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UN Mission Takes Control Of Kosovo's Main Airport

UN Mission Takes Control Of Kosovo's Main Airport From Military Forces

The United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo today formally took control of the airport serving Pristina, the province's capital, ending five years of military authority over the transport hub.

At a ceremony marking the handover, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Kosovo, Harri Holkeri, http://www.unmikonline.org/press/2004/pressr/pr1159.pdf said the transfer to civilian control sends a positive message after the recent wave of deadly violence in the province.

"In spite of the terrible setback caused by the violence…we are moving forward," Mr. Holkeri said.

The envoy said Pristina airport is expected to handle more than 800,000 civilian passengers this year, a huge increase from 1999, when it was used mainly for military and humanitarian purposes.

Until now the airport had been controlled by troops from the Kosovo Force (KFOR), which is led by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Mr. Holkeri thanked KFOR and NATO, especially some of its Member States, for their work in "ensuring Kosovo's lifeline to the outside world."

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