Thursday, January 27, 2005

German Christian Democrat Doris Pack deplores UNMIK treating Kosovan institutions like children and calls for swift solution to Kosovo's status

At the end of a public hearing on Kosovo, organised on Tuesday by the European Parliament foreign affairs committee, German Christian Democrat Doris Pack, president of the delegation of relations with countries of South East Europe, called on Europeans and the whole international community to, “make more of a commitment to the peace and stabilisation process in Kosovo”. Ms Pack regretted that they had to admit that the United Nations had until now only obtained very slight results in Kosovo and that stabilisation standards had not been reached, mainly because the Kosovan government could not reach them because it did not have the political power. She added that “The United Nations mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) had to make a swift transfer of political power to the Kosovan government in the areas of competency for which it had recently and democratically set up”. She deplored the fact that Kosovan institutions were being treated like children.

She considered that UNMIK had contributed, in this context, in managing the crisis. Pack also called on the government in Pristina to act pro-actively in getting the decentralisation process moving and exhorted the international community, particularly the EU, to reach a rapid decision, by mid-2005 on the definitive status of Kosovo. She said that they also had to settle the question of the future accession to the European Union and that a Special Reprehensive in permanent contact with Brussels was urgent. Pack also highlighted the need to work more towards getting refugees to return. She stressed that no political solution in Kosovo would be possible which went against or excluded Serbia. Ms Pack explained that Serbia had to be closely involved in the stabilisation process and that if there were an independent Kosovo, there would be no ambiguity with regard to its borders.

Kim Friedberg, Advisor to he UN Special Representative in Kosovo heading UNMIK, Soren Jessen-Petersen, welcomed the progress made in security and reconstruction but warned that the Kosovo's status quo could not last. Freidberg indicated that respect for minority rights, managing the return of displaced persons and agreement on a multi-ethnic society were now UNMIK priorities. Friedberg also called on Kosovan leaders and Serbs to assume their responsibilities and find a definitive and viable solution. He also deplored the deliberate blocking created by the Serbian minority in Kosovo by no taking part in elections last November and in the decentralisation process begun by Pristina. He warned that the question of Kosovo's status depended on a consolidation of minority rights. Mr Freiberg emphasised that UNMIK still saw the danger of Serbian or Kosovan attempts to derail the peace process, “If progress is blocked by a minority, we have to, nonetheless, avoid making all those who want to live in a multiethnic Kosovo suffer. We cannot sustain an international protectorate eternally. We have to swiftly establish a strict timetable for the definitive status of Kosovo's status”. UNMIK, however, said that UNMIK would remain there as long as it was necessary and that Kosovo would probably require an external civil and military presence for a number of years to ensure long term stability and integration into the EU. Nebojsha Covic, president of the coordination centre for Kosovo and Metohia at the Council of Ministers in Serbia Montenegro deplored the permanent attacks on the freedoms of Serbs and non-Albanians in Kosovo whose protection “is also part of UNMIK and KFOR's mission (the international military intervention force”). He also rejected the accusations that Belgrade was constantly exerting pressure on the Serbian Kosovan minority to block the stabilisation process. Skender Hyseni, political advisor to the president of Kosovo, Ibhraim Rugova, called on the international community to “institutionalise Kosovo's independence as soon as possible”. Hyseni stressed that the war in 1999 was the result of erroneous political decisions imposed on Kosovo and that today Europe could no longer support solutions that destabilised the region. He insisted that Kosovan independence was the only practical solution that would get rid of the risk of conflict and allow economic development and the eventual transfer of part of its sovereignty to the institutions of the EU. He added that this would allow Kosovo, which at present could not benefit from bilateral trade agreements or programmes from international financial institutions (because it was not a country), from rapidly getting involved in a cooperation process with its neighbours, “independence would give Kosovo the chance to prove that it was able to respect universal values on human and minority rights”.

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