SECURITY COUNCIL, IN PRESIDENTIAL STATEMENT, STRONGLY CONDEMNS INTER-ETHNIC VIOLENCE IN KOSOVO, INSISTS ON IMMEDIATE HALT

18 March 2004
SC/8030

SECURITY COUNCIL, IN PRESIDENTIAL STATEMENT, STRONGLY CONDEMNS INTER-ETHNIC VIOLENCE IN KOSOVO, INSISTS ON IMMEDIATE HALT

18/03/2004
Press ReleaseSC/8030

Security Council                                           

4928th Meeting (PM)                                         

SECURITY COUNCIL, IN PRESIDENTIAL STATEMENT, STRONGLY CONDEMNS

INTER-ETHNIC VIOLENCE IN KOSOVO, INSISTS ON IMMEDIATE HALT

Secretary-General Tells Council Situation

Serious Enough to Warrant Relocation of International Staff

The Security Council this afternoon condemned the large-scale inter-ethnic violence that began yesterday in Kosovo, in which many people have been killed and hundreds more injured, and it insisted that it must stop immediately.

The fighting, described by the United Nations as the worst violence in the province since it took over its administration nearly five years ago, erupted yesterday in the divided city of Mitrovica after a protest over the drownings of at least two Albanian children.  The protesters blamed Serbs for the children’s deaths.

In a statement read out by the Council President, Jean-Marc de la Sablière (France), following a debate opened by Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the Council also strongly condemned the attacks on the troops of the multinational security force –- KFOR -- and the personnel and sites of the United Nations Mission.

Saying that those responsible must be brought to justice, the Council warned the perpetrators that “an attack on the international presence is an attack on the international community as a whole”, and that extremism had no role in Kosovo’s future.

The Secretary-General informed members that the number of fatal casualties now stood at 31 and that the situation in Mitrovica had become sufficiently serious to warrant the relocation of international staff to a safer place in the region.  He said he could not emphasize enough his deep disappointment and sadness at the resurgence of ethnically motivated violence.  He strongly condemned that violence, as well as the deliberate attacks on representatives of the international community, in particular the staff of the United Nations Mission and troops serving in the multinational security force. 

The Foreign Affairs Minister of Serbia and Montenegro, Goran Svilanovic, said that the attacks were sending a signal to the Serbs that there was no life for them in the province and that they should leave.  They were saying to KFOR and the UN Mission that they had no real authority and power.  To the Security Council, that was a signal that resolution 1244 would not be implemented.  The message was also that the Provisional Institutions of Self Government and Kosovo Albanian political leaders, as well as the international community, could not, or did not, want to go out onto the streets and prevent such violence.

The Council’s action should be resolute, and, at a minimum, all planned reductions of the composition and resources of KFOR and the United Nations Mission should be cancelled, he said.  If urgent action was not taken, the objective of creating a multi-ethnic and democratic Kosovo would be irreversibly damaged, he warned.

Albania’s representative, deploring the tragic events as contrary to building a democratic and multi-ethnic society, said that they were indicative not of a failure of the positive engagement there, but rather of the constant policies that kept alive parallel administrative and paramilitary structures, which fed ethnic isolation and drove new waves of ethnic cleansing, aimed at dividing Kosovo.  The need to dismantle the parallel structures was even more urgent now, and regional actors must support cooperation, coexistence and the quest for European integration.

Germany’s Foreign Minister, Joschka Fischer, said that the events had highlighted the “stark” choice facing the people of Kosovo.  Either they created a society based on tolerance and democratic values or they lived in chaos and misery.  It was too early to say how that violence had set back that process, but once calm was restored, the only responsible course was to proceed as quickly as possible with the efforts to implement the standards for Kosovo and to finalize the Implementation Plan.  Only by focusing on achieving those standards could Kosovo put that “ugly series of incidents” behind it and begin again to make progress on its European aspirations.

Urging the Council not to remain on the sidelines, the Russian Federation’s representative said he was convinced that, unless decisive measures were speedily taken to restore order, there would be credible damage to the peace process, which had been so painstakingly organized by the international community.  Disturbed by the scope and speed with which the violence had spread throughout the district, he said that building a multi-ethnic society in Kosovo in conformity with 1244 had not only been bogged down, but had gone back to “square one”.

Council members Chile, China, Spain, United States, Angola, United Kingdom, Benin, Brazil, Romania, Pakistan, Philippines, Algeria and France also spoke, as did Ireland, on behalf of the European Union, Japan, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Jordan. 

The meeting began at 4:10 p.m. and was adjourned at 5:56 p.m.

Background

The Security Council met this afternoon to consider the situation in Kosovo.

Statements

KOFI ANNAN, Secretary-General, said that the overall security situation was still highly unstable.  The number of fatal casualties stood now at 31.  He could not emphasize enough his deep disappointment and sadness at the resurgence of violence, which had left many dead and hundreds wounded.  “We cannot close our eyes to the fact that this violence is ethnically motivated, with communities attacking each other.”  Such violence must be strongly condemned.  The deliberate targeting of houses, as well as religious sites, was shameful and inexcusable, as were the subsequent attacks against mosques in other parts of Serbia and Montenegro.

It was also necessary to condemn, in the strongest possible terms, deliberate attacks on representatives of the international community, in particular, the staff of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and troops serving in the multinational security force (KFOR).  The situation in Mitrovica had become sufficiently serious to warrant the relocation of international staff from Mitrovica to a safer place in the region.

The recent events had highlighted the fragility of the structures and relationships in Kosovo, he said.  “It shows that, despite the progress that has been made since 1999, we have not come far enough.”  The first priority must be to restore safety and security.  He thanked the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) for its decision to reinforce its troops in Kosovo.  The violence must cease.  The leaders of Kosovo’s communities and the representatives of its Provisional Institutions must work with the international community, with each other, and with the people of Kosovo, to restore calm.

GORAN SVILANOVIC, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Serbia and Montenegro, said the extremely grave developments of yesterday in Kosovo warranted immediate and resolute action by the Security Council.  Violence against the Serbian population in Kosovo on 17 March was jeopardizing the United Nations Mission there.  All the efforts of the international community aimed at a peaceful resolution of the problem of the province were endangered.  It was particularly distressing that such an outburst of violent attacks by Kosovo Albanian extremists were taking place almost five years after the establishment of the international presence there.

The attacks, he said, were sending more than one signal.  It was sending a signal to the Serbs that there was no life for them in the province and that they should leave.  It was saying to KFOR and UNMIK that they had no real authority and power in their area of operation.  To the Security Council, the signal, rather a challenge, was that its resolution 1244 would not be implemented.  It also sent a signal from the Provisional Institutions of Self Government and Kosovo Albanian political leaders to the international community that they could not, or did not want to, go out on the streets and prevent such mass violence.

The timing of the attacks was also indicative, he said.  In the near future, the Council was supposed to finally receive the standards implementation plan.  Also, just after the Special Representative of the Secretary-General had announced the date for the upcoming province-wide elections, the Serbian community was given a notice that they should not think about their participation in the election, but pack up and go instead.

The situation required urgent action by the Council, he said.  First and foremost, international forces should be strengthened and should adopt a resolute stand.  Extraordinary measures were needed to physically protect the Serbian population, which was already preparing to flee to central Serbia.  Authorities and security forces of Serbia and Montenegro were ready to provide assistance to the United Nations Mission in applying those measures.  The situation called for urgent and complete security stabilization.  International presences had to regain full control on the ground.

In that regard, it was of utmost importance that urgent measures were taken to secure international borders of Serbia and Montenegro in the area of Kosovo towards Albania and Macedonia.  According to his information, the border was completely unguarded now, and groups of armed terrorists were coming into Kosovo with large quantities of arms and other military equipment.  That could lead to further deterioration of the security situation in the province.

The recent events clearly highlighted the fact that political extremism could not lead to the resolution of the problem.  Additional efforts were required, as well as additional institutional guarantees.  In that regard, decentralization was essential and could be a potential step towards stabilizing the situation of the Serbian community in Kosovo.  Condemning extremism and terrorism was not enough.  The Council should define the appropriate political and security instructions and guidelines for the civilian and military missions in the province in the new and difficult circumstances.

As a matter of urgency and as a minimum, all planned reductions of the composition and resources of KFOR and UNMIK should be cancelled.  Also, KFOR should re-establish protection for communities that were gradually deprived of that.  Religious and cultural sites must also be protected.  If urgent action was not taken, the objective of creating a multi-ethnic and democratic Kosovo would be irreversibly damaged.

JOSCHKA FISCHER, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, said he was shocked and dismayed as he learned of the events unfolding yesterday in Kosovo.  That violence had claimed many lives and caused injury to a large number of people among the Kosovar communities, as well as UNMIK, the international police and KFOR.  He extended his condolences and deeply felt sympathies to the victims and their families. 

He said that the international community, as well as political leaders in Kosovo -– both ethnic Albanian and ethnic Serb -– had large responsibilities over the next few days.  The most important immediate task was to take whatever steps were necessary to stop the violence.  He was deeply disturbed by reports that KFOR troops were themselves the object of attack yesterday.  Germany supported the decision made to bring in additional KFOR troops.

All leaders of Kosovo must show the “utmost political courage”, in order to prevent that violence from “undoing all of the painstaking efforts” over the past several years towards building a tolerant and democratic Kosovo.  The joint statement made yesterday by politicians together with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General was a useful step.  It rightly emphasized that need to support the police and KFOR.  It also noted the importance of responsible media behaviour.  Political violence was fed by misinformation, and the press should not abet the plans of extremists by crediting unfounded rumours.

He urged political leaders in Kosovo to go further.  Inter-ethnic violence was absolutely unacceptable.  He expected them not only to speak out against violence, but also to actively promote inter-ethnic understanding.  They must also explain to their constituents that no political grievance justified taking the law into their own hands.  Political leaders should visibly support all efforts by law enforcement authorities to apprehend and punish anybody who committed crimes or abetted the violence, and explain clearly why those people were not only enemies of public order, but of the legitimate democratic aspirations of the people of Kosovo.

“There will be no impunity for the perpetrators”, he said.  Now was the time for responsible Kosovo-Albanian and Kosovo-Serb politicians to appear together before the people of Kosovo and defend democratic values against anarchy and mayhem.  Political leadership in Belgrade should also exercise its responsibilities.  That was especially important now to prevent acts of retribution in Serbia, which would only lead to an escalation of violence and feed into the hands of the extremists.  He urged Belgrade to do all it could to prevent further attacks on religious sites.  He also urged Belgrade to continue the direct dialogue with Pristina, which began this month with the working groups on energy and missing persons.

He said that yesterday’s events highlighted the “stark” choice facing the people of Kosovo.  Either they created a society based on tolerance and democratic values or they lived in chaos and misery.  It was too early to say how that violence had set back the process of implementing democratic standards.  But, once calm was restored, the only responsible course was to proceed as quickly as possible with the efforts to implement the standards for Kosovo and to finalize the Implementation Plan.  Only by focusing on achieving those standards could Kosovo put that “ugly series of incidents” behind it and begin again to make progress on its European aspirations.

HERALDO MUÑOZ (Chile) said his Government condemned in the most vigorous terms the atrocious acts of violence, the worst since 1999, between Kosovo Albanians and Kosovo Serbs, causing regrettable loss in terms of human life, injuring hundreds, including UNMIK and KFOR personnel, and the substantial material damage.  Those responsible must be brought to justice and impunity must be prevented from “taking a grip” in Kosovo.  He conveyed his condolences to and solidarity with the families of the victims.

He said that those acts of violence, which appeared to be out of control, could not and should not pressure anyone into interpretations concerning ultimate motivations or allow the international community to falter in its efforts to achieve a multi-ethnic Kosovo.  He was concerned at the political damage that might be done to the process by those reprehensible acts.  For that reason, he called on all parties involved to put an end to combative attitudes and use peaceful and democratic means to resolve their differences.  The guns must be silenced and dialogue must be resumed.  Without that, the achievement of concrete and tangible results would remain a “remote expectation” and undermine the most important of all objectives, namely, for every inhabitant of Kosovo to live in his or her homeland in peace and dignity.

ZHANG YISHAN (China) condemned those tragic events, which had demonstrated that nearly five years since the Council’s adoption of resolution 1244, the situation was still very fragile and there was still a long way to go before peace, stability and multi-ethnic harmony was achieved.  The international community, the Government of Serbia and Montenegro, and the Special Representative must redouble their efforts now.  He welcomed the joint statement of 17 March made by UNMIK, the Special Representative, and the political leaders, among others.  And, he supported all efforts made by the Special Representative, UNMIK and KFOR to restabilize the situation.  He sincerely hoped that the Special Representative and other relevant parties would work closely to prevent similar events from recurring.

MIHNEA IOAN MOTOC (Romania) said that before anything else, all violence must stop immediately.  The Special Representative, UNMIK and KFOR had his full support to use their capabilities and powers to restore calm and protect Kosovars, regardless of their ethnic identity.  He welcomed NATO’s decision to send reinforcements in Kosovo, demonstrating the alliance’s will and capability to carry out its mission in Kosovo.  Any attack against KFOR troops and UNMIK personnel was unacceptable.  Perpetrators of such attacks and any of the violent acts that erupted in Kosovo must be brought to justice as soon as possible.

The deplorable and tragic events in Kosovo had demonstrated beyond doubt that the international community should remain focused and determined, and that the highest priority should be given to enforcing the rule of law, ensuring proper security for all ethnic minorities and bringing to justice the perpetrators of criminal acts.  Until there was progress on those issues, it would not be possible to approach other problems related to Kosovo’s future.

“At the same time, we should not allow for five years of tremendous efforts in Kosovo to be washed up by these events”, he stated.  The international community should be undeterred in its fundamental objective of establishing a stable, multi-ethnic and democratic Kosovo, according to resolution 1244.  There should be no turning back to the past and no giving in to extremists.

JAMES CUNNINGHAM (United States) said that the events of the past days had threatened the security of Kosovo and the wider region.  They were the most serious incidents since the end of the NATO intervention there in 1999.  He fully supported the strong efforts of KFOR and the Secretary-General’s Special Representative to re-establish order and calm.  The KFOR, together with the international civilian police and the Kosovo Police Force, were fully engaged.  Those responsible for the violence should be brought to justice.  He condemned the violent attacks in Kosovo.  Nearly 30 people had died, hundreds had been wounded, and churches and homes had been burned.  He also condemned the attacks on the international presence.  That was completely unacceptable and must cease.

He called on all in Kosovo to resort order, return to their homes, cease the violence and support the efforts of KFOR and the international civilian police.  He also urged the Serbian people to support efforts in Kosovo.  There was no way forward other than to respond to yesterday’s appeal of UNMIK and Kosovo leaders to restore calm and order.  The rule of law was an essential condition for the future.  He urged leaders of the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government, from all communities, to urge their constituents to desist from violence.  He appealed to the leaders of Kosovo to understand that the complete cessation of violence was the precondition for the consideration of future steps for Kosovo.

ISMAEL ABRÃAO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola) said that the events now taking place in Kosovo were threatening years of hard work by dedicated peace-builders and those who had in so many ways invested in peace.  Upon consideration a few weeks ago of the Secretary-General’s report, the events now taking place were not on our minds.  The difficulties were understood, as well as the long road ahead, before a democratic and truly multi-ethnic society in Kosovo could take root.  But, he had felt assured that real progress had been achieved and that the benchmarks established by the international community could be met in the foreseeable future.  The current events deserved the strongest condemnation, and served as a “wake up call”.

He said that, at the Council’s last meeting on Kosovo, the Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Serbia and Montenegro had called attention to the increased incidences of ethnically motivated crimes and the impunity for their authors.  He had also highlighted the discouraging number of returns of displaced persons, as well as the lack of political will to create the conditions for the effective participation of Kosovo Serbs in the political process.  Those points, among some of his others, would help the Council recall that something was brewing -- that was a warning to the Council. 

Yet, despite the gravity and seriousness of the situation, it was not fully despairing.  Efforts must continue, as well as the strategies applied so far, particularly the standards before status policy.  That approach was just and, with determination, it would bear results.  Present event showed that attaining the objective was farther away than planned, but he was confident that the people of Kosovo, with the assistance of the international community, would be able to meet the objectives set forth in 1244.

EMYR JONES PARRY (United Kingdom) said that yesterday was a very bad day for Kosovo.  As the violence spread, the clock was turned back.  Kosovo’s leaders must not only condemn the violence, but they must use their influence to work with KFOR to restore calm.  It was time for measured, considered action, not impetuosity, and time to show solidarity among the different communities.  It was also time for continued and strengthened dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade.

At NATO’s request, his Government was deploying a battalion into Kosovo, he informed the Council.  The battalion would be there from tonight to help stabilize the situation on the ground.  Looking forward, he said that resolution 1244 had charted the future and set a clear vision for Kosovo.  The international community had invested substantially in that future.  The UNMIK, Special Representative and KFOR enjoyed the full support of his Government in helping to achieve that future.  Those attempting to derail the process would not be allowed to succeed.  The international community was entitled to respect and require the implementation of the set of basic standards for Kosovo.

JOEL W. ADECHI (Benin) said that the tragic events had proved that ethnic reconciliation in Kosovo still had a long way to go.  Trust had not yet been fully established, and, quite the contrary, the mistrust ran so deep that the slightest incident was likely to provoke an outbreak of violence with incalculable implications for the future of building a multi-ethnic Kosovo guided by the rule of law.  The damage to UNMIK and KFOR was totally unacceptable, as well as the loss of human life in the two communities.  The destruction to property and cultural artifacts was also unacceptable.

He said that the international community must see to it that no crime and no human rights violation went unpunished.  It was urgent, in the present circumstances, for the Security Council to send a strong message to the Serbian and Albanian communities.  It must ask them to exercise maximum restraint and to show tolerance and respect for the rule of law.  Acts of intimidation and violence threatened creation of a Kosovo that was democratic and respectful of the rule of law.  Everything must be done to prevent another humanitarian catastrophe in the province.  He supported measures to strengthen order and calm and build trust between the communities.  Their reconciliation should be further promoted through the strengthening of the democratic institutions, under strict adherence to the norms established by the international community, which would precede a final status decision.

RONALDO MOTA SARDENBERG (Brazil) said that peacekeeping and international police forces had reacted quickly to try to defuse yesterday’s riots.  Unfortunately, their effort could not prevent an escalation of violence that had resulted in the death of civilians and left hundreds injured.  Moreover, a number of KFOR soldiers and UNMIK civilian police were among the wounded.  He expected that those responsible for such acts would face justice and that the announced deployment of three new peacekeeping units would strengthen KFOR and UNMIK’s effort to prevent further clashes.

During its five years of tireless work in Kosovo, the United Nations presence had helped fight crime, terror and ethnic cleansing, he continued.  It was disheartening that, despite that strenuous effort, the situation threatened once again to deteriorate into chaos, rioting and ethnic conflict.  It was undoubtedly the severest case of unrest since the end of conflict in 1999.  His country continued to support full implementation of resolution 1244 and the “standards before status” policy as the only reasonable choice for a multi-ethnic, democratic and peaceful Kosovo.

Brazil condemned ethnically induced brutality, he said, adding his voice to the Secretary-General’s strong condemnation of the incidents and his call for an immediate halt to ethnic violence.  He also fully supported the work of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative Harri Holkeri.  The alarming outburst of violence called for an appropriate and vigorous reaction by the international community.

While many important challenges still remained, nothing could be done without serious efforts of the parties involved, and that included local authorities, both in Pristina and Belgrade.  A truly multi-ethnic society could only be built by the decisive involvement and participation of all individuals and groups, including all minorities.  The ultimate responsibility in preventing Kosovo from being engulfed again in conflict rested on the people and the leaders.  Their commitment to provisional institutions, their peaceful engagement in the political process and their willingness to fight corruption and adopt needed economic reforms would determine their ability to find the way out of the present deadlock.

INOCENCIO ARIAS (Spain) condemned the clashes in Kosovo, which had resulted in a high number of deaths and injured, as well as the attacks on international personnel.  He appealed to all Kosovo communities to end the violence and return to dialogue and negotiations.  He reaffirmed his conviction that resolution 1244 was the sole legal framework for the establishment of a democratic and multi-ethnic society in Kosovo.

MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) condemned the violence in Mitrovica and other parts of Kosovo in the strongest terms, especially the loss of life, including those of children.  He also condemned the attacks against KFOR and UNMIK personnel and the religious sites, and demanded that such acts stop.  He also appealed for investigations into the attacks and that the perpetrators be brought to justice.  He supported the call by the Secretary-General and the Special Representative to restore calm and stability.

The violence underscored the need to ensure the rule of law and bring to justice all those involved in criminal acts, he said.  All people of Kosovo must work through legitimate channels to address their grievances.  The establishment of a democratic and multi-ethnic society remained a fundamental objective in the implementation of resolution 1244.  The present disturbances were the worst since 1999.  It was necessary to reflect deeply on the reasons for that and whether the international community’s approach required any adjustment.

As to what steps could be taken to address the challenges, he emphasized the need to press all parties to reign in their extremists and ensure that such violence was not tolerated.  Secondly, it was necessary to intensify security efforts against extremist elements and organized crime, which fed those extremists, including securing Kosovo’s borders. 

LAURO L. BAJA (Philippines) said that yesterday Kosovo had, once again, become a war zone, in the worst explosion since the international community stepped in five years ago to put an end to a bloody conflict that neither side seemed willing to forget or forgive.  He joined other Council members in insisting that the violence must stop, and it must stop now.  What happened had been unfortunate.  Only a few weeks ago, the Council heard the Special Representative say that Kosovo was slowly and surely moving in the right direction.  Yet, the violence had erupted only a few days after the announcement of the holding of elections in October.  That violence might seem to be a spontaneous eruption, but it had taken time to build up and it had not occurred without warning.

He said that Kosovo was still the “ethnic tinder box” it had always been.  Current events had, indeed, dealt a severe blow to efforts to bring peace and stability to the province.  A second look should be taken at the situation, and adjustments should be made, if necessary, to prevent such violence from recurring.  Right now, the most important thing was to restore order.  The international community must take the necessary steps to ensure that the rule of law prevailed.  Ethnic Serbs and Albanians must avoid any action that could lead to further chaos.  It must also be ensured that those responsible for the latest violent wave were brought to justice.  He also joined the call for the leaders to exercise restraint. It should be kept in mind that peace efforts could not be implemented as a political product unless the soil was fully cultivated.

ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) said he was seriously concerned at developments in Kosovo, and condemned the violent attacks, which would aggravate the feeling of “breakage” between the communities there.  He called on all parties to put an end to the clashes and work together to restore calm.  The return to normalcy and the restoration of order were also the responsibility of UNMIK and KFOR.  The reinforcements sent to Kosovo were encouraging.  The investigation by police to determine the perpetrators would help to stop the clashes.

The outbreak was especially regrettable as it came when intense efforts were deployed to build a democratic and multi-ethnic Kosovo, he said.  The tragic incidents had revealed ethnic schisms.  Kosovars had no choice but to live together in peace.  Multi-ethnic integration involved promoting reconciliation and understanding, and going beyond resentment resulting from the period of confrontation.  The international community would need to support the reconciliation process.  He fully supported UNMIK, KFOR and the provisional authorities in their effort to establish stability and return to normalcy.

GENNADY M. GATILOV (Russian Federation) said that, as a result of the abrupt outbreak of violence, there had been numerous casualties, including of international staff.  The scope of the violence had permitted discussion about targeting actions to “squeeze” the non-Albanian population out of the region.  According to information he had received, events in the district continued to heat up where the Kosovo Albanians were concentrated around the river, and where they were building a shelter for a transition into action.

He said that the Security Council could not remain on the sidelines.  The major challenge was to stop the violence and do its utmost to stablize the situation and restore law and order.  He was convinced that, unless decisive measures were speedily taken to restore order, there would be credible damage and the peace process would be undermined –- a process that had been so painstakingly organized by the efforts of the international community.  He was disturbed by the scope and speed with which the violence had spread throughout the district.  That had demonstrated how fragile and unstable the peace had been and how much more was needed to build trust among the ethnic groups populating the region.

It must be noted now that the process of building a multi-ethnic society in Kosovo in conformity with 1244 had not only been “bogged down”, but had gone back to “square one”, he said.  He had repeatedly spoken about a multidimensional approach, calling for a resolution of socio-economic problems, as well as for equal security for all inhabitants and full observance of their political rights and freedoms.  It was not possible to speak about implementing the standards plan when, in practice, one of the parties was blatantly violating them.

He said it was essential for the Council to vigorously demand from the parties to the conflict and from Kosovo Albanians that they rapidly cease acts of violence.  The UNMIK and KFOR must undertake urgent additional measures aimed at the unconditional restoration of public order and safety for all ethnic communities in the district.  He was prepared to support a text of the Council President as a strong signal to the Kosovo Albanian side, bearing in mind its main responsibility for the ongoing inter-ethnic violence.

Council President JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIÈRE (France), speaking in his national capacity, said he condemned in the strongest terms the deadly clashes yesterday in Kosovo, which had resulted in death and injury.  The violence also targeted the international presence in Kosovo.  Some dozen KFOR soldiers were wounded.  The UNMIK was also a target.  Several of its buildings and vehicles were set fire.  That flare-up of violence was the largest threat since 1999.  Recourse to such violence was unacceptable and must end immediately.  Those responsible must be arrested and brought to trial.  He appealed to all leaders to act responsibly and called for the violence to end immediately.  They must work together to put an end to the violence.  He attached great importance to the full implementation of resolution 1244.  The standards for Kosovo alone would make it possible for Kosovo to move closer to Europe.

AGIM NESHO (Albania) said that the latest deplorable events ran against the general trend and progress in Kosovo for a democratic and multi-ethnic society.  Those events also ran against the general will of the people of Kosovo to build and to live in a free and open society where the rule of law was not replaced by the violence and ethnic hatred of the past.  The current violence threatened the process of democratization and reconciliation.  It must end immediately.  He called on all citizens in Kosovo, and expressed his confidence in them, to demonstrate maturity, maintain calm and cooperate with the legitimate local and international authorities, UNMIK and KFOR, to restore law and order.

He said that the recent sad events in Kosovo were not indicative of a failure of the process or the positive engagement there.  What happened yesterday had not been a result of coexistence, but rather of the lack of engagement or action in that direction.  That had been a product of constant policies to keep alive parallel administrative and paramilitary structures, which fed ethnic isolation and drove new waves of ethnic cleansing, aimed at dividing Kosovo.

Such tragic events strongly raised the imperative for respect for the law and the institutions, he said.  They reaffirmed the serious concerns and obstacles of parallel structures in Kosovo.  The need to dismantle them was becoming even more urgent.  Implementation of the policy of the international community, in particular, the recommendations of the Security Council, would succeed only if the regional actors supported the spirit of cooperation, the quest for European integration and coexistence.  Kosovo’s future could not be a product of any imposed unilateral initiatives.  It should follow the framework established by the international community, which had at its core dialogue and understanding, and not intolerance and violence.

RICHARD RYAN (Ireland), speaking on behalf of the European Union, called for an immediate end to the violence in Kosovo, which had claimed lives and caused injury to many.  The immediate priority was the restoration of calm and putting a stop to the violence now, and not allow it to escalate.  Also, there was no place for those who burned churches and mosques, schools and hospitals, and destroyed the religious and cultural heritage, which was the common property of all.

He said the European Union called on all local leaders to act responsibly at such a dangerous moment and to use their influence to bring an end to the violence and restore calm.  In that regard, the Union strongly supported the United Nations’ efforts, through Special Representative of the Secretary-General Harri Holkeri, to calm the situation.  He went on to underscore that full implementation of Security Council resolution 1244 and UNMIK’s policy of “standards before status” remained the foundation of the international community’s commitment to Kosovo.  He called for those responsible for the violence to be brought to justice, noting that there was a heavy responsibility on all to avoid actions that would undermine the work under way to ensure a stable future for a secure, democratic and multi-ethnic Kosovo.

KOICHI HARAGUCHI (Japan) condemned the new wave of violence that had erupted yesterday.  He called for an immediate end to the violence and demanded that those responsible be brought to justice.  He also strongly deplored the attacks on KFOR soldiers and UNMIK personnel.  He strongly urged all parties concerned to make a determined effort to resolve the issues, based on resolution 1244 and the “standards before status” policy, through consultation and without further escalating the situation. 

The international community had to maintain its efforts in the areas of consolidation of peace and of economic development, which was a precondition for peace, in order to ensure that that kind of violence did not break out again.  In that connection, he hoped that there would be a useful exchange of opinions at the Ministerial Conference on Peace Consolidation and Economic Development of the Western Balkans, which was to be held in Tokyo in April. 

DIMCE NIKOLOV (The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) said that he was following the situation in Kosovo with great concern.  The tragic developments of yesterday and today were contrary to the efforts of the international community and the people of Kosovo for further democratization and stabilization of the situation in Kosovo.  He strongly condemned the escalation of violence between Kosovo Albanians and Kosovo Serbs, which had already caused numerous deaths and injured hundreds.

He urged the people of Kosovo to demonstrate wisdom and to restore calm and normalcy.  The destabilization of Kosovo could also jeopardize the situation in the region as a whole.  He fully supported the efforts of UNMIK, KFOR and the Special Representative, as well as the rest of the international community, to calm the situation immediately.  He underlined that the tragic developments in Kosovo were only minimizing the efforts of the international community to democratize the situation in Kosovo, to implement the “standards before status” policy and to continue the necessary dialogue.

BISHER AL-KHASAWNEH (Jordan) condemned the outbreak of violence in Kosovo, particularly the targeting of places of worship, and said, as one of the contributors to UNMIK, his country was concerned over the injuries sustained by United Nations Mission personnel and the damage to their equipment.  Guaranteeing the continued protection and safety of UNMIK and other international personnel in Kosovo was of paramount importance and had to be observed and respected by all parties concerned at all times and under all circumstances.  He drew attention to the fact that the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court classified all attacks directed at United Nations and humanitarian personnel as war crimes.

He called on all parties concerned to desist from taking any action that would further aggravate the situation and to take immediate steps to bring about an end to violence and genuine de-escalation of tension in Kosovo.  Further, he reminded all the parties of their responsibilities in accordance with resolution 1244, including, in particular, the obligation to ensure the safety and security of all international personnel.

Taking the floor a second time, Mr. SVILANOVIC, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Serbia and Montenegro, said that the violence had continued today.  He clarified that there had been no violence between Serbs and Albanians, but a permanent violence against the Serbs who lived in Kosovo.  They were attacked in an attempt to ethnically cleanse Kosovo before moving into the implementation of the standards for Kosovo.

The attacks against international personnel there were exclusively committed by Albanians, he said.  The international personnel were only doing their job and had been attacked by the Albanians.  His Government was committed to continuing dialogue and fulfilling its obligations and commitments.  The Council should try to find a mechanism to implement the standards for Kosovo, and his Government wanted to be part of that process.  It also wanted to be part of the evaluation process, which would follow that, as well as the discussions on the final status, which would take place at a certain point.

Full control was in the hands of the Government, which had taken the upper hand to ensure that there would be no violence.  Despite the burning of mosques, there was no single attack against Bosniaks or Albanians or people of other ethnic backgrounds.  It was not happening against minorities.  The immediate task was to bring in more personnel to restore stability and then to continue the process of building a democratic and multi-ethnic society.

Presidential Statement

The Council President, Mr. DE LA SABLIÈRE (France), then read out the following presidential statement, which will be issued as S/PRST/2004/5:

“The Security Council strongly condemns the large-scale inter-ethnic violence in Kosovo (Serbia and Montenegro) that began yesterday and in which many people have been killed and hundreds injured.  It also strongly condemns the attacks on the troops of the Kosovo Force (KFOR) and the personnel and sites of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).  Such violence is unacceptable and must stop immediately.  Those responsible must be brought to justice.  The perpetrators must understand that an attack on the international presence is an attack on the international community as a whole and that extremism has no role in Kosovo’s future.

“The Security Council calls on all communities in Kosovo, taking into account their respective responsibilities, to stop all acts of violence, to avoid further escalation and restore calm.  The Council urges the parties to refrain from irresponsible and inflammatory statements and accusations.  The Council reiterates that the population in Kosovo must employ peaceful, democratic means and work through the recognized and legitimate channels, including the UN and the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government (PISG) structures, to address their grievances.  It stresses that legal investigations, in particular into the incidents involving the shooting of a Kosovo Serb teenager in Pristina and the deaths of three Kosovo Albanian children in Mitrovica, are under way by the authorities in Kosovo, and calls for thorough investigations of all other incidents.

“The Security Council deplores the reported deaths and injuries among the population of Kosovo, as well as casualties among the Kosovo Police Service, UNMIK international civilian police, and KFOR troops.  The Council extends its condolences to the families of all the victims.

“The Security Council reiterates the urgent need for the authorities in Kosovo to take effective steps to enforce the rule of law, ensure proper security for all ethnic communities and bring to justice all the perpetrators of criminal acts.  The establishment of a multi-ethnic, tolerant, democratic society in a stable Kosovo remains the fundamental objective of the international community in implementing Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).  The Security Council will closely monitor the implementation by the parties of their obligations according to the ‘Standards for Kosovo’ document.

“The Security Council expresses its full support for the efforts of the Special Representative of the Secretary General, UNMIK and KFOR, and welcomes that the international security presence is continuing to undertake additional measures as deemed necessary to stabilize the situation throughout Kosovo.  It calls on the PISG, the authorities in Belgrade and all concerned to cooperate fully.  The Council takes note of the joint statement of the Special Representative, PISG, political leaders and others of March 17, 2004.”

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For information media. Not an official record.