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UN Must Adjust To 'New Reality' In Kosovo -- Ban

United Nations Mission Has To Adjust To 'Profoundly New Reality' In Kosovo, Says Ban Ki-Moon

17 July 2008 - In light of developments since Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in February, the United Nations mission there is unable to perform its usual functions and must adjust to the new reality on the ground, says Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The ability of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) to carry out its tasks has been "fundamentally challenged owing to actions taken by both the authorities in Pristina and the Kosovo Serbs," Mr. Ban writes in his latest report to the Security Council.

"In Pristina, Kosovo's authorities have instituted measures that have sought to effectively assume the Mission's powers. Most significantly, Kosovo adopted a Constitution on 15 June that does not envisage a real role for UNMIK, although Kosovo's leaders have welcomed the continued presence of the United Nations in Kosovo for some time," he states.

In addition, Kosovo has passed legislation in a number of areas, with the intention of assuming legal control and responsibility over areas that were previously reserved for the Secretary-General's Special Representative.

Mr. Ban says that Kosovo Serbs, for their part, have rejected the Constitution and connected legislation and, with the support of Belgrade, have expanded their boycott of Kosovo's institutions and widened and deepened their parallel structures, particularly in northern Kosovo. At times their protests against Kosovo's authorities have turned violent.

"These events have contributed to creating a profoundly new reality in which UNMIK can no longer perform as effectively as in the past the vast majority of its tasks as an interim administration," says the Secretary-General.

Therefore, Mr. Ban says he has decided to move forward with the reconfiguration of the structure and profile of UNMIK, as proposed in the plan he presented to the Council last month.

Accordingly, he has instructed the Mission to cooperate with the European Union, so it can assume an enhanced operational role in the rule of law area under a UN "umbrella" headed by his Special Representative, in line with the original 1999 resolution that established the mission.

He adds that UNMIK will continue to support Kosovo in its effort to consolidate democratic governance institutions, advance economic growth and move towards a future in Europe as part of the western Balkans.

Noting that the building of a society in which all communities can coexist in peace remains a difficult and long-term challenge in Kosovo, he calls on the authorities in Pristina and Belgrade and representatives of all of Kosovo's communities to continue to work together with UNMIK.

ENDS

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