Global perspective Human stories

UN envoy lobbies European Union foreign ministers for continued support to Kosovo

UN envoy lobbies European Union foreign ministers for continued support to Kosovo

The head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) today lobbied European foreign ministers to continue their countries' economic and political support for the province.

"We must finish what we started, or a vacuum will be created to be filled with crime that could lead to instability in the region," Michael Steiner told journalists after speaking to a closed-door session of the European Union's General Affairs Council. "We must eradicate crime and export stability. For that, Kosovo needs Europe to stay engaged."

In the meeting of EU foreign ministers, Mr. Steiner stressed the importance of "sustainability" in assistance to Kosovo, at the same time expressing his gratitude for the generous and continuing support from the EU and the European Commission.

The UNMIK chief noted that improved security, in a broad sense, was crucial for Kosovo's success. Besides bolstering the rule of law, it also meant that jobs must be created, he said, noting the province's high unemployment rate and high proportion of young people.

"We must put these young women and men to work," Mr. Steiner said. "To do this we must attract investment, and to attract investment, we must privatize" within the context of Security Council Resolution 1244.

Earlier Monday, Mr. Steiner met with the Secretary-General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, George Robertson, who pledged NATO support for a "relentless attack" on organized crime in cooperation with UNMIK, as well as a "strong and robust position appropriate to the sense of security" in Kosovo.

Lord Robertson also welcomed the announcement of a joint month-long weapons amnesty programme by UNMIK and the international Kosovo security force (KFOR), set to run from 15 March through 15 April.

Mr. Steiner is scheduled to travel tomorrow to Berlin, then arrive on Wednesday in Washington, D.C., before heading to London and Moscow on Thursday and Friday.