SECURITY COUNCIL URGES ALL MEN AND WOMEN OF KOSOVO
Calls on Kosovo Leaders to Publicly Condemn Violence
NEW YORK, 5 October (UN Headquarters) -- The Security Council today called on all women and men of Kosovo to vote in the 17 November elections, stating that would provide for the broadest possible representation of views in the institutions of the provisional self-government. It did this through a presidential statement, read in the second of two meetings on Kosovo today.
The Security Council welcomed the elections to be held on 17 November in Kosovo, a province of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Those elections were described as the basis for the establishment of democratic self-governing institutions -- as specified in the Constitutional Framework for Provisional Self-Government -- under which Kosovars, will enjoy substantial autonomy.
In the statement, read out by its President, Richard Ryan (Ireland), the Council emphasized the responsibility of Kosovo’s elected leaders to fully respect the final status provisions of resolutions 1244 (1999). It also reaffirmed its commitment to the full implementation of that text as the basis for building the province’s future.
The Council also called on all Kosovo’s leaders to publicly condemn violence and ethnic intolerance and to exert all their influences and assume their responsibility for actively ensuring that the campaign and the election were peaceful, democratic and inclusive.
Briefing the Council in the first meeting, Hans Haekkerup, Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Kosovo, said, "We are standing on the threshold of fulfilling the core objective of Security Council resolution 1244 -- the establishment of substantial autonomy and functioning self-government in Kosovo." Three days ago, the election campaign was officially initiated, and expectations among ordinary people and political contestants were high. The province was about to embark on a journey towards sustainable democracy, multi-ethnic dialogue and gradual normalization.
He said the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) was making every effort to secure broad participation in the election. Inter-ethnic violence and high criminality, mutual prejudice, as well as intolerance, were daily reminders of the post-conflict reality. The hope and potential manifested by the 17 November election, however, had to be nourished and cultivated by responsible leaders.
He said initial preparations for the election had been made and a voters’ list and a ballot were now being produced. It appeared that more than 1.2 million persons would be eligible to vote, both inside and outside of Kosovo. It was estimated that 83 per cent of eligible voters were Kosovo Albanians, 12-13 per cent were Kosovo Serb, and the remainder were primarily Kosovo Bosniac and Gorani, Kosovo Turk and Kosovo Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian. Based on the best available demographic date, those figures indicated that Kosovo’s communities had participated in large numbers.
He said UNMIK was about to move into a determining phase of interim administration in Kosovo. Following the elections in November, the role of the Mission in the areas transferred would evolve from that of direct administrative responsibility to one of oversight of self-government. The transition should be smooth and orderly, with minimal disruption to the provision of an interim administration and services in the province. Much of the groundwork for that transition had already been laid, and the rest should be in place by 17 November.
In the first meeting, Council members, the United States, France, Russian Federation, Norway, Tunisia, Mauritius, Mali, Colombia, China, Jamaica, United Kingdom, Ukraine, Bangladesh, Singapore and Ireland spoke, as did the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Belgium (on behalf of the European Union and associated States), and Albania. During that meeting, which began at 10:34 a.m. and was adjourned at 1:05 p.m., Mr. Haekkerup also responded to questions.
The second meeting began at 1:06 p.m. and was adjourned at 1:11 p.m. The full text of the presidential statement follows.
Following is the full text of the statement read out by the President of the Security Council:
"The Security Council welcomes the report of the Secretary-General (S/2001/926) and 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).
"The Security Council welcomes the elections to be held on 17 November as a basis for the establishment of democratic self-governing institutions as specified in the Constitutional Framework for Provisional Self-Government, under which the people of Kosovo, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, will enjoy substantial autonomy in accordance with resolution 1244 (1999). It emphasizes the responsibility of Kosovo’s elected leaders to respect fully the final status provisions of resolution 1244 (1999). It reaffirms its commitment to the full implementation of resolution 1244 (1999), which remains the basis for building Kosovo’s future.
"The Security Council supports the continuing efforts by the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and KFOR to improve public security, including through the confiscation of weapons and the package of legislation to combat violence, and to facilitate the return of displaced Serbs and members of other communities. It calls on Kosovo Albanian leaders to actively support these efforts. It further calls on Kosovo Albanian and other local leaders to publicly condemn violence, ethnic intolerance and extremism, including terrorist activities. It calls on them to exert all their influence and assume their responsibility for actively ensuring that the campaign and the elections are peaceful, democratic and inclusive. It stresses the need for proper organization and adequate security for the elections on 17 November, and welcomes continuing steps taken in that regard.
"The Security Council calls on all women and men of Kosovo to vote in the elections of 17 November. This will provide for the broadest possible representation of views in the institutions of the provisional self-government. The Security Council commends the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, particularly President Kostunica, for their encouragement to the Kosovo Serb community to register, which confirms the multi-ethnic character of Kosovo, and calls on them to also actively encourage the fullest possible participation in the vote. It underlines the importance, for the Kosovo Serb community, to integrate in the structures set up by UNMIK. It encourages the further development of a constructive dialogue between UNMIK and Belgrade.
"The Security Council will remain actively seized of the matter."
When the Security Council met today, it had before it the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) (document S/2001/926). The report covers the activities of UNMIK and developments in Kosovo, Yugoslavia.
The Secretary-General states that the primary focus of UNMIK has been on preparing the Kosovo-wide elections, to be held on 17 November 2001, accelerating the transfer of authority at the municipal level, enhancing institutional capacity-building at the central level, and working to create a solid economic basis for the upcoming provisional institutions of self-government. The participation of Kosovo Serbs and other minority communities is critical to the legitimacy of the elections and to the Mission’s goal of an all-inclusive provisional self-government. The UNMIK has continued to encourage the engagement of the Kosovo Serb community. Besides political preparations, continuous efforts have been made to attain an acceptable security situation for all communities. The development of a safe and secure environment is both integral to engaging the Kosovo Serb and other minority communities, and an essential complement to the Mission’s activities to ensure a smooth transition to provisional self-government.
Despite progress in strengthening law and order in Kosovo, the report says, continuing inter-ethnic violence and criminal activity remain a major concern. The number of incidents involving the use of weapons remains alarming. The UNMIK and the Kosovo Force (KFOR) have continued their efforts to eliminate the number of unauthorized weapons in Kosovo. Following a number of apparently politically motivated criminal incidents, UNMIK has re-established the Political Violence Task Force to provide a coordinated response to any future attempts of this nature.
The Mission has made significant strides in strengthening security and law and order, through the establishment of the police and justice pillar to improve coordination among international and local judicial and law enforcement elements, construct legislative instruments for more effective anti-terrorism activities, and oversee anti-crime and border security operations. The UNMIK has continued to work in concert with KFOR to reduce the influence of members of ethnic Albanian armed groups operating from Kosovo and to sever possible ties between radical elements in Kosovo and the so-called National Liberation Army. The movement of refugees from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to Kosovo fluctuated according to political and security developments. The UNMIK is increasingly concerned about the potential impact on inter-ethnic relations of ethnic Albanian refugees from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia taking up residence in Kosovo.
The Secretary-General calls on all local political leaders and representatives of civil society to ensure that the upcoming election campaign is free of violence. All communities must participate in the elections, and the ensuing institutions of provisional self-government, if they wish to have a say in the daily running of their affairs. The Secretary-General welcomes the special emphasis that UNMIK has given to encouraging minority communities, especially Kosovo Serbs, to participate in public life. He commends the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia for the encouragement they gave to the Kosovo Serb community to register and calls on those authorities to also encourage Kosovo Serbs to vote.
He goes on to say that legitimate grievances of all communities are recognized by UNMIK. At the same time, many issues set out as preconditions for cooperation with the international presence are issues that require painstaking efforts and for which there is no quick solution. The Secretary-General endorses the measured approach taken by his Special Representative to confidence-building measures, including returns of displaced communities, and the recognition of the need to search for pragmatic solutions, including those relating to detained Kosovo Albanians. He also welcomes progress on the issue of the missing. In this context, he calls again on the Kosovo Albanian community to work with UNMIK so that it can assist in determining the fate of the missing.
Regarding the Constitutional Framework for Provisional Self-Government, there has been substantial progress in preparing for the transfer of authority to the institutions of provisional self-government. Moreover, preparations to ensure that the current joint administrative bodies are ready to be transferred to local responsibility are continuing.
The report indicates that significant progress has been made in education and in the area of health care. Efforts continue to be made to revitalize the agriculture sector, and capacity-building activities are being undertaken through a World Bank-funded project, including the identification of training needs, irrigation, information and communication, and water management. As part of the United Nations mandate to support institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women, the UNMIK Office of Gender Affairs continued to support and advise the Gender Policy Working Group of the Kosovo Transitional Council, a quasi-parliamentary group comprising key Kosovo women representatives of political parties and civil society. The UNMIK Office of Gender Affairs is currently making a special effort to address the issues and concerns of women from minority communities.
The report states that there were a number of developments to improve Kosovo’s civil security and emergency preparedness capability. "Kosovarization" continues apace at the municipal level, particularly in the areas already devolved to local competency, such as primary health care and education. Budgetary and finance functions are being progressively handed over to municipalities in both these areas. There appears, however, to have been no great progress since the last report on the ability of elected representatives at the municipal level to engage in substantive policy issues in a non-partisan fashion. It can be expected that this lack of cooperation will continue beyond the Kosovo-wide elections.
The first organized returns of people have now begun on a small scale. The returns were preceded by substantial preparations and requests for donor assistance, as the related properties and infrastructure had been heavily damaged after the departure of the Kosovo Serb residents in June 1999. Work has also continued to facilitate the potential return of members of the Kosovo Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities, but progress is uneven, slow and subject to occasional setbacks. Progress has been made on the difficult issue of the missing, which remains an emotional and divisive issue that delays the process of inter-communal reconciliation. There was also further progress in resolving the problem of Kosovo Albanians detained in Serbia proper.
The Mission will require the ongoing support of the international community, including material support, and above all the continued strong and committed support of the Security Council and from Member States, the Secretary-General states.
HANS HAEKKERUP, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Kosovo, said these were dynamic and challenging times for the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). "We are standing on the threshold of fulfilling the core objective of Security Council resolution 1244 -- the establishment of substantial autonomy and functioning self-government in Kosovo." Three days ago, the election campaign was officially initiated and expectations among ordinary people and political contestants were high. The province was about to embark on a journey towards sustainable democracy, multi-ethnic dialogue and gradual normalization.
He said UNMIK was making every effort to secure broad participation in the election. It was in the interest of all communities to have a recognized and legitimate voice in the future of the province. Inter-ethnic violence and high criminality, mutual prejudice, as well as intolerance, were daily reminders of the post-conflict reality. The hope and potential manifested by the 17 November election had to be nourished and cultivated by responsible leaders.
He said initial preparations for the 2001 Kosovo Assembly election had been made. A voters’ list and a ballot were now being produced. The Council of Europe Election Observation Mission (CEEOM II) had stated that the overall process had been conducted in a manner that was in accordance with international standards. The UNMIK was pleased to report that all of Kosovo’s communities were now in a position to participate in the Assembly election. The Mission had also provided secure and convenient registration for all potential voters living in the province, and elsewhere in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Potential voters in other countries had also been able to register by mail.
He said that, because early registration turnout had been disappointing, especially in Kosovo Serb communities in the province, UNMIK had increased the intensity of its coordinated public information and outreach campaign and enlisted the help of Kosovo Serb and Belgrade leaders. That had led to significant increases in registration among Kosovo Serbs.
He said that, with data processing still under way, it appeared that more than 1.2 million persons would be eligible to vote, both inside and outside of Kosovo. Although UNMIK did not collect data on the ethnicity of registrants, it was estimated that 83 per cent of eligible voters were Kosovo Albanians, 12-13 per cent were Kosovo Serb, and the remainder were primarily Kosovo Bosniac and Gorani, Kosovo Turk and Kosovo Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian. Based on the best available demographic date, those figures indicated that Kosovo’s communities had participated in large numbers.
In addition, he continued, the Central Election Commission (CEC) had certified 26 political entities to stand in the election. One represented the Kosovo Turk community, two represented the Kosovo Bosniac and Gorani communities, three the Kosovo Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities, and one represented the Kosovo Serb community. In response to widespread international concern over radical political movements and individuals, and in accordance with the commitment made to the Council in his last presentation, he said he had instructed the CEC not to allow any individual appearing on the United States’ so-called "Black List" to stand as candidates.
He said UNMIK was on the verge of moving into a determining phase of interim administration in Kosovo. Following the elections in November, the role of the Mission in the areas transferred would evolve from that of direct administrative responsibility to one of oversight of self-government. The transition should be smooth and orderly, with minimal disruption to the provision of an interim administration and services in Kosovo. Much of the groundwork for that transition had already been laid and the rest should be in place by 17 November.
Turning his attention to the post-election landscape, he said functional responsibility for the administration of Kosovo would be cleanly divided between UNMIK and the Provisional Self-Government (PISG). Once the transfer had taken place, the structures of UNMIK and the PISG would be separate and distinct entities. International staff would be placed in reserved and transferred structures, while a number of them would also be seconded to the PISG -- mostly to the ministries. A primary task of those international staff members would be to oversee and monitor compliance with resolution 1244.
He said that, with the creation of the PISG, a major implementation of resolution 1244 would have taken place. That, however, was not a goal in itself, but part of a process. It was essential to create a safe and secure environment for all Kosovo’s communities. Only by taking the political process forward and making politicians work together "can we overcome the hatred and distrust created by the atrocities of the past and facilitate a final political settlement in the future", he stressed.
JAMES B. CUNNINGHAM (United States) said the elections could not be divorced from the political process outlined in Council resolution 1244 (1999). He supported a democratic and inclusive State. No one expected a miracle, but the international community should insist on adherence to the road map that the Secretary-General had laid down. There was no place for violence. There must be increased security for groups that had been forced to leave. He was encouraged by the cooperative efforts of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Full participation was the only way to ensure that the multi-ethnic character was preserved.
JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France) said the preparations for the elections were the priority of the United Nations. He welcomed the efforts of UNMIK and the Kosovo Force (KFOR) to ensure the success of the elections and the establishment of effective security machinery. It would open the way for the provisions of the Constitutional Framework to be implemented. The Kosovars would be able to enjoy substantial autonomy and to exercise important functions. He looked forward to the elections. He stressed that they were not tied to the final status.
Broad participation by all communities in the election should be encouraged, he said. No ethnic group’s interests were furthered by non-participation in the election process. The participation of the Serb minority was a source of concern. While many had registered, they needed now to be convinced to vote. Massive participation by the Serb community would enable them to participate fully in the organs of self-government. He welcomed the developing dialogue between UNMIK and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
He asked for delineation of avenues that could be explored to promote progress. What were the prospects for health and education? What were the prospects for 2002? What assistance could be given to the returning Serbs? What progress had been made in recruiting minorities for the judiciary and the police? He emphasized that security and stability were priorities for all. The political leaders and civil society must take full cognizance of their responsibilities.
GENNADY M. GATILOV (Russian Federation) said the prospects for the election were contingent on proper preparation with the participation of the Yugoslav leadership. A number of problems relating to the security of the non-Albanian population must be resolved. He stated that participation by the minorities did not depend on whether Yugoslavia solicited them to do so. Moreover, registration did not automatically ensure their participation in the vote.
Regarding ethnically motivated violence against the non-Albanian population, he said there was still an unacceptably high level of intolerance and an insufficient freedom of movement. As a result, non-Albanians continued to leave. The attempt to create a mono-ethnic State must not be allowed to succeed. The stated goals of UNMIK must be accompanied by practical action. He supported the establishment of cooperation between UNMIK and Federal Republic of Yugoslavia authorities.
With regard to the illegal trafficking of arms from Kosovo to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the responsibility to stop that activity remained that of UNMIK and KFOR, he said. He stated that the Albanian militants had contacts with Osama bin Laden.
He said the presidential statement to be approved by the Council would give a strong signal to Kosovo leaders that a stable future could be built only on the basis of resolution 1244 (1999).
OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) said the security situation in Kosovo was not satisfactory, despite the considerable efforts of UNMIK and KFOR. The task of ensuring a viable multi-ethnic society in the province could not be left to the international community alone. Kosovar leaders themselves must more actively confront the sources of insecurity. They must make further efforts to prevent violence and extremism, as well as publicly and actively promote the return and integration of Kosovo Serbs and other communities that belong in the province. While the 17 November elections would be a milestone in terms of resolution 1244, it was still up to the Kosovar leaders to make them meaningful and successful, he noted.
He commended the efforts of the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to encourage Kosovo Serbs to register. "We now look to Belgrade for continued constructive engagement -- also to convince the Serbs that it is in their interest to vote in November, and to assume their share in the running of Kosovo", he said. The provisional self-governing institutions would not be representative without the broad participation by all of Kosovo’s various ethnic communities. "Our intention behind today’s presidential statement is to give a positive impetus to this process", he said. The statement would provide a clear signal that the Council was sensitive to the interests of all, and remained fully committed to all provisions of resolution 1244 as the only basis for building Kosovo’s future.
NOUREDDINE MEJDOUB (Tunisia) said his delegation was pleased that the elections were being prepared in largely satisfactory circumstances. It was essential to be increasingly vigilant as the elections approached in order to deal with the security situation and the continuing acts of ethnic violence, against minorities. He expressed satisfaction about the establishment of a special team on political violence, whose role would be to ensure that there would be no terrorism on the eve of the election. It was important for Serbs to participate in the November election. The participation of all in the electoral process would confer the necessary legitimacy on the envisaged reforms.
His said Tunisia attached particular importance to economic reconstruction and confidence-building measures for the inhabitants of Kosovo. An autonomous government would only be feasible with a solid economic and financial base. He hoped that all inhabitants of the province would return to their homes and join in the new social dynamics. The sensitive issue of disappearing persons also needed to be settled as soon as possible. It was a humanitarian issue with immense social consequences vis-à-vis reconciliation in communities.
Mr. HAEKKERUP said the prospects for Kosovo Serbs had changed dramatically. The UNMIK would continue to find more ways to make improvements. He was also committed to dialogue with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and trying to find solutions that would benefit all. Even if the Kosovo Serbs did not turn out to vote in big numbers, ways would be found to represent their interests. The institutions were not an end in themselves, but a means by which to get the people to work together.
He emphasized that it took time to overcome what had happened in Kosovo. It was a change that had to take place inside peoples’ heads. The UNMIK must be sure to do the right thing to help people overcome the atrocities of the past. Regarding the status of mission and forces agreement, he said it was United Nations policy that the authority for the Mission had been given by resolution 1244 (1999), so there was no need for a special agreement. He said he had had no indication that there was contact between the terrorist groups and Osama bin Laden, but he would appreciate any information pertaining to such contacts. The UNMIK had good contacts with groups in Yugoslavia on the issue of the missing, and progress was being made in that area.
He agreed that there should be no place for political violence before or during the campaign. He noted that the political leaders were all saying the right thing and he hoped they followed through. The UNMIK would try to get KFOR to take all the necessary steps to deter violence.
JASHID KOONJUL (Mauritius) said his Government had noted with satisfaction the steps being taken to ensure the participation of women in Kosovo government, and with the progress that had been achieved in the past three months leading up to the elections. Yugoslavia’s call to the Serb communities to register was most welcome. He called on all Serbs and other minority communities to keep up the momentum and vote on 17 November. The security of the minority communities was essential if those people were expected to return to their homes. He called on all parties to exercise maximum restraint.
He noted that many people of the minority communities had been attacked by hand grenades and other light weapons. Such actions must be deterred. He was disappointed by the slow progress in Mitrovica. UNMIK’s strategy to improve quality of life was being jeopardized by the parallel authority put in place by the Kosovo Serbs. He hoped the Yugoslav authorities would ensure that UNMIK’s authority there was not challenged.
MAMOUNOU TOURÉ (Mali) said that the briefing this morning was encouraging. Recent developments in Kosovo represented another outstanding step in the implementation of resolution 1244. Regarding the lead-up to the elections for the Kosovo Assembly, he said the establishment of good electoral rules was the guarantee of a transparent process. The upcoming elections could change the future of Kosovo, particularly if the elected leaders could promote a multi-ethnic society. It was, therefore, critical for the process to take place in a transparent manner.
Mali urged the abandonment of violence and was pleased that UNMIK and KFOR were doing all they could to prevent the eruption of such acts. As he paid tribute to the efforts of Mr. Haekkerup and UNMIK, he underscored that the international community must increase its support to the Mission, so that Kosovo could realize its objectives for peace and a multi-ethnic society.
ALFONSO VALDIVIESO (Colombia) said, while there were several challenges in Kosovo, which had to be dealt with in a systematic way, the priority right now was the 17 November elections. Those elections would provide opportunities for the political delineation of the future Kosovo. The establishment of a special group to provide information to minority communities on the election system might make a considerable contribution to those participating on election day.
He said the support of Serb authorities and the leaders of other minority communities in encouraging voters would be timely and should start right now. It must also be ensured that there was a peaceful environment for the election, since that would have a direct bearing on the results. The future now dictated that it was necessary for the Council to provide follow-up actions to the election. He was sure, however, that Mr. Haekkerup, in coming weeks, would provide the information necessary for that. Colombia supported the text to be adopted at the end of this meeting.
SHEN GUOFANG (China) said he supported UNMIK’s efforts in preparing for the elections. He believed UNMIK would take into consideration the views from all sides so that the elections would be carried out in a fair and peaceful manner. He expressed concern about the ongoing violence and hoped UNMIK would take action to ensure the security of refugees and of those returning. The present security arrangements were not enough.
He said that confidence-building in Mitrovica was of vital importance. There was, however, little progress in that area. Violence still remained, and the security of minority communities had not increased. The UNMIK should take measures to guarantee safety of Serbs and other minorities. He was pleased to note UNMIK’s stepped-up dialogue with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and stated that, without such a dialogue, it would be impossible to deal properly with the question of Kosovo. Kosovo was at a critical junction, and the Council should follow events closely. He endorsed the presidential statement to be approved by the Council.
M. PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica) said the report provided a useful view of the benchmarks leading up to the elections and presented a good scorecard for the Council. She commended the Secretary-General and UNMIK for developing a legal framework that could lead to success for Kosovo in the future.
She said there had been a substantial increase in registration, particularly from people in the minority communities. That registration did not, however, guarantee participation in the elections. She urged full participation in the elections and in the business of self-government. The elections should result in the presence of a substantial number of women in the Government. The elections would be important to the future decision-making process.
A main priority had to be a reduction in the incidence of violence in the territories, she said. Most alarming was the increase in attacks on members of the international forces. She asked for information on how the situation in Mitrovica was developing in the period leading up to elections. She also asked for information on the level of security, and the types of employment that existed for returnees. Security and confidence for all the communities of Kosovo were key to economic reconstruction. She agreed that UNMIK’s commitment to creating conditions for autonomy had begun to bear fruit. The international community’s involvement must continue after the elections.
STEWART ELDON (United Kingdom) said the issue of alienation and boycott was particularly relevant in light of the upcoming elections in Kosovo. While the election was important, so was participation in the PISG afterwards. He underlined the need for participation in the election, stressing that it was not enough for Serbs to just register. Registration did not mean that they would participate. People from all of Kosovo’s communities must vote. That was imperative. They must both participate in the election and in the ensuing institutions of self-government if they wished to help contribute to the long-term future of the province. Belgrade must encourage Serbs to vote.
He said dialogue between UNMIK and Yugoslavia provided a good basis for the Government of the latter to lend support to voter encouragement. Turning to organized crime and extremism, he said it was very clear that those two issues remained key threats to Kosovo’s internal security, as well as to the stability of the wider region. He welcomed the increase in detention facilities in the province and the creation of an organized crime bureau. It was now important for the latter to be up and running as soon as possible.
VALERY P. KUCHINKSKY (Ukraine) said the results of the November election in Kosovo would not only open a new page in the chronicle of Kosovo’s peacekeeping, but also test the mettle of the Council’s peacekeeping policies. He supported further improvement of relations between UNMIK and authorities of Yugoslavia, underscoring that it was a key prerequisite for the stable development of a democratic and multi-ethnic Kosovo.
He said Ukraine endorsed Mr. Haekkerup’s priorities of handing over a balanced budget to the PISG and introducing good financial management. Ukraine was ready to supply departments in Kosovo pertaining to civil society with all necessary assistance. While the general security situation in the province was stable, it was still shaky. The negative attitudes and perceptions that continued could lead to sharp deterioration at any time, he warned. Another problem was the exodus of Serbs and non-Albanians from the province. People did not want to return because they feared for their lives. They also did not understand the concept of living without fear. His delegation supported the provisions in the presidential statement to be adopted.
SHAMEEM AHSAN (Bangladesh) said he looked forward to the November elections, to further consolidate the situation in Kosovo. Full participation of all ethnic communities was the only option for a future peace in Kosovo. He welcomed UNMIK’s efforts to reach out to Kosovo Serbs. He noted with satisfaction that 20 per cent of the representation in the new Assembly would be women, and that UNMIK had increased efforts to strengthen mechanisms for law and order. He called on all community leaders to come out clearly against any kind of violence, and endorsed the efforts of UNMIK and KFOR to support public security through the confiscation of weapons. Further constructive dialogue between UNMIK and Yugoslavia should be undertaken.
YAP ONG HENG (Singapore) reiterated his Government’s support for UNMIK and endorsed the Mission’s goals, including the engagement of minorities in the political process and the building of public administration and economic capacities. He called attention to the progress made by UNMIK in those areas. On the problems remaining, he expressed concern over the state of security in Kosovo despite the reinforcement of law and order. He was also concerned that, in the election campaign, certain Albanian leaders were using their platform to support a call for independence. He asked about contingencies by UNMIK to ensure that things did not get out of hand.
The United Nations responsibility did not end with elections, he stressed. It must continue to be involved until resolution of the final status was reached. He looked forward to UNMIK facilitating the political process, and emphasized that continuing dialogue with Belgrade on that was important.
RICHARD RYAN (Ireland) said all the communities in Kosovo must work towards establishing a multi-ethnic society based on tolerance and human rights. Kosovo’s Serbs must be represented in the future of the province, and he called on Belgrade to help facilitate that.
He stressed that the constitutional framework for provisional self-government was an interim document that did not, in any way, threaten the future status of Kosovo. He welcomed the intensification of relations between UNMIK and Belgrade and encouraged continued cooperation. He also encouraged further progress in relation to missing persons and political prisoners.
DEJAN SAHOVIC (Yugoslavia) said the biggest challenge lay ahead: the elections themselves. He shared the Secretary-General’s view that the next step -- the participation of Kosovo Serbs and other minorities -- was critical to both the legitimacy of the elections and the Mission’s goal of bringing about an inclusive provisional self-government. In past months, his Government had emphasized that the security situation and freedom of movement, as well as conditions for the return of internally displaced persons, must be improved so that the Serbs and other non-Albanian voters could participate and give legitimacy to the elections. Unfortunately, the situation with regard to those issues and that of missing persons was still very grave.
He said that to claim that it was imperative for all communities to participate in the elections if they wished to have a say in the daily running of their affairs was simply not enough. Conditions had to be created for all to be able to campaign and go to the polling stations without being afraid of what might happen to them. In democracies, the majority held primary responsibility for ensuring minority rights. It was essential to call on Albanian leaders to contribute to ensuring security, freedom of movement and the right of minority communities to return.
He stressed that a clear message should be sent that the elections did not, in any way, precipitate a decision on the final status of Kosovo and Metohija.
He regretted that Yugoslavia was not as yet in the position to take a final decision on Kosovo Serb participation in the forthcoming elections. Better conditions must be created in Kosovo and Metohija before his Government could responsibly support the participation of non-Albanians.
JEAN DE RUYT (Belgium), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, expressed appreciation for the efforts of UNMIK and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, in Kosovo. The European Union, he said, would continue to assist in those efforts, especially towards the development of multi-ethnic and democratic governance, including human rights, law and order and an effective judicial system, and towards sustainable economic development.
Concerning election preparations, he welcomed the registration of Serbian electors over recent weeks, emphasizing the importance of massive participation by all communities in the ballot. He also welcomed the certification of the "Return" coalition of Serbian political parties, for future elections. Belgrade's positive role in those developments should now be followed by a clear appeal to the Serbian community in Kosovo to take part in the elections. Sustained attention and collaboration of all parties was still needed to resolve issues of security, missing persons and return of displaced persons, despite the progress that had been made in those areas.
Regarding the sensitive situation in Mitrovica, he encouraged Albanian leaders to implement confidence-building measures to allow the return of non-Albanian communities. Serbian political leaders should take similar steps to enable Albanian families to live in peace, in the north of Mitrovica, as well as the north of Kosovo. Decisions affecting the situation should be accompanied by an intensive media campaign. On the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, he reiterated support of the Framework Agreement and a multinational security presence. He encouraged the democratic bodies of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to complete the legislative work needed to implement the Agreement. In closing, he underlined that collaboration, cooperation and partnership were the priorities of the European Union in furthering the advancement of the process in Kosovo, of which the elections represented one important stage.
AGIM NESHO (Albania) thanked the Special Representative for both his participation in the debate and for his work in Kosovo. He also commended the achievements of UNMIK, KFOR and the Security Council in managing crises and making a multi-ethnic and democratic society possible in that province. The general elections could establish, at last, a legitimate authority that expressed the will of the people and protected democratic principles of a multi-ethnic society, including minority rights. Therefore, those elections required the participation of all the people of Kosovo –- Albanians, Serbs and others.
Unfortunately, he said, the process for Kosovo was widely misunderstood, and often obscured by petty interests and passions of both sides. Some leaders would be ready to sacrifice the process in the interest of power and nationalism. In addition, one side has not yet shown that it was able to fully respect a multi-ethnic society. The other side did not want to face the reality that, though Serbs compose only 5 per cent of the population of the province, they continued to consider Kosovo an old privilege, like a feudal dowry, and held a passion for the land that could override consideration of the future of its people.
He understood, therefore, the difficult task Mr. Haekkerup and UNMIK faced in accomplishing their objectives, which included necessary compromises. The success of the general elections in Kosovo on 17 November should be supported by the entire international community. For its part, Albania would contribute to the implementation of resolution 1244 and the preservation of peace and stability in the region.
MR. HAEKKERUP said criminality was high in Kosovo, but not extremely high when compared with the rest of the region. While ethnic violence had gone down by 40 per cent it was still far too high. The UNMIK and KFOR would continue their efforts, but that alone was not enough to stop the violence. There had to be a process within the people. The Serbs had to have security and to be able to live without risk. The change in people’s mentality would be critical. There were good people in Kosovo who had not participated in the atrocities, and it was important that they come forward.
He said that getting the right legislation was only half the solution to counter crime. It remained necessary to increase the capacity to address organized crime. He agreed that the security situation and the freedom of movement for Kosovo Serbs needed to be improved, but that would not prevent them from participating in the elections. The UNMIK would organize elections so that they could vote in the areas where they lived. There might be a rise in political violence after the campaign, but that would not just be inter-ethnic conflict. There could also be Albanian-Albanian violence, as well as ethnic violence. He was dedicated to delivering the necessary cooperation with KFOR.
Regarding illegal weapons possession, he said UNMIK and KFOR had done a lot to collect illegal weapons. That was an area where multi-ethnic cooperation was critical. He noted that it was not just a Kosovo phenomenon. Frequently, Kosovo was simply a transit country.
Regarding the issue of returns, he said that it had been pointed out that, in two years, only 80 persons had returned, but it must be clear that they were the first returns. It was a fragile process and it was important not to get a negative response from the Kosovo Albanians. The UNMIK was committed to continuing returns and on a larger scale. The existence of a provisional self-government would not declare the final status. That would be dealt with when the final political settlement was reached.
The Council President, RICHARD RYAN (Ireland), then closed the first Council meeting, and opened the second. At the second meeting, the Council approved a presidential statement on Kosovo (see text reproduced earlier in this press release).
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