BRIEFING SECURITY COUNCIL ON KOSOVO SITUATION, SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE SAYS ‘ENDGAME MAY BE IN SIGHT’

29 November 2004
SC/8253

BRIEFING SECURITY COUNCIL ON KOSOVO SITUATION, SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE SAYS ‘ENDGAME MAY BE IN SIGHT’

29/11/2004
Press ReleaseSC/8253

Security Council

5089th Meeting* (AM)

 

Briefing Security Council on Kosovo situation, Special

Representative says ‘endgame may be in sight’

 

But, Citing Potentially Fragile Security

Environment, He Appeals to NATO to Maintain Current Force Size

After almost five years of a “holding operation,” the endgame in Kosovo -- including talks on final status -- might be in sight, according to Søren Jessen-Petersen, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), who briefed the Security Council this morning on the situation in that province.

He said that in the last four months UNMIK had taken significant steps forward, in close partnership with the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government (PISG), through dialogue with Belgrade, and with strong support from the Contact Group and in partnership with the European Union, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and NATO/Kosovo Force (KFOR).  A comprehensive, integrated strategy had been developed, along with a clear consistent plan of action, and a tight -- but not impossible -- timetable.

He said that, however, the violence last March had showed just how fragile the security environment in Kosovo could be, though it had improved significantly since then.  The last eight months had seen only one serious ethnic-related incident, and the recent election had been peaceful.  Cooperation with the Kosovo multinational security force (KFOR) was excellent, and there was close coordination between UNMIK Police, the Kosovo Police Service and KFOR at all levels.

Regarding KFOR’s presence, he said he had appealed to NATO ambassadors to stay the course and maintain the current force size.  Entering a crucial phase in Kosovo, it was more essential than ever to closely synchronize political strategy with the right level of military preparedness and ability to respond.

Standards remained the central plank of the international community’s policy in Kosovo, he said, and must become the new Government’s overriding priority.  At the same time, however, against the planned timeline of a mid-2005 review, one could not expect the more than 400 detailed indicators laid out in the Standards Implementation Plan to be fulfilled.  He was insisting, though, on significant progress by mid-2005 in standards that most contributed to the establishment of a multi-ethnic Kosovo, that is, in the areas of the rule of law, freedom of movement, functioning local institutions and security.

Reconstruction and prosecution of crimes had proceeded in the aftermath of the March riots he said.  The very bad economic situation was, however, possibly the biggest threat to stability and reconciliation.  For that reason, work on a National Economic Development plan must be accelerated, and he expected the European Union to play an increasingly active role in that effort.

Finally, he turned to the aftermath of the elections of 23 October, which had been deemed free, fair and successful by a number of monitoring organizations.  He regretted, however, the disappointingly low turnout of the Kosovo Serbs, due to dissatisfaction with living conditions, late registration and anti-democratic pressures, among other possible factors.  After the election, he had urged speedy formation of a new Government, which had to first reach out to improve living conditions of the Kosovo Serbs.

In conclusion, he said that the political leaders and people of Kosovo knew that only action, implementation of priority standards, and hard work would get them to their goal of a prosperous and democratic society.  In return, they would expect, and would continue to need, strong international support.

Immediately following the briefing, the representative of Serbia and Montenegro said it was wrong to blame his Government for the low Serb turnout for elections, saying the previous three years had shown that the Kosovo Serbs had not been able to improve the elementary living conditions by working through the institutions.   The decentralization of the government in Kosovo and Metohia was the best way to secure survival, security and return of Serbs and other non-Albanians to the Province.  If the Serbs could autonomously decide on a number of their vital interests, their participation in the work of all other self-government institutions would be easier and more certain.

Albania’s representative said that the Serb community had not participated in the elections due to the negative influence of some nationalist and religious circles still influential in Belgrade.  Nevertheless, he maintained, the elections were an important step towards building a free, multi-ethnic and democratic society in Kosovo.  The existing legislation in Kosovo did guarantee a number of seats for minority representatives, leaving the door open for the Kosovo Serb representatives and enabling them to directly exercise their rights for protecting their own community’s interests. 

In the discussion that followed, Council members and other speakers welcomed the manner in which elections had been held, while expressing regret over the low turnout of Serb voters.  The representative of the Russian Federation emphasized, however, that there was a need to avoid undue embellishment of the success of the elections; now the institutions must create an effectively functioning government, and promote inter-ethnic harmony.  In those efforts, considerations of political expediency were inadmissible.

Speakers also agreed that the implementation of standards, as outlined by Mr. Jessen-Petersen, should remain the priority in Kosovo.  The representative of the Netherlands, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the implementation of those standards must be guaranteed.  For that to occur, renewed energy by both Pristina and Belgrade, in dialogue supported by the international community, was required. 

In addition, the Union had identified a number of competencies that could be quickly transferred to the Provisional Institutions without impinging on sovereignty.  Reforming local government would be crucial in that regard.  He also supported the further development of a comprehensive and integrated strategy for Kosovo, which should place strong responsibility on the leadership and population of Kosovo and provide the basis to embark on the status process.

Also speaking this afternoon were Council members Algeria, Romania, United Kingdom, Angola, Brazil, Philippines, France, Spain, China, Chile, Germany, Pakistan, Benin and United States.

The representatives of Switzerland, Japan and Norway also made statements.

The meeting opened at 10:58 a.m. and was adjourned at 1:52 p.m.

Background

For its consideration this morning of the situation in Kosovo, the Security Council has before it a report of the Secretary-General (document S/2004/907) in which he says that, although steps have been taken towards addressing the causes and consequences of the March violence and in moving forward with the implementation of the standards for Kosovo, progress remains “limited and uneven”.

The Secretary-General says it appears, however, that six months after the wave of violence targeting the Kosovo Serb and Ashkali communities, as well as the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and the Kosovo Force (KFOR), Kosovo is getting back on track regarding the standards that the international community has set for it.

The report finds that, while positive statements and commitments have been made by representatives of the Kosovo Provisional Institutions of Self-Government and by Kosovo political leaders, and while measures and mechanisms have been established, more action is required to translate these into concrete and sustainable results.  The intensive engagement of the Contact Group and others has helped greatly to impress upon the Provisional Institutions that much remains to be done and progress must be achieved.  The critical challenge for the Kosovo Provisional Institutions of Self-Government and for its political leadership remains to ensure that progress against standards translates into tangible and sustained change in Kosovo that concretely benefits all of its population.

Following the conclusion of the elections, the challenge for the Kosovo leadership is to form a representative, stable and effective Government that can bring Kosovo forward, the report says.  Notwithstanding the disappointing turnout of Kosovo Serb voters, there is a need to work with the legitimately elected representatives of all communities and to reach out to those who, for whatever reason, decided not to vote.  This will clearly need to include a continued focus on areas of particular significance for the Kosovo Serb community –- returns, security and decentralization.  The Secretary-General calls on the leadership of the Kosovo Provisional Institutions of Self-Government and of the Kosovo Serb community to work together with the aim of creating the conditions for their normal life.  Outreach from the Institutions and majority community leadership to all communities must be a priority.

The report says that, following the events in March, the Secretary-General requested that a comprehensive review of the policies and practices of all actors in Kosovo be conducted and that options and recommendations be provided as a basis for further thinking on the way forward, in accordance with Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).  The report of Ambassador Kai Eide (Norway), whom the Secretary-General asked to conduct the review, presented an excellent report outlining a comprehensive and integrated strategy that provides a basis for the process that will determine Kosovo’s future status.  There seems to be a general understanding of and support for an integrated strategy for the way forward in Kosovo from now until mid-2005 and in preparation for the process to determine the future status of Kosovo.

Also according to the report, broad agreement has emerged on the need to focus on the economy and on security, the need to engage with Belgrade and to bring the Kosovo Serbs into the process, and the importance of the standards process.  There was also broad support for a subregional approach, which would not focus exclusively on Kosovo.  The Secretary-General will continue to work closely with key Member States, in particular, those in the Security Council and Contact Group, as well as with regional partner organizations to continue the forward momentum on the basis of consensus.

Briefing by Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Head of UNMIK

SØREN JESSEN-PETERSON, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), said he had expressed the belief when he arrived in Pristina on 15 August that there could be no normalization or stabilization in the Western Balkans without a resolution of the Kosovo issue.  He was more convinced of that than ever.  He had at the start outlined five Mission priorities, including security, prioritizing standards, further transfer of competencies to the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government, protection of minorities and the economy.  Guided by Ambassador Eide’s report and based on the Secretary-General’s meetings with the Contact Group, agreement on the way forward in implementing the five priorities had been reached.

Concerning security, he said the violence last March had showed just how fragile the security environment in Kosovo could be.  Since then, the security situation had improved significantly.  The last eight months had seen only one serious ethnic-related incident.  The recent election campaign, and the election day itself, had been peaceful.  Cooperation with KFOR was excellent, and there was close coordination between UNMIK Police, the Kosovo Police Service and KFOR at all levels.  Command, control, communications and liaison arrangements had been strengthened, including the establishment of joint operations centres.  The Kosovo Police Service now had its own special unit to respond to unrest, in addition to the three United Nations Special Police Units already deployed.

Security was also being addressed through various consultative mechanisms.  The Kosovo Security Advisory Group, established last July, brought together representatives of all communities to build confidence.  He hoped the Kosovo Serbs would soon rejoin the Group.  Local Crime Prevention Councils had also been established in all municipalities, bringing together all ethnic communities and international representatives in order to tackle security issues at the grass-roots level.

Regarding KFOR’s presence, he said he had appealed to ambassadors of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to stay the course and maintain the current force size.  Entering a crucial phase in Kosovo, it was more essential than ever to closely synchronize political strategy with the right level of military preparedness and ability to respond.

Standards remained the central plank of the international community’s policy in Kosovo, he said.  At the same time, however, it must be the Government’s overriding priority to implement standards prior to the planned formal assessment of progress in the middle of next year.  The UNMIK was now assessing Kosovo’s progress in quarterly technical reviews.  The first assessment, which covered the period through September, showed that, while progress had been made in some areas, it had been uneven, and there was still much work ahead for the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government.

Achieving progress on all eight standards remained the basic policy, he said.  At the same time, however, against the planned timeline of a mid-2005 review, one could not expect the more than 400 detailed indicators laid out in the Standards Implementation Plan to be fulfilled.  One could demand, however, that real progress in the implementation of the standards that most contributed to the establishment of a multi-ethnic Kosovo.

In agreement with the Secretary-General and with the support of the Contact Group, he said he was emphasizing key priorities in the areas of the rule of law, freedom of movement, functioning local institutions and security.  Addressing issues on which Kosovo had failed in March, the Mission was insisting that significant progress be made on them by mid-2005 at the latest.  Clear criteria, measurable indicators, and joint UNMIK-Provisional Institutions of Self-Government working groups were now in place.  Progress was achievable, and a determined new Government could achieve it in the time available.

Concerning the transfer of competencies to the Provisional Institutions, he said he recently agreed to establish three new ministries, namely, returns and communities, energy and mining, and local government.  That was in line with the strategy that all competencies not directly involving sovereignty should be transferred as soon as possible.  He intended to go ahead with further transfers, notably in the area of the economy and, in due course, areas linked to justice and security.   Transfer of competencies must be accompanied by more effective capacity-building.  To that end, donor efforts were being re-energized to help the Provisional Institutions build capacity.  Transfer or competencies must also be accompanied by greater accountability.  To that end, he had been looking closely to intervene and, as necessary, to impose sanctions. 

A vital aspect of the Mission’s work revolved around the protection of the rights of minority communities, which was now the main focus of the standards, he said.  The authorities had to ensure that all communities felt safe and secure and were able to live normal lives, free of fear and intimidation.  One key way of reaching out to the communities was through decentralization, or reform of local government to form the basis for the successful integration of Kosovo’s minority communities into the fabric of society.  With UNMIK assistance, a Provisional Institutions working group had formulated a plan for decentralization over the summer.  It was a practical programme to build links between local authorities and citizens, giving all citizens equal access to all rights.

Territorial division was neither desirable in principle nor workable in a relatively small territory where only one third of the Kosovo Serb population was concentrated north of the IbarRiver, and the remaining two thirds were scattered across the rest of Kosovo, mostly in small rural areas.   However, it was exactly because of their isolated and exposed locations that their security, as well as socio-economic rights, must be ensured through the meaningful self-government plan developed by the working group in Kosovo.  Belgrade had been invited to provide advisory support to the working group’s meetings.  He very much hoped that Kosovo Serbs would join, as it was in their direct interest to participate.

Dialogue at various levels was key, he continued.  In addition to the principal Pristina-based dialogue between Kosovo’s majority and minority communities, he hoped that the Direct Dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade could be resumed and reinforced.  He had visited Belgrade twice since assuming office and had had constructive talks.  The need now was to move on Direct Dialogue.  The four working groups, which had been established by his predecessor one year ago, were dormant, and he was looking into ways of resuscitating them.

Most importantly, progress on the issue of missing persons was needed.  Not moving on the issue, or linking it to other issues, would mean adding further pain to the agonies of the families, and missing persons had a right to know what had happened to their loved ones.  Too much time had passed on that unbearable uncertainty.  Stressing the importance of maintaining regular dialogue within the region, he said he had already visited Tirana, Skopje and Podgorica and would continue the regional dialogue.

Addressing the issue of returns, he said improved security and freedom of movement were the pivotal factors to accelerate the return displaced persons to Kosovo.  The UNMIK and KFOR were now better positioned to provide protection, but only Kosovo Albanian leaders and security could effectively dispel the need for such protection and create true security.  Having revisited the strategy for returns, the Mission was looking at a combination of more specific security and freedom of movement initiatives; incentives or disincentives for cooperative or obstructive officials, respectively; and, more targeted use of sanctions.  If action was taken, the spring could see a significant increase in returns.  Without such progress, one of the key priority standards would remain unmet.  Progress in recent weeks demonstrated that returns could move forward even in relatively difficult areas, where local authorities had moved from obstruction to support of returns.  Although the March violence had marked a huge setback, work intended to begin last spring was now moving forward in a number of areas in Kosovo.

On reconstruction, he said that the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government had set up a commission, immediately following the March riots, to reconstruct damaged property.  Work on a majority of the more than 900 affected homes had been completed, but more than 2,000 of those displaced in March had not returned to those homes.  The momentum of reconstruction had slowed since the election period.  He stressed that the new Government must immediately focus on completing unfinished work.  Funds from the Kosovo Consolidated Budget and UNMIK, 3.7 million euros and 500,000 million euros, respectively, were nearly adequate for reconstruction of all 35 religious sites, but some work had been temporarily stalled due to a disagreement with the Orthodox Church.

He said that prosecution of crimes related to the March riots had also proceeded, with a number of indictments having been, or in the process of being, filed and a number of verdicts having been rendered.  The judicial process would be pursued vigorously.

He said, however, that the very bad economic situation was possibly the biggest threat to stability and reconciliation.  For that reason, work on a national economic development plan must be accelerated, and he expected the European Union to play an increasingly active role in that effort.  Together with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Provisional Institutions, UNMIK had launched short-term employment projects in August and hoped to do more in that area.  Meanwhile, he stressed, privatization must be pursued immediately to stimulate the economy, though several related legal issues had to be worked out.

Returning to the enforcement of accountability, he said UNMIK was prepared to ensure compliance by officials, through resolution 1244, in the areas of minority rights, freedom of movement, returns of displaced persons, equal provision of services, responsible media and security.  He said he was fully prepared to use the available sanctions in an equitable manner, if necessary, though the Government had the primary responsibility for progress.

Finally, he turned to the aftermath of the elections of 23 October, which had been deemed free, fair and successful by a number of monitoring organizations.  He regretted, however, the disappointingly low turnout of the Kosovo Serbs due to dissatisfaction with living condition, late registration and anti-democratic pressures, among other possible reasons.  After the election, he had urged speedy formation of a new Government, which had to first reach out to improve living conditions of the Kosovo Serbs.

The coalition agreement that ensued, and the possible appointment of Ramush Haradinaj as Prime Minister, had raised some questions, but the international community had supported his decision not to block the democratic process.  If the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia proceeded with its case against Mr. Haradinaj, he trusted that Kosovo would also respect the judiciary process.

Meanwhile, he was working to ensure the establishment of functioning institutions capable of speedily implementing standards.  He trusted that the parliamentary opposition, new to Kosovo, would show mature political judgement when playing its legitimate role.

In conclusion, he said that, in the last four months, UNMIK had taken significant steps forward in Kosovo, in close partnership with the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government, through dialogue with Belgrade, and with strong support from the Contact Group and in partnership with the European Union, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and NATO/KFOR.  A comprehensive, integrated strategy had been developed, along with a clear consistent plan of action, and a tight –- but not impossible –- timetable.

After almost five years of managing a holding operation, he continued, the end game –- talks on final status –- might be in sight.  The political leaders and people of Kosovo knew that only action, implementation of priority standards, and hard work would get them to that goal.  In return, they would expect, and would continue to need, strong international support.  He was confident of the Security Council’s full backing in that regard.

Statements

NEBOJSA COVIC, President of the Coordination Centre of Serbia and Montenegro and the Republic of Serbia for Kosovo and Metohia, noted that only some 0.3 per cent of Kosovo and Metohia Serbs had participated in the elections.  Belgrade and the Serbian Orthodox Church had been accused of undermining the multi-ethnic society in Kosovo and Metohia because they had not urged the Serbian ethnic community to cast their ballots.  Such accusations were a classical case of misconstrued truth, as Kosovo and Metohia Serbs’ non-participation was the consequence of the failed efforts in establishing and achieving the standards of a truly multi-ethnic society in the province.  The position of the Serbian community in Kosovo and Metohia was such that they had no confidence in the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government nor did they have any hope that they could realize their interests through the Institutions.

The human rights of the Serbian and other non-Albanian ethnic communities were still violated in Kosovo and Metohia, he said.  There was no security and freedom of movement for those communities.  They were still subject to intimidation and persecution and their property was snatched and set to fire.  Before the first elections in November 2001, the Serbs had taken part in the elections and had joined the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government.  Intensive talks had followed, as well as the signing of a number of agreements, to improve everyday living conditions of all citizens in Kosovo and Metohia.  As time went by, however, it had become clear that the Serb representatives were only window-dressing in the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government.  Although it had continued to be treated as an active participant in the process, Belgrade had been gradually shut out of the process and the Serb’s position had further deteriorated.

UNMIK reports had swept the situation under the carpet for months, even years, he said.  Then, the murders in Obilic and Gorazdevac had been committed, and the violence of 17 March had taken place.  Throughout that time, the Serbs continued to participate in the work of the Provisional Institutions with the hope that things would change.  Not only did the events of March destroy all their hopes, but they had also brought to ashes the credibility of the reports on the progress made in building the multi-ethnic Kosovo and Metohia.  The 17 March violence had, despite harsh condemnation, continued even today.

Eight months had passed since the March events and the winter was already here, he said.  More than 2,100 people were still out of their homes and the almost 500 Serbs and other non-Albanians internally displaced still lived in collective centres.  Half of the houses damaged had not been reconstructed, not to mention the churches and monasteries.  Efforts had been directed almost exclusively towards settling the consequences of the March violence.  The programme of return had been totally neglected.  In light of everything that had happened in Kosovo and Metohia for years, even decades, it was an undisputable fact that it would take as much time to create a multi-ethnic society in the province.

The question was, he said, whether the international community need the Serbs in the Assembly of Kosovo just as evidence that the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government were multi-ethnic.   The previous three years had shown that the Serbs had not been able to improve the elementary living conditions by working through the institutions.  Given the reality in Kosovo and Metohia, the Government of the Republic of Serbia firmly believed that the decentralization of the government in Kosovo and Metohia was the best way to secure survival, security and return of Serbs and other non-Albanians to the province.  Only additional institutionalization of the position of the Serbian community could guarantee the survival of the multi-ethnic character of Kosovo and Metohia.  If the Serbs could autonomously decide on a number of their vital interests, their participation in the work of all other self-government Institutions would be easier and more certain.

Along with the increased engagement of Belgrade in the process of harmonizing UNMIK’s Decentralization Plan and the Plan of the Government of the Republic of Serbia, that would be the only solution for the normalization and stabilization of the overall situation in the province.  As decentralization was not a local issue, direct participation of Belgrade representatives in the talks would be the best guarantee for reaching a successful solution.  The Belgrade authorities had showed they sincerely supported the idea of establishing a modern multi-ethnic society in the province.  The international community had a reliable partner in Belgrade.  Cooperation, however, was a two-way process, in which both parties respected each other.  Unilateral attempts to change the name of the game could not be considered cooperation.  A solution without Belgrade’s active participation would not be a sustainable solution.

ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) said that prompt action by the international community, as well as by Kosovars, had helped to mitigate the damage of the March riots and was conducive to the consolidation of society, also allowing the sustainable return of displaced persons.  He supported the results of the recent elections and the formation of a coalition Government, and he regretted the low turnout of Serbs in the election and urged their participation in all Institutions in the future.

The formation of a multi-ethnic, prosperous Kosovo must proceed along the lines of resolution 1244.  In addition, the fundamental issue of the final status must be considered soon.  He supported all integrated strategies based on dialogue, as well as a subregional approach to the situation.

MIHNEA MOTOC (Romania), associating himself with the statement of the Netherlands on behalf of the European Union, assured the Special Representative of the Secretary-General of his country’s full support.  He highly welcomed a gradually increased role for the European Union in Kosovo, starting with the setting up of an economic development strategy, within a regional perspective.  At the same time, international outreach to Serbia and Montenegro would also facilitate further progress.

Welcoming the manner in which the elections were held, he expressed regret over the low Serb turnout, and he took note of the very uneven progress in implementing standards, which were key to overcoming the March violence and must garner the undivided attention of the new government.  In general, he wholeheartedly supported the strategy towards a multi-ethnic and prosperous society in Kosovo in line with resolution 1244, with the full support of the international community.

Regarding final status, he said it was crucial to have solid integration of all possible contributions in a regional context.  In that vein, recently, the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs had organized, in Bucharest, a debate on the Kosovo situation, attended by the main actors from Pristina and Belgrade.  The time was ripe, in addition, for a mission of the Security Council to the region.

EMYR JONES PARRY (United Kingdom) shared the assessment that, while progress had been made since the March violence, much remained to be done.  The elections, and the establishment of a framework for decentralization, were among positive achievements.  The focus must now be on taking achievements forward.  In that regard, the United Kingdom welcomed the Secretary-General’s recommendations paper on the way forward and continued to hold resolution 1244 as the basic framework for taking forward the political process in Kosovo.  The process of open consultation on the way forward was also welcome.

He said he shared the view of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative regarding Kosovo’s priorities for the coming months.  A representative government was clearly in Kosovo’s best interests.  Kosovo Albanian leaders had a responsibility to support the rule of law, including cooperation with the International Criminal Court.  The international community would hold the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government to account for their actions in the coming months.  Tangible progress on the ground was essential, especially regarding minority rights and security.  Progress on decentralization was essential.  The economy was in urgent need of an injection of momentum.  The United Kingdom welcomed the call for the European Union to devise an economic development plan in cooperation with the Provisional Institutions.

There must also be dialogue with Belgrade, he said.  Belgrade could not expect to exercise oversight or veto, however.  If Belgrade continued to block progress in certain areas, it would not be held against the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government.  There would be a price to pay in future participation in determining Kosovo’s future status.  While the international community could help to facilitate positive outcomes, the solution to the remaining issues rested in the region.  The implementation of priority standards was a necessary step before final status negotiations.

ANDREY I. DENISOV (Russian Federation) said that progress in standards in Kosovo had been limited, with, for example, the number of returnees going backward.  For real, positive changes, more responsibility must be placed on local governing institutions and less blame be placed on Belgrade.  There was also a need to avoid undue embellishment of the success of the elections; now the institutions must create an effectively functioning government, and promote inter-ethnic harmony.  Considerations of political expediency were inadmissible.

Progress on human rights and the security of ethnic minorities were poor, he said.  He agreed that priorities should be the return of displaced persons, security and decentralization, along with other priorities mentioned by the Special Representative.  There was a need to accelerate the design of a decentralization model, and he agreed that all actors should be involved in creating that model.  Such a model should take into account the position of Belgrade. 

He remained convinced that, firstly, standards and then status was the correct order for achieving further progress, along with the fulfilment of resolution 1244.  Russia was ready for close interaction with all those responsible in the interest of ending the Kosovo tragedy and bringing about regional stability.

ISMAEL ABRAÃO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola) welcomed progress achieved on some of the eight standards and commended the Mission’s sustained efforts for the establishment of a multi-ethnic society in Kosovo where the rights of all communities were fully protected.  The standards were aimed at promoting values such as tolerance, democracy and the rule of law.  The fulfilment of the priority tasks represented an important step forward in the implementation of the standards.  His delegation supported the implementation of the integrated strategy to advance the challenges set out, including strengthening efforts to deal with the March violence and improved dialogue.  He noted with appreciation that the task of identifying and prosecuting the perpetrators of the March riots had not been neglected, and that many had been prosecuted.  The transfer of additional competencies to the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government could enhance their capacity, as they were the most important vector for the implementation of the standards.

Regarding the lack of minority participation in the last election, he stressed the need for minorities to be encouraged to engage.  The resumption of the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina was essential, and he encouraged the Mission’s efforts in that regard.  Developing a network of activities to ease communications and liberalize the movement of minority communities was important.  A safe security environment was essential for ensuring the sustainable return of displaced persons and refugees.  He also welcomed economic development and reform efforts in Kosovo.  While some progress had been made in completing economic legislation, much remained to be done.  He called on the international community to spare no efforts for Kosovo’s peace and development.

HENRIQUE R. VALLE (Brazil) said a lack of progress in the implementation of the standards was an unfortunate reality that could also delay the process to determine Kosovo’s final status.  While there had been some tangible progress, very little had been achieved regarding key issues.  A firmer stance was required regarding violations of minority group.  Although the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government carried the primary responsibility for alleviating the plight of minority groups, the international community also had to take concrete action to improve the security environment.  A lack of participation by Kosovo Serbs in the polls had thwarted efforts for building a multi-ethnic society.  He was pleased that the political parties in Kosovo had reached agreement on the formation of a coalition government.  Its composition, however, should not exacerbate tension.  Moderation must be exercised.

Sustained social institutional development was a condition for determining Kosovo’s final status, he said.  The creation of jobs and new opportunities would help ease underlying social unrest.  Regarding the process to bring to justice those responsible for the March 2004 violence, he was encouraged that more than 300 cases had been completed.  Pristina and Belgrade should be encouraged to resume negotiations.  As the moment of truth approached, no durable solution would be found without respect for the legitimate rights of all people.

LAURO BAJA (Philippines) said the situation in Kosovo remained intractable despite the attention devoted to it and broad agreement on an integrated strategy.   The actual implementation of progress remained elusive; however, he expressed satisfaction over several developments, such as elections, prosecutions, and progress of local government.  The way forward must be discussed in earnest, lest the Council remain seized with the matter over the next decade.  In that effort, a Council mission to Kosovo might be advisable, and end-game factors should begin to be considered, such as the manner in which final status would be considered.

JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIÈRE (France), associating himself with the statement to be made by the Netherlands on behalf of the European Union, expressed full support to the efforts being made by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General.  At the same time, he said he shared the Secretary-General’s frustration on progress in implementing standards in Kosovo, all eight of which were crucial.  He expected concrete progress on those standards from the Provisional Institutions, who held the primary responsibility for such progress.  Kosovar leaders must get back to work on such progress quickly, following the interruption caused by the elections.

JUAN ANOTONIO YAÑEZ-BARNUEVO (Spain) shared the Secretary-General’s assessment regarding the level of implementation of the standards.  UNMIK’s fundamental task must be to make progress on the eight areas, with priority actions in each of them.  He welcomed the fact that the general elections had been peaceful, but regretted that the Kosovo Serbs had not participated.  Among other concerns was the return of displaced persons and refugees, and the security and freedom of movement of minorities.  It was alarming to see that the number of forced displacements in 2004 was higher than the number of those who had been able to return to their homes.  A more ambitious policy for encouraging returns was needed, therefore, including offering a credible future to the Serbs in a multi-ethnic Kosovo.

He hoped the local crime prevention councils would contribute to meeting the legitimate concerns of the minorities.  The KFOR would continue to play an essential role in the maintenance of security, but security could only be sustainable if the provisional institutions reached out to minorities, reflected by concrete advances in the areas of employment and administration.  The transfer of competencies regarding security should be conducted with great care. 

It was also essential that direct dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina be strengthened, he said, and it was important that the two capitals stay in constant contact.  Regarding socio-economic aspects, he said economic development, based on an appropriate legal framework, was fundamental for sustained progress in other areas and for generating confidence among the Kosovo population.  Spain agreed with the establishment of an integrated strategy to move forward the implementation of the standards with a view to the mid-2005 assessment.

ZHANG YISHAN (China) said Kosovo had entered a crucial phase.  How the situation evolved would affect Kosovo’s future direction and stability in the Balkans.  The comprehensive solution of the Kosovo issue must be based on the full implementation of resolution 1244.  He welcomed positive steps by the Mission and the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government to deal with the aftermath of the March violence and to implement the standards.

Noting a lack of progress in some key areas, including returns, the protection of minorities and the freedom of movement, he hoped the Kosovo leadership would make further efforts in those areas to enhance trust and reconciliation among the communities.  He also hoped that the dialogue between the Provisional Institutions and Belgrade would soon resume.

Noting the Secretary-General’s proposed comprehensive strategy for the way forward, he agreed with the importance of implementing the standards, as well as the need to focus on the economy and security.  He looked forward to concrete recommendations in that regard.

HERALDO MUÑOZ (Chile) said that due to the limited progress on implementing standards, serious attention must be paid to priorities in Kosovo.  He agreed with the priorities of stability and economy, but attention must also be paid to relations with Belgrade implementation of the standards and other areas.  He welcomed the elections, but expressed concern at the low Serb turnout.  Efforts should be continued towards progress on standards, and it was essential that efforts to strengthen the rule of law be continued.

In addition, he agreed with many of the recommendations of the Secretary-General’s report.  The violence of March should not be forgotten.  In that regard, he favoured outreach to Belgrade, and to Albanians and Serbs and other pointed measures.  Progress must be made in concrete improvement of the lives of all Kosovars.  He expressed hope that the efforts of UNMIK would result in a multi-ethnic, prosperous and democratic society.

GUNTER PLEUGER (Germany), aligning his statement with that to be made by the Netherlands on behalf of the European Union, welcomed the free and fair elections in Kosovo and expressed regret over the low participation of Serbs, calling the involvement of Belgrade authorities in that low turnout “irresponsible”.  He urged Kosovo Serbs to participate in the Assembly and in the Pristina working groups.

He agreed with the need for standards and for more progress, in particular, in the areas of security, sustainable returns and freedom of movement.  The events of mid-March had been a major setback, but Kosovo was getting back on track and the new Government must follow on that positive trend.  He affirmed Germany’s commitment to the review process on the basis of assessments provided by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and the Contact Group.

In addition, he urged a speedy launch of the first pilot projects in decentralization and the reform of local government, taking into account issues such as the protection of minority community rights and security.  He hoped Belgrade would assume a constructive role in that process.  In general, he fully supported the priorities set by Special Representative Jessen-Petersen.

MASOOD KHALID (Pakistan) said UNMIK, according to the report, was “getting back on track” on fulfilling the standards in Kosovo.  One of the most positive developments had been the elections for the Kosovo Assembly.  He welcomed the positive outcome of the elections, but regretted that Kosovo Serbs had not participated in the elections.  It was imperative that the parallel structures be dismantled.  It was equally important to address key concerns of the Kosovo Serbs, as well as other minorities, including their security and freedom of movement.  Economic development was key, not only for improving socio-economic conditions, but also for improving security and stability.  The real solution lay in long-term assistance and investment.

Of great importance was the need to resume dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, he continued.  Sustained and meaningful dialogue was key to the prospects for peace in the region.  Progress made on the standards issue, though commendable, was still fragile.  While he agreed that progress against standards translated into sustained change in Kosovo, real progress would remain elusive unless Kosovo’s final status was also resolved.  His delegation would continue to urge the status with standards approach, which would simultaneously aim at standards, while addressing also the final status issue.

JEAN-FRANCIS REGIS ZINSOU (Benin) said the success of the first legislative elections in Kosovo was an indicator of positive developments of the situation in Kosovo after the tragic March 2004 events.  The role of local institutions was particularly noteworthy.  While the electoral campaign and the balloting had taken place without incident, the rate of participation was regrettable.  The situation might have been quite different if the March 2004 events had not taken place.  A multi-ethnic Kosovo must be administered by neutral administrators.  Progress in Kosovo must also be measured in terms of minority integration.  He welcomed efforts to repair damage caused by the March 2004 events.  Acts of vandalism, however, were particularly damaging, and such actions must be condemned with the utmost vigour.  The return of displaced persons must be a decisive element in addressing progress.  Security had to be provided in a way that inspired confidence among all members of society.

He said he also shared the Secretary-General’s view regarding the importance of speeding up the region’s economic development.  He stressed the continued need for reform in that regard.  He also welcomed the privatization process and the rationalization of tax policies.

ANNE WOODS PATTERSON (United States) congratulated the people of Kosovo on conducting successful elections and urged participation in governing from all those who had not voted.  She fully supported the role of UNMIK and the efforts of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, as well as the decentralization process, which provided a critical mechanism for protecting minority rights.  She welcomed Belgrade’s thoughts on that process.  The future for Kosovo must be formed by the creation of a situation of tolerance, justice and peace on the ground.  That situation was crucial for the future of the region.

DIRK JAN VAN DEN BERG (Netherlands), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that it was in the European Union’s interest to further integrate the Balkan region into Euro-Atlantic structures.  In that regard, the European Union was engaged in the region through the stabilization and association process, and was deeply committed to the future of Kosovo.  He commended Kosovar leaders for the efforts to address the consequences of the March violence, through reconstruction and justice.  It would, however, take longer to rebuild the trust of the victims; the next step must be structural outreach to the affected communities, including thorough investigation of media that might have created an environment that enabled the violence, who should be held morally accountable.

Despite the disappointing turnout of Serbs in the elections, the Government should represent the whole population, and it would have to work effectively on the priority standards, he said.  The implementation of those standards must be guaranteed.  For that to occur, renewed energy by both Pristina and Belgrade, in dialogue supported by the international community, was required.

After agreeing with measures recommended by the Secretary-General, he said that the European Union had identified a number of competences could that could be quickly transferred to the Provisional Institutions without impinging on sovereignty.  Reforming local government would be crucial in that regard.  In order to improve coherence of international assistance in building capacity in the Provisional Institutions, he welcomed a clear assessment from the side of the Provisional Institutions and UNMIK.

The European Union also stood ready to help build the capacity of the Kosovo Government to develop and implement an economic plan, and looked forward to close cooperation with UNMIK in that regard, he said.  Finally, he fully supported the further development of a comprehensive and integrated strategy for Kosovo, which should place strong responsibility on the leadership and population of Kosovo and provide the basis to embark on the status process.

PETER MAURER (Switzerland) said the international community had been strongly committed to Kosovo for more than five years.  The deplorable events of last March had forced a review of the strategy pursued until then in order to find a lasting political settlement.  He welcomed the Secretary-General’s report and shared the analysis of the political situation presented in the report.  He supported the idea of a comprehensive and integrated strategy for Kosovo, for there seemed to be no other way to unite local players and the international community for the purpose of defining the future status of Kosovo within the overall context of the region.  The question of the future of Kosovo must be dealt with within the framework of a dialogue involving all communities concerned, in particular Kosovo Serbs.  The political calendar in the region would be very full in 2005, he added.

Ensuring the economic future of Kosovo was an indispensable precondition for the region’s future stability, he said.  However, improving the situation not only required creating the necessary conditions to develop the economy, but also to strengthen the political and civil institutions.  A durable political settlement to the question of Kosovo remained a key factor for the stability of South-Eastern Europe.  Concerning the consolidation of local democracy, decentralization and the strengthening of mechanisms for the protection of minorities, Switzerland’s contributions were based on its own historical experience and its knowledge of the facts on the ground.

The future of Kosovo was in the hands of the Kosovars themselves, he said, and primarily depended on their will to live in peace and to respect and protect minorities.  The events of last March must never be allowed to happen again.  At the same time, Kosovo’s future would depend on the determination of the international community to find a viable answer to the question of the political status of the province that was acceptable to all parties.  UNMIK’s mission was still far from complete.  The same had to be said for KFOR, whose role in ensuring the security of the different communities was crucial.

SHINICHI KITAOKA (Japan) welcomed the manner in which elections were held in Kosovo, while regretting the low Serb turnout.  He hoped that the new Provisional Institutions of Self-Government would start fulfilling their mandated tasks as soon as possible and called on Kosovo Serbs and the Government of Serbia to join the discussion on the creation of a multi-ethnic and democratic Kosovo, which should be realized through the implementation of a “Standards before Status” policy.  In that regard, he supported the recommendations of the Secretary-General.  He said the call for recalibration of the standards policy was of high significance and expressed concern in response to observations that progress in implementing standards had so far been limited.

In order to realize the “consolidation of peace”, he said it was necessary to tackle the problems of economic difficulties, security and sustainable return.  For the success of the comprehensive and integrated strategy, he regarded the ownership of the people of Kosovo and the functioning of international institutions as key.  The stability of Kosovo was crucial for the entire region, and for that reason Japan had co-hosted the Ministerial Conference on Peace Consolidation and Economic Development of the Western Balkans in April.

AGIM NESHO (Albania) said the parliamentary elections of 23 October had been free and fair, demonstrating once again the political willingness and proper engagement of the Kosovar Albanians for a democratic and stable Kosova.  After the disheartening events of March 2004 in Kosova, it had been the first time that the local authority had been directly engaged and had had the responsibility of organizing the elections.  That significant accomplishment was an important step towards building a free, multi-ethnic and democratic society in Kosova.  He regretted the fact that the Serb community had not participated in the elections, due to the negative influence of some nationalist and religious circles still influential in Belgrade.  Nevertheless, the existing legislation in Kosova did guarantee a number of seats for minority representatives, leaving the door open for the Kosova Serb representatives and enabling them to directly exercise their rights for protecting their own community’s interests.

The new institutions, formed after the elections, would face challenges in the next four years, and he believed that their priorities would be effectively focused on the realization of the required standards for Kosova.  He commended the establishment of dialogue among the different communities in the pre-election period.  Unfortunately, that dialogue had not continued during and after the elections, because of the pressure of outside political factors.  In that regard, he stressed the importance of revitalizing dialogue as it would increase inter-ethnic relations and cooperation.

He said the coming year would be of great importance for Kosova, especially with regard to the speed that it would approach its European future.  The process required a serious and full engagement of the democratic institutions and civic society in Kosova and all the other actors.  What he expected from Kosova was a free, multi-ethnic and democratic society, with full respect of minority and human rights, return of displaced persons and the strengthening of the rule of law.  In order to reach those benchmarks, the creation of the necessary space for dialogue and understanding was crucial.  Kosova’s economic development was strongly and directly related to its future.  Kosova’s final status was part of a broad and multidimensional process that had already begun and involved a number of players.  He believed that the decision of the final status, to be taken by the Council, had to take into account the will of the Kosovar people.  Such a decision should be beyond regional round tables and should be decided in a measured and determined way by the international community.

JOHAN L. LØVALD (Norway) said his delegation supported the continued efforts outlined in the report to implement European standards in Kosovo.  As stability in the Western Balkans was of continued importance for Europe as a whole, it was important that the Kosovo issue be dealt with in a way that did not lead to renewed violence or regional destabilization.  While economic development was important for stability, so too was the need for a greater effort for inter-ethnic dialogue and reconciliation.  Norway supported greater efforts to foster local initiatives for community-based inter-ethnic dialogue and reconciliation.

Serb participation in the political and administrative life in Kosovo was important if Kosovo was to be truly multi-ethnic, eh said.  The Kosovo-Albanian political leadership should take the lead in supporting local community reconciliation.  It was vital that the legitimate interests of all communities in Kosovo be taken duly into account.  All inhabitants must be ensured full respect for their human and civil right, including security of both individuals and communities.

Norway commended the Kosovo Central Election Commission and its staff on the elections, he said.  He regretted, however, the very low turnout of Serb voters in the elections.  That non-participation was detrimental to the best long-term interests of the Serbian community in Kosovo.  Self-isolation would not bring any benefit, but would only exacerbate the challenges facing all those who were committed to a democratic and multi-ethnic Kosovo.  Democracy could not be achieved until all communities felt that their rights, aspirations and concerns were fully respected.  Kosovo continued to suffer from a deficit of mutual trust and respect between communities.  That was perhaps the predominate challenge facing Kosovo today.

Preparations must commence for a discussion on Kosovo’s future status, he said.  Discussion would be difficult, and it would be vital to include Belgrade in the process.  Discussion must also safeguard the human, minority and civil rights for all inhabitants of Kosovo.

Mr. COVIC (Serbia and Montenegro), responding to statements made during the discussion, said he supported the reports before the Council, adding that the future of Kosovo-Metohia did not lie in partition.  In addition, his country had supported the participation of Serbs in governance, despite the security problems that they faced.  The Serbian ethnic community, however, had no reason to support self-government in the province, given the insecurity and the fact that 200,000 people had been waiting to go back to their homes for the past five years. 

He had worked closely with the international community in the past years, he said, and seen many excellent reports.  However, despite that, the situation was not good.  There must be a two-way process in dialogue, and Belgrade’s efforts must be valued in their proper light.   His country was fully prepared to cooperate with the international community.

Regarding the elections, there had been a lack of success in multi-ethnic participation for which Belgrade was not responsible.  In addition, he maintained that the Serbian Orthodox Church had been cooperative in the reconstruction of religious sites.  He stressed that the international community could not be the only party that judged progress in the region and that Serbs should be integrated into all processes in Kosovo, but in an integral, and not a decorative, way.  Through all parties working together in an effective fashion, progress could be made.

Response by Secretary-General’s Special Representative

Mr. JESSEN-PETERSON said he was hopeful.  Many had referred to the March events, and March had been a setback for Kosovars and the international community.  March was also a turning point in that all understood that such violence could not be allowed to happen again.  Kosovo could also not continue to be managed as a holding operation.  The very uncertainty was unhelpful not only in Kosovo, but also in the entire region.  That was why he had emphasized priorities among the standards.  By focusing on the priorities, a link was being drawn between March and the mid-2005 review.  There was a clear understanding on the part of the political leaders and the people on what needed to be done.

He said he was also hopeful because the regular technical assessments on progress had been introduced, as they would push the process forwards and manage expectations.  The technical assessments would be both realistic and honest.  Accountability was very important.  A policy to ensure that polity was conducted in a clear, consistent and coherent way had been drawn up, and non performing authorities would be held accountable.  Progress in decentralization was one of the priorities.  He welcomed the strong statement of support for decentralization which was one of the most important ways to address minorities’ legitimate concerns.  Indeed, progress in the next six months would require reaching out to the Kosovo Serbs.  Their active engagement was also needed.  It also required a regular constructive dialogue with Belgrade at all levels.  The Council, in his view, had sent a clear message to the Provisional Institutions and all people of Kosovo of what it expected, including reaching out to minorities.  It had also sent an encouraging message of commitment and support.

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*     The 5087th and 5088th meetings were closed.

For information media. Not an official record.