24 April 2003
Kosovo Has "Some Way to Go" in Establishing Representative, Functioning Institutions, Security Council Told
Provisional Institutions of Self-Government Hampered by Political Struggles, Assistant Secretary-General Annabi Says
NEW YORK, 23 Aprifl (UN Headquarters) -- Kosovo had some way to go in establishing representative and functioning institutions, particularly since the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government had been hampered by political inter- and intra-party struggles, Hedi Annabi, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, told the Security Council this morning as it considered the situation there.
In a briefing on the Secretary-General's report, he said the transfer to the Kosovo Provisional Institutions of Self-Government of the responsibilities outlined in chapter 5 of the Constitutional Framework continued. A significant step had been the establishment of a Transfer Council comprising representatives of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and the Provisional Institutions. The transfer process would continue to be implemented in a gradual manner, taking into account the capacity of the receiving institutions.
He said that the Kosovo Assembly remained unable to bridge political and ethnic differences. Ethnic violence and crime seemed to be on the increase. Minority issues such as freedom of movement, use of language and alphabet, and receipt of fair share financing from the municipalities remained problematic. However, there were positive achievements as well, such as the increased numbers of minorities in the civil service, an increased pace of returns of displaced persons and the continued development of the Kosovo Police Service. The Council of Europe continued its development of a concept for sustainable reform of local self-government not based on ethnic divisions.
Overall, Mr. Annabi continued, the report illustrated the complex and mixed situation on the ground. There had been steadily increasing pressure on UNMIK from all sides, with demands to satisfy either mutually exclusive desires or to violate the letter and spirit of resolution 1244 (1999) and the Constitutional Framework. Acts and statements of extremism had increased during the first part of 2003, while voices of moderation had been weak and muted. The Mission had balanced the competing and often conflicting desires of the leaders and people in Kosovo without giving fodder to extremism and would stay the course to encourage dialogue and multi-ethnicity and to facilitate the acceptance and achievement of the benchmarks.
The "standards before status" policy remained the framework for the way forward, he concluded. The local leaders and people in Kosovo had the primary responsibility to support efforts towards achieving the agreed-upon standards and to reject extremism, instead of wasting time and energy on symbols and status. Any support the Security Council could give to UNMIK would be most welcome.
During the ensuing debate, speakers addressed, among other things, issues of transfer of responsibilities, return of displaced persons, ethnic minorities, status, organized crime and extremism.
The representative of Serbia and Montenegro said the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government were not sufficiently devoted to solving the "bread and butter" issues of all citizens in the province. The willingness and capability of the Provisional Institutions to implement the Special Representative's benchmarks must constitute an important criterion for the further transfer of responsibilities. It was regrettable that several Kosovo Albanian leaders had publicly demanded the transfer of authorities reserved for the Special Representative of the Secretary-General.
Echoing other speakers, the representative of the United Kingdom condemned unilateral statements on Kosovo's final status and expressed support for the policy of "standards before status". Progress must be made on the benchmarks before it would be possible to determine status, he said.
The representative of the Russian Federation noted that the picture was far from what had been hoped for. Unsatisfactory conditions existed for the return of refugees and displaced persons. Also, there was still no equality in security conditions for all inhabitants of the province, and there were still obstacles in their access to jobs, the judicial system and State institutions. Even open terrorist acts were being committed, he continued, including the disruption of the railway bridge. The perpetrators had openly proclaimed their presence and their goals. That required strong condemnation and measures to put and end to such actions.
Speaking on behalf of the European and associated States, Greece's representative said no initiative would be effective and no effort would bear results if the region did not rid itself of the double scourge of extremism and organized crime. Those two phenomena were closely interconnected and fed each other while undermining all serious attempts by local institutions and the international community to build stable, prosperous and peaceful societies with freedom and justice for all.
The representatives of Chile, Syria, Pakistan, Germany, Cameroon, Bulgaria, China, France, Spain, Guinea, United States, Angola, Mexico and Albania also spoke. At the end of the debate, Mr. Annabi addressed speakers' questions and comments.
The meeting started at 10:40 a.m. and adjourned at 1:10 p.m.
The Security Council had before it the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) (document S/2003/421), covering the activities of UNMIK and developments in Kosovo, Serbia and Montenegro, since 1 January.
According to the report, a significant step in the first three months of 2003 was the launching of the process of transferring further responsibilities to the Kosovo Provisional Institutions of Self-Government. The continuing and accelerating transfer to the Provisional Institutions of the responsibilities outlined in the Constitutional Framework is an important step in the process of establishing provisional democratic self-governing institutions, as outlined in resolution 1244 (1999). The transfer process will be conducted in a phased manner, taking into account the capacity of these institutions to assume additional responsibilities.
Other important developments included the commencement of the Council of Europe decentralization mission and the installation of the first female member of Government, the report continues. Also significant was the signing of a declaration by key Kosovo Albanian political leaders, reaffirming their commitment to last year's Coalition Agreement, underlining the importance of reaching the standards set out in the benchmarks paper and advocating direct dialogue on practical issues with all neighbours.
The report also highlights concern over the tendency of local Kosovo Albanian leaders and the Provisional Institutions to focus on symbols and image and to publicly promote positions contrary to resolution 1244 (1999), as well as over action taken by the Kosovo Assembly on higher education and its refusal to take into account vital interests of minority communities. All local leaders should keep their political differences separate from the activities of the Provisional Institutions, and work together to consolidate these institutions, instead of holding institutional development hostage to political or ethnic differences.
The Provisional Institutions and municipalities need to focus, states the report, on their areas of responsibility and on what matters directly to all the people of Kosovo, including those waiting to return. These institutions can increase their capacity to deliver services to the people with the concerted effort of all concerned. A lack of participation in the institutions themselves, as well as disengagement from the political process, serves only to hamper progress and does nothing to improve the image of Kosovo in the eyes of the international community.
This, of course, includes the meaningful participation of all communities of Kosovo in the Provisional Institutions and municipal bodies, says the report. Forming separate, mono-ethnic administrative institutions will not lead to a multi-ethnic Kosovo. Working within the established structures requires willingness on the part of the minority communities and receptivity on the part of the majority community. Leaders of these communities are called on to work together to this end, and to foster an environment within Kosovo and its Provisional Institutions that encourages such participation. The Secretary-General calls on the authorities in Belgrade to work with UNMIK to dismantle the existing parallel administrative bodies still functioning in Kosovo.
With the returns season fast approaching, the report states that UNMIK is working hard to ensure that the Kosovo environment is conducive to minority returns. Progress has been made on the ground by preparing projects and sensitizing communities to ensure that returns take place in as safe, secure and sustainable an environment as possible. The progress made by the Provisional Institutions and some municipalities in providing support to the return of minority communities, which must continue and be further strengthened, is encouraging.
However, acts of intimidation, threats and violence directed against minorities still occur and are intended to discourage minority participation in public life. The leaders and people in Kosovo should put an end to such acts, and work actively on inter-ethnic dialogue and reconciliation. Such acts, deplorable as they are, should not be used to obstruct the functioning of the democratic institutions that are being developed.
The report commends the Special Representative's initiative to start the necessary dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade. Leaders on both sides, and particularly in Belgrade, should refrain from making public statements, which may undermine the proposed dialogue or contradict the provisions of resolution 1244 (1999).
Briefing by Assistant Secretary-General
HEDI ANNABI, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said the Secretary-General's report highlighted the continuation of the transfer to the Kosovo Provisional Institutions of Self-Government of the responsibilities outlined in chapter 5 of the Constitutional Framework. A significant step had been the establishment of a joint Transfer Council, comprising representatives of UNMIK and the Provisional Institutions. On 8 April, that Council had established three working groups on: finance, recruitment and logistics; technical assistance; and monitoring and intervention. The transfer process will continue to be implemented in a gradual manner, taking into account the capacity of the receiving institutions.
He said that Kosovo had some way to go in establishing representative and functioning institutions, particularly since the Provisional Institutions had been hampered by political inter- and intra-party struggles. The Kosovo Assembly remained unable to bridge political and ethnic differences. Ethnic violence and crime seemed to be on the increase. Minority issues such as freedom of movement, use of language and alphabet, and receipt of fair share financing from the municipalities remained problematic. However, the first part of 2003 showed an increased pace of returns.
The report highlighted positive achievements such as the increased numbers of minorities in the civil service and the continued development of the Kosovo Police Service, as well as the transfer of administrative and operational responsibilities of the Tax Administration to the Provisional Institutions. The Council of Europe continued its development of a concept for sustainable reform of local self-government not based upon ethnic divisions, he said.
Another significant event was the arrest of Kosovo Albanians by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia without major incident. The rate of criminal incidents for the first three months of 2003 remained generally consistent with the last reporting period. However, there had been grenade and other attacks against the UNMIK police stations in Pec, Pristina and Mitrovica. Also, a witness for the prosecution of five former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) had been shot dead.
An explosion on 12 April had caused serious damage to a railway bridge in northern Kosovo, for which an ethnic Albanian extremist group had claimed responsibility. Michael Steiner, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Kosovo, had determined that that group was a terrorist organization. Substantial work remained to be done with the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC), Mr. Annabi continued, with the most fundamental challenge remaining its transformation into a multi-ethnic body focused solely on its civilian emergency mandate.
Overall, there appeared to be increasing attempts to undercut resolution 1244 (1999) and the Constitutional Framework, he said. The Kosovo Government had sought to challenge the Special Representative's reserved powers in the Transfer Council. The Kosovo Assembly had sought to implement a law on higher education, even though the Special Representative had not promulgated it because it did not take into account the vital interests of the Kosovo Serb community. Four laws had been returned to the Assembly for not being in compliance with resolution 1244 and the Constitutional Framework.
Kosovo Serb representatives had not participated in the first meeting of the Transfer Council, he continued. In addition, two unions of Kosovo Serb-majority municipalities had been formed. The UNMIK had not recognized either union as a legitimate structure as they were based on mono-ethnicity.
He said Mr. Steiner had also sought to start a dialogue on practical matters between the Belgrade authorities and the Kosovo Provisional Institutions. After initial support, leading Kosovo Albanian politicians had backed away from the initiative. Although the Belgrade authorities initially endorsed the idea, they had also expressed an unwillingness to participate owing to the transfer of additional responsibilities to the Provisional Institutions. Efforts to initiate direct dialogue had been postponed following the assassination of Serbian Prime Minister Djindjic.
Overall, the report illustrated the complex and mixed situation on the ground, he said. There had been steadily increasing pressure on UNMIK from all sides, with demands to satisfy either mutually exclusive desires or to violate the letter and spirit of resolution 1244 and the Constitutional Framework. Acts and statements of extremism had increased during the first part of 2003, while voices of moderation had been weak and muted. Perceived weaknesses in the United Nations' work in other post-conflict situations had been exploited to discredit the work of UNMIK and to call for an end to UNMIK's interim administration. That ran counter to Council decisions.
The Mission had balanced the competing and often conflicting desires of the leaders and people in Kosovo without giving fodder to extremism and would stay the course to encourage dialogue and multi-ethnicity and to facilitate acceptance and achievement of the benchmarks. The "standards before status" policy remained the framework for the way forward. The local leaders and people in Kosovo had the primary responsibility to support efforts towards achieving the agreed-upon standards and to reject extremism, instead of wasting time and energy on symbols and status. Any support the Security Council could give to UNMIK would be most welcome, he concluded.
J. GABRIEL VALDES (Chile) reiterated his support for peace-building in Kosovo, as well as for UNMIK, in which his country participated. He reiterated his Government's condemnation for the assassination of the Serbian Prime Minister, and hoped that would not undermine the dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade. He also reiterated that resolution 1244 (1999) was the cornerstone of the process leading to the establishment of institutions of self-government. With respect to the issue of final status, he supported the "standards before status" policy. He urged the parties to avoid provocation in that regard.
Since this was a crucial year for the transfer of powers, it was necessary to point out the progress made in the first three months of 2003, he said. He encouraged the work of the Transfer Council, created by UNMIK, and the Provisional Institutions. It was desirable that the Provisional Institutions become more familiar with their basic responsibilities. In that connection, he rejected the existence of parallel institutions. Among the significant progress made in the first three months this year was the strengthening of institutions to support minorities in the central administration, the registration of non-governmental organizations and the formation of five inter-ministerial committees. He also recognized the efforts of the parties to provide cooperation to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. He also expressed concern over the incident of 3 April, as a result of the Law on Higher Education, as well as the increase in organized crime.
MIKHAIL WEHBE (Syria) said important steps had been taken during the first three months of 2003, including transferring more power to the Provisional Institutions and establishment of the Transfer Council, which would lead to coordination of efforts to move responsibilities to local authorities. He also welcomed the establishment of the three working groups.
However, he regretted that the rivalry among parties prevented more progress on important issues. Those rivalries threatened stability. More focus was needed on the rule of law in combating organized crime and preventing ethnic violence in order to create a conducive atmosphere to transfer powers. There was also a need to guarantee freedom of movement and security for everyone, as well as for assistance in reconstruction. A secure situation would lead to return of refugees to their homes, resulting in their contribution to reconstruction.
The process of transferring powers must be studied carefully and comprehensibly, he said, so that haste would not cause surprises during the period of transfer. The role of the United Nations was important in settling all problems after the conflict.
MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) considered the "standards before status" approach as a unique one applying to Kosovo only. As a general rule, the status issue should be of primary concern to the Council. He regarded the transferring of further responsibilities from the United Nations to local authorities as important steps in the implementation of resolution 1244 (1999), and urged the leaders of Kosovo to take full advantage of the opportunity provided to them to administer their affairs through the Provisional Institutions. He supported the Secretary-General's call on local leaders to work together to consolidate those institutions by focusing on substance and practical results instead of holding institutional developments hostage to political or ethnic differences. He echoed the Secretary-General's appeal to local leaders to work together for a multi-ethnic Kosovo.
He also supported the unconditional right of refugees and displaced persons to return to their homes. In that regard, he condemned acts of intimidation, threats and violence directed against minorities. In spite of the tremendous obstacles, he appreciated the progress made by the United Nations to improve the conditions in Kosovo. He commended its efforts to promote peace based on multi-ethnic accommodation and the rule of law and hoped they would continue.
GUNTER PLEUGER (Germany), associating himself with Greece's statement on behalf of the European Union, said the briefing and the report had described positive changes and achievements over the past three months. At the same time, Kosovo and UNMIK required unrelenting attention and continued support. The "standards before status" policy needed to be upheld. Recent developments in the Kosovo Assembly, particularly the attempt to circumvent the reserved powers of the Special Representative, testified to that. The Assembly had unfortunately proved that continued control was warranted in order to realize a democratic and multi-ethnic Kosovo that respected minority rights.
He said Kosovo Serbs were part of Kosovo society. Their four-month boycott in the Kosovo Assembly was to their detriment. Their active contribution in shaping political life in the nascent Kosovo society was crucial to safeguarding the specific rights they had been given. However, he recognized that some rightful expectations of Kosovo Serbs with regard to returns and decentralization needed to be tackled with renewed vigour.
The peace mission could only be as good as the support it received by the international community and relied on the readiness of local and regional partners to cooperate constructively, he said in answer to criticism of UNMIK. Unfortunately, there had not been much willingness in constructive cooperation recently. Solving the status issue in a hasty manner would not solve the underlying problems of Kosovo and the region as a whole. There was still plenty to do for the Kosovans, UNMIK and the international community before questions of status could be addressed reasonably.
PAUL EKORONG À DONG (Cameroon) said the Secretary-General's report and the briefing provided today had made it possible to assess the progress made in the last three months. The functioning of the Provisional Institutions was a reality, despite the lack of progress in substantive issues. That lack of progress was due to internal disputes, rivalries and hatred. While he welcomed the acceleration of the transfer of responsibilities, he regretted the tendencies of the provisional institutions not to abide by the relevant provisions of resolution 1244. He stressed that any decision taken by the Provisional Institutions must be in strict conformity with the provisions of resolution 1244 and the Constitutional Framework. There must also be participation of all stakeholders.
The precarious security situation affected minorities first and foremost, seriously jeopardized dialogue for reconciliation, and served as an obstacle for the return of displaced persons. The pace of returns as observed from January to March -- 240 persons -- was particularly graphic. He appealed to all actors to adhere to dialogue. Also, the current environment, marked by a lack of security and the absence of a strong legal basis, was hardly attractive to private investment. Indeed, a reduction in economic activity in Kosovo could be seen.
A lot remained to be done to make Kosovo a State of law and a country that might attract private investment flows, which could return it to positive economic growth, he said. To bring that about, it was up to the people of Kosovo themselves to become aware of the future of their region and return to the path of tolerance.
STEFAN TAFROV (Bulgaria), aligning himself with Greece's statement on behalf of the European Union, hoped that the recently established Transfer Council would work cautiously in implementing the benchmarks and guard the interest of all Kosovans. He asked Mr. Annabi if UNMIK had considered setting up a structured mechanism to monitor the way the Provisional Institutions were carrying out their responsibilities.
He hoped the development of a road map encompassing all aspects of transfer would contribute to the establishment of benchmarks which were an indispensable condition for the future of the status of Kosovo. He was concerned about attempts of certain Kosovo Albanian leaders to circumvent the powers reserved for the Special Representative. Provisional Institutions and the Kosovo Albanian political parties must develop a political culture to prevent such attempts. He condemned the acts of ethnic violence which had become more frequent, as well as the signs of organized crime, and appealed to local leaders to use their influence in order to contribute to a climate of tolerance.
Throughout 2003, the Council and UNMIK must focus on the process of return of displaced persons. Establishment of the Kosovo Protection Corps as a multi-ethnic body with clearly defined functions should continue with greater vigour. The financing of that Corps through the region's budget was an effective means of control. Kosovo had not reached the level of political development to make consideration of the question of final status possible. The presence of UNMIK and the Kosovo Force (KFOR) would continue to be a key factor in the stability in Kosovo and the region. The international community and local officials should focus on solving concrete problems relating to establishing normal life, he said.
SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation) agreed with the assessments and recommendations contained in the Secretary-General's report. Unfortunately, they made for a troubling picture in the province. He took note of the progress made, particularly in the economic area and the setting up of the Kosovo Police Service. He shared the concern in the report at the challenge thrust at the international community by the leaders of the Kosovo Albanians, which ran counter to the provisions of resolution 1244 and the authority of UNMIK. That could derail the reconciliation process. The picture was far from what had been hoped for. Unsatisfactory conditions existed for the return of refugees and displaced persons. Also, there was still no equality in security conditions for all inhabitants of the province, and there were still obstacles in their access to jobs, the judicial system and State institutions.
Even open terrorist acts were being committed, he noted, including the disruption of the railway bridge. The perpetrators had openly proclaimed their presence and their goals. That required strong condemnation and measures to put an end to such actions. He was concerned that the KPC might be no more than the successor of the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). The KPC leaders had openly proclaimed their allegiance to the leaders of the KLA. That was a source of potential escalation of violence in the region.
He hoped that UNMIK and Special Representative Steiner would continue to adopt a consistent position regarding opposing destabilizing forces in the province. He called on UNMIK to continue actions to establish the rule of law. He also reaffirmed support for the "standards before status" policy. He did not see the viability of acceleration of the transfer process, the pace of which must be set based on the progress made by the Provisional Institutions. In addition, a decision on the final status should be taken at a later stage. He agreed with the need to establish dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina on practical issues.
WANG YINGFAN (China) said that since the beginning of the year, the overall situation in Kosovo had gained some process, and UNMIK had transferred relevant responsibilities to the Provisional Institutions. At the same time, Kosovo faced challenges such as increased organized crimes and attacks on UNMIK. Economic activities were on the decline, and unemployment remained high. Ethnic minorities continued to be at a disadvantage. All that showed there was a long way to go to meet the benchmarks. He hoped the local leadership would fully cooperate with UNMIK and the Government of Serbia and Montenegro.
He was concerned about comments regarding the status of Kosovo and stressed that resolution 1244 remained the basis for Kosovo. He called on all parties to refrain from comments or actions that undermined the stability of the region.
MICHEL DUCLOS (France) said that the common goal was for progress to continue in order to achieve a democratic, multi-ethnic Kosovo. He stressed three points in that regard. The functioning of the Provisional Institutions must significantly improve, since new responsibilities were to be transferred in a gradual manner. The contribution of all communities to that process of self-government was necessary. The authority of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and UNMIK must be respected at all times, and all communities must work towards that end in good faith. Their support for UNMIK and KFOR in establishing the rule of law was in their best interest.
He reaffirmed his support for the principle of "standards before status", which the Provisional Institutions must implement with the help of UNMIK. There was also a need to continue to tackle concrete questions regarding multi-ethnicity and freedom of movement. In addition, all forms of violence must end. Violence was incompatible with building a democratic, multi-ethnic Kosovo. He was concerned at incidence of violence in recent days and supported the condemnation voiced by the Secretary-General's Special Representative. All communities must denounce such actions.
INOCENCIO F. ARIAS (Spain), aligning himself with Greece's statement on behalf of the European Union, said Kosovo faced enormous challenges. Its institutions must still show they could function normally and in the interest of all. Recent incidents had brought back images of a past that was not completely obsolete. The transfer of powers should, therefore, be gradual. The Provisional Institutions of the autonomous Government should be accountable to the people of Kosovo in the provision of services and administration. Their responsibilities did not include the powers reserved to the Special Representative. He was concerned that Kosovo Albanian leaders and Provisional Institutions promoted ideas that went against resolution 1244, instead of devoting themselves to matters under their authority.
He said the refusal to take into account the interests of minorities violated the Constitutional Framework. The entire Kosovo community should take part in the Provisional Institutions. He condemned any attempt to create mono-ethnic institutions and appealed for dismantling parallel institutions. He was concerned that there were still threats, violence, intimidation and discrimination against minority members. He appealed for a dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina within the framework of resolution 1244.
BOUBACAR DIALLO (Guinea) said the successful exercise of powers by the Provisional Institutions meant that the representatives of all segments of Kosovo society were involved. On the rule of law, he regretted the upsurge of violence and ethnic-based crime. He supported the steps which sought to find specific solutions and encouraged efforts to improve the judiciary, police service and the regional witness protection programme. In addition, he called on Belgrade to cease having parallel institutions.
He was concerned at the difficulties that continued to exist regarding freedom of movement, especially for minorities, and the free use of the language and alphabet of those communities. The question of returns and the rights of minorities remained causes of concern. If solved, they could lead to greater stability in the province. The actions of UNMIK and the international community to improve structures to facilitate refugee return must be fully supported. He also welcomed the progress made in inter-ethnic dialogue.
On the question of property rights, he welcomed the outcome of actions taken by the Office of Housing and Property, and encouraged it to continue its initiatives. He appealed to donors to provide resources to facilitate the continued return. In the context of dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, he encouraged Special Representative Steiner to continue with his initiatives in that regard and encouraged both Belgrade and Pristina to overcome their difficulties.
RICHARD M. WILLIAMSON (United States) said the situation in Kosovo and the Balkans continued to be important to the United States, as evidenced, among other things, by provision of resources to confront organized crime in the Balkans. He condemned violence against witnesses and ethnic groups and supported the decision of the Special Representative to list the Albanian National Army as a terrorist organization. It was incredible that the attack on the bridge came only weeks after the assassination of the Prime Minister of Serbia.
The Secretary-General's report had highlighted some encouraging development such as strengthening the Kosovo Police Service and progress in dismantling the parallel system in north Kosovo. But growing extremism, attacks on UNMIK police stations and the slow pace of return of displaced persons were reminder of the fact that much work remained to be done. There was uneven progress in consolidating the Kosovo elected Government, which stemmed from several factors such as insecurity about the future, and lack of capacity and experience. Ongoing efforts to integrate Serb minorities in institutions were needed, and everything necessary must be done to implement resolution 1244, including achieving the benchmarks and getting the Kosovo Assembly to concentrate on practical matters. Creating an environment inviting for returns was also necessary, as was transfer of responsibilities to local authorities even if mistakes would be made.
The UNMIK and the Special Representative must work with the Provisional Institutions to ensure that the higher education legislation would work out, he said. Ultimately, it was the Assembly's job to build support for passage of laws. If democratically elected representatives would continue to undermine the Constitutional Framework, he hoped donor countries would pay heed. The United States believed that UNMIK should complete the transfer of all non-reserved powers to the Provisional Institutions on schedule by the end of the year. It was critical that the Special Representative would consult with all parties in a timely and thorough manner. He hoped that a detailed plan for implementing the benchmarks would be forthcoming as requested by the Council in February, he said.
ISMAEL ABRAÃO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola) welcomed the important progress registered in several areas, such as the handing over of power and responsibilities to local institutions, the establishment of municipal administration and multi-ethnic civil services, and progress in establishing the rule of law. However, despite that, some shortcomings remained, as stated in the Secretary-General's report and Mr. Annabi's briefing. Among them were the fragility of the political situation, the inadequate dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, and acts of violence against minorities. Those were important areas where insufficient progress had been achieved.
Also, he continued, dialogue on practical measures between Belgrade and Pristina must be enhanced to achieve progress. Resolution 1244 continued to be the basis of the international community's policy for Kosovo. The achievement of targets required the full cooperation of all parties. He remained concerned about the situation of internally displaced persons and refugees, as well as the cases of prevailing violence. He expressed appreciation for UNMIK and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on their work for the return of refugees. It was necessary to continue to closely monitor the human rights situation in Kosovo. He reiterated that the policy of "standards before status" remained an achievable objective, and encouraged all parties to work for peace and stability to achieve a democratic and multi-ethnic Kosovo.
ALISTAIR HARRISON (United Kingdom), aligning himself with Greece's statement on behalf of the European Union, said he was concerned about the recent cycle of violence. All indications were that local extremists thought they could act with impunity. Michael Steiner's listing of the Albanian National Army (ANA) as a terrorist organization made clear that they could not. He was also concerned at reports of an increase in organized crime.
He reiterated his support for the process of transferring powers to the Provisional Institutions, but that transfer could only be on the basis of compliance with the provisions of resolution 1244, he said. However, a rush towards transferring the reserved powers was not warranted. First, Provisional Institutions must be genuinely multi-ethnic. He condemned unilateral statements on Kosovo's final status and fully supported the policy of "standards before status". He welcomed, in that regard, Hasim Thaci's proposal of a moratorium on discussing Kosovo's final status and hoped that others would recognize that progress must be made on the benchmarks before it will be possible to determine status.
He saw a strong case for relaunching expert talks between Belgrade and Pristina to help the process of normalization. Initial efforts should concentrate on technical issues between experts and officials on important regional issues, such as transport, environment, economy and trade. Calling on local leaders to pursue statesman-like policies, he expressed support for the action of the Special Representative in giving the Kosovo Assembly a deadline for passing four laws, including on Higher Education, in a form compatible with resolution 1244 and the Constitutional Framework. "Kosovo's institutions should be in no doubt they must assume their responsibilities consistent with this Council's resolutions and other agreements. There is no alternative", he said.
Council President ADOLFO AGUILAR ZINSER (Mexico), speaking in his national capacity, said that the beginning of the transfer of responsibilities to the Provisional Institutions was, in general, a positive development. However, he agreed that if that process was to be sustainable, it must take place in a gradual manner, taking into account the capacity of the institutions. It was desirable that the process take place in accordance with resolution 1244 and the Constitutional Framework. It should also occur without affecting the authority of UNMIK, KFOR or the powers granted to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General under chapter 8 of the Constitutional Framework.
The Provisional Institutions, he continued, must be built on the principle of multi-ethnicity and tolerance. There was a danger that in process of transfer, there was a trend of building a mono-ethnic project, as witnessed by the recent adoption by the Kosovo Assembly of the Law on Higher Education, which excluded the Serbian community. The only way to achieve lasting peace was for the Kosovo Albanian leaders, and the Assembly, to take on project of building a multi-ethnic society as their own.
He was pleased with the measures adopted in that area, including the hiring of additional judicial personnel, including those from the minority communities. At the same time, he was concerned in the rise in organized crime and ethnic violence. It was troublesome that just when the return season was beginning, a railway bridge was bombed. It was important for Kosovo Albanian leaders to join Mr. Steiner's condemnation of that incident. The return of displaced persons and the participation of minorities were crucial to ensure a democratic and multi-ethnic society in Kosovo. The continued existence of parallel structures would seriously hinder the path to building a multi-ethnic society. Also, cooperation from the Belgrade authorities would be decisive. He hoped that Belgrade and Pristina would soon begin direct dialogue on practical issues affecting them.
Directing his comments to Mr. Annabi, he said it was not clear, regarding freedom of movement, what the impact was of the reduction of police and military escorts for minorities. Also, regarding the KPC, he asked whether the fundraising done by the NGO Friends of the KPC would contribute to the objective of turning that Corps into a multi-ethnic body.
DEJAN SAHOVIC (Serbia and Montenegro) said his country had lived through a difficult period, including the state of emergency which was lifted yesterday, since the assassination of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic. In the circumstances generated by that tragic event, it had also faced new and serious challenges in Kosovo. Several grave incidents in the past weeks illustrated the real lack of security in Kosovo and, consequently, the fragility of the overall situation. Among them, two people had been killed and three, including two children, had been wounded on 14 April in an assault near Pec.
Also, a railway bridge had been blown up in Zvecan municipality on 12 April, he said. The illegal Albanian National Army had claimed responsibility for that attack, stating its decision to sever all connections between Belgrade and "Albanian territories". He was pleased that Special Representative Steiner had proclaimed the ANA a terrorist organization and had declared that UNMIK police and KFOR would increase their presence in that area.
The Council, the Secretary-General and his Special Representative had repeatedly noted that the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government were not sufficiently devoted to solving the "bread and butter" issues of all citizens in the province. It was regrettable that several influential Kosovo Albanian leaders had, in the face of the clear position of the Council and the Secretary-General, recently demanded publicly the transfer of authorities reserved for the Special Representative of the Secretary-General.
He believed that the willingness and capability of the Provisional Institutions to implement the Special Representative's benchmarks must constitute an important criterion for the further transfer of responsibilities. Disregarding that necessary condition in the name of a speedy handover of authority would only further endanger stability and security in the region. In that context, he also noted the continuing problems presented by the functioning of the KPC.
The serious problems accompanying the establishment of substantial autonomy in Kosovo would best be resolved by cooperation of all interested parties, he stated. To that end, his Government, on 17 April, had supported calls by the Coordinating Centre for Kosovo for dialogue with representatives of the international administration and the Provisional Institutions on all issues related to the development of a democratic, multi-ethnic and multicultural society in the province.
Although the process of cooperation envisaged under the Common Document on Cooperation between his Government and UNMIK had been stalled, he believed that the mechanism of consultations within the High Ranking Working Group was the best way to move forward. Therefore, he again called on UNMIK to revive that mechanism and make it operational.
He asked Mr. Annabi how UNMIK intended to transfer further powers in light of the assessments contained in the Secretary-General's report. Also, what concrete steps would UNMIK take in light of the rise in ethnic crime and violence, which contributed to the lack of freedom of movement of minorities? In addition, what measures were envisaged to bring the KPC in line with its mandate?
ADAMANTIOS TH. VASSILAKIS (Greece), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the international community had made progress towards stabilizing Kosovo and enabling its people to chart a road to their future. He reiterated that the Union's main policies centred on the consolidation of peace; the promotion of stability, democracy and the rule of law; and respect for human and minority rights. Full implementation of Security Council resolution 1244, peaceful resolution of conflicts and regional cooperation were principles of utmost importance for the area. The European Union fully supported the work of the Secretary-General's Special Representative and UNMIK in carrying out their mandates.
Terrorism and violence, whether ethnically or politically motivated, would not be tolerated, he stated, pointing out that full democratization required the support of the international community and all political forces in Kosovo, along with Belgrade's full cooperation. Both Serbians and Albanians had to learn to live together, achieve reconciliation and make an effort to create and sustain conditions for the implementation of principles of true democracy, diversity and tolerance despite the conflicts of the past.
Political stability in Kosovo required the formation of stable institutions, he continued. The establishment and strengthening of local democracy was a precondition in that regard. He further called for efforts to focus on the sustainability of return and inclusion of displaced persons and returnees into the process of political action, social reintegration and economic recovery.
He said no initiative would be effective, and no effort would bear results if the region did not rid itself of the double scourge of extremism and organized crime. Those two phenomena were closely interconnected and fed each other while undermining all serious attempts by local institutions and the international community to build stable, prosperous and peaceful societies with freedom and justice for all.
LUBLIN DILJA (Albania) said he was convinced that the way UNMIK and Mr. Steiner cooperated with the Provisional Institutions and the people of Kosovo was establishing a success story, which was crucial for the future of Kosovo, the whole region and for the United Nations as well. There was, however, an imperative need to move ahead on the important agenda of standards, jobs, security, economic recovery, the fight against crime and corruption and on establishing a multi-ethnic society. There was also a need for progress on the transfer of power, the establishment of a direct dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade and on Kosovo's integration. He strongly condemned recent acts of violence in Kosovo.
He said that an integrated multi-ethnic society in Kosovo was of crucial importance. Ethnically defined politics, parallel institutions, violence and extremist threats would only harm the fragile accomplishments. He urged all parties to work actively on inter-ethnic dialogue, returns, reconciliation and the consolidation of a climate of peaceful co-existence. The transfer of power was a process of paramount importance. It was a process of "give and take". The Provisional Institutions should be given authority and responsibility, but they should, at the same, time become authoritative and responsible and produce concrete results. The UNMIK should continue to hand over responsibilities, to identify further areas where power could be transferred, and to help provide effective empowerment.
Kosovo must prepare to join the process of European integration together with its neighbours in the region, he continued. Expanding regional cooperation and listing Kosovo in the various regional and European initiatives, programmes of assistance, strategies and plans in the region would help greatly. Acknowledging the establishment of a new monitoring mechanism between the European Commission and Kosovo authorities, he said further steps should be taken in that direction to offer the people of Kosovo a better European perspective through its institutional participation in the process of stabilization and association. That would help them to understand that lack of status did not mean isolation.
Responding to issues raised in the discussion, Mr. ANNABI first took up the question of whether UNMIK had a mechanism to monitor whether the Provisional Institutions were discharging the responsibilities already transferred to them. Such a mechanism did exist, he said, because there were UNMIK staff working within the Provisional Institutions. As responsibilities were being transferred, some of those staff became redundant and were reduced. Sufficient staff were maintained to perform residual functions and to provide monitoring and assistance, as well as to allow UNMIK to intervene when necessary.
Regarding freedom of movement and the impact of the reduction of escorts, he said that UNMIK and KFOR believed that those reductions had not led to a deterioration in security conditions. At the same time, there was a perception on the part of members of minority communities of an increased possibility of security incidents. That perception had prompted them to restrict their movements in some instances.
Turning to the KPC and the fundraising undertaken by the local non-governmental organization, known as Friends of KPC, he agreed that the majority of those funds probably came from Kosovar Albanians. Regardless of where the funds came from or what fundraising took place, UNMIK and KFOR had the responsibility to ensure that the KPC acted and developed in the proper manner, in accordance with the mandate given to it.
On the transfer of responsibilities to the Provisional Institutions, he had explained how those powers would be transferred and what the limits were. He had stressed that transfer of chapter 5 functions would be based on the capability of those institutions to effectively carry out the responsibilities already transferred to them.
As to concrete steps UNMIK was taking to stop the incidence of increased violence, he said that paragraph 21 of the Secretary-General's report had covered the additional measures taken by UNMIK and KFOR to stem incidence of violence. Of course, the situation was not perfect, but the additional measures could help to control and improve the situation.
Regarding measures by UNMIK to ensure that the KPC acted in line with its mandate, he assured the Council that UNMIK and KFOR would continue to watch closely the KPC's activities to ensure compliance with mandated activities. Violations would be taken seriously, and necessary action would be taken when needed.
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