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Kosovo Mission Reorients Field Presence

UN’s Kosovo Mission Reorients Field Presence To Non-Albanian Ethnic Communities

New York, Nov 26 2008 7:10PM

The United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) is re-orienting its field presence to concentrate in areas occupied by ethnic non-Albanians following Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia, the top United Nations official there said today.

“The recent actions of the institutions of Kosovo have made it no longer possible or practicable for UNMIK to function as an administrator,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative Lamberto Zannier told an open Security Council session on Kosovo, which the UN has run since NATO forces drove out Yugoslav troops amid deadly fighting with the majority ethnic Albanian population in 1999.

“We need to be able to concentrate on the areas where we can still make a difference for good, rather than attempt to continue functions which are neither relevant nor needed,” he said, noting that UNMIK would monitor the interests of the non-Albanian communities and retain a support and mediation role.

The UN is neutral on the question of the status of Kosovo, which proclaimed independence in February in a move that Serbia rejects.

Presenting Mr. Ban’s latest report on Kosovo, which outlines a reconfiguration of UNMIK, Mr. Zannier noted that the European Union (EU) was deploying its EULEX mission on the rule of law “at an increasingly accelerated rate” but for now the UN mission “remains the principal international guarantor of rule of law in Kosovo.”

UNMIK’s role “is becoming much more political, for example providing an interface for the process of dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina,” he said, referring to the capitals of Serbia and Kosovo.

“Since it has not yet been possible to establish conditions for the two sides to talk to each other, UNMIK has a role as an interlocutor of both, although each side interprets this role in a different manner.”

Offering a personal observation, Mr. Zannier said Kosovo fundamentally remains an ethnically segregated society, though authorities in Pristina are firmly committed to a multi-ethnic society, including on the basis of their Constitution.

“Kosovo’s Albanians and Serbs live apart, in parallel worlds. To a certain extent, this takes place peacefully, but the potential for conflict is always there, and we have seen an intensification of small incidents in the north in recent times,” he added.

In a presidential statement read out later, the Council welcomed the positions of Belgrade and Pristina on Mr. Ban’s report in which they declared their intentions to cooperate with the international community. It also welcomed the continuing EU efforts to “advance the European perspective of the whole of the Western Balkans, thereby making a decisive contribution to regional stability and prosperity.”

ENDS

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