Citing personal reasons, the head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), Hans Haekkerup, today announced his resignation, drawing an expression of regrets from Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who praised the envoy for his contribution to UN efforts in the province.
"The Secretary-General has expressed his deep appreciation to Mr. Haekkerup for his accomplishments in the service of the United Nations and wishes him every success for the future," said a spokesman for Mr. Annan in a statement issued in New York.
Mr. Annan also paid tribute to his envoy's achievements, underscoring his "skilful management of the process that led to the adoption of a constitutional framework and the successful election held last month."
Explaining his motives in a radio interview, Mr. Haekkerup noted that his work as UNMIK chief entailed long and arduous hours. “My wife is going to have a baby early in the new year, so this was a very good occasion to take a break from the very intense work here,” the envoy said. He added that his decision had been taken in consultation with Mr. Annan.
Mr. Haekkerup said Kosovo had seen numerous accomplishments over the past year. "Maybe if you had asked people a year ago 'do you think that we would have been where we are now, that we have had elections, that we have a Constitutional Framework, that we soon will have a government in Kosovo - a self-government - with the participation of all communities?' I think many people a year ago would have said: 'Well, Mr. Haekkerup, you will never get there,' but we did."
The outgoing envoy said the international community would reject any attempt to hamper democracy in Kosovo. "I am sure that we would not accept anybody who would try to obstruct the process of creating a government," he said.
Making a direct appeal to the people of Kosovo, he said: "Every day you make a choice in what you are doing and not doing… UNMIK, KFOR [the international protection force] and the international community can do a lot but in the end it's the population of Kosovo, you yourself, who [are] making this choice."