Secretary-General's press encounter with SRSG Michael Steiner (unofficial transcript)
Gornji Makresh, Kosovo, 19 November 2002It's been a very interesting visit for me to come and see the village where the residents realize that they have to live together and make a genuine effort to put the past behind them and live together respecting their neighbours.
I think a multi-ethnic Kosovo is what we have all been working on.
And those of you who follow the activities of my Special Representative, Michael Steiner, realize that he works on this every day and every week and every month.
Today every community accepts pluralism. You cannot go into any country in Europe and not find various groups, different ethnicities and religions working together.
I know you've had a difficult past here. Indeed, a painful one.
But this should not deter you from attempting to live together.
And it is this pluralism and this respect for diversity that prevails in the Europe you are hoping to join.
We on our side will continue our efforts to strengthen your institutions, help you strengthen your judicial system and the rule of law, train the police, who will have the responsibility of protecting you and your property and applying the law. But I'm also particularly impressed to see young people playing a leadership role here. The two mayors are very young and dynamic.
And I think they're setting a good example for the rest of the country. Thank you, very much. My wife and I have enjoyed the brief moment we've spent here with you. And I'm sure you're going to be seeing Mr. Steiner here again in the future.
Q: UNMIK was criticized for doing not enough about human rights in Kosovo.
Steiner. Have you read the full report? We were praised also. Mr. Secretary-General, I can say, of course the human rights situation is not what we want it to be, but if we had it 100 percent as we want, we wouldn't be here. The very reason we're still here is we still have to work on it. You have to see the progress we have made in the past.
Q. Iraq flew in the No Fly Zone yesterday. Does that mean it is breaking the resolution?
SG: I didn't realize you were pre-occupied with Iraq here. But let me say that I don't think that the Council will say that it is in contravention of the resolution which was recently passed.
Q. Have you visited any of 130 destroyed churches and monasteries.
SG: My visit here is very brief. I came, as you know, only yesterday, but you must also be aware that one of the first persons on the scene was my Special Representative, Michael Steiner, and the Prime Minister of Kosovo was also there, and I had the chance yesterday to discuss this issue with President Rugova and the Prime Minister, the Speaker and Rada Trajkovic. I am concerned about it and we discussed it seriously and Mr. Steiner is following it and is here with you and will take every step to dissuade the population from getting involved in those activities.
On the question of human rights, if I may add one word, human rights is an important issue, but it should not be seen as a concern of the Government and UN alone. It is a concern of each and every one of us. You have a responsibility not only to ensure that your human rights are respected, but the rights of others. When you see the rights of others being abused, speak up. When we arrest people who are committing abuses, come forth and give evidence. Don't keep quiet. If you do, you encourage impunity and you encourage people to carry on abuse of these rights. So let's all work together.
Q. Are you going to extend the deadline for Cyprus?
SG: I did ask both leaders to give me their reaction by yesterday. I have got one response from Mr. Clerides. Unfortunately, Mr. Denktash is still in New York recovering from surgery. I haven't seen his response yet, but I'm waiting for his reaction. I'm proceeding with the expectation that we will be able to get the parties to come together and use my proposals as a basis for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue. I think it is in the interest of the people of divided Cyprus, in the interest of the region, and I hope we will resolve this long-standing issue.
Off-the-Cuff on 19 November 2002
- Belgrade - Secretary-General's statement to the press following his meeting with President Kostunica of Yugoslavia
- Pristina, Kosovo - Secretary-General's press encounter before departure to Belgrade (unofficial transcript)
- Gornji Makresh, Kosovo - Secretary-General's remarks to Serb and Albanian leaders
- Mitrovica, Kosovo - Secretary-General's press encounter after visiting the Police Station (unofficial transcript)