ASSISTANT SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR PEACEKEEPING
Says Process Provides Solid Basis for Provisional Self-Government;
NEW YORK, 28 November (UN Headquarters) -- The Kosovo election process -- from the violence-free campaign to its all-inclusive nature -- would provide a solid basis for the institutions of provisional self-government, Assistant-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hedi Annabi, said this afternoon, as he briefed the Security Council on the 17 November elections in the province.
The overall election had gone smoothly, he said, with 64.3 per cent of Kosovo’s 1.25 million voters turning out. All parties had largely adhered to electoral rules and infringements had been adjudicated in a timely manner. Kosovo Serb participation was patchy, but that was due in part to an intimidation campaign in northern Kosovo, led by those Kosovo Serbs who were against participation.
The Common Document, signed by the United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK) and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on 5 November, had provided the Yugoslav authorities with a list of UNMIK measures to assist the Kosovo Serb community, he said. It had also provided a solid basis for a future cooperative relationship with the Yugoslav authorities.
Following the briefing, the Russian Federation’s representative told the Council that, unfortunately, the creation of a multi-ethnic society was of secondary importance to the political parties, which stated that their main objective was swift attainment of independence. Furthermore, there was still discrimination and a spillover of extremism and terrorism to neighboring countries. Those issues must receive the immediate attention of the multinational force in Kosovo -- KFOR. UNMIK and KFOR could also not ignore information about terrorist preparations within Kosovo, including those of Chechen terrorists and those with connections to Osama bin Laden. Moreover, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia had not yet taken up the question of the Kosovo Liberation Army, which had committed crimes against Serbs after the deployment of the international presence.
The representative of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia said that, while the elections marked a new phase in creating a future for Kosovo, they were not meant to solve Kosovo's final status. Council resolution 1244 (1999) guaranteed the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and continued to be the sole basis for the consideration of Kosovo's future status. Regrettably, some local Albanian politicians had called on the international community to recognize the independence of Kosovo. What was needed now was not cheap propaganda, but constructive efforts to make the self-government institutions credible, efficient and effective.
The representative of Belgium, on behalf of the European Union and associated countries, called on the elected candidates to exercise their new authority with wisdom and responsibility, in scrupulous compliance with resolution 1244 (1999) and within the Constitutional Framework for Provisional Self-Government. The elections were not an end in themselves, but they were an important milestone in establishing those provisional institutions. It would require time and further efforts by the international community, if the current successes were to be sustainable.
Statements were also made by the representatives of Mali, China, Tunisia, Colombia, Singapore, Bangladesh, Mauritius, Ukraine, France, Ireland, United Kingdom, Norway, United States and Jamaica.
The meeting, which began at 3:40 p.m., was adjourned at 5:30 p.m.
The United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) was established on 10 June 1999 when the Security Council, in resolution 1244, authorized the Secretary-General to establish in the war-ravaged province an interim civilian administration led by the United Nations under which its people could progressively enjoy substantial autonomy. The current head of UNMIK is the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Hans Haekkerup (Denmark).
In particular, resolution 1244 called upon UNMIK to: perform basic civilian administrative functions; promote the establishment of substantial autonomy and self-government in Kosovo; facilitate a political process to determine Kosovo's future status; coordinate humanitarian and disaster relief of all international agencies; support the reconstruction of key infrastructure; maintain civil law and order; promote human rights; and assure the safe and unimpeded return of all refugees and displaced persons to their homes.
Since then, among other actions: in January 2000, joint interim administrative departments were created; in October 2000, local elections took place in Kosovo's 30 municipalities; and in May 2001, the new Constitutional Framework of Kosovo was adopted.
The first province-wide elections took place last week on Saturday, 17 November. According to information provided by UNMIK on Monday, the partial results of the elections to the legislative assembly showed the political party led by Ibrahim Rugova –- the Democratic League of Kosovo -- to be in the lead, with 46 per cent of the vote, but without a sufficient majority to form a government.
In second place was Hashim Thaci's Democratic Party of Kosovo, with slightly more than 25 per cent; the Kosovo Serb Return Coalition was third with nearly 11 per cent of the vote; and Ramush Haradinaj's Alliance for the Future of Kosovo was fourth with more than 7 per cent.
With 120 seats in the Assembly and none of the parties expected to get more than 50, a coalition may be needed to reach the minimum of 61 needed to form a government.
Following the elections, the Security Council said in a press statement that the elections were an important step in the implementation of its resolution 1244 and would enable the establishment of democratic self-governing institutions as specified in the Constitutional Framework for Provisional Self-Government.
HÉDI ANNABI, Assistant-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, gave a briefing on the major developments leading up to the 17 November election. He said that the period preceding the election was relatively calm and free of violence. All parties, including the Kosovo Serb Return Coalition, carried out rallies throughout Kosovo in a peaceful manner and largely adhered to the electoral rules. Infringements that went to the Complaint and Appeals Subcommission were relatively minor in nature, and all were adjudicated in a timely manner.
The total number of eligible voters for the Assembly elections was 1,250,318, he said. The UNMIK estimated that approximately 150,000 eligible voters were believed to be Kosovo Serbs. More than 1,300 candidates from 26 political parties contested the elections, including 60 from the Kosovo Serb Return Coalition.
As the Council may recall, the Common Document was signed by UNMIK and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on 5 November, he said. Among other things, it provided the Yugoslav authorities with the authoritative list of measures taken by UNMIK to assist the Kosovo Serb community in participating in the elections. It also provided a solid basis for a future cooperative relationship with the Yugoslav authorities. The fact that the Kosovo Serb Return Coalition was in a position to participate in the election was due mainly to the signing of the Common Document.
The election itself went very smoothly, he said. An encouraging factor was the level of domestic observation and working participation in the electoral process by Kosovars. The overall turnout was 64.3 per cent of Kosovo’s 1.25 million registered voters. Kosovo Serb participation was patchy, with a higher turnout in the enclaves than in northern Mitrovica. That was due, in part, to an intimidation campaign in northern Kosovo led by those Kosovo Serbs who were against participation.
In the final results, he said, the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) won 45.7 per cent of the vote; the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) won 25.7 per cent; and, in third place, the Return Coalition with 11.3 per cent, followed by the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) with 7.8 per cent.
In conclusion, he said, UNMIK was pleased with the whole election process in Kosovo –- from the violence-free campaign to the all-inclusive nature of the elections. It would provide a solid basis for the institutions of provisional self-government that would now be established in accordance with Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).
MAMOUNOU TOURÉ (Mali) was pleased at the orderly and peaceful elections in Kosovo, along with the wide and representative turnout of voters. It was a decisive turn in the democratic evolution of the province, which would hopefully help create a peaceful, multi-ethnic and prosperous society. The time had come to place the interest of Kosovo above the interests of the individual parties, with resolution 1244 (1999) as a guide for future action.
WANG YINGFAN (China) was pleased at the outcome of the elections, the efforts of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to encourage the participation of the Serbs, and the efforts of UNMIK in support. He looked forward to a broad coalition government that represented all ethnic groups and ensured the stability of Kosovo. He hoped that leaders of all communities could work towards the establishment of trust between them, laying the foundation for the long-term prosperity and stability of the region. National reconciliation, safe return of the refugees and continued cooperation with Federal Republic of Yugoslavia authorities should also be promoted. As security was still a problem, UNMIK needed to continue to work to cut off the illegal flows of arms. The newly elected authorities should help in that effort, as well.
OTHMAN JERANDI (Tunisia) said the fact that the elections were held in an atmosphere of healthy competition was encouraging. It gave the Security Council reason to be optimistic about the future in Kosovo and proved that there was a possibility for peaceful coexistence. It showed that the people of Kosovo wanted to build a prosperous, multi-ethnic future in the province. The people now had to reduce differences and do away with the enclaves that hindered peaceful relations. He was pleased that 34 women were elected to the Assembly. He welcomed the work done by UNMIK, which showed once again that the United Nations could function in difficult situations.
ANDRÉS FRANCO (Colombia) said the results demonstrated the commitment of the population of Kosovo to move forward on a democratic path. The road would not be easy; there were obstacles that would make the process more difficult for the leaders and the electors. The people needed to remain politically active to ensure that their hopes were met. The results had also posed some challenges for the United Nations and the international community.
The United Nations and the international community must ensure that resolution 1244 (1999) was complied with, he continued. It must also show flexibility with its implementation. It was important for the international community to grant more freedom to the local leaders and institutions. He added that relations between Belgrade and UNMIK were very important in ensuring regional stability.
KISHORE MAHBUBANI (Singapore) said only 46 per cent of the entire Serb community voted in the November elections. That would have been even lower, if Yugoslav authorities had not encouraged Serbs to vote. The low level of Serb participation showed that there were still concerns regarding security for Serbs, and that issue deserved more attention from UNMIK. A significant stage had been reached in the implementation of resolution 1244 (1999). The UNMIK and the multinational force -- KFOR -- had to stay until Kosovo was out of the woods and the region was no longer in danger of sliding back into conflict.
It was also clear that direction should be given for a possible exit strategy, he said. It would be useful for the Council to be briefed by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations on such an exit strategy. Specifically, the possible transfer of UNMIK’s governing responsibilities to the local people should be examined. For the United Nations to proceed without setting a time frame for a final settlement of Kosovo could lead to problems. Albanian anger and impatience over its slow progress towards independence could complicate the situation in Kosovo.
SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation) said that, unfortunately, the creation of a multi-ethnic society was of secondary importance to the political parties, which stated that their main objective was swift attainment of independence. There was still discrimination and a spillover of extremism and terrorism to neighbouring countries. All those issues must receive the immediate attention of KFOR. That being said, he was pleased at the participation of Serbs in the elections and hoped that was an indication of multi-ethnic participation and the possibility of democracy.
He said the United Nations Mission was still important, however. It must work to ensure security and create conditions for the return of refugees and the resolution of missing-persons cases, as well as for re-establishing the conditions for basic human services. The UNMIK and KFOR could also not ignore information about terrorist preparations within Kosovo, including those of Chechen terrorists and those with connections to Osama bin Laden. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia had not yet taken up the question of the Kosovo Liberation Army, which had committed crimes against Serbs after the deployment of the international presence. Finally, holding elections was just the beginning of the creation of a democratic Kosovo that would respect the integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
IFTEKHAR AHMED CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) was pleased at the orderly and peaceful elections in Kosovo, and applauded UNMIK’s efforts in that regard. The participation of Serbs was a welcome development; UNMIK’s outreach to them was exemplary. It was a major milestone in Kosovo’s march towards peace and a multi-ethnic, democratic society. UNMIK’s security efforts would be important in the near future, along with the leadership of community authorities. Guidelines established in resolution 1244 (1999) should guide inter-community dialogue. Mistrust was still widespread and related violence still active. Civil society should be enlisted to help all communities feel safe and secure.
BIJAYEDUTH GOKOOL (Mauritius) said the successful elections had demonstrated Kosovar commitment to determining the future of the province. Elected leaders must fully respect resolution 1244 (1999) and all other Security Council resolutions. Any attempt to change the status of Kosovo would violate those resolutions. Kosovo would not function smoothly without the participation of all its ethnic minorities. He called on all those who fled their homes during the conflict to return to the province. The UNMIK and KFOR must continue to ensure the safety of the Serb population. If they were to return to their homes, economic reconstruction was needed.
MARKIYAN KULYK (Ukraine) said the development of democratic institutions should pave the way to normalization in Kosovo. The Kosovo leaders had a major responsibility for the cultural and political life in the province. The election should be considered the beginning of a difficult road, which should lead to a multi-ethnic and democratic Kosovo. Also, ties with the leaders of Yugoslavia must be strengthened. There was also a need to encourage those who had been displaced to return. It was now the responsibility of all groups to help build peace in Kosovo and bring an end to the generations of violence.
EMMANUELLE D’ACHON (France) said the November elections were a success for the people of Kosovo and for the international community working for peace in the province. Kosovars went to the ballot box in a peaceful way, within the principles of the precepts of provisional self-government. In the coming weeks, the Kosovo Assembly would get down to work. The authorities elected had broad powers, especially as far as the daily management of Kosovo was concerned. In response to the encouragement of the Yugoslav authorities, many members of the Serb community participated in the election. That was an important step towards reconciliation in Kosovo. Dialogue and reconciliation should be the guiding principles of Kosovo’s government from here on.
GERARD CORR (Ireland) said the participation of all communities in the elections had been essential to ensure wide and effective representation in the provisional self-governing institutions. The intimidation by some Serbs in northern Kosovo had been regrettable, but the support of the Belgrade authorities had been important in encouraging many Serbs to vote. He hoped that the participation of all minorities in the elections would help to facilitate a new phase of cooperation and prepare the ground for the development of a tolerant and multi-ethnic society.
It was important that the Serb-controlled areas in the north of Kosovo were integrated into the new framework, he continued, so that all representatives could focus on representing their communities through constructive participation in the new institutions. That would require close coordination between the Serb community, UNMIK, KFOR and Belgrade.
He said he hoped that all sides would approach with sensitivity and wisdom the negotiations in Kosovo regarding the future coalition and President. Whatever the outcome, elected leaders would have to assume major responsibilities for the political, economic, social and cultural life of the province. The provisional institutions should focus immediately on important issues, such as developing the economy and tackling ongoing crime. The training of local administrative staff should be a priority. He encouraged the Special Representative and UNMIK to continue their efforts to implement resolution 1244 (1999) and to progress in their work on the issues of security, justice, refugee returns, missing persons and political prisoners.
STEWART ELDON (United Kingdom) associated his statement with that of Belgium on behalf of the European Union. He said the elections in Kosovo were a landmark in Kosovo’s progress towards a tolerant and democratic society. The United Kingdom offered to help the newly elected leaders in their efforts to succeed. He congratulated all actors who made the elections successful and emphasized that improved Belgrade/Pristina links were important for future progress. Combating the regional scourage of extremism and organized crime must be top priority for UNMIK, as well as the newly elected Kosovo government authorities, he said.
OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) noted that the overall election turnout percentage was somewhat low, especially considering the high turnout in last year's election and the importance of the 17 November election for creating meaningful self-government. But, at the same time, a higher number of voters had actually gone to the polls this year, and election day had also been relatively calmer than last year.
He said Norway had been quite encouraged by the overall participation of minorities, including the fact that about half of the 170,000 Kosovo Serbs had eventually turned out to vote. The election campaign was, unfortunately, not free from intimidation and violence, directed mainly at ethnic minorities. While there had been fewer such incidents than last year, there could be no tolerance of ethnic and political violence in Kosovo now.
The unsatisfactory situation regarding security and freedom of movement for non-Albanians had obviously been one of the reasons why many Serbs had decided not to vote on election day, he said. It was also a main reason why the number of internally displaced persons returning to Kosovo had been negligible. An immediate priority for the newly elected Assembly must now be to ensure a peaceful and normal life for all citizens of Kosovo.
JOSIAH ROSENBLATT (United States) congratulated all concerned on the success of the Kosovo elections, particularly the efforts of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, towards multi-ethnic governance. He commended all who worked for the inclusion of Kosovo Serbs in the electoral process. In a future Kosovo, there was no room for those who would promulgate violence or ethnic hatred. He charged the people of Kosovo with the work ahead of them, saying that the Council and the Special Representative had pronounced the rules of the game and their support of resolution 1244 (1999), within which they should build a prosperous, stable and democratic future for all residents.
Council President MIGNONETTE PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica), speaking in her national capacity, said that when UNMIK’s work began in Kosovo its mission was thought to be insurmountable. Peaceful coexistence seemed impossible and a large number of refugees could not return to their homes. But, UNMIK had succeeded in addressing many of those concerns. It transformed the situation to one in which elections could be held in relative peace. She was pleased that the elections were conducted in a peaceful atmosphere with the participation of the Kosovo Serb community. She encouraged all members of the new Assembly to work in a spirit of peace and reconciliation.
Her delegation looked forward to the transfer of authority to the people of Kosovo, she said. Resolution 1244 (1999) made provision for that transfer of authority. The UNMIK must continue its effort to ensure that provisional self-government became a reality. It must also work to create viable democratic institutions. She encouraged all involved to work diligently to achieve a lasting solution to the problems of the province and facilitate the return of refugees. Work must continue to create a safe environment for returnees.
Only through dialogue could the improvement of relations with Yugoslavia and UNMIK be realized, she said. The signing of the Common Document would provide a stable basis for those relations. She congratulated the people of Kosovo in their election and supported their efforts to improve their quality of life.
STEPHANE DE LOECKER (Belgium), on behalf of the European Union and associated countries, said that the Union was pleased at the peaceful and orderly manner in which the elections took place in Kosovo, as well as the voter turnout. Congratulating all candidates and parties involved, he called upon the elected candidates to exercise their new authority with wisdom and responsibility, in scrupulous compliance with resolution 1244 (1999) and, with the constitutional framework for provisional authority, to ensure the prosperous, stable and equitable development of their province. In that endeavour, they would have the support and assistance of the Union.
He noted with great satisfaction the turnout of all Kosovo constituencies. The significant Kosovo Serb turnout made them the third largest group in the new Assembly, turning that body into the foundation for future inter-ethnic cooperation. He expressed appreciation, in that regard, for the appeal made by the Belgrade authorities for such wide participation.
He also welcomed the signing of a joint document between Belgrade and UNMIK concerning mutual cooperation. However, the questions of security, of the return of refugees and displaced persons and of missing persons had to be resolved quickly. Security was primary for the solution of the other questions, and the international community should continue to focus on it. The newly elected authorities should ensure peaceful and democratic development, not only for domestic purposes, but the stability of the entire South-East Europe region, allowing it to move closer to the structure of the European Union. He congratulated all who contributed to the success of the recent elections.
DEJAN SAHOVIC (Yugoslavia) said that, following the elections, the security situation of non-Albanians was highly unsatisfactory, as violence and intimidation continued. On 22 November, an elderly woman had been killed and her husband seriously wounded in a terrorist attack on Serbs in the village of Obilic.
Throughout Kosovo, there was little or no freedom of movement for Serbs, he said. Less than 100 of 250,000 internally displaced persons had been able to return the two-and-a-half years since the arrival of UNMIK and KFOR; the fate of more than 1,300 missing persons was still unknown; there was discrimination against minorities in the judiciary; and property was continually being usurped.
He said that in spite of the adverse conditions, the Serbia community had shown its willingness to participate in articulating the future of Kosovo through the provisional institutions of self-government. Joint efforts by and equitable treatment of all ethnic communities in those institutions would be the best way to demonstrate that peace, democracy, freedom and European orientation were realistic objectives for all ethnic groups and their political representatives.
While the elections represented a new phase in creating a future for Kosovo, it was clear that they were not meant to solve Kosovo's final status, he said. Council resolution 1244 (1999) guaranteed the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and continued to be the sole basis for the consideration of Kosovo's future status.
Regrettably, he said, before the official election results were even known, some local Albanian politicians had called on the international community to recognize the independence of Kosovo. In the present fragile situation, there was a need for restraint, particularly among those holding high office. What was needed now was not cheap propaganda, but constructive efforts to make the self-government institutions credible, efficient and effective.
Responding to questions from the Council, Mr. ANNABI said there was one specific question from the representative of Singapore calling for an explanation for the reduction in the vote in the Albanian ethnic community. The participation of Kosovar Albanians was around 65 per cent -- somewhat lower than in the municipal election last year. That was still higher than what was seen in other countries whose democratic credentials were well established. The lower percentage could be due, in part, to a number of Kosovo Albanians who registered for the election in the summer, but did not return to vote in November.
What was important was that all communities participated in the recent elections, he said. That gave credibility to the process itself and the efforts of UNMIK to establish real and sustainable institutions for provisional self-government. The elections were not an end in themselves, but they were an important milestone in establishing those provisional institutions. It would require time and further efforts by the international community, if the current successes were to be sustainable.
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