1 April 2004

Secretary-General Praises Commitment, Courage of Murdered Kosovo Police Officers, Says Stark Signal of Distance Still to Be Travelled in Building Peace

NEW YORK, 31 March (UN Headquarters) -- Following is Secretary-General’s Kofi Annan message to the ceremony commemorating police officers killed in Kosovo, delivered by Harri Holkeri, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Kosovo, in Pristina, 30 March:

Today we commemorate the lives of two police officers -- Possible Essuman of Ghana, and his colleague, Arzim Rrustoli of Kosovo -- who lost their lives in the service of peace.  They were murdered in cold blood by those who would undo all that has been achieved in Kosovo during the last five years.  They were killed while trying to create a Kosovo in which all of its peoples can live in safety, security and dignity.

Their deaths remind us of the dangers routinely faced by the dedicated staff of the United Nations around the world.

To the families, friends and all others touched by this loss, I extend my deepest and most sincere condolences.  These two men served with commitment and courage.  My thoughts also go out to their injured colleague, Mr. Zeneli, and his family, along with hopes for a swift recovery.

To the people of Kosovo and their leaders, I would like to stress that a future built on hatred is one destined only for further bloodshed.  Ultimately, you will need to decide what kind of society you want to build for your families today, and for your children tomorrow.

The killers and other would-be extremists should not underestimate the determination of the United Nations and the international community to continue its mission, and to seek justice for those who commit such crimes.  Thousands of additional KFOR troops have arrived in Kosovo to help with this task, and more than 100 additional international police investigators will be deployed.  We are committed to bringing an end to the violence and killing that mar hopes for Kosovo’s future.

The murders of Mr. Essuman and Mr. Rrustoli are a stark signal of the distance still to be travelled in building a peaceful Kosovo.  But the United Nations and its partners will continue that journey, and we will never forget their admirable dedication to Kosovo and all its communities.

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