job should be redoubled.

SOLOMON PASSY, Foreign Minister of Bulgaria, speaking in his national capacity, said the situation in the Province impacted the whole of South-Eastern Europe.  A visit by the Council would be useful for political developments.  Bulgaria was confident that the process of institution-building, economic recovery and respect for human rights was becoming an integral part of everyday’s life.  He strongly endorsed the efforts of Mr. Steiner to normalize life in Kosovo.

The United Nations played a central role in the Province and UNMIK’s and KFOR’s presence was a key factor.  The progress achieved under the Constitutional Framework was remarkable, he added.  Attempts of extremists to undermine the progress were unacceptable, however, and he reaffirmed Bulgaria’s strong support for Mr. Steiner’s efforts through a zero tolerance policy for crime and violence.

He said the rule of law among Kosovars could not be established without allowing the law enforcement community to do its work.  Bulgaria strongly hoped that Kosovo’s future would be multi-ethnic.  The international community should not accept any other solution.  Throughout the past decade of violence, Bulgaria had played a significant role in stabilizing the region and would continue to support peacekeeping missions there.  The rule of law could not operate in an economic vacuum and an “infrastructural revolution” was needed as a precondition for the region’s development and prosperity.  The process of healing past wounds would need time; therefore, the international community must have a realistic time frame for the process of post-conflict reconstruction.

DEJAN SAHOVIC (Yugoslavia) said that after many difficult years, stabilization continued to evade some areas of South-East Europe.  Kosovo and Metohija would be central in determining whether the stabilization process would take root or be stalled in a quagmire of prolonged instability.  Recent events had demonstrated the volatility of the situation in the province and the security situation there continued to be grave.

He supported UNMIK’s efforts to deal with the problem and proceed more energetically to establish the rule of law.  It was important that justice was dispensed fairly, unselectively and without political considerations.  A decisive approach to violence against minorities, including prosecution of crimes perpetrated against their members, was of equal significance for building a just society in Kosovo and Metohija.

Border control was another significant aspect of general security, he continued.  In August, KFOR had detained several individuals who had attempted to cross illegally from Macedonia and Albania.  Such incidents demonstrated the need for more robust efforts to secure borders.  Improved security was an essential precondition for the return of internally displaced persons.  The core issue was whether return was, in fact, a genuine option.  Genuine return meant the return to all parts of Kosovo and Metohija, including urban areas.  Kosovska Mitrovica remained the only multi-ethnic urban settlement.  Efforts to alleviate tensions in that city must be based on patience and caution, and arrangements for the city’s administration must open prospects for all communities to live together.

Much remained to be done in Kosovo and Metohija so that the option of return was realistic and viable, he added.  Progress in addressing the question of missing persons was indispensable in that regard, as thousands of people remained unaccounted for.  He called on UNMIK to address the issue.  Protection and restoration of cultural heritage was also of great importance.  His Government expected UNMIK to address the issue in full accordance with the 1954 Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.  Yugoslavia was ready to shoulder its share of responsibility.

New elections in Kosovo and Metohija were scheduled for the end of next month, he noted.  The Government had called on the Serbs of Kosovo and Metohija to participate in the elections.  Their turnout, however, would be affected by the pace and effectiveness with which their problems were resolved.  Stability and European standards of tolerance and normalcy were still far from Kosovo and Metohija.  The province must fulfil at least the minimum requirements of the benchmarks set by the Special Representative -– a process that had yet to begin.  That was primarily the responsibility of the provisional institutions of self-government.  The UNMIK must continue to exercise its reserved powers. 

Much remained to be done before discussion of the final status of the province could commence, he said.  Any speculation about deadlines for the international presence could harm the efforts to address the question of Kosovo and Metohija in its entirety.  The only way to move forward was to focus on the implementation of the mandate of the international presences as provided for by Council resolution 1244 (1999), as well as strict compliance with the Constitutional Framework and the UNMIK/Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Common Document.

VALERY KUCHINSKY (Ukraine) reiterated his country’s support for UNMIK and Mr. Steiner, in their “looking at the road and not the horizon”.  It was particularly important that UNMIK continue to take robust measures to promulgate the rule of law.  The UNMIK actions were legitimate and taken without regard to the ethnicity of the suspects.  No one could be above the law.

Regarding the upcoming elections, he said there were signs of all-inclusiveness and peace.  The increase of returnees was also encouraging, but it was ironic that at the same time there was a lack of funding.  He called on donors to support the important work, which should include the facilitation of inter-ethnic dialogue, training, education and media.   The Ukraine continued its support for efforts towards progress in the stability of Kosovo.

SRGJAN KERIM (The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) said his Government fully supported efforts and activities taken by UNMIK and KFOR to improve the overall situation by working together with the Kosovo provisional institutions of self-government.  He also expressed his support for the work of Mr. Steiner and the benchmark process to measure progress in the establishment of a multi-ethnic, politically stable and economically sustainable Kosovo.

Building a just society based on the rule of law, combating terrorism and organized crime and ensuring economic progress should be priorities, he said.  His

country was fully committed to cooperating with UNMIK and KFOR in ensuring the implementation of those objectives.  Two days ago, the Government had endorsed an agreement on cooperation with UNMIK police and his Government’s Ministry of the Interior.  His country had also recently abolished visas for UNMIK travel documents and had recognized UNMIK licence plates and vehicle registration documents.  A memorandum regarding customs and bus transportation was in the final stages of preparation.  The Government had worked with UNMIK to find practical solutions to facilitate the movement of farmers in border area as well as cultivation of their lands. 

He welcomed the decisive action of Mr. Steiner regarding the recent arrests of former KLA members by United Nations police in Kosovo.  To his disappointment, instead of supporting UNMIK, the Kosovo provisional institutions of self-government had issued statements that attributed political motivation to efforts to uphold the rule of law.  Public statements did not contribute to the overall stabilization of Kosovo and the achievement of benchmarks.  He reaffirmed the valuable contribution of the Council in upholding Macedonia’s security during the past year.

ELLEN MARGRETHE LOJ (Denmark), on behalf of the European Union and associated countries, said the European Union was satisfied that Kosovo continued to move in the right direction towards full implementation of resolution 1244, including progress towards elections.  At the same time, she said, she was seriously concerned by increased political tensions resulting from protests against the arrests of KLA members.  She deplored statements of the Kosovo government which imputed a political motivation to efforts to uphold the rule of law.

The Union, she said, fully supported UNMIK’s efforts to maintain order and the rule of law in Kosovo, which had taken place in accordance with Council resolutions and established judicial processes, and without regard to ethnic affiliation of the suspects.  She called on all politicians in Kosovo to contribute to a society that respected the rule of law and an independent judiciary, which were basic conditions for progress as well as closer relations with the European Union.

She expressed strong concern over events in Peje/Pec where UNMIK police and KFOR had come under fire from attackers while protecting Serb farmers.  She reaffirmed the importance of a more favourable climate for the acceptance of returnees, for which she encouraged further collaboration between UNMIK and the provisional institutions.  The return should take place in an orderly, sustainable manner.  The Union, she said, remained fully committed to supporting the peaceful long-term development of Kosovo.  She encouraged all parties to work together towards achieving that objective.

Mr. ANNABI thanked the Council for the support it had expressed for UNMIK in its efforts to uphold the rule of law in particular.  That support would be appreciated by UNMIK while it was working on municipal elections.  He also thanked the President for having organized the meeting.

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For information media. Not an official record.