Monday, December 27, 2004

UNMIK official says Kosovo will move forward regardless of Serb participation

The principal deputy special representative of secretary general to Kosova [Kosovo] (PDSRSG), Lawrence Rossin, said in an interview with KosovaLive that he was optimistic that the Standards will be evaluated positively in mid- 2005, but added that all actors involved should work hard in order to achieve that.

He stressed that processes in Kosova will move forward with or without participation of Kosova Serbs.

Rossin said that the external elements would not be allowed to block Kosova's progress.

Rossin says that Serbia will not have a determining position in the status talks, though it cannot be completely excluded from this process.

[KosovaLive] Mr Rossin if you look back at 2004, what would you consider as success and what as failure?

[Rossin] The 2004 had its negatives and its positives in it. And the negatives were clearly the March events. The March was a big setback for Kosovo and a big setback for the aspirations of the people of Kosovo. The violence did a lot of physical damage, it did a lot of damage to ethnic relations and also it did a lot of damage to Kosovo's image outside. Whenever the journalists and the foreign visitors came here and talked to us even months afterwards, they were talking about the March events as they happened yesterday.

But on the other hand it was a kind of wake up call to the political leadership of Kosovo and I think that they responded in a positive way, a wake up call to the international community as the things in Kosovo maybe were not progressing in the way they are to be progressing. It was a wake up call to UNMIK [UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo] and to Kfor [Kosovo Force].

From positive things in 2004, I would like to point there the October elections, which were peaceful, transparent and well-organized. Not only this, but also the coalition forming process, which ended up with a government, a government which is certainly very dynamic in its early days

[KosovaLive] How do you think will be solved the issue of decentralization and of parallel structures?

[Rossin] Decentralization is not designed for ethnic partitions but for better governance. The concept that will be applied is of European standards.

The decentralization can help in addressing of many issues. And I think that one of the problems of the members of community, including Serb community, is using of public services.

On this case we also have the problem of the parallel structures. Decentralization will help in resolving of some of the communities concerns The people speak for dismantling of parallel structures. But it is more important to see why they exist. There is no doubt that the parallel structures have caused problems, but they exist because the Serbs practically have not access in the basic services, health education, and these are facts.

[KosovaLive] But the Serbs have refused to take part in the institutions. How to get them into the institutions?

[Rossin] Non-participation of Serb community representatives in the institutions is a big problem.

We will continue to leave the door of all institutions open for them and it remains to them to get in. There are a number of processes designed to give to all communities the vehicle to advance their interests. There is building a better security in Kosovo. Establishment of the Ministry of Returns and Communities, which obviously is very directly related to the interest of the minority communities; not only to Kosova Serb community, but also to other minorities. All these different processes must continue [to] move forward, with or without participation of Kosova Serbs We will not allow external factors block our progress.

[KosovaLive] There is a problem that is being carried over from one year into another since the establishment of the international administration in Kosova. For more than five years Mitrovica is divided. Can we expect its unification in 2005?

[Rossin] I cannot predict to you that that will be the case; the challenges are very severe and long-standing. It is a difficult situation I know that we will be working very closely with the people in Mitrovica to explore the ways that these two parts of the same city might be brought together. But I cannot predict whether it will be 2005 or 2006.

[KosovaLive] But will for example the decentralization process through the outlined pilot projects have an impact in unification of Mitrovica?

[Rossin] Conceivably yes. But the pilot projects have not been finalized yet. The working group on decentralization is still developing the pilot project ideas. The locations for the pilot project have not been yet selected. It is up to the working groups not to us.

[KosovaLive] Following the violent March events, the Ambassador Kai Eide has drafted a report recommending restructuring of UNMIK. How it is going to be done?

[Rossin] With regard to restructuring of UNMIK itself, this was recommended in the Eide's report, but it was also agreed that the focus at this time: end 2004 and early 2005 should not be on major restructuring in UNMIK, but should be rather on getting of all these other processes going, because they are more important.

During 2005 we do expect to have restructuring in UNMIK. We are still talking internally how we might best do that. It is a big organizational question. But it is also important that if you look at the Eide's report, his concept on restructuring should not just within UNMIK, but also handing over questions to the EU, OSCE, and those organizations have to think on what they are able to take on. Transition needs a lot of work. We have to do that in 2005.

[KosovaLive] The international community has scheduled the 2005 for beginning of status talks. But it was said that the talks would begin only if the Standards are fulfilled.

[Rossin] The Standards have been prioritized, as you know. The focus of prioritized Standards is about building a stable and multiethnic Kosovo, which is primary preoccupation in the immediate term. I am very optimistic that with this kind of effort we will have a positive evaluation of Standards, but have to do our part of the job, the PISG their part.

It is important the people not presume for a second that the outcome is going to be positive, but they should work hard in order that to be achieved.

[KosovaLive] In which form the Belgrade will be involved in the status talks?

[Rossin] I think that it is natural thing to say that obviously the people of Kosova, the institutions of Kosova will have a big role. Serbia has interest recognized by Resolution 1244 in Kosova. I cannot imagine a process that in some way would not allow Serbia to put their voice into that process. But this does not mean that they will have a determining position. But to think that they will be entirely excluded is neither entirely realistic nor even useful, because they are Kosovo's neighbour.

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