Kosovo: UN envoy outlines concept of decentralization

Kosovo: UN envoy outlines concept of decentralization

The head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), Michael Steiner, today invited the leaders of the province's major political parties and coalitions to a meeting next month in which he will present his concept of decentralization.

Mr. Steiner outlined his plan in a statement issued today in Pristina, saying his idea of decentralization would establish municipal units with local council, administrative organs and an appropriate budget for "sizeable non-majority communities" to manage education, health care, urban and rural planning and issues of local importance.

"They will have decision making authority over issues of local importance, such as markets, public spaces, cultural activities and sports," Mr. Steiner said, adding that such units could be made up of one or more villages, settlements and urban quarters within a municipality.

These municipal units would be established on the basis of a request by elected assembly members or a petition by inhabitants in those areas where there had been a sizeable participation in the municipal election by the community concerned, Mr. Steiner explained. He added that non-majority communities who had participated in municipal elections on 26 October would also be entitled to executive posts in the municipal government in accordance with the province's Constitutional Framework.

Mr. Steiner said he would promulgate his decentralization programme in the form of a legally binding document and that council elections would be organized within six months after the municipal units had been established.

Mr. Steiner said in the long run, and in line with European standards, he would address the issues of municipal development and how to adapt the geographical size of municipalities to the changing number of inhabitants within them.