KOSOVO PROGRESS SIGNIFICANT, BUT ACHIEVING FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT, MINORITY PARTICIPATION, REFUGEE RETURNS STILL CHALLENGES, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD

10 June 2003
SC/7785

KOSOVO PROGRESS SIGNIFICANT, BUT ACHIEVING FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT, MINORITY PARTICIPATION, REFUGEE RETURNS STILL CHALLENGES, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD

10/06/2003
Press ReleaseSC/7785

Security Council

4770th Meeting* (AM)

KOSOVO PROGRESS SIGNIFICANT, BUT ACHIEVING FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT, MINORITY

PARTICIPATION, REFUGEE RETURNS STILL CHALLENGES, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD

Assistant Secretary-General Says 4 June Murder

Of Kosovo Serbs ‘Horrific’ Reminder That Much Work Remains

Briefing the Security Council four years after the adoption of the guiding resolution on Kosovo, 1244 (1999), Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hedi Annabi said that progress had been significant, but challenges remained in such key areas as freedom of movement, meaningful minority participation, refugee returns and dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina.

Kosovo was much different than it was four years ago, he continued.  Working together with its partners there, the United Nations had put in place a process designed to stabilize and normalize the situation.  Progress was evident, including reconstruction of basic infrastructure, restarting of public services, health care and pensions, and an increasingly professional and local police and judiciary.  But, much work remained in developing provisional democratic self-governing institutions and ensuring a peaceful and normal life for all inhabitants of Kosovo.

He added that the fact that there was still some way to go had been highlighted recently in a most “horrific” way, when three Kosovo Serb residents were brutally murdered in Obilic Municipality on 4 June.  An 80-year-old man, his 78-year-old wife and their 53-year-old son were beaten to death with a blunt instrument and their home was set on fire.

Council members today condemned those murders and encouraged the speedy conclusion of the investigation under way by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Michael Steiner.  Speakers agreed that the murders were an example of the internal disputes and ethnic rivalries still threatening to undermine progress.  The Council had also condemned the murder in a statement to the press on 6 June by Council President Sergey Lavrov (Russian Federation).

Speaking in his national capacity, the Russian Federation representative said today that the building of a multi-ethnic society in Kosovo had “bogged down”.  The leaders of the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government frequently shirked their obligations and sought to advance decisions that incited racial hatred.  Without radical improvement of the situation, the participation of minorities in self-government and the disbanding of parallel structures could not be expected.

On behalf of the European Union, the representative of Greece said that terrorism and violence, be it ethnically, politically or criminally motivated, could not be tolerated.  A Kosovo where members of minority communities were oppressed would face a bleak future of self-isolation.  Efforts should be aimed at establishing the appropriate security, economic and legislative conditions to allow the minorities to become an integral part of the Kosovar political, economic, social and cultural life.

If peace could be defined solely as the absence of war, there was peace in Kosovo and Metohija, the representative of Serbia and Montenegro asserted.  Security was selective, and freedom of movement was the privilege of the majority only.  The fate of more than 1,000 missing Serbs had not yet been resolved and nearly 250,000 internally displaced persons from minority communities could not return.  A gruesome example of the “real” cause for the absence of returns was the bludgeoning to death of the family in Obilic on 4 June.

He called on the Council to see to it that the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) ensure that violence was not, yet again, confirmed as a legitimate political means in Kosovo and Metohija.  Absent that outcome, the latest atrocity would be a further setback in creating sufficient confidence for initiating a dialogue on practical issues –- a dialogue whose establishment his Government had consistently supported, he stressed.

Statements were also made by the representatives of France, United States, Cameroon, Bulgaria, United Kingdom, Syria, Angola, China, Spain, Chile, Mexico, Pakistan, Germany, and Guinea.  Mr. Annabi took the floor again to respond to comments and questions posed by the delegations.

The meeting began at 10:42 a.m. and adjourned at 12:43 p.m.

Background

The Security Council met this morning to consider the situation in Kosovo.  It was expected to hear a briefing by the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hedi Annabi, on recent developments.

Briefing by Assistant Secretary-General

HEDI ANNABI, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, noting that it was the fourth anniversary of the adoption of resolution 1244 (1999), said that today Kosovo was much different than it was four years ago.  Working together with its partners in Kosovo, the United Nations had put in place a process designed to stabilize and normalize the situation.  The progress was evident, including reconstruction of basic infrastructure, restarting of public services, health care and pensions, provision of basic documents, an increasingly professional and local police and judiciary, three successful elections and the establishment of municipal and central level self-government bodies.  At the same time, much remained to be done in developing provisional democratic self-governing institutions and ensuring conditions for a peaceful and normal life for all the inhabitants of Kosovo.

The fact that there was still some way to go was highlighted in a most horrific way recently, he said, when three Kosovo Serb residents were brutally murdered in Obilic Municipality on 4 June.  An 80-year-old man, his 78-year-old wife and their 53-year-old son were beaten to death with a blunt instrument.  Their home was then set on fire. 

He said the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) had taken a number of concrete steps to find and bring to justice the perpetrators of that heinous crime.  A nine-member UNMIK “Special Police Squad” had been established to investigate the crime, working with special advisers from both the Kosovo Serb and Kosovo Albanian communities.  A reward for information leading to the arrest and sentencing of the those responsible for the murders had been offered and a 24-hour protected telephone line set up to receive information.  UNMIK Police and the multinational security force (KFOR) had both put in place additional patrols and other security measures.  The UNMIK and representatives of Kosovo’s Provisional Institutions -– Assembly, Government and President -- and Kosovo Albanian and Kosovo Serb political leaders had condemned the murder and had called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.

The UNMIK and the Kosovo Provisional Institutions continued their joint efforts to transfer non-reserved responsibilities listed in chapter 5 of the Constitutional Framework to the Provisional Institutions, he said.  The Transfer Council met for the second time on 28 May and agreed on the transfer of 19 non-reserved competencies to the Provisional Institutions, with a further 17 to be transferred as soon as the Provisional Institutions had the capacity to assume them.  Eight competencies were returned to the working groups for further consideration.  Kosovo Serb representatives did not participate in the Transfer Council’s meeting.

The Provisional Institutions continued their work, with a particular emphasis on legislative development, he said.  Since the Council was last briefed, the four laws, which had been returned to the Assembly for revision, since they were fully compliant with resolution 1244 (1999) and the Constitutional Framework, had been promulgated, with two of the laws revised by the Assembly and two under the authority of the Special Representative.  The Kosovo Assembly also adopted six new laws, with one outside its area of competence.  The Assembly, in a special procedure, had also agreed to the provisional criminal and the provisional criminal procedure codes, which, as reserved competencies, would be issued as UNMIK regulations.  The Assembly, however, did instruct an “appropriate body” to draft a law on elections, which was outside its area of competence.

On 15 May, the Assembly had endorsed a controversial resolution on “the liberation war of the people of Kosovo for freedom and independence”, he said.  While the resolution might have brought the Kosovo Albanian political parties closer to a common view of their respective roles in the conflict, it was clearly not conducive to cross-ethnic dialogue and reconciliation.  The Special Representative had issued a declaration stating that the text of the resolution was divisive and against the spirit of resolution 1244 (1999).  In addition, the hosts of three international meetings decided to withdraw the invitations to attend.

The Kosovo Serb caucus –- Conciliation Return -– had participated in all Kosovo Assembly sessions since April, he continued.  Coalition Return members walked out of a plenary session on 15 May during a discussion of the resolution on the “liberation war of the people of Kosovo for freedom and independence”.  They returned for the rest of the session, however, after the resolution was passed. 

Developments in the municipalities had been slow, he said.  One third of the municipalities were still not run in accordance with democratic values due to political boycotts, mainly by Kosovo Albanian parties, leading to gridlock.  The provision of fair share financing to minority communities and the use of official languages in documents and signs in most of the municipalities remained poor.

The UNMIK reported, he said, that the crime statistics for the first four months of 2003 showed that there had been a reduction in cases of murder, burglary and robbery in comparison with the same period for 2002.  Incidents of what appeared to be inter-ethnic violence were, however, a cause for concern.  The Kosovo Police Service continued its development; there were now some 5,500 local police officers, in comparison to just over 4,000 international police officers.  UNMIK Police continued to build relations with their Serbian counterparts.  Police cooperation with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was expanding through regular contacts.

Freedom of movement for the Kosovo Serb community remained difficult, he said.  The recent triple murder in Obilic would be a setback in that regard by contributing to an increasingly negative perception of security conditions concerning their free movement.  Increased freedom of movement for Kosovo Serbs had also been hindered by the decision of the Serbian Government authorities not to sign an agreement on the use of Kosovo license plates in Serbia proper and by their public calls for Kosovo Serbs not to register their cars with UNMIK.  On

13 May, however, UNMIK and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia had reached an agreement on the mutual recognition of vehicle insurance so that vehicles with Kosovo license plates could travel freely in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia under a comprehensive insurance policy.

He said that a comprehensive and coordinated framework to support minority returns was in place, with local authorities in nearly half of the municipalities working with representatives of the displaced community in municipal working groups.  Nevertheless, the horrific murders on 5 June were a “serious setback” for United Nations’ efforts to foster multi-ethnicity in Kosovo and create conditions for the return of Kosovo Serbs and others to areas where they were a minority.  Return efforts also faced a substantial shortfall in funding, with only 55 per cent of returns projects funded and a gap of 72 per cent in funding for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)-UNMIK Rapid Response Returns Facility, which provided assistance to individual returns.

In the economic area, he said, the Special Representative promulgated a regulation on the transformation of the right of use to socially owned immovable property.  That regulation converted land use rights held by socially owned enterprises into 99-year leaseholds, which could be freely transferred and used as a guarantee for security credits without affecting underlying ownership title.  The Kosovo Trust Agency Board announced, on 15 May, tenders for the first six enterprises earmarked for the first wave of privatization.  Any government, person or entity who asserted that their rights had been adversely affected by the privatization process might submit an appeal to the Special Chamber of the Supreme Court of Kosovo.

Unfortunately, the dialogue between Belgrade and the Kosovo Provisional Institutions had not started, he said.  Limited, working level contacts had taken place, however, between representatives of the Provisional Institutions and their Serbian counterparts in the fields of transport and returns.  A travel ban was imposed on members of the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC), following the bombing of a railway bridge in Zvecan on 12 April, in which members of the KPC were thought to be involved.  That ban had since been lifted on a case-by-case basis, and the KPC had been asked to disclose the names of members who might be associated with extremist groups.  Meanwhile, more than 30 per cent of positions set aside for minorities had been filled, although minorities were not yet present in the higher ranks.

He said that, four years into UNMIK’s mandate, there had been significant progress, but challenges still lay ahead, such as freedom of movement, meaningful minority participation, returns, institutional development of local bodies and dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina.  Since the emergency phase, the focus had been on political and institutional development.  In 2000 and 2001, UNMIK established the legal framework for Kosovo’s path towards substantial autonomy.  Following the establishment of the Provisional Institutions, the benchmarks set out by the Special Representative and the policy of “standards before status” had been, and remained, the guiding principles for the current phase.

Political pressure on UNMIK had significantly increased, he went on.  On the one hand, the Provisional Institutions, particularly the Kosovo Assembly, had overstepped their competencies on a number of occasions.  On the other hand, Belgrade continued to seek co-governance with UNMIK and, in lending support to parallel structures, supported the boycott of UNMIK policy and programmes.  Continuing unilateral calls from Kosovo Albanians, Kosovo Serbs and Belgrade for mutually exclusive solutions on Kosovo’s future had not contributed to reconciliation and inter-ethnic dialogue.  That had frozen movement forward on a number of key issues.  At the same time, organized criminal groups and extremist elements were increasing their intrusions into political life.

He stressed that UNMIK would continue to do its best to ensure that all developments in Kosovo remained within the framework of resolution 1244 (1999) and the Constitutional Framework.  The UNMIK had continued to focus on the implementation of the mandate, in line with the “standards before status” policy framework.  The Council’s continued and active support of the Mission had been, and would continue to be, crucial for the full implementation of the mandate.

Statements

MICHEL DUCLOS (France) said that last week the Council had firmly condemned the reprehensible murder in Obilic.  That crime ran counter to the common action that the Council had been undertaking for four years since the adoption of resolution 1244 (1999), aimed at transforming Kosovo into a modern, democratic and multi-ethnic society.  He could in no way indulge those trying to ruin the efforts of the international community.  Everything must be set in motion then so that the ethnic violence would cease in Kosovo, a violence which primarily victimized the Serb community.  He supported the measures taken by the Special Representative and would closely monitor the investigation.

He recalled that the Provisional Self-Governing Institutions had, as their particular responsibility, to establish a climate conducive to implementing the objectives of the international community for the benefit of the entire Kosovo population.  The Kosovo Assembly, in particular, must refrain from those initiatives that ran contrary to resolution 1244 (1999) or to the Constitutional Framework.  Those initiatives only divided the Kosovar communities.  He expected autonomous institutions to work in good faith with the Special Representative and UNMIK, so as to implement the norms put forth by the international community, particularly minority rights and the establishment of direct dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade on issues of common and practical interest.

JAMES B. CUNNINGHAM (United States) said the Assistant-Secretary-General showed that, while much had been accomplished in four years since the adoption of resolution 1244 in 1999, much remained to be done.  It pained him to begin his intervention with a condemnation of violence, as he had done in April.  Referring to the violent murders in Obilic, he said the killing appeared to have been motivated by the early success of the Serbian Return programme.  He supported measures by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative to bring the perpetrators to justice and to encourage close cooperation.  President George W. Bush had signed an executive order on 28 May revoking national emergences declared in 1992 and 1998, putting in place additional national measures to combat extremism in the region.

The Council must not allow, however, the violence by a small minority to hinder what had been achieved and what would be achieved, he said.  The United States was pleased that a UNDP expert had arrived for UNMIK’s plan for implementing the benchmarks.  The implementation plan was a critical step in reinforcing the benchmark progress.  On the economic front, privatization must move forward without delay.  Privatization was the best hope of generating economic activity in Kosovo.  Kosovo must not be left without economic means.  Property rights must be clearly established.  Work should begin to set up a claims register to provide full information to potential buyers.

The United States strongly urged UNMIK, the Provisional Institutions and the Government of Serbia and Montenegro to create a constructive dialogue.  While it was a difficult process, it was the only way to resolve the issues before the Council and the only way to create a stable government.  The United States was looking to ways to foster that development.

IYA TIDJANI (Cameroon) said that, despite the lack of progress in dealing with substantive issues in Kosovo, the functioning of the Provisional Institutions was a reality.  The persistence of problems, just underscored by Mr. Annabi, had resulted from internal disputes fueled by partisan rivalry.  That, in turn, had encouraged hatred and the rejection of one’s fellow citizens.  Under those conditions, constructing a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural Kosovo must involve all populations of Kosovo, in all their sociological components.  They needed to be backed in their efforts by the international community, and Belgrade had an important role to play.

He said there was little point of such support, however, if the Provisional Institutions that called for a speedy transfer of responsibilities did not show genuine political will and unfailing commitment to meet the many challenges facing all Kosovars.  He also stressed the need to restore safety and security.  The situation was precarious.  On 4 June, the world learned with distress of the murder of the family in Obilic.  He condemned that heinous crime and urged that everything be done to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice.  That odious act undermined the efforts of the international community for peace and reconciliation and was a reminder that the road to peace and reconciliation in Kosovo was fraught with obstacles of all types.

The Council must remain watchful and determined, therefore, in its action, particularly in its fight against insecurity and its support for the Provisional Institutions, as well as the struggle against poverty and unemployment, he said.  The current environment, characterized by insecurity and the lack of a strong legal framework, could hardly attract private investment.  Nonetheless, elements of a liberal economy, already established in Kosovo, deserved to be sustained, and further initiatives needed to be taken to speed the process of private investment, relaunch economic activities and create jobs.

RAYKO S. RAYTCHEV (Bulgaria) welcomed progress achieved in the peace process and thanked the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for his efforts to normalize life in the region.  Bulgaria fully shared the view of the Contact Group that considerable practical work still remained to be done to fulfil the benchmarks, especially those in the area of the democratic governance, before the issue of the status of Kosovo could be addressed.  The final word on the status of Kosovo should be given to the United Nations, in compliance with resolution 1244.

As a country from the region, Bulgaria expressed its legitimate concern at the ongoing unilateral attempts directed at solutions not supported by the international community, he said.  Destructive actions aimed at obtaining unilateral political benefits should be categorically condemned.  The political structures of all communities in Kosovo should demonstrate a higher political culture by ending all attempts to ignore the recommendations of the Special Representative and the head of UNMIK, thus, slowing down the normalization process.

He said the process of transferring competencies from UNMIK to the Provisional Institutions would not be easy.  He hoped that the recently established Transfer Council would proceed cautiously in its work by taking into account, at the same time, the need for a swift achievement of the benchmarks, as well as the legitimate interests of all inhabitants of Kosovo.

An important element in the process was the implementation of a realistic road map for the transfer of powers, he said.  Local authorities should make real efforts at building a functioning administration at all levels in Kosovo that should reflect the multi-ethnic character of the region.  Continuing acts of inter-ethnic violence and organized crime were a strong destructive factor.  He called on local political leaders to exert their  influence for the establishment of relations of human and inter-ethnic tolerance.  He strongly condemned the murder of the Serb family in Obilic earlier in the month.

The presence of UNMIK and KFOR had a key role for the security of Kosovo in a wider regional aspect, he said.  All political factors should focus their energy on the solution of concrete problems in the normalization of life in Kosovo, rather than on declarations for independence or division.

JULIAN KING (United Kingdom) said he fully supported the efforts made to make the benchmarks operational.  Mr. Annabi had raised the question of tackling parallel structures.  He would be grateful for any more he might want to add on where things stood with respect to UNMIK’s progress in that regard in Mitrovica.  As his Fifth Committee colleagues had recently discussed, UNMIK would see a reduction in staff in the period ahead.  He welcomed anything Mr. Annabi could say about how, in practice, the Mission would take forward the shift in its activities from an executive role to a monitoring, advisory role.

MIKHAIL WEHBE (Syria) condemned the recent murder of the family in Obilic.  That incident threatened security in Kosovo, in general.  He supported UNMIK’s efforts to arrest and bring to justice the perpetrators of the crime.  He also supported the gradual transfer of competencies to the self-governing institutions.  He emphasized the importance of the security situation and the need to prevent the recurrence of such crimes.  Those matters would have an impact on the return of refugees and internally displaced persons, and their active participation in rebuilding Kosovo, which desperately needed the participation of all ethnic groups in political and socio-economic life.  Dialogue between the different ethnicities must be promoted to build a multi-ethnic society in Kosovo, with tolerance among the different ethnic groups.

He emphasized the importance of the continuation of dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, so that local self-governing institutions would join UNMIK in starting dialogue with neighbouring countries.  He also emphasized the importance of safeguarding the freedom of movement for all ethnic groups.  He thanked the Secretary-General for his efforts, in particular, those by his Special Representative, to bring about stability in an important part of the world.  They deserved the Council’s full support.

JULIO HELDER DE MOURA LUCAS (Angola) said that even with the imperfections of the present Provisional Institutions, the current transfer of responsibilities from the United Nations Interim Administration to those institutions was a most encouraging development in Kosovo’s political process.

Concurrent with those political developments, other crucial elements of that institution-building process were the strengthening of the rule of law through an efficient, impartial and functioning judicial system; and the enhancement of law-enforcement institutions.  To that end, he urged continued international support to the project aimed at curtailing the spread and accumulation of illicit small arms in Kosovo and Serbia and Montenegro.  Such weapons had been identified as the main causes of crime and violence there.

He further expressed concern at the restrictions of movement and denial of certain rights to minorities and other actions intended to discourage their return to Kosovo and their participation in public life.  Freedom of movement to all communities in Kosovo had to be secured, in order to build a multi-ethnic and democratic society in the country.

WANG YINGFAN (China) said that the Provisional Institutions should scrupulously fulfil their obligations and continue to take effective action to crack down on crime, guarantee the rights and interests of minorities, promote economic development, and fully cooperate with UNMIK and the Government of Serbia and Montenegro, with a view to the early achievement of the social stability, economic development and ethnic harmony of Kosovo.

He condemned the recent atrocities and acts of violence.  Those undermined the social stability of Kosovo.  He appreciated the tireless efforts of UNMIK for the restoration of stability, and the establishment of the rule of law, economic harmony and social development.  He supported the series of benchmarks and he hoped UNMIK  would continue to effectively carry out its mandate and satisfactorily deal with decentralization.  It should also continue to take further measures to ensure that the Provisional Institutions fulfilled their responsibilities. 

INOCENCIO F. ARIAS (Spain) said recent events showed that a long road remained towards a multi-ethnic Kosovo.  He was concerned at the continued grave cases of violence, threats, and discrimination against minorities.  The return of refugees was fundamental and efforts must be redoubled to make that possible.  The Provisional Institutions had yet to prove that they were capable of functioning normally and being genuinely representative.  They must devote themselves to the administration of matters under their competence.

All Kosovo communities must actively participate in the provision of municipal institutions, he continued.  The lack of participation prevented progress on concrete issues of administration and did not improve Kosovo’s international image.  He condemnded efforts to create mono-ethnic institutions and appealed for the dismantling of parallel administrative structures.  He emphasized the need to implement the initiatives of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative to maintain a dialogue on practical issues between the Belgrade authorities and the Kosovo institutions.

JAIME ACUÑA (Chile) said that Kosovo could become a major United Nations enterprise for peace.  His country had been honoured to participate in UNMIK.  He rejected violence on racial or ethnic grounds, as well as any attempts to undermine the establishment of true democracy in Kosovo.  He reaffirmed that resolution 1244 (1999) was the cornerstone of the process under way in Kosovo.  That text must guide the decisions, especially with regard to the political and economic steps.  Those must be heeded and respected by the parties.

CARLOS PUJALTE (Mexico) said he was grateful to Mr. Annabi for the very comprehensive briefing.  The murder of the family in Obilic had been a direct attack on efforts to build a multi-ethnic Kosovo.  He was profoundly concerned that that murder could delay the process of community reconciliation and coexistence and have a negative impact on the sustainable return of displaced persons to that and other towns in Kosovo.  That type of crime must be emphatically repudiated, not only by the UNMIK authorities, but also, and above all, by Kosovo’s elected representatives, some of whom immediately condemned that crime and appealed for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.

He said he hoped that UNMIK and the international security force would do everything possible to provide greater security and protection to the Serb families and to other minorities in Obilic, who were now extremely fearful.  He was also concerned at the attacks that occurred last weekend in Pristina, in which several persons were wounded by an explosive device.  The incidents of violence were occurring with increasing frequency in various parts of the Province.  He appealed to the elected representatives, in particular, of the Albanian majority, to avoid promoting any steps that ran counter to resolution 1244 (1999) and the Constitutional Framework and which countered the objective of transforming Kosovo into a multi-ethnic, pluralist and tolerant society.  Regarding privatization, it was vital that that process be conducted with transparency.

MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) also condemned the brutal murders of the Stolic family in Obilic on 4 June.  He hoped that no effort would be spared to bring the perpetrators to justice.  He condemned all ethnically motivated acts and crimes in Kosovo.  The culture of impunity for such crimes must come to an end.  Inside Kosovo, as recent events had illustrated, security and the rule of law must be urgently addressed.  Without security, there could be no freedom of movement, no protection of minorities, no sustainable return of refugees and no economic recovery.  The rule of law was central to progress towards justice, reconciliation and self-governance.  They were two essential pillars on which the success of the Provisional Institutions and the future political stability of Kosovo stood.  He hoped UNMIK would give the two issues the priority they deserved. 

He urged implementation of resolution 1244 and the establishment of “standards” that should facilitate a solution for Kosovo’s political status.  Pakistan regarded the “standards before status” as a unique one, applying to Kosovo only, he said.  No decision on Kosovo’s future should be taken without consulting with the wishes of the people of Kosovo.  There could be no exception to the application of the principle of self-determination.  Also, linkages between resolution of the future political status of Kosovo and the goal to preserve the territorial integrity of other States in the region were unacceptable.  The resolution of the status issue should be facilitated by a meaningful political dialogue between the leaders of Kosovo and the Government of Serbia.  In that regard, he welcomed the initiative of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative to establish a dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina on matters of mutual concern. 

GUNTER PLEUGER (Germany), expressing concern at the growing confrontational attitude towards the international community; particularly against UNMIK, demanded full respect of Security Council resolution 1244 by all sides and rejected attempts to undermine UNMIK’s authority in the country.

He denounced any attempts to force UNMIK into “co-governance” and any similar interference with the authority of the Special Representative.  Only the Security Council had the power and the final word to assess the implementation resolution 1244.  Unilateral moves or arrangements intended to predetermine the status for the whole or parts of Kosovo were unacceptable.

He said Germany expected the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government in Kosovo to meet the benchmarks set out to advance and develop policies for all people in Kosovo in promoting the economy and the development of the social system.  He further urged the leadership there to guarantee minority rights, particularly the freedom of movement.  He said it was important that an environment was now created, both through legislative and administrative acts, conducive to the sustainable return of minority refugees and internally displaced persons.  He also reaffirmed Germany’s support of the European Union’s intention to confirm at its forthcoming summit with South-East European countries the European perspective for the Balkan region, noting that Kosovo was part of that process.

MAMADY TRAORÉ (Guinea) said that institutional security and economic issues, as well as questions related to the return of property and displaced persons and refugees, had remained subjects of concern for both the international community and the Security Council.  He welcomed the progress made towards implementation of resolution 1244 (1999).  Nonetheless, the security situation had remained fragile.  He deplored the murder of the family in Obilic.  That event would fuel tension, which was harmful to the efforts under way, particularly the return of refugees and displaced persons.  He hoped that the measures taken by Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Kosovo Michael Steiner would quickly lead to the arrest and trial of the perpetrators of those odious crimes. 

He said that economic issues, particularly those relating to investment, were also of grave concern.  The success of any programme in Kosovo depended on embracing the interests of all the people of Kosovo, as well as the balance of the region.  He had been satisfied with the exhumation last month of 800 bodies in Serbia.  Those allegedly had been Kosovars of Albanian origin.  He was convinced that the establishment of a lasting peace in Kosovo must be underpinned by the commitment of the leaders and of the entire population. 

SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation), speaking in his national capacity, said huge efforts had been put into a settlement and considerable progress made.  The problems, however, remained more than the solutions.  The major conclusion today was that four years after deployment of special missions there was a lack of freedom of movement and security for the local population.  Discrimination continued, in particular, against the Serbian minority.  The brutal murder of a Serbian family on 4 June was a flagrant example of that.  It was important not only to punish such crimes, but also to double efforts in the region, where extremist forces continued.  In April 2003, the international legal defence organization, Amnesty International, had noted serious violations of minority rights in the region.

The idea of building a multi-ethnic society had bogged down, he continued.  The leaders of the Provisional Institutions of Self Government frequently shirked their obligations placed on them by resolution 1244 and the Constitutional Framework.  They endeavoured to advance decisions that incited racial hatred.  Without radical improvement of the situation, the participation of minorities in self-government institutions and the disbanding of parallel structures could not be expected.  He was concerned about the KPC as a paramilitary successor of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).  The leadership of the KPC was trying to turn the Corps into an army for an independent Kosovo.

Unfortunately, UNMIK’s reaction had been confined to a one-month travel ban of corps workers abroad.  The KPC was a potential source of destabilization in the region.  In that regard, he called on UNMIK to take a more active position in countering the growth of radical groups in the region.  There had also been serious impediments in establishing dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina.  He supported “standards before status”.  The international presence must strengthen oversight over the process and not allow attempts to use institutions for political purposes.  The process of power transfer could not be a substitute for a decision on the Kosovo’s status.  He regretted interruptions in the dialogue between UNMIK and the Belgrade authorities.  Urgent steps must be taken to restore cooperation between them.

He said the Russian Federation had serious concern about the land rights decree, which might have too far-reaching consequences.  He expected that assessments by Council members today would be borne in mind by UNMIK leaders in the efforts for full implementation of resolution 1244.

DEAN SAHOVIC (Serbia and Montenegro) said that, at the time of the adoption of Security Council resolution 1244 (1999), a future without fear of persecution was envisaged through the establishment of a multi-ethnic, democratic and lawful society in which the civil, political and human rights of all would be ensured.  The text sought to prevent new conflicts, create a secure environment for the returns of refugees and internally displaced persons, demilitarize the KLA and establish substantial autonomy and self-government.

He said that if peace could be defined solely as the absence of war, there was peace in Kosovo and Metohija.  Security was selective, for the majority and not for the minorities, and freedom of movement was the privilege only of the majority.  The fate of more than 1,000 missing Serbs had not yet been resolved, and there was little stability overall.  Nearly one-quarter million internally displaced persons from minority communities could not return.  A gruesome example of the “real” cause for the absence of returns was the bludgeoning to death of two 82-year olds and their son in Obilic on 4 June.  They were natives of that town and had placed their trust in the international administrators of the Province to ensure their safety.

Given the fact that all forms of violence against minorities -– including terrorist attacks -– had thus far garnered only verbal condemnation, he said, it was unclear what arguments would be offered to 18 Serb families in Obilic to reconsider their decision to leave the town forever.  Security could not be achieved by words.  The perpetrators of the above-mentioned atrocity had not been identified, much less brought to justice.  If all perpetrators were not speedily brought to justice, that recent killing would serve to strengthen the culture of impunity surrounding the violence against minorities.  That would offer further evidence that minorities, particularly Serbs, did not enjoy the basic human right to life, let alone any other rights.

He called on the Council to see to it that UNMIK ensure that violence was not, yet again, confirmed as a legitimate political means in Kosovo and Metohija.  Absent that outcome, the latest atrocity would be a further setback in creating sufficient confidence for initiating a dialogue on practical issues –- a dialogue whose establishment his Government had consistently supported.  Regarding the most recent resolution of the Kosovo Assembly, which called for regulating the “status of the fighters for freedom and independence of Kosovo”, the KPC had retained and enhanced military capacities and was engaged in tireless efforts to preserve itself as a future army.

It was absolutely necessary to operationalize the benchmarks, which had been based on the principle of “standards before status”, he said.  If the aim truly was to establish institutions functioning according to basic principles of democracy, the transfer process should be firmly conditioned on the capacities of the Provisional Institutions to responsibly exercise the authority entrusted to them for the benefit of all communities in the Province.  In some cases, UNMIK itself was not contributing to the implementation of the benchmarks.  On property rights, for example, its regulation 2003/13 clearly was not a step towards fulfilling the related benchmark, but had added confusion.

He said that by promulgating that regulation, the Mission had taken steps outside its authority.  The regulation created consequences of a structural and permanent character.  A 99-year land lease was brushed off as a “temporary measure” that did not merit consultation with the landowners.  That disregarded the fact that the measure would exceed by far the term of the United Nations administration itself.  He was speaking of a permanent transfer of socially owned property and, to a large extent, the property of the Republic of Serbia.  That regulation would also jeopardize the return of property nationalized after the Second World War to their rightful owners.  He had so far received no response from the United Nations Legal Counsel to his request for an explanation of the legal basis of that regulation. 

The need for privatization in Kosovo and Metohija was indisputable, he said.  The method of establishing a privatization model without the participation of the Republic of Serbia as the largest creditor, however, was highly disputable.  Among other obvious consequences, that model was certain to adversely affect the return of internally displaced persons.  He expected that those legitimate concerns would be addressed prior to the full implementation of the privatization process.  His country had fully complied with resolution 1244 (1999) and, in the last two and one-half years, it had constructively participated in its implementation.  Efforts to cooperate with UNMIK, to a great extent, however, had been a one-way process.  Cooperation should be re-established in the near future and a constructive policy of transparency by UNMIK should prevail.

ADAMANTIOS TH. VASSILAKIS (Greece), on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said the full implementation of resolution 1244 (1999) remained the cornerstone of the European Union’s policy on Kosovo.  Building a democratic, multi-ethnic and multi-cultural Kosovo with full respect for the rule of law and for human and minority rights was the Union’s stated course of action.  The “standards before status” policy provided the framework for achieving those objectives.

Terrorism and violence, be it ethnically, politically or criminally motivated, could not be tolerated, he said.  He unequivocally condemned incidents such as the recent killing of two 80-year-old Kosovar Serbs and their son in the village of Obilic.  Welcoming the condemnation of that act of violence by all parties in Kosovo, the Union expected all parties to do their utmost to bring the perpetrators to justice.  A Kosovo where members of minority communities were oppressed would face a bleak future of self-isolation.  Efforts should be aimed at establishing the appropriate security, economic and legislative conditions that would allow the minorities to be an integral part of the Kosovar political, economic, social and cultural life, making, at the same time, the return of refugees feasible.

Organized crime was the single most urgent challenge in the region, he said.  Coupled with extremism and with deep roots in political and social life, organized crime threatened the very foundation of the principles and values of the new institutions.  Political stability in Kosovo required the formation of stable institutions through the establishment and strengthening of local democracy.  The Union fully supported the process of transfer of competencies to the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government, as set out in chapter 5 of the Constitutional Framework and taking into account the capacity of the Institutions to handle them.  Building effective, transparent and accountable Institutions to benefit all communities, while at the same time adhering to obligations stemming from resolution 1244 and the Constitutional Framework and not prejudging the final status, should be the main objective.

The Union was strongly committed to securing peace, security and conditions of political and economic development in the region by enhancing its European perspective through the Stabilization and Association Process.  The Thessaloniki Summit, to be held on 21 June, would focus exactly on the European perspective to promote both regional ownership and cooperation, including a dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina.

Mr. ANNABI, taking the floor again to respond to questions, said the United Kingdom’s representative had asked about an issue related to parallel structures.  As indicated in the briefing, those structures offering administrative and other services to Kosovo Serb residents continued to operate in certain parts of Kosovo with the support of Belgrade.  Efforts to strengthen institutional links between Belgrade and those parallel structures had been most evident in the areas of health and education.  Although Belgrade had agreed that those parallel structures should be abandoned, they still existed, including parallel courts.  The UNMIK had been able to establish a minor offences court and a municipal court in the Mitrovica area, where it continued to provide the Kosovo Serbs with a number of administrative services.

He reiterated that Mr. Steiner had also appointed a multi-ethnic advisory board, which would act as a forum for cooperation among the communities.  Its first meeting had been held on 30 May.  The Kosovo Serbs had participated, but they had expressed reservations about the composition of the board, wrongly claiming that there had been some understanding that it would only include Kosovo Serb members.  The UNMIK was in the process of developing a comprehensive action plan and policy to address the problem of the parallel structures, for which the cooperation of Belgrade would be essential.

The second question had related to UNMIK’s downsizing and how the Mission intended to take forward the shift from administrative to advisory functions, he recalled.  UNMIK’s downsizing plans had to be seen in the context of its budget, which had been established at the level of $315 million.  That planning was being developed in a manner that would ensure that, as powers were transferred, UNMIK retained an overall capacity in all areas to effectively exercise its authority under resolution 1244 (1999) and to discharge its powers and responsibilities in that regard.

As UNMIK gradually transferred the non-reserve competencies to the Provisional Institutions, it would retain sufficient staff to monitor and advise those Institutions and the municipal ones, as well as to intervene whenever that became necessary, he further explained.  The UNMIK also had taken into account in its planning the fact that there would be an increased involvement of the Provisional Institutions and of the people of Kosovo in functions in reserved areas.  That process would naturally involve a reallocation and reduction, in some cases, of UNMIK’s resources from the transferred areas to the reserved areas, in line with UNMIK’s budget.

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*     The 4769th Meeting was closed.

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For information media. Not an official record.