SPEAKERS IN SECURITY COUNCIL CONDEMN RECENT VIOLENCE IN KOSOVO, REITERATE SUPPORT FOR MULTI-ETHNIC DEMOCRACY

12 September 2003
SC/7870

SPEAKERS IN SECURITY COUNCIL CONDEMN RECENT VIOLENCE IN KOSOVO, REITERATE SUPPORT FOR MULTI-ETHNIC DEMOCRACY

12/09/2003
Press ReleaseSC/7870

Security Council

4823rd Meeting (AM)

SPEAKERS IN SECURITY COUNCIL CONDEMN RECENT VIOLENCE IN KOSOVO,

REITERATE SUPPORT FOR MULTI-ETHNIC DEMOCRACY

Speakers in the Security Council today condemned recent violence in Kosovo and reiterated that resolution 1244 (1999) remained the basis for future efforts there.  That resolution called for the setting up of provisional self-government institutions there, the consolidation of the rule of law, and reconstruction and economic development of the province with the help of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).

Also emphasized in the discussion was the importance of the “standards before status” principle, which envisions the consolidation of a multi-ethnic democracy in Kosovo before making a decision on its final status, and the constructive dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade.

Briefing the Council on the latest developments in Kosovo, Assistant-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hedi Annabi, pointed out that the “standards before status” principle and its focus on progress towards achieving concrete benchmarks had been reaffirmed by the new Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of UNMIK, Harri Holkeri.

He said that currently, Mr. Holkeri was overseeing the development of an operational plan for the implementation of the benchmarks, which was being drawn up jointly by UNMIK and the Kosovo Provisional Institutions.  He was also planning to propose modalities for the dialogue between the provisional institutions and Belgrade, which should focus on concrete issues for the benefit of the people.

The period since July had been characterized by a number of violent attacks and shootings throughout Kosovo, he continued, primarily targeting the Kosovo Serb community, as well as UNMIK law enforcement authorities.  Although UNMIK police and the Kosovo multinational security force (KFOR) had increased security following the incidents and continued to investigate the crimes, no arrests had yet been made in connection with the incidents.

Regarding political developments, Mr. Annabi said that the Kosovo Assembly had reconvened on 4 September.  Since July, the Government had focused on legislative development and the security situation, and it had not taken up the initiation of direct dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina.  The Serbian Parliament, for its part, had endorsed a “Declaration on Kosovo and Metohija” at the end of August and had adopted a resolution on the matter on 5 September.  Kosovo Albanian leaders had been critical of those documents, particularly the references to Kosovo’s status.  On 3 September, the Kosovo Government had publicly expressed concern over the decision to adopt the Serbian declaration and had stated its intention to build an independent State.

High on the agenda today was the issue of return of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), with many speakers urging creation of safe conditions in Kosovo, which would increase confidence.  The Mission was urged to take a more active and consistent approach in countering any manifestations of ethnic intolerance and growth of radical dispositions in Kosovo, and in ensuring the rule of law there.  Among other UNMIK priorities, the speakers noted the need to strengthen democratic institutions and promote dialogue and economic development.  Tackling corruption, extremism, and organized crime was also necessary for building a multi-ethnic society in Kosovo.

Participating in the discussion were representatives of Pakistan, the Russian Federation, Bulgaria, the United States, France, Mexico, Guinea, Chile, Spain, Angola, Germany, Cameroon, Syria, China, the United Kingdom, Serbia and Montenegro, Italy (on behalf of the European Union) and Albania.

The meeting was called to order at 11:35 a.m. and adjourned at 1:10 p.m.

Background

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

Briefing by Assistant Secretary-General

HEDI ANNABI, Assistant-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, briefing Council members on developments in Kosovo since 3 July, said Harri Holkeri, the new Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), had taken up his responsibilities. 

He said Mr. Holkeri had reaffirmed UNMIK’s commitment to the “standards before status” policy framework and its focus on progress towards achieving the benchmarks contained in the policy.  He was overseeing the ongoing development of an operational plan for the implementation of the benchmarks, which was being drawn up jointly by UNMIK and the Kosovo Provisional Institutions.  The new Special Representative had strongly emphasized the importance of initiating direct and constructive dialogue on practical matters of mutual interest between Pristina and Belgrade. 

In meetings with representatives of the Provisional Institutions and the political leadership in Belgrade, he had underlined that talks should focus on concrete issues which served the needs of the people.  Preparations for the dialogue were under way, and Mr. Holkeri planned to propose modalities for the dialogue in the next few weeks.

The period since July had been characterized by a number of violent attacks and shootings, which had occurred throughout Kosovo, primarily targeting the Kosovo Serb community, as well as UNMIK law enforcement authorities, he continued.  On 13 August, two Kosovo Serb youth were killed and four injured in a shooting incident aimed at Kosovo Serb youth swimming in a river near the village of Gorazdevac in the Pec region.  On 18 August, a Kosovo Serb male, who had been shot in the head on 11 August, died of his wounds. 

Also, two Kosovo Serbs were injured in a shooting on 26 August at the returns site of Bica, near Klina in Pec region, he said.  On 31 August, four Kosovo Serbs were injured and one killed in an explosive attack in the village of Cernica in the Gnjilane region.  UNMIK Police and the Kosovo Force (KFOR) had increased security in those regions following the incidents and continued to investigate the crimes.  No arrests had yet been made in connection with the incidents.

All Kosovo political leaders had condemned the attacks and had invited the public to help find the perpetrators, he said.  Mr. Holkeri had appealed to the general public to do all it could to aid the law enforcement authorities.  The violent incidents had further raised feelings of insecurity among Kosovo Serbs, and there had been signs of an increase in inter-ethnic tension.  While protests against incidents in Kosovo Serb communities had been peaceful, there had been instances of intimidation and harassment in both Kosovo Albanian and Kosovo Serb communities. 

The past two months had also seen an increase in violent incidents directed against UNMIK law enforcement personnel and property, he said.  On 3 August, an UNMIK international police officer was murdered in a sniper attack in the northern part of Kosovo.  It was the second incident leading to the death of an UNMIK international civilian staff member serving in Kosovo since June 1999.  On

6 September, an off-duty Kosovo Police Service (KPS) officer had been murdered near Djakiovica.  On 10 September, another KPS officer had been shot and injured in Pristina; a person with him had been killed.

Property used by the police and the judiciary, including an UNMIK police station, had been damaged in explosions and other attacks, he added.  No one had claimed responsibility for any of the attacks.  The situation had prompted UNMIK and KFOR to reassess and enhance security measures.  Some of the attacks had come after the conviction on 16 July of four former Kosovo Liberation Army members for war crimes committed primarily against fellow Kosovo Albanians during 1998 and 1999. 

Regarding political developments, he said that, due to the summer recess, the period had seen a lull in legislative and government activity.  The Kosovo Assembly had reconvened on 4 September.  Since July, the Government had focused on legislative development and the security situation.  It had not taken up the initiation of direct dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. 

On 27 August, the Serbian Parliament had endorsed a “Declaration on Kosovo and Metohija”, he said.  On 5 September, the Parliament of Serbia and Montenegro had adopted a “Resolution on Kosovo and Metohija”.  Kosovo Albanian leaders had been critical of those documents, particularly the references to Kosovo’s status.  On 3 September, the Kosovo Government had publicly expressed concern over the decision to adopt the Serbian declaration and stated its intention to build an independent State.

Turning to the issue of returns and inter-ethnic relations, he said that, although the levels of returns remained low, minority returns continued to exceed those in 2002.  In the past two months, some promised funding from several major donors had arrived, and work on returns projects had begun.  The security situation had, however, heightened the level of fear within the minority community, leading to delays in returns efforts and the possibility that more returns might be postponed until next spring.

Kosovo’s political leaders had expressed support for returns.  Statements and concrete support for returns at the central level had, by and large, not been replicated at the municipal level, he said.  While cooperation on returns projects had been productive in a number of municipalities, the actions of some municipal officials had been far from reconciliatory. 

Political infighting -– primarily between Kosovo Albanian parties –- in a number of municipalities continued to affect the ability of local authorities to effectively govern.  Financing for minority communities from municipal budgets remained poor.  In Mitrovica, UNMIK had focused on promoting inter-ethnic activities and dialogue.

Regarding the economy, bids for the two successive sets of tenders for the privatization of socially owned enterprises had been opened by the Kosovo Trust Agency on 14 July and 2 September, he said.  On 6 September, the first three contracts for the privatization of socially owned enterprises had been signed.

The UNMIK and KFOR continued to take action against suspected extremist elements in the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC), he said.  An inquiry into activities of certain members of the KPC was ongoing in order to identify those members with possible links to extremist organizations and criminal groups. 

He said UNMIK would remain committed to fully implementing Council resolution 1244 (1999) and was working with all interlocutors to achieve progress on the benchmarks within the “standards before status” policy framework.  A priority at the time was initiating the direct dialogue on practical matters of mutual concern between Belgrade and Pristina.  Through that dialogue, practical benefits would be realized for the people of Kosovo, with a view to developing an atmosphere of mutual trust and confidence.  Mr. Holkeri was engaged in pursuing the matter in consultations with all concerned parties, while managing competing interests and unilateral statements not always conducive to initiating the dialogue.  The security situation remained a concern, and the Council’s continued support would continue to be crucial.

Statements

MASOOD KHALID (Pakistan) said Mr. Holkeri had assumed his responsibilities at a difficult time in light of continued ethnic tension in Kosovo.  The UNMIK  was a unique mission, as administration and capacity-building were among its key components.  It needed to develop a focused programme of action, consulting local administration officials and gaining their confidence.  It was also necessary to address the issues of security and the rule of law in Kosovo.

To give greater autonomy to provincial institutions, the Mission should promote economic development and reconstruction in Kosovo, he continued.  UNMIK should be enabled to improve its performance.  Progress should be achieved in improving confidence, the return of refugees and promoting the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina.  He hoped that all those steps would allow for addressing, in time, the issue of the status of Kosovo.

GENNADY GATILOV (Russian Federation) said that, despite certain positive movement through international efforts, the situation in the province remained complex, particularly concerning the return of refugees and displaced persons and the situation of ethnic Serbs.  Regrettably, over the last month, ethnically motivated crimes had been on the rise.  Participants in the meeting of the contact group in Moscow this month had condemned manifestations of violence, which had no justification.  Murder was a tool of terrorism, and the Council could not idly stand by as terrorists tried to destabilize the situation. 

Noting the steps of the international presence to apprehend those guilty of the crimes, he said the leaders of the provincial self-rule institutions must provide active assistance in the investigations and contribute to efforts to build a democratic multi-ethnic society.  The situation in Kosovo needed to be under constant international oversight, and he urged UNMIK to assume a more active and consistent position in countering any ethnically motivated violence in the province.

Direct dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina should be promoted with the mediation of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, he said.  The priorities included the rule of law, resolving the problems of refugees, and the implementation of the principle of “standards before status”.  The meeting of the contact group in Moscow had confirmed the steps that needed to be taken in Kosovo.  In particular, it had demonstrated a consensus view that any discussion of the future status of Kosovo at this juncture would be premature.  Russia intended to actively participate in the search for a just and balanced solution in Kosovo.

STEFAN TAFROV (Bulgaria) categorically condemned the acts of violence mentioned by the Assistant Secretary-General.  All were acts of ethnic violence.  Any infringement on the rights of an international official undermined the efforts of local and international actors working for Kosovo.  Such acts could in no way improve the positions of parties in negotiations and would slow down the normalization process.  Violence was not in the interests of the legitimate political representatives in Kosovo and ordinary people.  Full cooperation of the Provisional Institutions would be proof of their readiness to shoulder the burden of real management in the province. 

He said Bulgaria remained interested in the investigation regarding the murder of the Bulgarian international civil servant killed in 1999 in Pristina.  His country also continued to follow acts of ethnic intolerance which hampered reconciliation among the ethnic communities.  The international presence in Kosovo must show all local actors that such behaviour would not be tolerated by the international community.

JAMES CUNNINGHAM (United States) deplored the violence and attacks which had taken place in Kosovo in the last few months.  It was a reminder of the primacy of establishing the rule of law in Kosovo.  The way forward was to focus on the “standards before status” approach, which was well poised to go ahead.  He encouraged UNMIK to move ahead with it.  The achievements of standards were essential for a better life for all Kosovars.  The United States would offer technical expertise to support the process.

He also urged the Secretary-General’s Special Representative to convene officials from Belgrade and Pristina to begin a dialogue on practical matters.  The talks should be held at the level of technical experts on matters of mutual concern.  Unilateral declarations by neighbouring governments were premature and unhelpful.  He hoped that all leaders in the region would focus on helping Mr. Holkeri as he set out his complicated and important tasks. 

EMMANUELLE D’ACHON (France) expressed her country’s firm condemnation of the acts of violence in Kosovo in recent months.  However, such acts should not diminish the determination of the international community to advance the implementation of relevant resolutions on the matter.  It was also necessary to continue combating organized crime in Kosovo.  The firm commitment of the autonomous authorities in Kosovo was key in that respect. 

Renewed violence meant that the international community needed to remain vigilant and that adequate resources needed to be provided, she continued.  France fully trusted the new Special Representative of the Secretary-General.  “Standards before status” formula continued to be fully valid, and she had full confidence that Mr. Holkeri would find means of advancing the rule of law, respect for human rights and return of refugees and internally displaced persons in the province.  Sustained dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina would allow the daily life of the inhabitants of Kosovo to improve.

ADOLFO AGUILAR ZINSER (Mexico) said that some three weeks ago the Council had examined the situation in Kosovo, following a criminal act against the principle which had established multi-ethnicity in the province.  Other attacks had taken place after that meeting, and he shared other delegations’ deep concern that such incidents were a recurring feature.  The road towards a prosperous and lawful future in Kosovo was a road that extremist groups did not wish to take.

The international community had formed an exemplary broad strategic alliance on Kosovo, he continued.  Its efforts needed to be maintained to achieve the goals determined by the Council.  Aside from condemning the violence, the Council should take concrete steps to stop it. Development, reconstruction and the administration of justice were among the priorities.  Activities were needed at all levels to advance mutual understanding and knowledge in the province as a basic for co-existence.  Normalization was the responsibility of all Kosovars, regardless of their ethnic origin or religious beliefs. 

The Council should more decisively promote return of refugees and internally displaced persons, paying attention to the issue of security, he said.  Provincial self-rule institutions should work with transparency and the sense of equity and justice.  He saw as a positive measure the suspension of several members of the Kosovo security force and disciplinary action against others on the suspicion of ties with organized crime.

Forging a direct mechanism for dialogue would advance political, social and economic measures in the province, he said.  Illicit trafficking in weapons was a source of concern and should become the focus of attention by the Council.  For that reason, he welcomed the arms amnesty declared in September.

ALPHA IBRAHIMA SOW (Guinea) said that four years after the temporary freezing of the status of Kosovo, the record of UNMIK’s activities appeared to be mixed.  While he commended progress made in political and administrative areas, other areas, including the return of refugees and the restitution of property, security and the establishment of the rule of law, remained a source of concern.  Greater attention must be paid to job creation and the promotion of regional exchanges.

The increasing number of incidents of inter-ethnic violence, crime and lack of security affected the restoration of the rule of law, he said.  The murders of civilians, which he condemned, indicated that the situation was not yet stable.  The reorganization of the KPC into a multi-ethnic body was also in keeping with that obligation.  In the framework of improving the current situation, other key elements must also be taken into account, including dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade and the extension of the UNMIK’s authority to the entire province.  He urged the parties to do their utmost to facilitate the opening of negotiations.  A direct dialogue between the Serbian and Albanian communities must take shape on the ground.

CRISTIAN MAQUIEIRA (Chile) said Kosovo was at a crossroads.  While there had been significant progress in achieving a substantial degree of autonomy, a series of deplorable acts of violence leaving a toll of dead and wounded was casting a shadow on that progress.  He condemned such acts, which should not sidetrack the peace process.  All acts of violence ran against the achievement of a multi-ethnic society and violated the spirit of resolution 1244.  Without the sustainable return of internally displaced persons and refugees, the building of a democratic society would become impossible.  He agreed on the need to implement a plan to make operational the “standards before status” agreement and appealed to the parties concerned to avoid all forms of provocation.  He also welcomed close dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. 

ANA MARIA MENENDEZ (Spain) recalled that last month the Council had condemned a terrorist crime against children in Kosovo.  Regrettably, the violence -– both ethnic and political -- had not stopped since.  She hoped the perpetrators would be brought to justice as such crimes could not remain unpunished.  Security was a necessary pre-condition for the successful future of Kosovo.  Security was important for economic recovery, but also essential for the building of a democratic and tolerant society and for the return of Kosovo’s citizens of non-Albanian origin.  She hoped that the open letter inviting refugees to return to Kosovo would translate into reality.

Continuing, she said that Mr. Holkeri had the full support of the international community, but he also needed the full support of the authorities in Pristina and Belgrade.  Spain fully supported the policy pursued by UNMIK in keeping with the “standards before status” policy.  Describing public statements by political leaders as highly disturbing, she said Spain could not support positions that were contrary to Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) and condemned any attempts to create mono-ethnic institutions in the province.  In that connection, she called for the dismantling of any parallel administrative structures that were still operational. The Council must actively encourage non-Albanian participation in Kosovo’s self-rule institutions, she stressed. 

ISMAEL ABRÃAO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola) expressed regret that the meaningful progress achieved on the institutional level had not been matched by similar progress in the area of security.  The complex situation in Kosovo was a matter of concern.  Strongly condemning recent acts of violence in the province, he said they must not be allowed to undermine the peace process and efforts to build a multi-ethnic and democratic society.  It was the responsibility of Kosovo leaders to decisively curb the violence and fight organized crime, he said, welcoming the efforts of the Special Representative and the contact group to stop the cycle of violence. 

It was important to advance disarmament in the province as it was clear that the proliferation of weapons fostered violence, he said.  It was also important to support the rule of law and promote respect for minority rights and economic development.  That was required of all parties in order to build a multi-ethnic and tolerant community with a solid democratic base and solid institutions. 

In conclusion, he said that the parties should deepen their commitment to democratic values and the rule of law.  A constructive dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina was of particular importance.  He also reiterated his full support for the “standards before status” principle.

GUNTER PLEUGER (Germany) said the series of violent incidents highlighted the urgency of dialogue and reconciliation in Kosovo.  While leaders in the region had condemned the violence, they had failed to take many of the difficult steps necessary to realize their ambitions.  He was disappointed that the recent declaration by the Serbian parliament placed blame for implementing resolution 1244 on ethnic Albanians.  Clearly, both sides had failed to meet their obligations.  It was also disappointing that the parliamentary decision said nothing about the needs of ethnic Albanians, which comprised the overwhelming majority of Kosovo’s population.

He urged the representatives of the Provisional Institutions to continue speaking out against violence and to encourage the acceptance of the rule of law.  That was the only way to create a more favourable climate for refugee returns.  Ending violence and intimidation was critical, as was the need for dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina.  He was eager to receive operational benchmarks and a work plan to lay out the concrete tasks to be achieved over the next few months.

IYA TIDJANI (Cameroon), condemning the acts of violence and commending efforts to investigate them, said that intolerance and ethnic hatred had led to the violence and insecurity.  Most of Kosovo’s population were seeking peace.  Establishing a safe environment and facilitating the return of refugees were among the challenges reflected in resolution 1244.  The United Nations had established the conditions that had led to strengthening the hopes and dreams of Kosovars, and there was a moral commitment under which the United Nations must conclude its work in Kosovo.  Incidents would only strengthen the United Nations resolve.  Mr. Holkeri needed the United Nations’ firm support. 

Kosovo was in a delicate situation, and the Council, with the Secretary-General’s support, must ensure it had long-term activities in the province, he said.  He reaffirmed his country’s commitment to the principle of “standards before status” and a direct dialogue among all parties concerned.  He was looking forward to proposals for modalities for that dialogue.  He also reaffirmed his country’s support for a multi-ethnic society and asked all concerned to pool their efforts to restore peace, security and prosperity for all. 

MILAD ATIEH (Syria) said that, despite the relative stabilization in Kosovo, there was a need to further strengthen security in order to avoid a repetition of last month’s events, which had led to the killing of a number of Serbs.  That, in turn, could lead to ethnically motivated violence, which would undermine all the progress made thus far. 

Among the main priorities in Kosovo, he reiterated, were the rule of law protection of the rights of ethnic minorities, as well as combating organized crime, smuggling and the illicit trade in arms and drugs.  Also important was the safe return home of refugees and internally displaced persons, which would enable them to contribute to the economic reconstruction of the province.

The continuing dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina was encouraging, he said, welcoming the actions of Mr. Holkeri in that regard.  In conclusion, he expressed support for the “standards before status” principle, saying that his country was prepared to cooperate with UNMIK to achieve safety and security in Kosovo.

ZHANGYISHAN (China) expressed deep concern over recent violence in the province and urged the parties concerned to bring the perpetrators to justice.  He called on UNMIK, KFOR and the Kosovo Provisional Institutions to make further efforts in strengthening law and order, combating organized crime and ensuring the security of all ethnic groups in Kosovo, especially the Serbs.  That was the only way to create the necessary conditions for the achievement of such goals as economic development and the return of refugees.

He said the fundamental solution to the question of Kosovo lay in consultation and dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, which would allow them to reach agreement on practical matters, including the return of refugees and the rights of minorities and missing persons.   That would also create the foundation for the ultimate settlement of the question of Kosovo’s status.  He hoped that the two parties concerned would, on the basis of Security Council resolution 1244 (1999), initiate constructive dialogue as soon as possible and achieve concrete results with the help of the international community

EMYR JONES PARRY (United Kingdom), Council President, speaking in his national capacity, encouraged the early launch of dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina.  Normalization was the best way forward, and unilateral attempts to influence the final status issue were not helpful.  He also highlighted the importance of the “standards before status” policy and the related benchmarks.  Moreover, the security situation in Kosovo must be a priority.  In that regard, strengthening the rule of law and building the Kosovo Police Service was also crucial.  Tackling corruption, extremism, and organized crime was necessary for building a multi-ethnic society in Kosovo

DEJAN SAHOVIC (Serbia and Montenegro) said the Council had, in recent months, discussed the escalation of violence and ethnically motivated crimes in Kosovo and Metohija.  Regrettably, worse crimes had been committed in August, including a bomb attack in the village of Cernica on 31 August.  He was extremely concerned with the further deterioration of the security situation.

Against a grim backdrop, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General had assumed his extremely difficult tasks, he said.  Serbia and Montenegro welcomed Mr. Holkeri’s priorities to establish the rule of law, ensure basic rights and freedoms, fight organized crime, build multi-ethnic institutions and enhance economic development as basic preconditions for lasting stability in the Province.

He welcomed, in particular, Mr. Holkeri’s commitment to promptly address the security situation, especially violence against the Serb community.  The motive of the latest attacks was to send a message that multi-ethnicity would not be allowed to take hold in the province.  The international community must be resolute in its stand that it would not be intimidated from fulfilling the mandate under resolution 1244.  He hoped that the decisiveness in favour of improving the security situation would boost the unsatisfactory pace of refugee and IDP returns.  Some 200 remaining Serbs in Cernica had decided to stay in the Province.  If crimes and terrorist acts continued with impunity, he feared that any future decisions of the Serb community to leave Kosovo and Metohija permanently might be irreversible.

He welcomed the renewed engagement of the Contact Group in the issues of Kosovo and Metohija, including the confirmation of the relevance of the “standards before status” principle and the need to make the “benchmark” concept operational.  The Contact Group and the Special Representative were calling for an early start of a dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina.  Serbia and Montenegro stood ready to engage in all discussions of importance for the daily lives of all citizens of Kosovo and Metohija, regardless of their ethnicity.  He hoped that those talks, within the framework of resolution 1244, would help improve the security situation in the Province, enhance human and minority rights and step up the return process. 

He concluded by reaffirming his country’s commitment to resolution 1244 and its fundamental aim of building a multi-ethnic society in Kosovo and Metohija in which all inhabitants could have a normal life based on substantial autonomy and meaningful self-governance.

MARCELLO SPATAFORA (Italy), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated countries, said the Union reiterated its strong condemnation of the brutal killings and violence that had taken place in Kosovo during August.  Everyone in Kosovo must understand that the time for violence was over, and that such deplorable incidents could only undermine the image of Kosovo in Europe and in the international community.

The European Union fully supported the United Nations weapons amnesty programme, he continued, and believed that Kosovo must comply with international and European standards as soon as possible.  That goal could only be achieved through the active cooperation of all stakeholders in Kosovo and the region, and he therefore urged the Belgrade and Pristina leaderships to launch without further delay a direct dialogue on practical issues of mutual interest.

The European Union was fully committed to supporting Kosovo’s economic recovery and development, he said, including the privatization process, as an indispensable measure for ensuring the normalization and development of society.  At the same time, the Union would like to see progress on decentralization and on the return process, where there was still an urgent need for concrete measures to be taken by the competent authorities at both the central and local levels.

AGIM NESHO (Albania) said the attention to the Kosovo issue had accelerated the pace of significant transformations towards a multi-ethnic and democratic society, and substantial progress had been achieved.  The establishment and functioning of the new self-governing institutions was a clear indication of growing political maturity and responsibility.  The latest incidents in Kosovo, which were tragic and intolerable, must be condemned and must not be allowed to halt the democratic processes.  Such condemnation, however, should not deny the substantial progress achieved or be based on political, electoral and nationalist interests, as that would impede the beginning of the necessary dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade. 

Kosovo today needed confidence-building measures and not a conflict-feeding process, he said.  Finding itself between opportunities and difficulties, problems and solutions, Kosovo required that all become part of the solution and the progress.  The improvement of stability and progress necessitated the involvement of the Kosovar leadership in the Council’s discussion in order to share responsibilities and be fully committed to the implementation of Council’s decisions.  The Albanian Government commended the appointment of the new Special Representative and would support his activity.  His mission would contribute to Kosovo’s further development and the implementation of the necessary “standards before status” policy. 

He said Albania had encouraged the political leaders in Kosovo and Belgrade to give concrete expression to their commitment to initiate the dialogue on technical issues.  Efforts that went beyond the stabilizing framework of the dialogue and increased conflict in the region were unacceptable, however.  People could not be ruled by the mentality of territories, but by respect for their right to self-determination, freedom and democracy. 

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For information media. Not an official record.