PREPARATIONS FOR KOSOVO ELECTIONS IN NOVEMBER HAVE PROGRESSED, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD
More Than 25 Political Parties Expected to Participate
NEW YORK, 26 July (UN Headquarters) -- Preparations for the elections in Kosovo, scheduled for 17 November, had now moved up a gear, with the conclusion of the certification period for political party participation on 20 July, Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean Marie Guehenno told the Security Council this morning.
Briefing the Council on the situation in Kosovo, he emphasized as an encouraging sign the fact that four Kosovo Serb parties had submitted certification applications. Among others were 16 Kosovo Albanian parties; three Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian parties; three Bosniac and one Turkish. Efforts were being made to facilitate the registration of internally displaced persons and members of the minority communities.
A key element that would make the identification of voters easier this year was the continuing distribution of identification cards to habitual residents of Kosovo. The goal was to provide ID cards to all eligible voters prior to the election. Hand-in-hand with electoral preparations was the continuing work of the United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK) on fleshing out the provisions of the Constitutional Framework on Provisional Self-Government to prepare for the transfer of authority following the elections.
UNMIK continued to intensify its relations with the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, he said. The recent and welcome appointment of the Deputy Serbian Prime Minister as the Coordinator for Kosovo added a new dimension to those relations. A recent complicating factor, however, had been the increasingly direct activity of the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Serbia in the province, which included attempts by the Federal Committee for Kosovo to establish its own executive taxation functions and business registration activities in Kosovo, as well as the opening of regional offices without the consent of UNMIK.
Several speakers in this morning’s debate stressed the importance of participation of all ethnic groups in the November Kosovo-wide elections. They also pointed out the need to: ensure return of the refugees and displaced persons to the area and ensure security there; disarm illegal armed groups; and monitor the administrative borders of Kosovo to halt expansion of Albanian extremism out of the province. The recent extradition of Slobodan Milosevic, former President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, was welcomed as a sign of increased Belgrade cooperation with the international community.
In that connection, Belgium's representative (on behalf of the European Union and associated States) said that the handover of Mr. Milosevic to The Hague Tribunal was necessary in the process of reconciliation, for the people of the region to realize that justice would be done and that nobody was above the law.
The representative of the Russian Federation said that only in cooperation with the Government of Federal Republic of Yugoslavia could progress be achieved. He therefore stressed the need to sign an agreement on the status of UNMIK and the Kosovo Force (KFOR) with Belgrade. Concerned about the lack of progress in determining the fate of 1,300 missing non-Albanian inhabitants of Kosovo, he said that inaction on that matter confirmed the theory of "one-sided humanism" towards Kosovo Albanians and the reluctance to hear appeals of the relatives of non-Albanian inhabitants of the province.
He also warned against any attempts to resolve the problem of reintegration of Kosovo/Mitrovica by force under the pretext of a need to unblock the situation there before the elections. Approaches based on the political will of the regional actors were needed, and that was the goal of the Russian initiative to call a Balkan summit to conclude a legally binding agreement between the leaders of the region. The signal from the international community must be clear and unambiguous: there could be no further redrawing of the borders in the Balkans.
The representative of Federal Republic of Yugoslavia said the common goal of his Government and international actors should be the implementation of Council resolution 1244 (1999) and conditions for a multi-ethnic and democratic Kosovo and Metohija. That should include self-government and substantial autonomy with full respect for the territorial integrity of his country.
Regarding the return of displaced persons, he said that even the modest figure of 2,000 persons who were supposed to return under the plan of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was unrealistic considering the existing circumstances in Kosovo and Metohija. While his Government attached utmost importance to resolving the issue of abducted and missing persons, that could be done only with the involvement of the international community and Albanian actors. So far, the latter had shown no readiness to become actively engaged.
The representative of Singapore emphasized that the Organization's responsibility did not end with the election and the establishment of structures. Kosovo’s return to normalcy and its achievement of final status needed time. Support for the province therefore had to be ongoing. The duration of the international presence there must take account of the large political reality and the particular environment. Eventual termination of the United Nations presence must be gradual and carefully structured to consolidate the painstaking gains achieved.
Also speaking this morning were the representatives of Colombia, France, United States, Ireland, United Kingdom, Bangladesh, Jamaica, Mauritius, Ukraine, Norway, Mali and China.
The meeting began at 10:41 a.m. and was adjourned at 12:41 p.m.
When the Security Council meets this morning on the situation in Kosovo, it will hear a briefing from Jean-Marie Guèhenno, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, on developments in the province. Following his briefing and interventions by Council members, Mr. Guèhenno is expected to respond to questions raised during the session.
JEAN-MARIE GUÈHENNO, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, told Council members that preparations for the elections in Kosovo had now moved up a gear with the conclusion of the certification period on 20 July. By that date, 16 Kosovo Albanian parties; three Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian parties; three Bosniac; one Turkish; one independent candidate; three citizens' initiatives; and one coalition had submitted certification applications to the Central Election Commission (CEC).
In addition, he continued, four Kosovo Serb parties had submitted certification applications. That was an encouraging development and followed the advice of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and the Security Council that it was imperative not only for Kosovo Serbs to register to vote, but also that their parties were certified for elections. While the signs in that respect were so far encouraging, he called on Belgrade to send an unequivocal sign to the Kosovo Serb parties to certify for the elections.
He said that alongside party certification, preparations had also intensified for the beginning of voter registration, which would run from 30 July to 9 September. In order to facilitate the registration of internally displaced persons (IDPs), memoranda of understanding (MOU) had now been finalized between the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Institution-Building Pillar, between IOM and the Serbia Commissariat for Refugees, as well as the Montenegrin authorities. In order to facilitate the registration of minority communities in Kosovo, preparations for special registration centres were well advanced, including the recruitment of over 200 locals, mainly from minority communities.
He told members that a key element that would make the identification of voters easier this year, than during the municipal vote in 2000, was the continuing distribution of identification cards to habitual residents of Kosovo. A total of 850,000 such cards had so far been produced, of which 600,000 had been distributed. The target was to provide ID cards to all eligible voters prior to the election. Hand in hand with electoral preparations was UNMIK's continuing work on fleshing out the provisions of the Constitutional Framework on Provisional Self-Government to prepare for the transfer of authority following the elections.
He said preparations for the transition to provisional self-government had emphasized "Kosovarisation" at the senior management level and capacity building of local staff in the areas of administration, procurement, budget and finance. Special emphasis continued to be given to encouraging the minority communities, particularly the Kosovo-Serb community, to participate in public life in the province, through direct engagement and improving contacts with the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
He said preparations for the small-scale return of Kosovo Serbs to 10 locations identified by the Joint Committee for Return had also gained further momentum. In order to meet the crucial funding requirements for safe and sustainable return, Hans Haekkerup, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Kosovo, had chaired the first donor meeting in Pristina on 29 June.
He said the Contact Group on Detainees and Missing Persons, comprising UNMIK officials and representatives of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, were now meeting on a fortnightly basis and some advances had been made. Those included direct technical collaboration on exhumations and the identification of remains found in mass gravesites. The issue of missing remains remained emotive and continued to provoke demonstrations and protest on both sides. Kosovo Serb relatives of missing persons had been demonstrating in Gracanica since 10 July, with several family members going on hunger strike on 16 July. With regard to the missing Kosovo Albanian detainees in prison in Serbia, UNMIK now had fuller access to case files and other pertinent information with the Department of Justice.
According to the Under-Secretary-General, UNMIK continued to intensify its relations with the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to address issues of mutual concern. The recent and welcome appointment of Deputy Serbian Prime Minister Nebosja Covic as the Coordinator for Kosovo added a new dimension to those relations. A recent complicating factor, however, had been the increasingly direct activity of the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Serbia in the province. Those included attempts by the Federal Committee for Kosovo to establish its own executive taxation functions and business registration activities, as well as the opening of regional offices without the consent of UNMIK, and a humanitarian convoy organized by the party on 14 July.
He said better coordination was also evident in the crucial fight against organized crime and extremist violence. Links with the Kosovo Force (KFOR) continued to improve with the development of the Joint Security Initiative intended to explore how that Force might further assist in issues of law and order. Over the past month, several arrests had been made on the basis of Regulation 2001/7 on the Authorization of the Possession of Weapons in Kosovo.
He said combating ethnically motivated crime was still a challenge for UNMIK. Recent measures such as the opening of police substations in several Kosovo Serb enclaves had contributed to building confidence and reducing tensions. Efforts to bolster the indigenous police force continued with the first promotion of first-line supervisors in the Kosovo Police Force at the end of June.
He said key to the functioning of the provisional self-government would be a sound financial foundation. Included in several strategies to generate revenue and encourage a functioning market economy was the reinvigoration of State and socially owned enterprises. On 1 July, a value-added tax was introduced which would be supplemented at the beginning of 2002 by a property tax.
Addressing the situation in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continued to be of great concern to UNMIK. The Mission’s efforts to reduce the influence of members of the Ethnic Albanian Armed Groups operating from Kosovo had proved effective, with over 300 people arrested to date. A further effort to stem the support of the NLA coming from Kosovo was Mr. Haekkerup's decision at the beginning of July to suspend five senior members of the Kosovo Protection Corps who had been blacklisted.
GENNADI M. GATILOV (Russian Federation) noted the efforts of the Special Representative and the Mission he headed to establish normalcy in the region. He was expecting further extension of cooperation with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in implementation of Security Council resolution 1244, without any exceptions. It was only in cooperation with the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia that progress could be achieved. In that connection, he stressed the need to sign an agreement on the status of UNMIK and KFOR with the Belgrade Government.
Turning to the preparations for Kosovo-wide elections, he said that ensuring their democratic and representative nature was of utmost importance. That should involve active participation of Belgrade. It was important to create safe conditions for the elections and ensure the participation of all ethnic communities. Before the elections, a steady process of return of displaced persons and refugees should be under way. In that respect, he was concerned about the lack of progress in determining the fate of 1,300 missing non-Albanian inhabitants of Kosovo. Inaction on that matter confirmed the theory of "one-sided humanism" towards Kosovo Albanians and the reluctance to hear appeals of the relatives of non-Albanian inhabitants of the province.
It was important to take measures to ensure the safety of the population. Another problem not yet resolved was disarmament of the illegal armed groups. Weaponry was discovered in the province almost daily. It was not a question of a few outdated muskets. Modern kinds of weaponry were involved. Putting an end to the illegal ownership of arms and crossings of the boundaries of Kosovo would help to solve the problem. The UNMIK and KFOR had taken certain steps to stop the provocations, but those efforts must be stepped up. It was also essential to take effective steps immediately to halt expansion of Albanian extremism out of Kosovo. He expected the UNMIK leadership, in close cooperation with KFOR, to take additional steps to complete demobilization and disarmament of Albanian extremists.
He also warned against any attempts to resolve the problem of reintegration of Kosovo/Mitrovica by force on the pretext of the need to unblock the situation there before the elections. Any attempts to use force in Mitrovica or speed up Albanization of the province would lead to negative consequences. He believed that a solution to that problem could be found only through political, comprehensive and monitored efforts. In that context, he noted proposals to involve Serbian representatives in police work in Mitrovica. Approaches based on the political will of the regional actors were needed, and that was the goal of the Russian initiative to call a Balkan summit on the matter. A legally binding agreement between the leaders of the region was needed, which would set mutual obligations. The signal from the international community must be clear and unambiguous. There could be no further redrawing of the borders in the Balkans. A barrier to extremism and intolerance must be built.
ALFONSO VALDIVIESO (Colombia), addressing the security situation in Kosovo, said that one month ago there had been great expectations over the impact of the 13 legislative initiatives and the establishment by UNMIK of the new police force and justice pillar. It was now evident that a month was not enough to achieve those measures. The flow of refugees from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was a source of concern and could affect stability in Kosovo, he warned.
Regarding the upcoming elections in the province, he said the main concern was that participation must include all minorities. The MOU provided the opportunity for more that 200,000 Serbs to take part in the elections. Turning to missing persons, he stressed the importance of the MOU between UNMIK and International Committee for Missing Persons which would enable DNA testing to identify the remains of missing people.
JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France) said that the progress achieved in the efforts to build the constitutional framework for self-government and the elections offered prospects of stability in Kosovo. It was important to ensure the success of the elections, which would depend on the participation of all the inhabitants, as well as Belgrade support. He hoped that continued dialogue and the initiatives under way on security issues would help to convince the Serbian inhabitants that their full participation was not only in the interests of peace -– it was in their own interests, as well. In that connection, he recalled a recent statement by the Yugoslav Committee on Kosovo that the conditions for Serbian participation were non-existent in the province, and he wanted to hear Mr. Guèhenno’s comments on that matter.
Recent laws against crime and the establishment of the police and justice pillars were useful, he continued. Now it was important to ensure full implementation of the rules and step up the work against extremists. Mitrovica was an important problem. The situation there could not improve without the implementation of the comprehensive strategy that Mr. Guèhenno had spoken about. It was important to tackle the causes of the conflict. Recent developments in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia were very disturbing, and he called on the parties to respect the ceasefire and demonstrate a high level of responsibility, ensuring a successful dialogue. Only a political solution could ensure the safety of all the inhabitants there. The UNMIK must ensure that the border between Kosovo and Macedonia was completely monitored.
JAMES B. CUNNINGHAM (United States) said implementation of resolution 1244 (1999) was still the most important and determining factor in resolving the situation in Kosovo. He welcomed the progress made in establishing security regulations in the province. Addressing the capture of the suspects in the bus bombing, he urged UNMIK to form an international panel to review the evidence so that those suspected did not go free.
He said the electoral process was key to the developments in the province as was Serb participation in it. Respect for the rights of minorities was another area requiring important focus. He also underscored promoting a good relationship between UNMIK and KFOR with the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The situation in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the recent violence was of concern to the United States. The use of arms to improve military positions was deplorable. Restraint must be exercised while ceasefire agreements should be recognized. He urged the Macedonian Government to resume negotiations and reach agreements beneficial to all sides.
RICHARD RYAN (Ireland) subscribed to the position of the European Union on the matter and said that all communities in Kosovo must realize that the only possible future lay in the multi-ethnic society, based on human rights. The key task was to involve all the communities in the work towards the elections. He noted with great satisfaction the support of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia of the process of registration. He was encouraged by the recent developments, but more needed to be done. Kosovo Serbs must register in larger numbers, and it was most desirable that their leaders should continue to signal their readiness to support the process. Creation of a positive climate for Serb participation needed to be encouraged. In encouraging that, the Council must sustain its message that all extremist activities must cease.
He went on to say that it was essential to ensure security and stop illegal trafficking in weapons, confiscating illegal arms. Establishment of the police pillar was encouraging, and he looked forward to hearing about an increased legal capacity in the province. Various meetings with the Government of Belgrade could lead to the resolution of the issue of the return of refugees and IDPs. Also important was a strategy to resolve the situation in Mitrovica. The parallel structures in northern Mitrovica must be removed, and the economic situation should be addressed. The economic reconstruction was of great importance. The lack of progress regarding the missing persons needed attention. The sensitivity of the issue should not be underestimated, as well as the need to observe justice.
Those guilty of crimes against humanity and genocide could not and would not escape justice, he said. No impunity should be allowed, and the recent arraignment of Mr. Milosevic should underscore that point. He was following with concern the events in Macedonia. He called upon all parties to negotiate with a clear objective of reaching a realistic and fair settlement.
Sir JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said his delegation endorsed the statement to be issued later by Belgium on behalf of the European Union. He welcomed the development of a professional police and justice cadre in Kosovo and the intention to stamp out criminality, extremism and lawlessness. The UNMIK and KFOR must continue to fill the holes in the existing security framework to ensure that extremists had no room in which to operate. Such elements undermined the legitimate efforts of responsible Albanians in the region.
Addressing the contacts between UNMIK and Belgrade, he stated that was an important improvement to which the Council’s mission last month had contributed. The appointment of Deputy Serbian Prime Minister Nebosja Covic as the Coordinator for Kosovo would also have a positive impact and was a crucial step in the establishment of a multi-ethnic Kosovo. In addition, the meetings between UNMIK and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on missing persons must be encouraged. Since there was so much to be done in an already difficult environment, the situation in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia also demanded the close scrutiny of the Council.
ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said the international community remained committed to stability and peace in the Balkans. The Council should continue to remain actively involved in pursuing full implementation of resolution 1244. The UNMIK should receive the support it needed to carry out its mandate effectively. The extradition and surrender of some of those indicted by the Yugoslav Tribunal should be followed by the surrender of other war criminals to the court in The Hague.
Recalling the June Council mission to the area, he said that some of the main findings of Council members included the importance of continued support for UNMIK and input of resources from the international community towards the implementation of its mandate. The political process had to be taken forward, and the promulgation of the constitutional framework for self-government was important. The Kosovo-wide elections would enhance the democratic process in Kosovo and increase the stability in the region. The participation of all communities and the return of refugees and displaced persons should be encouraged. Also, efforts to confiscate illegal weapons should be pursued.
It was also important to resolve the situation in Mitrovica to start rebuilding confidence of the population, he continued. The economic situation in the province needed to be taken into account. The rights of ethnic minorities needed to be respected, but those communities should realize the there was no alternative to the multi-ethnic society in Kosovo. Cooperation with Belgrade was key to the implementation of relevant resolutions. It was important that all Kosovars, irrespective of their ethnic background, should learn to live together. Representation of different communities in the interim structures was essential. The civil registration process must receive necessary cooperation. Also, the role of civil society in fostering greater tolerance must be emphasized.
PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica) said elections and reconstruction were all parts of the process that would hopefully lead to a multi-ethnic Kosovo. She stressed the importance of developing a sound working relationship between UNMIK and the authorities in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. She also drew attention to the fact that the problem of missing persons still caused anxiety to people in Kosovo and hindered progress. Location and identification of missing persons would add to a climate of stability. Her delegation, therefore, supported the work of forensic experts and hoped that more of them would be sent by countries able to provide assistance for that important task.
Jamaica believed that reconciliation efforts must coincide with those aimed at economic reconstruction and the creation of a viable economic base in Kosovo. Reports of the sale of minority housing would also seem to suggest that was a pretext for another form of ethnic cleansing. That issue must be addressed by UNMIK, along with other unfair practices against other vulnerable communities. In addition, the events in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia necessitated a close watch by the Council. Crime and violence also had to be reduced by UNMIK. She added that the discovery of arms caches was a further source of concern.
JADISH KOONJUL (Mauritius) said that UNMIK had achieved considerable progress. He commended its efforts to maintain peace in an extremely difficult situation. It remained crucially important to implement the relevant Security Council resolutions and secure participation of all ethnic groups in the November elections. He was concerned about the reluctance of some Serbian groups to participate in the upcoming elections, and urged them to cooperate fully with UNMIK and participate in the interim arrangements. On their part, Kosovo Albanians should ensure safe conditions for the elections.
An upsurge of violence in the Mitrovica and Pristina areas was a source of concern, he said. Efforts to combat organized crime and terrorism and illegal possession of weapons should continue. He welcomed the improvement of relations between UNMIK and the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. With the opening of the UNMIK office in Belgrade, the progress would be enhanced. A safe and secure environment for the return of the minorities to their homes should be ensured.
He noted with regret that the issue of the missing Serbs had seen few developments. The Serbian community should be given every assurance that the international community was committed to finding the truth about the missing persons. That was very important for building confidence among the Kosovo Serbs. The Yugoslav authorities should also accelerate the handing over of Albanian detainees to UNMIK. It was time to build peace and reconstruct the economy of the province, so that every ethnic group could feel safe.
MARKIAN KULYK (Ukraine) said tension had been reduced in Kosovo as the result of the efforts of both UNMIK and KFOR and the return of troops of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to the ground safety zone. He stressed that returning Kosovo Serbs must go back to a safe and secure environment, which included substantive dialogue and international commitment to supply resources. His delegation would be grateful for comprehensive figures on return dynamics, including time perspectives.
He condemned the military activities of Albanian armed groups in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and confirmed his country's full support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of that country, as well as the steps taken by its Government so far. He stressed, however, that there could be no military solution to the problem, only a political one.
OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) reiterated his country’s support for the work of UNMIK in implementation of resolution 1244. The international community must strengthen its efforts to ensure a democratic and multi-ethnic society in Kosovo. Successful elections in November would depend on the creation of a safe environment for all ethnic communities, particularly non-Albanians. He expected the leaders of Kosovo Albanians to respect that. At the same time, he counted on the Serb leaders to support UNMIK’s endeavours. In that regard, he welcomed the positive attitude of the President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The international community expected the Belgrade Government to encourage Serb participation in the upcoming elections. The UNMIK and KFOR should also receive assistance of the Albanian authorities.
There seemed to be room for improvement in determining the fate of the missing persons, he said. He welcomed the extradition of Slobodan Milosevic for a formal trial, saying that it was another sign that the authorities in Belgrade were willing to cooperate with the international community. The crisis in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia could not be resolved militarily and required a political solution. Experience showed the need for international involvement in the matter.
CHRISTINE LEE (Singapore) said that now the 17 November elections in Kosovo were getting closer, it was even more important for the involved parties to invigorate their efforts. Of utmost importance was the participation of all minorities in the process, including refugees and returnees. She stressed the need for a secure environment, the need for UNMIK and KFOR to work steadfastly towards rejecting violence and extremism, and promoting an environment of reconciliation and integration. Hatreds must be overcome, and she called on the Kosovo leadership to create a positive environment for minorities since the United Nations could do no more than assist.
She also called for emphasis to be given to developing a positive market economy. The Mission must continue to have regular and direct dialogue with Belgrade since the effective implementation of Council resolution 1244 (1999) required interaction with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. She underscored that the Organization's responsibility did not end with the election and the establishment of structures. Kosovo’s return to normality and achievement of final status needed time. Support for the province, therefore, had to be ongoing. The duration of the international presence there must take account of the large political reality and the particular environment. Eventual termination of the United Nations presence must be gradual and carefully structured to consolidate the painstaking gains achieved.
MOCTAR OUANE (Mali) said that despite numerous problems, it was important to recognize the important progress in Kosovo. From the political point of view, he was grateful to UNMIK for its efforts to organize elections in November. He invited all the ethnic groups in Kosovo to take part in the elections. The participation of the Serb community, which had boycotted the previous municipal elections, was a cause of concern. It was important to create safe conditions in the province and encourage return of all displaced persons and refugees.
He expressed concern over the continuation of violence in Kosovo. That was a major obstacle to the achievement of security in the area and to the return of the refugees. The legislation suppressing organized crime and illegal ownership of weapons was a welcome development. He also stressed the need to monitor the administrative borders of Kosovo. On the economical level, the high unemployment rate and the disastrous state of the economy caused concern. He recommended mobilizing additional funds for the programmes of rebuilding Kosovo. The situation of refugees from Macedonia also needed to be addressed.
WANG YINGFAN (China), President of the Council, speaking in his national capacity, said he appreciated the great improvements to the situation in Kosovo, but stressed that the participation of minority communities was necessary to ensure impartial and fair elections. The UNMIK needed to continue its efforts in that area.
He said the total disarmament of armed groups was another important consensus reached by the Council mission to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia last month. In that endeavour, the Kosovo Police Force (KPF) was key. He had heard, however, that the Force was now recruiting former KLA persons into its ranks, and warned that such actions could and might affect their impartiality. That development had to be watched carefully, he cautioned.
The illegal arms flows across the border must also be stopped. In addition, the situation in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia must be resolved in an objective manner in order to avoid any escalation of violence.
VLADISLAV MLADENOVIC (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) said that since the consideration last month of the situation in Kosovo and Metohija -- the autonomous province of the Yugoslav constituent Republic of Serbia -- the priority issues had become the elections in the province, return of displaced persons and the tracing of the abducted and the missing. The common goal of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and international actors should be consistent implementation of Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) and creation of conditions for building a multi-ethnic and democratic Kosovo and Metohija, including self-government and substantial autonomy, with full respect for the territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
Surely, one of the essential steps was the return of displaced persons, he said. A fully secure environment must be created for the return of Serbs and other non-Albanians to their homes, rather than to some places of temporary residence. Southern Serbia represented eloquent proof that displaced persons could return if proper conditions were created. Since the entry of the Yugoslav forces to the Ground Safety Zone on 31 May this year, more than half of 12,000 displaced Albanians had returned to the area. However, over 250,000 persons displaced from Kosovo and Metohija lived in other parts of Serbia and throughout Yugoslavia now. About 25,000 non-Albanians had left the province in 2000 alone. Under the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) return plan, 2,000 persons were supposed to return this year. Considering the existing circumstances in Kosovo and Metohija, even that modest number appeared unrealistic.
Another very important and painful issue was the fate of abducted and missing persons, he continued. The Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia attached utmost importance to resolving that issue. That could be done only with the involvement of the international community and Albanian actors. So far, he regretted to say, the latter had shown no readiness to become actively engaged. It was encouraging though that understanding on the issue had been shown at the meeting of the Yugoslav delegation with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Council and its Secretary-General in Brussels on 18 July.
The question of the Serbs’ participation in the general elections in Kosovo and Metohija in November was of widespread interest, he said. His delegation had presented its position on the election in the statement to the Council on 22 June, and his Government was ready to support Serb participation in the elections if necessary conditions were created. Ready to cooperate with the international community, it called on the Serbs to register. It had also defined the conditions necessary for their taking part in the elections, which included security guarantees, creation of conditions for a safe return of all displaced persons, tracing of abducted and missing persons, and the preparation of the elections in cooperation with the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Serbia.
He then pointed out the need to institutionalize cooperation between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and UNMIK. That would not only facilitate numerous practical solutions, but also recommit the international community to respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia as provided for by resolution 1244 (1999). His country was ready to build relations with KFOR and UNMIK, based on partnership and mutual respect. However, by its latest guidelines on Yugoslav government officials’ and political party representatives’ visits to the province, UNMIK had, in his opinion, taken a wrong direction. The formalities contained very serious restrictions and were clearly inappropriate. Those guidelines should be reconsidered.
He went on to say that the removal of anachronistic vestiges of the past would greatly facilitate the progress of democracy in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. To that end, he hoped that the arms embargo imposed by Security Council resolution 1160 (1998) and the Ground and Air Safety Zones established in 1999 would be lifted and abolished soon. His country would make every effort to improve the situation in Kosovo and Metohija. In cooperation with international actors, the Albanian community in Kosovo and Methija should play an active role in those efforts and avoid steps going beyond the bounds of resolution 1244.
JEAN DE RUYT (Belgium) also spoke on behalf of the European Union and the associated States of Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta, Turkey, Iceland and Liechtenstein.
He first reaffirmed the Union's support for the efforts of UNMIK and Mr. Haekkerup in implementing resolution 1244 (1999). The work carried out by the Mission had led to concrete and positive results. He stressed that it was essential for all communities to participate in the 17 November elections and in the provisional institutions in Kosovo that would spring from that process. Those upcoming elections offered all communities the opportunity to take their fate in their hands in the context of resolution 1244 (1999).
He said the Union supported any measures or initiatives already taken by UNMIK to resolve the issue of missing persons, refugees and displaced persons and encouraged the Mission and other actors to pursue further efforts in that area. While tension had abated in the province over the past month, the risk of deterioration should not be underestimated. It was hoped that the security measures taken recently would lead to a reduction in violence.
In addition, he said that the handover of Slobodan Milosevic, former President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, to The Hague Tribunal was an important development. It was necessary in the process of reconciliation for the people of the region to realize that justice would be done and that nobody was above the law. Despite the ceasefire, the situation in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia remained a cause of concern. The Union would continue to offer its assistance in order to find a lasting solution to the conflict.
Responding to comments and questions from the Council members, Mr. GUÈHENNO commented on "a rather harsh statement" by one of the groups regarding the "non-existent" conditions for the Serb participation in the elections. Four Serbian parties had decided to register, and that was an indication that they hoped that general participation of Serbs would be ensured. The comment may have reflected disappointment that the progress had been slow, but a gradual and slow approach was to be adopted by UNMIK.
On the practical matters of Serb participation, there was a question of the rate of return, he said. Although he would like to see quick return of Serbs to Kosovo, security conditions should be taken into account in that respect. In some situations, their houses had been taken over, or people would feel isolated upon their return. It was important to take a pragmatic approach. An association of displaced persons in Pec had asked to register for elections, and it was an encouraging sign. Security remained one of UNMIK’s main concerns, and progress had been made in that respect. On the involvement of Serbs in the elections, he said that the basic issue was whether they would bring their influence to reach reconciliation. The elections presented a good opportunity in that regard, bringing all communities to the same table to discuss the issues. That would help to create conditions for reconciliation, but the process would take time.
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