SECURITY COUNCIL CALLS FOR END TO ETHNIC VIOLENCE
Presidential Statement Also Welcomes Legal Framework Working Group;
NEW YORK, 16 March (UN Headquarters) -- The Security Council today called for an end to all acts of violence in Kosovo, particularly ethnically motivated violence, and urged all political leaders in the province to condemn such acts, while increasing their efforts to create inter-ethnic tolerance.
In a statement read out by its President, Volodymyr Yel’chenko (Ukraine), the Council called on all parties to support the efforts of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) to build a stable multi-ethnic democratic society and to ensure suitable conditions for province-wide elections.
It stressed the importance of steps being taken for the holding of those elections and welcomed the establishment of a working group to develop a legal framework for provisional institutions of democratic and autonomous self-government. The Council also stressed the need for all ethnic groups to be represented in that group and underlined the need to keep the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia informed on the process.
Expressing its continuing concern about the security situation in southern Serbia, as a result of violent actions by ethnic Albanian armed groups, the Council welcomed the ceasefire agreements signed on 12 March and commended the continued restraint of authorities in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Serbia. A peaceful settlement of that crisis could only be solved through dialogue, it stressed.
The Council also welcomed the decision by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to authorize the controlled return of Yugoslav forces to the Ground Safety Zone, as a first step in a phased and conditioned reduction of the Zone. Further, reiterating its strong support for the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Council strongly condemned the continuing violence in parts of that country supported from outside, which constituted a threat to the stability and security of the entire region. It underlined the importance of maintaining the territorial integrity of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and all other States in the region.
Prior to adopting the statement, at a separate meeting, the Council heard a briefing by Hans Haekkerup, the Secretary-General's Special Representative in Kosovo and head of UNMIK.
Mr. Haekkerup told the Council that levels of violence in the province remained unacceptably high and the general security situation had not improved in the last two months. Ethnic violence was particularly high. Kosovar Albanians must actively support measures to stop that. "We are planning to bring the police and the judicial institutions under a single new United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) pillar", he said. That would ensure a better use of resources and tighter coordination.
The UNMIK was also faced with security problems in the region outside Kosovo, he said. Developments in southern Serbia's Presevo Valley had a direct impact on Kosovo's internal stability and on the political process in the province. Extremist actions in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia were also destabilizing the region. It was important that UNMIK and the international security presence KFOR support the Macedonian Government in solving the immediate problems.
He said that in order to accelerate the process of defining a legal framework for provisional self-government, he had established a working group on 6 March to elaborate the structure of the future institutions of provisional self-government. It was composed of international and Kosovar legal experts, including representatives of the major ethnic groups. The group would indicate which powers and competencies would be transferred and which would remain under his control. It would not address the question of sovereignty or prejudge a final political settlement on Kosovo’s final status.
Addressing relations with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, he said that while the leadership in Belgrade had sent positive signals, there were two clear messages that would further the normalization process: to the Kosovo Albanians, that there was a new democratic government in Belgrade that was prepared to take the necessary steps for normalizing relations with Pristina; and to the Kosovo Serbs, that their future lay in Kosovo and they should participate in the structures established to govern the province.
Following the briefing, the representative of the Russian Federation told the Council that there was a need for clarity in defining the concept of substantial autonomy for Kosovo within the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The legal framework that UNMIK was working on should not reflect only the views of different groups in Kosovo, but also that of the Belgrade Government. Rushing through the elections before the return of refugees and displaced persons, and before a secure environment was created, would merely strengthen the single-ethnic nature of Kosovo.
The United States delegate said, however, that UNMIK should move as quickly as possible in organizing the elections. It was not necessary to fulfil all the required conditions for the elections before setting a date. On the contrary, setting a date would provide an incentive for the quicker organization of whatever might be needed for the elections. If the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was sincere in its stated wish to improve ties with Kosovo Albanian leaders, it would encourage Kosovo Serbs to take part in the elections.
Yugoslavia's representative stressed that KFOR and UNMIK were far from fulfilling their mandate under Security Council resolution 1244 (1999). They had, by certain actions or non-actions, called Yugoslavia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity into question. The latest escalation of terrorism by ethnic Albanian extremists demonstrated that, far from being demilitarized, they continued to be recruited and armed. Nevertheless, Belgrade was resolved to cooperate with KFOR, UNMIK and all concerned in addressing all relevant issues.
The representative of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia said Kosovo's security tensions should not be allowed to spillover into his country and the rest of the region. "What we are witnessing, in effect, is an armed aggression on Macedonia from abroad -- from Kosovo", he stated. The extremists must be isolated and disabled. That should be done through adequate military and police measures by both KFOR and UNMIK to control the border and eliminate the terrorist bases in Kosovo. "Those who want to create war in Macedonia should be aware that the Macedonian army and police will respond severely", he added.
Other Council members who spoke today were France, Tunisia, United Kingdom, China, Singapore, Jamaica, Norway, Bangladesh, Colombia, Mali, Mauritius, Ireland and Ukraine. The Council also heard from non-members Sweden (on behalf of the European Union and associated countries), Albania, Turkey and Bulgaria.
This morning, meeting began at 11:05 a.m. and adjourned at 2:30 p.m. The evening meeting started at 6:45 p.m. and adjourned at 6:52 p.m.
The Security Council met this morning to hear a briefing from the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), Hans Haekkerup.
The Secretary-General’s report on UNMIK was before the Council (document S/2001/218). The report summarizes the mission’s activities and developments in Kosovo since 15 December 2000.
The UNMIK was given authority over the territory and people of Kosovo in Security Council resolution 1244 (1999), including all legislative and executive powers, as well as the administration of the judiciary, following the end of the air operations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in June 1999 and the withdrawal of the security forces of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia from Kosovo.
The Special Representative presides over four sectors: humanitarian assistance, led by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); civil administration, under the United Nations itself; democratization and institution-building, led by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE); and reconstruction and economic development, managed by the European Union
UNMIK’s work was envisaged in five integrated phases:
The Secretary-General’s most recent report states that, despite the challenges facing the mission, there has been considerable progress in the implementation of its mandate. The emergency phase is largely over, and emphasis is now on capacity-building. The groundwork for a legal framework for provisional self-government has been laid, and consultations with Kosovo communities have begun.
He goes on to say that reliance on donor contributions for the Kosovo consolidated budget has decreased, as revenue-generating commercial activity takes root, although some DM 1.346 million in donations will still be needed in 2001.
The Kosovo political leadership must finally decide and demonstrate that it is ready to take responsibility for self-government of a tolerant and all-inclusive society -- something it has seemed reluctant to do, the report continues. The speed of development of substantial autonomy will depend on the willingness of Kosovo communities to engage and participate fully. It will also be necessary for the international community to speak with one voice.
Initial signs of the commitment of the new Government in Belgrade have been encouraging, the Secretary-General reports, but more substantive gestures must follow. In particular, it should reconsider its decision to withdraw the Kosovo Serb representative from the working group on the interim legal framework, as the decision deprives Kosovo Serbs of the possibility of directly influencing a process that could lead to better future for all in Kosovo. It could also encourage Serbs to participate fully in the interim administrative structures, including voter registration.
Furthermore, the Secretary-General continues, it could also take swift action on Kosovo Albanian detainees. He calls on the Government to release the detainees or transfer them to the Kosovo justice system. Linked to that is the need for the Kosovo Albanian community to cooperate with UNMIK to resolve the fate of those missing in Kosovo.
Continuing violence remains the single most important threat to attainment of the international community’s goal, he reports, and it was also the most serious threat to the right of ordinary people to peaceful and secure lives. Most residents abhor violence, but remain unwilling to cooperate with UNMIK in tackling its causes and its perpetrators. Kosovo leaders must, with support from the international community, speak out against the violence.
The continuing conflict in the Presevo Valley of southern Serbia and conflict in the north of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is a serious threat to the region, the Secretary-General reports. UNMIK commends the restraint shown by both countries in dealing with these problems and cautions that the solutions to the problems were not purely military. The actions of authorities in dealing with Albanian minorities outside Kosovo were watched closely by the people of Kosovo, the Secretary-General observes. Any overreaction would inevitably have serious consequences in Kosovo.
VOLODYMYR YEL’CHENKO (Ukraine), President of the Security Council, began by paying tribute to Said Ben Mustapha, the Permanent Representative of Tunisia, whose term at the United Nations would soon be coming to an end. During his tenure, Mr. Ben Mustapha had demonstrated his commitment to world peace and made important contributions to that process, especially during his presidency of the Council last month.
SAID BEN MUSTAPHA (Tunisia) expressed his thanks for the kind words addressed to him.
Briefing the Council, HANS HAEKKERUP, Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Kosovo, said that upon his arrival in the province he had accelerated the process of defining a legal framework for provisional self-government. On 6 March he established a working group composed of international and Kosovar legal experts, including representatives of the major ethnic groups. That group was tasked with elaborating the structure of the future institutions of provisional self-government.
The group, he said, would indicate which powers and competences would be transferred and which would remain under his control. It would not address the question of sovereignty. The legal framework would also not address or prejudge a final political settlement on Kosovo’s final status. Seeking the active and constructive engagement of Kosovars in the definition of that framework was the only way to guarantee that both the process and the outcome were successful. For that reason, he noted with regret the withdrawal of the Kosovo Serb member from the working group. He would, however, continue his consultations with the Serbs and the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
He said the levels of violence in the province continued to be unacceptably high. The general security situation had not improved in the last two months and ethnic violence was particularly high. Kosovar Albanians must actively support measures to stop that. There was a need to strengthen the law enforcement institutions. "We are planning to bring the police and the judicial institutions under a single new United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo pillar", he said. That would ensure a better use of resources and tighter coordination.
He said while Kosovo's judiciary now numbered over 400 local judges, the quality of those judges and their ethnic bias left room for considerable improvement. Twelve international judges and prosecutors had, therefore, been appointed and were handling cases of a particularly sensitive nature, or where they might be an ethnic bias on the part of local judges. There was, however, a clear need for additional international judicial experts.
He said UNMIK had recently taken important steps in the economic sphere. The creation of a more market-friendly environment had been at the forefront of the mission’s efforts. Kosovo’s public finances had also been moving in the right direction. Revenues generated domestically were scheduled to increase from 50 per cent to 68 per cent of Kosovo's consolidated budget in 2001. Unemployment, however, was extremely high and the economic situation for a sizable part of the population was still very bleak.
Addressing relations with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, he said the democratic leadership in Belgrade had sent positive signals, but had not yet taken sufficient concrete steps. Two clear messages were needed to further the normalization process: to the Kosovo Albanians -- there was a new democratic Government in Belgrade which was prepared to take the necessary steps towards normalizing relations with Pristina; and to the Kosovo Serbs -- their future lay in Kosovo and they should participate in the structures put in place to govern the area.
He said UNMIK was also faced with security problems in the region outside of Kosovo. Developments in the Presevo Valley had a direct impact on Kosovo's internal stability and on the political process in the province. UNMIK strongly supported the international community’s intervention and backing for a negotiated political solution that would make it possible to abolish the Ground Safety Zone. The extremist actions in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia were also destabilizing the situation in the region. It was important that the stabilization force -- KFOR -- and UNMIK support the efforts of that country’s Government in solving the immediate problems. Closing off the border crossings at Blace and Globocica, however, did not address the problem and was unacceptable.
SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation), drawing attention to a sentence in the Secretary-General’s report that referred to "initial signs of the commitment of the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to resolution 1244", said it was not just now that Yugoslavia was showing its commitment. There had been no response from UNMIK to its previous signals, he said.
UNMIK must be encouraged to take a balanced approach in solving a whole range of problems regarding the holding of Kosovo-wide elections, he said. Rushing through the elections before the return of refugees and displaced persons, and before a secure environment was created, would merely strengthen the single-ethnic nature of Kosovo.
He stressed the need for clarity in the concept of substantial autonomy for Kosovo within the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The legal framework that UNMIK was working on should not reflect only the views of different groups in Kosovo, but also that of the Belgrade Government. In addition, the voice of Kosovo Serbs must be heard in the legal framework working group.
Expressing concern at the situation in southern Serbia’s Ground Safety Zone, he welcomed the recent ceasefire agreement and took note of the stepped up KFOR control activity in the border areas between Kosovo and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, as well as the re-entry of Yugoslav forces into the Ground Safety Zone. The Russian Federation welcomed the recognition that a reliable security environment could not be guaranteed without Yugoslavia’s participation.
JAMES CUNNINGHAM (United States) said he had been encouraged by the Government of Albania’s condemnation of the violence in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The United States encouraged the Kosovo senior leadership to be equally unequivocal in its condemnation of violence. The statements made by Kosovo leaders so far had not been strong enough.
He said UNMIK should move as quickly as possible in organizing the Kosovo-wide elections. It was not necessary to fulfil all the required conditions for the elections before setting a date. On the contrary, setting a date would provide an incentive for the quicker organization of whatever might be needed for the elections. The United States fully supported UNMIK’s efforts to improve relations with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. However, if the Belgrade Government was sincere in its stated wish to improve ties with Kosovo Albanian leaders, it would encourage Kosovo Serbs to take part in the elections.
JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France) said combating violence, particularly the kind based on ethnic hatred, continued to be the major concern of the international community in Kosovo. UNMIK and KFOR together had mobilized to take up the challenge posed by extremists. However, in order to stamp it out, there was need for the involvement of all of Kosovo’s society. All political leaders must give active and unambiguous support. Ending the violence and opening up dialogue would enable Kosovars to join a democratic Europe.
He said Kosovo-wide elections would also be useful for the democratic process and the substantial autonomy provided for in resolution 1244 (1999), as long as there was a precise mandate for the competencies of those to be elected, security existed and all minorities participated in the vote, including Serbs. The proposed elections could be held once those conditions were met. Setting an a priori date for the event, however, would be dangerous.
He said the destabilization being orchestrated by extremist Albanian groups in and around Kosovo could not be tolerated. In addition, all of the territory of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia must be respected. The international community could not accept actions by extremists who wished to forcibly change the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, particularly Kosovo, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Macedonian Albanians, however, must be offered some prospects within their current constitutional framework.
He said the international community must strengthen economic, social and humanitarian assistance to the region. The intention to abolish the Ground Safety Zone in the future was a step in the right direction. Thwarting extremists in and around Kosovo, who were seeking to do away with prospects for peace and development, was something the international community must achieve. Whatever their causes, those isolated groups and their acts of violence could not be tolerated by the Council.
SAID BEN MUSTAPHA (Tunisia) said today’s briefing allowed a comprehensive assessment of the situation on the ground in Kosovo. Achieving the objectives in the province required the participation of all Kosovo’s communities and constructive dialogue with Belgrade. Cooperation between the international community and the authorities in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was also key. He was also convinced that the participation of all parties in the working group on the legal framework for provisional self-government would provide the necessary balance. It was also important to ensure the success of the photo registration process, since drawing up an accurate electoral list was the key to success.
He said he also approved of UNMIK’s efforts to set up an efficient and responsible public service. In order to continue the gains made so far, it was urgent to end the violence, ethnic and political tensions. Such negatives undermined all positive efforts, so far. A tolerant and democratic society would be ideal for young people and pave the way for inter-ethnic reconciliation in the province.
He said the deployment of the army of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to the Ground Safety Zone should take into account the concerns of the Albanians who live in that zone. The release of Albanians from prisons in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia would also contribute to lowering tensions in the province.
Sir JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom), while welcoming UNMIK’s consultations with Kosovo’s political representatives on the development of a legal framework for provisional self-government institutions, expressed concern at the withdrawal of the Kosovo Serb representative from the legal framework working group. It was not in the interest of Kosovo Serbs for Belgrade to block their participation and representation in the group. Such tactics set back hopes of establishing a cooperative relationship between UNMIK and Belgrade.
He expressed satisfaction at the high priority given to tackling law and order, a fundamental issue for Kosovo’s future. The United Kingdom would provide additional international judges and prosecutors if requested. The situation in Mitrovica was a particular concern, and the United Kingdom supported UNMIK’s efforts to tackle that. The United Kingdom also looked to Belgrade to use its influence positively to help resolve that situation. Referring to the Russian delegate’s proposal of a Security Council mission to Kosovo, he said the Council would have to give the idea further consideration.
SHEN GUOFANG (China) noted that the province continued to face problems, making it difficult for UNMIK to carry out its mandate. China commended the cautious attitude that Mr. Haekkerup had maintained since his appointment.
He said Kosovo-wide elections must be carried out in strict conformity with resolution 1244 (1999) and with the participation of all communities. If it was not possible to guarantee the security of all segments of the population, the elections would be an empty exercise.
Noting that the deteriorating security situation around Kosovo, he said that the activities of extremists in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and in southern Serbia threatened the entire Balkan region. The recent ceasefire signed by Yugoslavia and the southern Serbia fighters, as well as the entry of Yugoslav troops into the Ground Safety Zone, was a positive sign that should send a strong signal to all extremist groups in the region. Taking into account the fragility of the situation, he said, China supported the Russian proposal for a Security Council mission to Kosovo.
YAP ONG HENG (Singapore) said the overall goal was to return Kosovo to normality. Unfortunately, violence had reared its ugly head again in the province and in the region surrounding it. He urged the relevant authorities, KFOR and UNMIK to put an end to it. The solution to the problem of armed extremists was a political one and not a military one. He, therefore, called on the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to pursue such solutions. The key to it all was dialogue and confidence-building measures.
He asked Mr. Haekkerup what the extremists were using to get the sympathy of the local people. The Special Representative should also investigate how those extremists could be halted and what it would entail. Building a multicultural society in Kosovo was an integral part of restoring normalcy to the province. The amnesty law that was approved by the Parliament of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the release of Albanians from Yugoslavian prisons under that law were welcome.
He said there must also be an endeavour to stimulate economic development in the province. Economic growth would be a strong inducement for Kosovars to work towards a peaceful and stable environment. The full participation of all in the working group was essential and he, therefore, regretted the decision by the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to withdraw the Serb member from the group. His delegation encouraged the Yugoslav Government to reconsider that decision.
M. PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica) reiterated that the process of defining substantial autonomy and developing institutions of self-governance must be actively pursued within the framework of resolution 1244 (1999). She was pleased that the working group on the legal framework had started to discuss UNMIK’s working paper and had provided additional input. Her delegation regretted, however, the withdrawal of the Kosovo Serb representative from the process. The representation of all ethnic groups was essential and she, therefore, urged Mr. Haekkerup, in his dialogue with officials of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, to stress the importance of the Serb community in that exercise.
She said recent reports indicated an upsurge of violence in Mitrovica. Additional security measures needed to be put in place to contain those outbreaks. It was also important that the UNMIK police enjoy the confidence of both communities, as they sought to promote law and order. In addition, developments in southern Serbia and on the Kosovo border with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia had complicated the security situation in the province and made it clear that there must be a regional perspective in addressing the issue.
She said the continuing violence remained the single most important threat to the attainment of the goals of the international community. On previous occasions, her delegation had called for increased surveillance along Kosovo’s borders. Yet, there were still reports coming out about the existence of large amounts of weapons in the province. There was even a recent report detailing the discovery of a large cache of arms. She wanted to know if any investigations had been carried out to find the source of the arms going into the province.
She also urged the speedy opening of the border crossings. With the security needs of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia adequately addressed, there was less reason for the border crossing to remain closed. "We appreciate the need to contain the violence at the border, but feel that closing this border has had negative economic consequences on the people of Kosovo", she said.
OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) said Kosovo Albanian leaders must take greater responsibility for actively preventing ethnically motivated violence and combating extremism and crime. Kosovo Serb leaders had the same responsibility, especially north of the Ibar river. Noting that Mr. Haekkerup had focused specifically on the violence in Mitrovica, he asked about violence against Serbs and other minorities in other areas.
He emphasized the importance of strengthening the judiciary and law enforcement as an integrated part of the process aimed at developing a legal framework for provisional self-government. Lack of public trust in the law enforcement agencies, as well as the judiciary, made that an urgent task for UNMIK.
Regarding elections, he stressed the importance of holding them only when all necessary requirements had been met. Premature or ill-prepared elections for a provincial assembly risked undermining stability. In addition, the role and functions of a provincial assembly must be clarified first. Registration of voters, including refugees and displaced persons, must be conducted. Consultation between UNMIK and Yugoslav authorities were essential in order to ensure Belgrade’s political support.
He stressed the importance of the decision by NATO to allow the return of Yugoslav forces to the Ground Safety Zone in southern Serbia. It was vital that confidence-building measures be implemented on the Yugoslav side to create a climate conducive to a political settlement. Welcoming the ceasefire agreements signed on 12 March, he said it was important that armed ethnic Albanian groups comply fully with its terms, refrain from provocations and engage constructively in substantial dialogue.
SHAMEEM AHSAN (Bangladesh) said that the organization of Kosovo-wide elections was a distinct priority. That included agreeing on a legal framework that would define the bodies for election and their mandates. Only the elected representatives in Kosovo, with the full participation of all communities, would have the mandate to take decisions on the future of Kosovo.
Noting that the security environment was worsening, he said it had taken considerable effort and investment to achieve some stabilization. The Security Council had strongly condemned last month’s terrorist attack on a convoy of buses carrying Serb civilians. The incident must be properly investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice.
Regarding the closing of the Ground Safety Zone between southern Serbia and Kosovo, he said it had increasingly been used for extremist activities. However, its closure should be accompanied by the deployment of sufficient international monitors and confidence-building measures, so as not to affect the security of about 100,000 civilians living in that area and in adjacent villages.
ALFONSO VALDIVIESO (Colombia) said he wished to highlight the importance of strengthening local administrative structures in Kosovo. He also applauded the achievements made so far that were enabling the province to depend less on international financial commitments. Addressing the strengthening of local structures, he supported the importance given to the administration of justice and the rule of law in the Secretary-General’s report.
He asked Mr. Haekkerup for additional information on the proposal for a unified police structure that would be administered by UNMIK. Addressing the legal framework, he said the decision to postpone the organization of general elections was a wise one.
He asked the Special Representative to explain why the Serb representative had left the working group for self-government and what alternatives existed to guarantee his return and participation. Addressing Kosovo’s relationship with Belgrade, he said that while confidence-building measures had been established, he was concerned by risks that were still present in the Ground Safety Zone. He also asked Mr. Haekkerup to inform members about how violent acts by extremists were perceived in the field. What support was given to such actions from the population? And what was the impact of statements and communiqués by the Council on Kosovo’s population?
MAMOUNOU TOURE (Mali) said he welcomed the establishment of the working group –- the legal framework would contribute to building the body and power of the provisional self-government bodies. Ensuring the full participation in the elections of all Kosovars was a major challenge for the international community.
Turning to issues in the Presevo Valley and other areas, he condemned the violent terrorist actions that were being perpetuated by extremist Albanian groups. Such violence undermined the objectives of peace, prosperity and democracy being sought by the international community.
He paid tribute to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia for showing restraint in the face of such violence. He strongly supported what was being done to improve the situation in the province and noted that the relationship between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and UNMIK was developing positively.
ANUND PRIYAY NEEWOOR (Mauritius) expressed appreciation for the role played by UNMIK and KFOR. Noting the presence of extremists in Kosovo whose agenda differed from that envisaged by Security Council resolution 1244 (1999), he said that though they might try to disrupt the elections, that should not deter UNMIK from organizing them.
He said it was essential that all segments of Kosovo’s population participate in the elections, so that the elected body would be as fully representative as possible. In addition, he stressed the need for improved relations between UNMIK and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. He also called upon both the Kosovo Albanian and Kosovo Serb leaderships to condemn extremists on both sides.
DAVID COONEY (Ireland) condemned the continuing ethnically motivated violence in Kosovo as witnessed recently by incidents in Mitrovica, and supported Mr. Haekkerup’s view that the international community should continue to engage the Yugoslav authorities in constructive dialogue regarding Kosovo. He welcomed the recent adoption of the amnesty law and urged the Belgrade authorities to take steps to release all remaining political prisoners. Rapid progress on that issue would constitute an important step towards reconciliation. Progress must also be made regarding missing persons and the return of refugees to their homes in Kosovo.
He said the electoral system in Kosovo needed to be developed further, and stressed the need for the results of last year’s elections to be fully implemented. The diversity of Kosovo’s communities should be reflected in the joint working group on the legal framework, he said, and encouraged Belgrade to exercise its influence to ensure that Kosovo Serbs were adequately represented in that process.
Developments in southern Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia could not be ignored, he said, and the international community must address the situation in a sensible and organized manner. The European Union had decided to increase the number of its monitors in the region. Welcoming the ceasefire agreements signed recently with Serb and Albanian representatives, he said the parties involved should now begin direct negotiations and work towards defusing tensions in the area. He urged governments of the region to develop further confidence-building measures and to work towards peace, based on democratic principles and full respect for human rights.
VOLODOMYR YEL'CHENKO (Ukraine), Council President, speaking in his national capacity, said that despite the new political climate, the situation remained serious, particularly with regard to security conditions for minorities, organized crime and violence by ethnic extremists on the borders.
While welcoming the establishment of the legal framework working group, he said that the recent withdrawal of the Kosovo Serb representative from that body could lead to a rejection by Kosovo Serbs of any resulting legal framework, or to their boycotting the elections, which would rob future institutions of legitimacy. UNMIK must do everything possible to ensure the return of the Kosovo Serb representative, he added.
Expressing relief at the 12 March ceasefire between Yugoslavia and ethnic Albanian fighters in southern Serbia and the Belgrade's new amnesty law, he applauded the European Parliament’s adoption yesterday of a resolution calling on KFOR to be more resolute in using force if necessary to combat the activities of ethnic Albanian extremists behind the violence in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Nevertheless, Ukraine attributed the violence in Kosovo and in southern Serbia's Presevo Valley to the international community's late reaction.
PIERRE SCHORI (Sweden), speaking on behalf of the European Union and Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta and Iceland, said the latest report on Kosovo confirmed that the number of ethnically motivated crimes, mainly against Serbs and Romas, remained alarmingly high. The Union urged political leaders and local communities to increase their efforts to build confidence through constructive dialogue in good faith, and to make progress on issues of common interest. It supported UNMIK’s efforts to increase the dialogue and cooperation with relevant institutions of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and its recent adoption of an amnesty law.
Before elections take place, he said there was a need to develop the electoral system further, including through an updated and integrated civil and voter registry which would include refugees, internally displaced persons and members of minority groups who did not register for last year’s local elections. The Union expected all ethnic groups to participate constructively in the development of the legal framework and in the preparations for Kosovo-wide elections. It encouraged Belgrade to exert its influence to ensure the adequate involvement of Kosovo Serbs in the process, in particular through the resumption of the participation of a qualified representative of the Kosovo Serb community in the working group on the legal framework.
The Union remained concerned at the level of violence in South-East Serbia and welcomed the agreement reached between NATO and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on the reduction of the Ground Safety Zone. It had today decided to make available substantial additional number of monitors on the ground in the next few days. The Union was also deeply alarmed by the recent clashes between Albanian extremists and the armed forces of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. It reiterated its strong attachment to the principle of the inviolability of all borders in the region and to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. A peaceful and stable former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia –- within internationally recognized borders -– was a key factor for the stability in the region.
NASTE CALOVSKI (The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) said the main preoccupation of his country was that Kosovo should not continue to be a source of tension and a factor for destabilization in the region. The elimination of the paramilitary extremists, established at the border for penetration into the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, was an urgent necessity . In other words, the security tensions of Kosovo should not be allowed to spill over into his country and the rest of the region. "What we are witnessing, in effect, is an armed aggression on Macedonia from abroad – from Kosovo", he stated. It was, therefore, urgent that the extremists be isolated and disabled. That should be done through adequate military and police measures by both KFOR and UNMIK. Those forces should control the border and eliminate the terrorist bases in Kosovo.
He said the efforts of terrorists to undermine the stability, security and territorial integrity of his country would not succeed. "We will not allow that to happen", he stressed. He was also pleased to say that his Government had the support of the Council. KFOR had responded vigorously to Macedonian concerns and had conducted robust and successful operations to ensure that the shared border was not a safe haven for armed terrorists. That force had also worked hard to prevent ethnic Albanian terrorist in his country from drawing support from inside Kosovo. Today, all indicators showed that the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was being attacked by structures that had logistic and technical support in Kosovo. Such actions would cause enormous damage to Albanians in the Balkans, he said, adding that "every reasonable Albanian politician is aware of that".
"Those who want to create war in Macedonia", he continued, "should be aware that the Macedonian army and police will respond severely". They would also ask for the direct inclusion of NATO and KFOR troops in the confrontations. "We are facing a special situation, but I am deeply convinced that we have no other choice but to defeat the terrorists", he said. It had, however, to be an apolitical victory, and not a military one.
In a question put specifically to Mr. Haekkerup, he asked how UNMIK and KFOR would implement the Council's presidential statement of 7 March and the one that was going to be adopted today. Would the aggression by terrorists from Kosovo be discussed with the legitimate political leaders in the province and the Macedonian Government? "Are you going to take special measures against the terrorists", he asked. If so, what kind of measures would be taken?
AGIM NESHO (Albania) said the Serbs of Kosovo were an inseparable part of the process for building a multi-ethnic society in the province. His Government called on the new authorities in Belgrade to encourage Kosovo's Serbs, in particular those of Mitrovica, not to boycott and sabotage the building of new democratic institutions and also not to be used as a tension factor. Albanians understood that the recent developments in Presevo were the continuation of previous developments there, and of the resistance by Albanians to the persecution and genocide that the Milosevic regime had exercised. He did not agree that the use of violence was the answer to those grievances -- the only solution was political dialogue between the parties concerned. He also urged the Albanian factor to support the United Nations and NATO.
He said in the Presevo Valley there was a lack of confidence among the Albanians when they saw the same military commanders and generals who exercised genocide and crimes in Kosovo under Milosevic now being used to make peace. Addressing extremism in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, he emphasized that the use of violence by extremists to achieve political aims was not only unacceptable but should be condemned. The democratization process in that country, on the other hand, would continue through the participation of the Albanians there; through the better functioning of institutions; and recognition of the rights of Macedonian Albanians in accordance with all internationally recognized norms.
He said the difficult situation that had been created should not be seen as the tendency of certain group forces in the Balkans to create a "greater nationalist State". The Balkans had suffered from that illness and from the domination of Serbian nationalism, which had brought a real humanitarian catastrophe to the heart of Europe. Albanians belonged to those nations that had suffered the most. Unfortunately, that idea was still alive in some pro-nationalist circles, who wanted to realize their ideas through democratic language while continuing to deny the fundamental principle of the Charter -- the right of people to self-determination.
SAFAK GOKTURK (Turkey) said that once the legal framework working group was established, all the people of Kosovo would be asked to follow its trajectory. Now was the time for all communities to participate in the group. Hence, Turkey fully supported the legitimate expectation of Kosovo’s Turkish community to be represented in the group.
That prerogative emanated from the community’s acquired rights and status, which, he said, had been confirmed and given operative expression last September in a letter to the Turkish community from Bernard Kouchner, the former Special Representative. That letter assured that "UNMIK shall fully and fairly involve members of the Turkish community, as well as members of other communities, in the preparation of future arrangements for the establishment of provisional institutions in Kosovo for the interim period".
He said the chances of the Kosovo experiment to become a truly inclusive society, leading to multi-ethnic harmony, rested to a large extent on the latitude the smaller communities would enjoy in their daily dealings and in determining their future. That would also define the contour of the frame of mind through which the larger segments of the society viewed each other.
The recent eruption of violence in the northern part of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia could in no way be condoned, he emphasized. All involved in the region must distance themselves from the extremist elements. Turkey fully supported efforts by the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to restore tranquillity in its territory. Equally, all must contribute to the effectiveness of joint measures by UNMIK and KFOR along that country’s northern border.
VLADIMIR SOTIROV (Bulgaria) said his country was extremely concerned over the ongoing ethnically motivated violence in Kosovo. There would be no substantive results in the political and economic capacity-building without inter-ethnic tolerance and dialogue.
He added that Bulgaria had already expressed its solidarity with the Republic of Macedonia and considered the stability of the State vital to security in the region. It was of key importance that the territorial integrity of Macedonia within the internationally recognized borders was preserved and strengthened. He commended the Macedonian Government for its restraint and search for political and diplomatic means to face the existing threats. It was encouraging that all responsible political factors in Macedonia had supported the constructive approach of the Government and President towards the crisis.
He further stated that the recent provocative terrorist events, including the situation in Tetovo, aimed to disturb the inter-ethnic relations in Macedonia. He shared the concerns of the Government for urgent measures to stop the escalation of violence. In that regard, he reconfirmed Bulgaria’s position that the political and material isolation of the extremists was of the utmost importance in order to bring the conflict to an end. The solution to the conflict was to be found in the active involvement of KFOR. It must take appropriate measures to disrupt the supply sources of the extremists and prevent them from smuggling weapons over the border.
VLADISLAV MLADENOVIC (Yugoslavia) said that serious problems in Kosovo included the establishment of a secure environment for all residents, irrespective of national or religious background; vigorous suppression of extremism and terrorism; the creation of conditions for the return of those expelled and displaced; and effective measures to trace missing and abducted persons.
He stressed that the present situation was unacceptable for his Government. KFOR and UNMIK were far from fulfilling their mandate under Security Council resolution 1244 (1999). By adopting certain measures and/or taking or failing to take certain actions provided for under the resolution, Yugoslavia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity had been called into question.
The latest escalation of terrorism by ethnic Albanian extremists, the victims of which were primarily Serbs and other non-Albanians, once again demonstrated that extremist Albanian groups had not been demilitarized. They continued to be recruited and armed and were active not only in Kosovo, but also in southern Serbia, inside and outside the Ground Safety Zone, as well as in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
He said that prior to holding Kosovo-wide elections, it was necessary to create an appropriate environment, including first and foremost the return of all expelled and displaced persons, as well as the exact determination of the bodies for which elections would be held and their competencies. The Yugoslav Government was resolved to cooperate with all parties concerned, in particular with KFOR and UNMIK, in addressing all relevant issues.
Yugoslavia’s ceasefire with ethnic Albanian fighters in southern Serbia and its agreement with KFOR for Yugoslav forces to enter the Ground Safety Zone bordering the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was the first positive step towards overcoming the serious threats to peace and stability in the region, he said. Conditions had been created for the full implementation of the Security Council’s repeated requests for the immediate end to violence, for the disbanding and disarming of Albanian groups and their withdrawal from the Ground Safety Zone.
Responses to Questions
Mr. HAEKKERUP, responding to a question on the steps to Kosovo's independence, said that in dealing with the legal framework, great care had been taken to make it clear that it would not prejudice the final settlement. Nevertheless, the legal framework was an important step that would facilitate that final settlement.
Addressing the issues of displaced people and returns, he said related activities could not proceed at a larger scale because the security situation was not right. As it stood now, returnees could only get limited protection in enclaves.
Referring to several speakers who deplored the withdrawal of the Kosovo Serb member from the working group, he said he agreed with them and wanted to see Serb participation in the group as well. In the interim, he would continue to consult with the Yugoslav authorities through UNMIK offices in both Belgrade and Kosovo.
He said there was some paralysis in the political climate in Kosovo, as people were waiting for elections. Once those elections took place, there might be more movement. That, in itself, was a good reason for pressing for elections. The legal framework, nevertheless, had to be in place. While the participation of all in the election was preferred, the process would proceed whether all minorities were participating or not.
Responding to questions raised on cooperation with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, he said he wanted to open channels. Arrangements had already been identified to facilitate that.
Turning to the amnesty law, he said all cases were being made ready for review under international standards. The freeing of detainees was also important, as it addressed many problems,
especially the question of missing people. Both Serbs and Albanians were interested in finding out the truth.
On the issue of Presevo, he said although it did not come under resolution 1244, there was still a risk of spillover. It was, therefore, an issue that should be addressed. While the solution had to be political it should be backed up by power, since that would be very important in solving it. KFOR had assured him that they would provide the back-up. He also said problems in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia were essentially the same type of issue as Presevo and both UNMIK and KFOR had offered their support.
He said while it was sometimes important to seal off borders, for Kosovo they were a lifeline. Closing the province's border did not hit at the terrorists, but at ordinary citizens. He appealed to the Government of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to open the border crossings again.
He said addressing organized crime was high on the list of priorities and a special unit had been created to gather the necessary intelligence on such crime. Organized criminality, however, was not endemic to just Kosovo; it was international. Kosovo was just one of its conduits.
Addressing the flow of weapons into Kosovo, he said a system had been put in place requiring people to have a weapons permit. After the amnesty period, anyone caught with weapons without a proper permit would be subject to heavy penalties. He also said that there was no heavy traffic of large weapons into the province. There were, however, numerous small arms.
He said there were very few local Albanians in Kosovo who supported the terrorist groups.
At a separate meeting, the President of the Council, VOLODYMYR YEL’CHENKO (Ukraine), read the following statement, which will be issued as S/PRST/2001/8:
"The Security Council welcomes the briefing by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on progress in the implementation of its resolution 1244 (1999) of 10 June 1999.
"The Security Council commends the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and the commander of the international security presence (KFOR) for their ongoing efforts to implement fully resolution 1244 (1999), undertaken under difficult circumstances, and welcomes the priority areas of work identified by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General.
"The Security Council welcomes the establishment of a working group under the authority of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General aimed at developing a legal framework for provisional institutions for democratic and autonomous self-government in Kosovo and stresses the need for all ethnic groups to be represented in the work of this group. It underlines the need to keep the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia informed on the process. It calls on all parties to support the efforts of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) to build a stable multi-ethnic democratic society in Kosovo and to ensure suitable conditions for Kosovo-wide elections. It stresses the importance of a number of steps being taken for the holding of these elections: the establishment of the legal framework, in particular the definition of the functions and powers of the elected bodies; the development of an integrated voter registry which should include the refugees and internally displaced persons; full involvement of all the communities in the ballot; and a high security environment for the voting.
"The Security Council welcomes close contact between the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and UNMIK and KFOR, in particular the steps taken towards the opening of an UNMIK office in Belgrade, which will facilitate these consultations. It stresses the importance of substantial dialogue between Kosovo political leaders and the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
"The Security Council calls for an end to all acts of violence in Kosovo, in particular those which are ethnically motivated and urges all political leaders in Kosovo to condemn these acts and to increase their efforts to create inter-ethnic tolerance. It reiterates the importance of resolving the problem of the missing and detainees and notes that this would be a major confidence-building measure. It welcomes the initial steps taken by the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in this regard.
"The Security Council remains concerned about the security situation in certain municipalities in Southern Serbia as a result of the violent actions of ethnic Albanian armed groups. It welcomes the ceasefire agreements signed on 12 March 2001 and calls for strict compliance with their provisions. It stresses that a peaceful settlement of this crisis can only be achieved through substantial dialogue. It commends the continued restraint of the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Serbia. The Security Council welcomes the plan of the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia for Southern Serbia and supports its initiative to find a peaceful and durable solution through a process of dialogue and confidence-building measures. It expresses the opinion that the swift implementation of confidence-building measures would be an important element in a peaceful settlement, and underlines the importance of continued political and financial support for this process by the international community.
"The Security Council welcomes the decision taken by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to authorize the commander of KFOR to allow the controlled return of forces of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to the Ground Safety Zone as defined in the military-technical agreement signed in Kumanovo on 9 June 1999 referred to in Annex II of resolution 1244 (1999) as a first step in a phased and conditioned reduction of the Ground Safety Zone.
"The Security Council reiterates its strong support for the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia as set out in the statement of its President of 7 March 2001 (PRST/2001/7). It strongly condemns the continuing extremist violence in parts of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia supported from outside the country, which constitutes a threat to the stability and security of the entire region and underlines the importance of maintaining the territorial integrity of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and all other States in the region.. It supports efforts by the Government of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to cooperate with the NATO and other international organizations to end this violence in a manner consistent with the rule of law.
"The Security Council will remain actively seized of the matter."
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* The 4297th Meeting of the Security Council was a private meeting.