Press Releases

                                                                                                                            19 March 2004

    Kosovo’s Leaders Must Work with International Community and Each Other to Restore Calm, Secretary-General Tells Security Council

    NEW YORK, 18 March (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the statement by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the Security Council on the situation in Kosovo today:

    The Secretariat briefed the Council this morning on the deplorable events of the past two days in Kosovo.  The overall security situation throughout Kosovo is still highly unstable.  The number of fatal casualties now stands at 31. 

    I cannot emphasize strongly enough my deep disappointment and sadness at this resurgence of violence, which has already left many people dead and hundreds wounded.

    Mr. President, we cannot close our eyes to the fact that this violence is ethnically motivated, with communities attacking each other.  Such violence must be strongly condemned.

    The deliberate targeting of houses as well as religious sites -- such as churches, cemeteries and monasteries -- is shameful and inexcusable, as are the subsequent attacks against mosques in other parts of Serbia and Montenegro.

    We must also condemn, in the strongest possible terms, deliberate attacks on representatives of the international community -- in particular the staff of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and the troops serving with the Kosovo multinational security force (KFOR). The situation in Mitrovica has become sufficiently serious to warrant the relocation of international staff from Mitrovica to a safer place in the region.  

    Mr. President, the recent events have highlighted the fragility of the structures and relationships in Kosovo. It shows that despite the progress that has been made since 1999, we have not come far enough. Mutual respect between different communities is still not the accepted norm that it should be.  It is clear that we need to study very carefully the implications for Kosovo’s future. 

    Our first priority must be to restore safety and security. I thank the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) for its decision to reinforce its troops in Kosovo.

    The violence must cease. The leaders of Kosovo’s communities and the representatives of its provisional institutions must work with the international community, with each other, and with the people of Kosovo, to restore calm.

    Allow me, in particular, to remind the leaders of the Kosovo-Albanian community, that as the largest ethnic group, they have a responsibility to protect and promote the rights of all people within Kosovo, particularly its minorities.

    I trust the Security Council will give the situation the urgent and serious attention it requires.

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