Progress in Kosovo 'slow-going,' Security Council told
More emphasis needs to be placed on reconciliation efforts in Kosovo, where developments of the last four months illustrate the difficulties faced in making consistent progress in the province, the top United Nations peacekeeping official told the Security Council today in an open briefing.
"It is, inevitably, slow-going," the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, said in his briefing on the latest developments as well as Secretary-General Kofi Annan's recent report on the work of the UN Interim Administration Mission (UNMIK). The ensuing discussion saw the participation of representatives of some 20 countries, including the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
Mr. Guéhenno noted that while progress has been made on a number of fronts, there still have been some negative developments, most notably the continued existence of parallel government structures.
The consolidation of sustainable institutions depends on an effective public administration, but recruitment remains slow, the UN official said. Also, obstacles such as security concerns, inter-ethnic tensions in the workplace and the limited pool of minority community applicants still hamper the multi-ethnic character of the civil service.
As for the security situation, there has been a regrettable continuation of attacks targeting the Kosovo Serb community, including an assault last month against 50 elderly people registering for their pensions, Mr. Guéhenno said. UNMIK’s fight against crime, meanwhile, had yielded an increase in the amount of contraband seized and a subsequent rise in the number of arrests on charges of economic crime and corruption.
Nevertheless, although the elections on 26 October and the prior campaign passed largely free of violence, the day after the polls saw the killing of the President of the Kosovo Albanian Municipal Assembly and two others.
While the Kosovo Serb community has expressed a desire to see faster progress in many areas, Mr. Guéhenno said, its low turnout for those elections was to its own detriment, diminishing its ability to participate in decision-making processes throughout the province.
Meanwhile, Kosovo's leaders had a responsibility to create conditions conducive to improving "inter-communal" relations and promoting reconciliation, Mr. Guéhenno stressed. In that regard, he welcomed the statement made by political leaders last Friday.
"But more needs to be done, including turning words into actions and speaking out more clearly against violence," he said. "The brunt of the effort lies with the majority community."