IMPLEMENTING ‘STANDARDS BEFORE STATUS’ POLICY CORE POLITICAL PROJECT FOR UN KOSOVO MISSION, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD
IMPLEMENTING ‘STANDARDS BEFORE STATUS’ POLICY CORE POLITICAL PROJECT FOR UN KOSOVO MISSION, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD
4910th Meeting (AM)
IMPLEMENTING ‘STANDARDS BEFORE STATUS’ POLICY CORE POLITICAL PROJECT
FOR UN KOSOVO MISSION, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD
Emphasizing in a briefing to the Security Council today that implementation of the “standards before status” policy was the “core political project” for the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), the Special Representative and Head of that Mission, Harri Holkeri, said the most urgent task was to produce an implementation work plan setting out clearly the actions necessary to reach the standards.
He said he was determined that Kosovo should make progress on the eight standards to be achieved by the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government before Kosovo’s final status could be addressed. Those standards concerned: functioning democratic institutions; rule of law; freedom of movement; returns and reintegration; economy; property rights; dialogue with Belgrade; and the Kosovo Protection Corps. That clear political target now needed an implementation plan, he said.
Concerning the non-participation of Kosovo Serbs in drafting the work plan, he said he was disappointed that no Serb representatives had participated in the implementation working groups. Their principal concern, namely, that the standards process was undermining Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) and prejudging future status, was “wholly unfounded”. Nor were they right to fear that their concerns and interests would be sidelined in the implementation process, he said.
While many Council members expressed support for the work plan in statements following the briefing, they also viewed with concern the lack of participation of the Serb representatives. Without a radical improvement, the Russian Federation’s representative warned, implementation of the document’s goals would stall. At the same time, the goal of achieving the standards would not automatically trigger final status talks.
Agreeing that the work plan would be an important document and provide a baseline from which to measure implementation of the standards, France’s representative said, however, that the mid-2005 review of progress did not mean that the discussion on status would begin automatically. Only steady progress would activate those talks. She also stressed the need for Serbia and Montenegro and the Kosovo Serbs to promptly contribute to finalizing the work plan.
The standards before status document was an essential first step, agreed Ireland’s representative, speaking on behalf of the European Union. The task now was to build on that foundation. He suggested using the European Union Commission’s annual reviews to gauge progress. Other instruments of the Union, such as the European Partnerships, could help ensure that the Provisional Government allocated sufficient financial and human resources to meet the standards requirements, he offered.
Concerning the “mainly poor” performance of the Provisional Institutions and the lack of participation of minority groups in the drafting of the work plan, the Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs of Serbia and Montenegro, Zeljko Perovic, said that the underlying problem was that the Provisional Institutions did not want to create conditions for the meaningful involvement of the Kosovo Serb community in the political life of the province, nor had UNMIK succeeded in doing so. With respect to drafting the work plan, Serb representatives did not see how they could influence the document, so they had not participated.
Just ahead of the briefing, the Council President for the month, Wang Guangya (China), said that the Council condemned, in the strongest terms, the attack in Moscow this morning, which killed at least 39 people and wounded many more. It expressed its sympathy to the Government and to the families of the victims.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Pakistan, Benin, United Kingdom, Chile, Spain, United States, Germany, Algeria, Angola, Brazil, Philippines, Romania, China and Albania.
The meeting began at 10:16 a.m. and was adjourned at 1:04 p.m.
When the Council met this morning, it had before it the Secretary-General’s latest report on the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) (document S/2004/71), in which Mr. Annan notes that the record of achievements by Kosovo's Provisional Institutions is mixed, with progress apparently stalled in some areas.
Mr. Annan calls for Kosovo's leaders and institutions to uphold the values of multi-ethnicity, tolerance and equal rights for all communities. He notes that not all ethnic communities meaningfully participate in the Provisional Institutions -- the presidency, the government and the Kosovo Assembly. He voices concern that the Assembly "is once again refusing to take into account legitimate minority concerns in the legislative process, [and is] over-stepping its competencies".
But Mr. Annan says he was encouraged by some progress, including the preparation and adoption of laws at the central and local levels of self-government.
Established in June 1999 following war in the province, UNMIK is an interim civilian administration led by the United Nations under which the people of Kosovo can progressively enjoy greater autonomy. The UNMIK retains certain reserved powers in Kosovo, including control over security, foreign relations, minority rights protection and energy, until the province's final status is determined.
According to the report, in November a mechanism was set up to review and measure the progress made by the Provisional Institutions towards the benchmarks required before any final decision on Kosovo's status can be made.
Mr. Annan stresses that multi-ethnicity, tolerance, and equal rights for all communities must be upheld by all local institutions and that acts of intimidation and violence, particularly against minorities, are detrimental to achieving progress in any area and must stop. “It is the responsibility of Kosovo’s leaders and population to ensure that the rule of law is upheld”, he said, adding, “it is also up to the leaders in Kosovo to lead by example and foster an environment of mutual respect and tolerance”, and Kosovo’s residents to create a society where those values be upheld.
The Council President for the month, WANG GUANGYA (China), condemned in the strongest terms the attack in Moscow, which had killed at least 39 people and wounded many more. The Council expressed its sympathy to the Government and to the families of the victims.
Before beginning his briefing, HARRI HOLKERI, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNMIK, expressed shock at the terrorist attack this morning in Moscow.
Beginning his briefing, he said that five years after the conflict more than three quarters of the 3,566 people still missing were Kosovo Albanians and nearly 18 per cent were Kosovo Serbs and Montenegrins. The remaining 4 per cent belonged to other communities. Each side believed that the authorities on the other side had information on the whereabouts of their loved ones. Both sides demanded that all those whose crimes resulted in the disappearance of their loved ones, regardless of ethnicity, be brought to justice.
He said that one way in which progress could be made was in the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. The issue of the missing was one of the four main practical issues to be covered initially in the dialogue. The talks, however, got off to a “fitful” start, due as much to disunity in the Kosovo-Albanian camp as to the general preference of politicians both in Pristina and Belgrade to give precedence to domestic political issues. Four months after the launching of dialogue at a plenary session in Vienna last October, the initial meetings of dialogue working groups might take place in February.
Through the dialogue, as well as through other channels, including possibly the high-ranking working group, he said he also hoped to resolve long-standing disputes with Belgrade over parallel structures in Kosovo. Unfortunately, Belgrade over the past few months had moved to extend and strengthen the presence of its parallel structures in Kosovo. Little was likely to change without an appropriate response. Another dialogue topic was the issue of returns. Building on the gradual progress of 2003 and on the substantial improvements in both the political climate and operational framework for returns, the prospects in the coming year were “encouraging”. But, as demonstrated in 2003, the situation in Kosovo remained fragile.
Highlighting another vital issue for progress, he said that privatization was moving forward in line with the guidance provided by the United Nations Legal Office last November. He continued to discuss that crucial issue intensively with the Prime Minister and the Provisional Government. He also intended that the procedures for the Kosovo Trust Agency should be improved. The privatization process was essential for economic growth in Kosovo; he was determined that it continue. Regarding the sporadic emergence of financial irregularity and corruption, he assured the Council that UNMIK gave very serious attention to those matters. The recently promulgated criminal code, criminal procedure code and customs code, as well as legislation being promulgated on the prevention of money laundering and related criminal offences, would provide new tools for tackling economic and financial crime.
As he had repeatedly emphasized, he said there would be a policy of “zero tolerance” with regard to fraud, corruption and financial irregularities. With the new legislation and mechanisms, UNMIK was now well equipped to address the challenges that it faced in that field.
Noting that significant progress had been made in the area of civil aviation, which would allow for a smooth transition to civilian control, he said that a civil aviation regulator office had been established and a comprehensive legislative framework was being finalized to ensure compliance with international civil aviation standards and practices. Iceland had graciously accepted to support the United Nations by assuming, on UNMIK’s behalf, certain essential civil aviation functions necessary for operations at PristinaAirport.
Turning to the Kosovo-wide elections, he said that, as envisaged, those should be held in October, and preparations were well under way under the leadership of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Implementation of standards was the “core political project” for UNMIK, and he was determined that Kosovo should make progress on those, and he was confident that it would. There was now a clear political target, set out in the “Standards for Kosovo” document. What was needed now was to reach that target, he stressed.
In that regard, he said the most urgent task was to produce an implementation work plan setting out clearly the actions necessary to reach the standards. That was a demanding and complex task for UNMIK and, even more so, for the Provisional Institutions. Production of the work planned required consultation with many actors on both sides, and outside Kosovo. It was the first time such a project was being undertaken in Kosovo, and it was a learning process for many of the ministers and officials involved. But, it was well on its way. He hoped a draft would be ready soon for presentation to the Council.
Concerning the non-participation of Kosovo Serbs in that process, he said he was very disappointed that there continued to be no Serb representatives in the implementation working groups. Their principal concern, namely, that the standards process was undermining Security Council resolution 1244 and prejudging future status, was “wholly unfounded”. Nor were they right to fear that their concerns and interests should be sidelined in the implementation process. The UNMIK was there to ensure that the interests of all communities were “fairly and fully” represented. The Prime Minister had made clear his invitation to them to participate in all of the working groups.
Clearly, some Serbs in Kosovo accepted those arguments and were willing to participate, but they were looking to Belgrade to endorse that view. It did not help that there was still no government in Belgrade. Hopefully, the Council would strongly support his own view that the best way forward for all communities in Kosovo was participation by all communities in the standards process. UNMIK’s focus on the task of implementation was intense. While the President, Prime Minister and the Government were working hard to implement the standards, he was sorry to report that some politicians in Pristina were not demonstrating the wholehearted commitment that the international community was hoping for. He called on them today to show that commitment, for those who were not part of the standards process were letting down the people of Kosovo and would play no part in Kosovo’s march into a better future, including paving the way for determining its future status.
Noting that Council members had before them the most recent report of the Secretary-General, which was a comprehensive accounting of the developments in Kosovo and the progress of the Mission in implementing its mandate, he emphasized that neither the Provisional Institutions nor UNMIK would be able to achieve the high goal that had been set without the Council’s “robust and consistent” political and material support. Only through that support would it be possible to attain the common objective of a democratic, tolerant, multi-ethnic Kosovo that would be at peace with itself and the rest of the region.
MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said that his delegation shared the Special Representative’s vision of a better Kosovo, where people were free to travel, use their own languages and work anywhere. As a troop contributor to UNMIK, Pakistan would continue to support the Mission.
He urged the Special Representative to expedite plans for the implementation of the “standards for Kosovo” document. While it was important to address all eight standards, the three key areas were the economy, the rule of law, and dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. Another key element was the dismantling of parallel institutions.
While UNMIK had agreed to institute the “standards for Kosovo” document, it could not be a substitute for final status, he said. It had been said that Kosovo’s future lay in the European family, but the province did not belong to Europe alone. Kosovo had a culture extending beyond Europe. Solutions to the province’s problems should be seen as a genuine international effort with the maximum number of partners to ensure the success of the peace and reconciliation process.
JOEL W. ADECHI (Benin) said the briefing had clearly shown where some significant progress had been made and less positive developments had been identified. He welcomed the steps taken in support of Kosovo’s establishment of functioning democratic institutions, and he stressed the importance of multi-ethnic representation and inclusiveness, and the need to take account of the real interests of minorities and ensure their cultural and identity rights. The current review of domestic legal codes should also be encouraged. The UNMIK should ensure that the established allocation of competencies be respected. Also, a sustained effort must be made to strengthen the apolitical nature of the administration in Kosovo and to avoid the creation of parallel structures.
Noting the progress made on establishing and strengthening the rule of law, including through the police service and the judiciary by including minorities and taking into account the gender factor, he said that would broaden the social base and improve the security situation. That progress had also been linked to UNMIK’s regional approach to combating organized crime. Progress in that regard could have a decisive impact in terms of freedom of movement and accelerated sustainable returns. The Secretary-General’s recommendation on changing the Kosovo Protection Corps into a civil emergency agency should be thoroughly studied. He asked whether such a study was envisaged.
The economic situation was difficult, and greater financial assistance was needed, he said. Unemployment was disturbing and it was necessary to step up reforms and eliminate the factors slowing the growth, including in such areas as electricity, property rights, and in combating fraud and abuse. The province’s relations with Belgrade must be normalized. That could be helped by having working relations with the Provisional Institutions in Kosovo. Meanwhile, he welcomed the open attitudes of the Belgrade authorities with regard to the dialogue. Creation of a work plan should be stepped up and every opportunity for peace should be seized, in order to stabilize the ongoing process. He also strongly condemned the terrorist attack in the Moscow metro.
EMYR JONES PARRY (United Kingdom), associating himself with the European Union, said there was clearly much more to be done in Kosovo. All politicians needed to show greater commitment to sustainable progress in the province, manifesting an interest in all Kosovo’s people.
Noting that ownership carried with it responsibility, he said that only when the Kosovo leadership had fulfilled the responsibilities it already had could further responsibilities be discussed. The Council would welcome Kosovo’s participation in its deliberations, providing that the delegation was multi-ethnic.
Describing the standards for Kosovo as the only way forward towards final status, he said that the non-participation of Kosovo Serbs was not the way forward, and Belgrade should not encourage it. There was nothing automatic about the process. If Kosovo made the necessary progress in meeting the standards, it would proceed to the next stage. But if not, it would have to undergo a further review.
CRISTIAN MAQUIEIRA (Chile) said that the standards before status policy did indeed require a work plan by which to measure implementation. He was pleased to learn that UNMIK and the provisional authorities were meeting in working groups. He trusted that, very soon, the Serb representatives would join the working groups. He also agreed with Mr. Holkeri’s policy about accountability and reporting on progress made in attaining the standards. He awaited the periodic reviews and, ultimately, the complete assessment of the progress made by the Provisional Institutions as they proceeded towards implementation. Such advances would have a crucial impact on determining the future status of Kosovo.
Also essential, he stressed, was for the Provisional Institutions to become truly multi-ethnic and that the people not be distracted by symbolic issues from practical real work needed to improve daily life. The Kosovo Assembly should keep within its competencies, as established in the constitutional framework. He reiterated that, without a significant and sustainable return of refugees and displaced persons and adequate freedom of movement and the abolition of parallel structures, it would not be possible to establish a multi-ethnic, democratic society in Kosovo. There must be no further intimidation or violence against minorities, particularly against the Serbian community in Kosovo. He trusted that there would be a satisfactory and timely settlement of modalities on privatization, which would have a positive impact on economic growth and development.
GENNADY GATILOV (Russian Federation), while stressing the critical role of the standards for Kosovo document, said, however, that the interest of minorities were not being respected. Kosovo Serbs, in particular, were not adequately represented in self-rule institutions. Without a radical improvement, the document’s goals would stall. However, the goal of achieving the standards would not automatically trigger final status talks.
He said the Russian Federation shared the Special Representative’s view of a Kosovo shared by all its people. There was still a lot to be done, and the key task was to establish a dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. Efforts to enhance the standing of Kosovo’s minorities would also boost the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina.
ANA MARIA MENÉNDEZ (Spain) also condemned the “brutal” terrorist attack in Moscow. She said she had noted Mr. Holkeri’s appeal to all peoples of Kosovo to join in the work on the standards. All those involved should participate fully in that process, and she endorsed his appeal to that effect. The report had been mixed. Some progress had been made in some areas, but there was “disturbing stagnation” in others. For example, the security situation had improved and gains had been made on property rights, as well as on some legislative and economic issues, but clearly there was still much to be done with regard to privatization, refugee and displaced persons returns, direct dialogue, and the way minorities were handled -– all crucial elements of the standards.
Indeed, she said, adoption of the standards document last December had been a milestone for the region. It set forth the political objectives, which reflected the international community’s wishes for Kosovo. It also endorsed the policy of standards before status, which underpinned all planning for Kosovo. That document also referred to a renewed framework for the objectives of UNMIK, as well as providing a framework for the local authorities. The work plan, once published, would be the requisite complementary document towards attaining the goals and objectives set forth in the standards, and that would enable the Council to have up-to-date detailed information about developments on the ground. Any delay in its issuance would be detrimental to UNMIK itself, and to the very process now under way.
Reiterating some of the basic premises underpinning the entire peace process, she drew attention to the need for the work plan not to be a document of UNMIK and the Provisional Institutions, but to be a practical tool for implementing and evaluating the standards set by the international community. Implementation of the standards did not prejudge any decision by the Council about beginning to consider decisions on future status. That point had been made clearly by the Secretary-General in his report. Actual implementation of the plan was a prerequisite for establishing a reasonable democratic climate in which such a decision could legitimately be made.
JAMES CUNNUNGHAM (United States) emphasized that of the eight standards for Kosovo, those reflecting the future of minorities was a crucial one. The involvement of all parties in Kosovo was essential in order for the implementation of the standards to be truly effective.
He said that the United States did not support the transfer of competencies to provisional authorities. Stressing the importance of direct dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina as a key element, he also noted that parallel institutions in Kosovo undermined the legitimate institutions.
WOLFGANG TRAUTWEIN (Germany) said the Secretary-General’s report had painted an accurate picture of the progress made and the many tasks awaiting completion. He particularly shared the hope that positive engagement on returns would translate this year into a more welcoming environment in all municipalities. Nothing would demonstrate progress better than achieving a significant increase in the number of returns in 2004. The Secretary-General also noted progress made by the Kosovo Protection Corps towards becoming an effective civilian emergency response organization. However, it must free itself of any taint of criminal activities. He urged the Provisional Institutions to consider granting some additional funding to the Kosovo Protection Corps from the Kosovo consolidated budget.
On the negative side, he said he shared the Secretary-General’s criticism of both sides for not having effectively launched a direct dialogue. That was shameful, in view of the urgent need for progress on such practical issues as returns. The Special Representative had issued invitations for the dialogue to take place in Pristina on 18 February. That was an excellent opportunity to get the dialogue under way. He urged Pristina and Belgrade to send teams to those sessions, which were prepared to make concrete progress. It would also be very helpful if Belgrade took a more positive stance towards the standards before status policy. Its refusal, thus far, to participate in the working groups was disturbing.
On the economic standard, he said that economic growth was essential to Kosovo’s future. Indeed, putting socially owned enterprises in private hands should give the economy the necessary boost. He was surprised and disappointed that the Provisional Institutions office and its representatives on the Board of the Kosovo Trust Agency were not taking a more constructive approach. Despite some risk of exposure to personal legal liability, they should be prepared to move ahead on some privatization exercises. It did no one any good, least of all to the unemployed workers of Kosovo, to stand by why those disagreements persisted. An effective mechanism should be evolved soon for eliminating those risks of personal liability now being borne by staff involved in privatization.
He commended the Council of Europe for its efforts to help with the decentralization process. If properly handled, decentralization would enhance the sense of security and empowerment that came with greater control over decision-making. That would also serve as an effective mechanism to eliminating the parallel structures, which were such blight on the hopes for Kosovo. The parties should take full advantage of the Council of Europe’s proposal towards decentralization.
ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) welcomed the creation of the mechanism to review the progress of Provisional Institutions towards meeting benchmarks in the standards before status policy and the launch of the standards for Kosovo document. Algeria was also pleased with the completion of the transfer of responsibilities under chapter 5 of the constitutional framework to the Provisional Institutions by the end of 2003. That was an important development in the sense that the transfer would increase their involvement in responding o the needs of citizens.
He said that greater attention should be paid to the obstacles preventing the participation of all the parties in the process. The significant results in the process of implementing Council resolution 1244 (1999) should not, however, divert from the challenges to be met before the general review of the progress that would occur around mid-2005.
The dismantling of parallel structures would promote a multi-ethnic and harmonious Kosovo, he said. Algeria shared the Secretary-General’s view that UNMIK’S work could only continue at the current pace if the necessary funding in crucial areas was available.
JULIO HELDER DE MOURA LUCAS (Angola) reiterated his country’s unwavering commitment to the peaceful outcome to the conflict. Despite the difficulties, he had been encouraged by the positive developments, which included the progress achieving towards normalizing the functioning of the Provisional Institutions at both central and local levels, and by the improved functioning of the Kosovo Assembly in preparing legislation. But, greater efforts were required to increase the participation of ethnic minorities in those institutions. That number had been increasing, but that was still at an unsatisfactory level. The security situation, while improved, was still a matter of concern; several acts of violence had recently occurred, and organized crime impeded the establishment of the rule of law.
He said that establishment of the police force and of the Kosovo Protection Corps, as a civilian emergency agency, had been a positive step forward. Also welcome had been the development of social projects aimed at improving the quality of life. That approach was important for the return of refugees and displaced persons, in secure conditions. He urged both parties to keep their commitment to democracy and re-establish direct dialogue on practical issues of mutual interest. Major challenges remained, including strengthening the rule of law and improving security conditions and the freedom of movement for ethnic groups. The territory’s economic recovery and development were also indispensable. He reaffirmed his confidence in UNMIK and the standards before status policy, which could be decisive in the peace process.
HENRIQUE VALLE (Brazil) said that the Secretary-General’s latest report on Kosovo showed a mixed picture. A number of challenges remained on the ground and much was yet to be achieved. However, the goals seemed to be well defined and the path ahead was increasingly clear.
He said that a truly all-inclusive, multi-ethnic Kosovo could only be built by people’s decisive involvement and participation, taking advantage of every opportunity. The Provisional Institutions must not remain unwilling to engage in direct dialogue with Belgrade on practical issues of mutual interest. That reluctance amounted to obstruction, as it failed to generate trust and confidence between the parties. Belgrade, in turn, should be willing to compromise regarding the standards for Kosovo document, and the Kosovo Serb representatives should take part in discussions about their implementation.
Welcoming reports of a renewed atmosphere of cooperation between UNMIK and the Kosovo Government, he said that the work of the Government and of the Assembly showed the rising maturity of the Provisional Institutions in the last months. That was reflected in the adoption of the 2004 budget promulgated by Mr. Holkeri last December, the first to be prepared and managed by the Kosovo Minister of Finance and Economy.
EMMANUELLE D’ACHON (France) said she supported all efforts by the Special Representative aimed at the completion of the work plan. Close cooperation among the Provisional Institutions and Belgrade was important in that regard. She was confident that Mr. Holkeri could “strike an appropriate balance”. The implementation plan would be an important document and provide a baseline from which to measure implementation of the standards. Beginning with the next report of the Secretary-General, and every three months thereafter, progress towards achieving the benchmarks could be assessed. The standards before status policy required that the Provisional Institutions, alone, make progress before the issue of status could be addressed. The work plan, therefore, must be clear to them and to them alone, lest the message be blurred.
She underscored her hope that the quarterly reviews would confirm the positive momentum seen since last November. Steady progress lent a certain optimism to the comprehensive review planned for the second half of 2005. That review, however, did not mean that the discussion on status would automatically begin. There was no automatic triggering for such a date. Only steady progress would enable discussions on that decision to begin. Serbia and Montenegro and the Kosovo Serbs should promptly contribute to finalizing the work plan. Their current disengagement could only harm their own interests. The Provisional Institutions, in turn, must confirm their commitment to implementing the standards. A clear signal in that regard would be their participation in direct dialogue with Belgrade.
LAURO L. BAJA (Philippines) said that the most encouraging signs of progress in the past several months were the renewed atmosphere of cooperation between UNMIK and the Kosovo Government resulting from the launching in December of the standards for Kosovo formula and the announcement a month later of a mechanism that would review Pristina’s implementation of those standards. There were other positive developments in such areas as legislation in both the central and local levels of self-government, as well as the transfer of non-reserve responsibilities to the Provisional Institutions.
He said that the Special Representative’s report showed that much further work was needed to reach the benchmarks in preparation for any form of final status for Kosovo. Those areas included the judiciary, police service and penal system, minority rights and displaced persons.
Efforts must be made to open dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, he said. The Secretary-General’s report had said that Belgrade had found the standards for Kosovo document unacceptable and felt that the consultations had not been sufficient, and the Kosovo Serb had distanced themselves from it, as had some Kosovo Albanian leaders. The impasse should not be allowed to sink Kosovo in a sea of mistrust.
MIHNEA MOTOC (Romania) said that a decisive period lay ahead for Kosovo. He assured Mr. Holkeri of his country’s support and readiness to contribute to addressing the upcoming challenges. He also keenly supported a genuine implementation of the standards. Indeed, the Council should give no consideration to any future status for the province until the standards spelled out by the international community become effective. The standards were not mere technical benchmarks; those were the measure of Kosovo’s transformation into an area offering safety and opportunities to all its inhabitants and into an area that was no longer a threat to regional stability. What was at stake was not only the status of a province, but that of each and every member of its population.
He said, however, that no status could prove to be a solution in Kosovo unless the society there was prepared to live by the rules of democracy, law and ethnic tolerance. Nobody could leave behind that society, for which the prime responsibility lay with the provisional authorities. He looked forward to the presentation of the work plan. That would be a concrete expression of the provisional authorities’ commitment to the process and underlying political responsibilities. From the very start, there should be a clear delimitation of responsibilities between the Provisional Institutions and UNMIK. In the end, only the Provisional Institutions and the people of Kosovo would have to measure up to the expectations of the Security Council and the international community.
The European Union’s Stabilization and Association Process Tracking Mechanism had a decisive role in the standards before status policy, he said. He meanwhile urged the provisional authorities to give proper and equal consideration to all areas of the work plan, and he strongly encouraged the Kosovo Serbs to take part in its formulation and implementation, which was about Kosovo’s future. Recalling Romania’s own successful transition, he said it was always important for every minority to voice its concerns and present its proposals. In the middle of next year, the Council would have a better picture of where things stood in Kosovo. He looked forward to a sustainable society, in which reconciliation was meaningful. Direct dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina was critical in that regard. Of symbolic importance in the reconciliation was the preservation of cultural heritage and religious sites, he said.
Council President WANG GUANGYA (China), speaking in his national capacity, reiterated that Council resolution 1244 (1999) remained the basis for resolving the question of Kosovo. There had recently been a decrease in crime and a strengthening of the rule of law, but, on the other hand, there was a need for improvement in the economic situation, as well as that of ethnic minorities. The comprehensive settlement of that question was an arduous task, and all efforts should continue, with the assistance of the international community.
ZELJKO PEROVIC, Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs of Serbia and Montenegro, said that, as he had learned from the Secretary-General’s report, the original standards for Kosovo and Metohija raised serious concerns. Among them was the fact that the Provisional Institutions had continued with the adoption of declarations and decisions, which were clearly outside their responsibility. Simultaneously, UNMIK was seeking to involve the Provisional Institutions in an advisory capacity in certain areas reserved for the Special Representative under chapter 8 of the constitutional framework. That was difficult to understand in light of the repeated infringements by the Provisional Institutions on the Special Representative’s powers.
He said that all of that was occurring in an environment where non-Albanian communities were being denied any meaningful participation in political life, to the extent that “not even basic access to documentation in their mother tongues is ensured”. Concerning the rule of law, according to the Secretary-General’s report high-profile crimes against the Kosovo Serb community had decreased significantly in the past three months. But, the report failed to provide information that any of the perpetrators of previous such crimes had been apprehended and brought to justice. That inevitably led him to the conclusion that the culture of impunity regarding ethnically motivated crimes against Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija was still intact.
The report also stated that the rate of minority returns continued to increase, supporting that finding with data suggesting that 1,487 Kosovo Serbs had returned in 2003 to communities where those were in the minority, he noted. Comparing that figure to the number of internally displaced persons still in Serbia proper, which was at approximately 250,000, it was not difficult to conclude that it would take many, many years for all displaced persons to return to Kosovo and Metohija, as required by Council resolution 1244 (1999). Regarding other original standards, the report described progress mainly as slightly improved, or with many problems, or in similar ambiguous terms.
He said that the record of the Provisional Institutions was “mainly poor”. Some might argue, as UNMIK often did, that such a record was understandable, in view of their limited experience. The underlying problem, however, was that the Provisional Institutions did not want to create conditions for meaningful involvement of the Kosovo Serb community in the political life of the province, nor had UNMIK succeeded in doing so. That also applied to the process of drafting the standards implementation plan, which was to have been presented today to the Security Council. Because Serb representatives did not see how they could influence that document, they did not participate in the working groups drafting the plan.
Unfortunately, UNMIK had not found a way to make that process all inclusive, he said. Hence, it was already apparent that that plan would serve to “further divide” the communities in Kosovo and Metohija and their political representatives, instead of bringing them closer. Again, UNMIK was complaining about so-called parallel institutions, criticizing his Government for their existence. He, therefore, once again had to reiterate that the Provisional Institutions and UNMIK had not provided viable alternatives to the Serbian community. The UNMIK had also so far failed to persuade the Provisional Institutions to move forward concerning the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue. His Government had repeatedly expressed readiness to begin that dialogue within the envisaged working groups. It was clear which side was delaying the process. It, therefore, was unfair, to say the least, to imply that problems about the dialogue existed on both sides, as the report suggested.
As for relations between his Government and UNMIK, he said he would like to see the common document of 5 November 2001 implemented and the activities of the high-level working group revived. Although the standards implementation plan was not yet finalized, he was already steadily moving towards the tentative date for the comprehensive review of the standards in mid-2005. Between now and then, if any sustainable solution was to be found, all efforts should be made to create conditions that would allow the representatives of the two major and other communities in the province to talk to each other about their present and future. “They are too far from that point now”, he said.
Currently, all of the political, economic and social advantages belonged only to one community, he concluded. The other side had none and was becoming increasingly desperate. The UNMIK must take that reality into serious consideration and take measures to rectify that “huge imbalance”. If not, the end result would be a failure that nobody could afford.
RICHARD RYAN (Ireland), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said it was clear that successful implementation of the standards for Kosovo document required further effort on the part of all the parties. In particular, it needed the political will and genuine commitment of Kosovo’s leaders. They must all uphold the practical application of the values of multi-ethnicity, tolerance and equal rights for all communities.
He said that the establishment of a mechanism to measure the progress made in meeting the standards was a significant development. The Standards for Kosovo document was an essential first step and the task now was to build on that foundation. The European Commission could be useful in determining an equal international assessment of the progress made. Other European Union instruments, such as the European Partnerships, could also play a role by ensuring that the Provisional Government allocated financial and personnel resources to meet the requirements of the Standards for Kosovo process.
It was a matter of concern, he said, that not all ethnic communities participated meaningfully in the Provisional Institutions –- the presidency, the Government and the Kosovo Assembly. The Assembly must take into account legitimate minority concerns in the legislative process and should be scrupulously careful not to over-step its competencies. Likewise, illegal parallel administrative structures in Kosovo damaged the cause of a multi-ethnic society. Support for parallel structures should cease and an alternative to them must be found to ensure that all Kosovo’s citizens got the same levels of social and administrative services.
AGIM NESHO (Albania) said his Government commended the transfer of the non-reserved competences under the constitutional framework to the Provisional Institutions. That was a good step forward and should be followed by closer cooperation between UNMIK and the local institutions, in which better participation would benefit both parties. He reiterated his support for the standards before status document, which reaffirmed the efforts of the international community to build a democratic society and a stable Kosovo. Formulating an implementation plan would be most welcome. Thus, the lack of participation and cooperation of the minorities in the working groups was regrettable. Their participation was not only desirable and important, but also necessary to building a democratic, multi-ethnic society.
He praised the first steps already taken in the dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade on technical matters. His Government would continue to encourage the political and institutional actors in Kosovo to further continue their participation in those discussions at the level of working group, as that was a productive way to resolve practical issues of concern in the daily lives of both countries. At the same time, every attempt to impede that dialogue was unacceptable and damaging. Also of serious concern was the continued existence of parallel structures, which seriously impeded the strengthening of the legitimate local institutions. Arrest warrants issued by parallel courts against Kosovo leaders were unacceptable acts, which caused uncertainty among the Kosovo population and harmed the peace process.
Response by Special Representative
Mr. HOLKERI, Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Kosovo, recalled that delegations had urged UNMIK to speed up the formulation and implementation of a work plan. The Mission was working on that in consultation with the Provisional Institutions. It was hoped that the work plan would be presented to the Council very soon.
In response to a delegate’s query, he said that UNMIK had not come across evidence of criminal practices. In another response, he said that the watering down of the standards was not an option. The implementation plan would not in any way alter the standards
Regarding the deadline for implementing the standards, he said the work was continuing.
The Provisional Institutions and the Special Representative would ensure that full and fair account was taken of their fair concerns, he added.
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