Monday, August 14, 2006

German diplomat named Kosovo's new UN governor

UNITED NATIONS, Aug 14 (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has chosen veteran German diplomat Joachim Ruecker to be the next U.N. governor of Kosovo, the United Nations announced on Monday.

Ruecker, who now serves as head of economic reconstruction for the U.N. mission in Kosovo, will be the sixth U.N. administrator in seven years for the southern Serbian province. He may be its last as the international community considers granting it independence in a process due to be wrapped up by the end of the year.

Ruecker, 55, will succeed Soren Jessen-Petersen of Denmark, who announced his resignation in June.

"The secretary-general has informed the Security Council of his intention to appoint Ambassador Joachim Ruecker of Germany as his new special representative and head of the U.N. interim administration in Kosovo, known as UNMIK, as of September 1, 2006," said U.N. chief spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

Kosovo has been under U.N. administration since 1999 following NATO bombing that expelled Serb forces to end what Western powers said was repression of civilians in fighting an ethnic Albanian rebel insurgency.

Ninety percent of Kosovo's 2 million people are ethnic Albanians. U.N.-brokered talks are under way to determine whether Kosovo will remain part of Serbia, as sought by the government in Belgrade, or becomes independent, as the vast majority of Kosovo's residents insist.

The talks that are to determine the future status of the province began in February and are expected to continue until the end of the year.

Ruecker has held a variety of posts in Germany's Federal Foreign Office, beginning in 1979. Before going to work for the United Nations, he headed the Foreign Office's Budget and Finance Division in Berlin.

In his work in Kosovo, he has led efforts to revitalize the ravaged economy in the province, where unemployment is 60 percent. U.N. officials in Kosovo said an advantage of his appointment to the top U.N. job was that he could hit the ground running.

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