Global perspective Human stories

Crime, economy and multi-ethnic society priorities for Kosovo in 2003, UN envoy says

Crime, economy and multi-ethnic society priorities for Kosovo in 2003, UN envoy says

Michael Steiner addressing Security Council
The top United Nations envoy in Kosovo today told the Security Council that the priorities for the UN's mission this year will focus on the standards that are required for a decent life, such as reducing the crime rate, improving the economy and encouraging the formation of a multi-ethnic society.

Speaking at an open briefing of the Council, Michael Steiner, head of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), said that while many politicians in the province were working hard to address the needs of the people, he was concerned that others in Pristina were becoming more assertive about status and status-related competencies, and not concentrating enough on the real bread and butter issues.

Mr. Steiner also noted that Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic had now changed course in Belgrade by also calling for an early resolution of Kosovo's status and requested the return of the Serbian State to Kosovo. "I don't believe that 2003 is the time for finally solving Kosovo's status," he told the Council. "But it is the time to lay the groundwork for the political process which in the end will determine status."

While there was general agreement on the goals, Mr. Steiner noted, Kosovo's institutions had not yet engaged with the benchmarks of accomplishment with sufficient vigour; some Albanian politicians even claimed that Kosovo had already achieved the standards. However, as the Security Council mission had stressed in December, Kosovo was still a long way from having truly functioning democratic institutions and a society where minorities could fully participate.

"We obviously do not expect the institutions to deliver in areas where they do not have instruments," the UNMIK chief said. "But public figures can and must be held accountable for a sustained effort to promote the values of the rule of law, for example. We expect them to take a stand against crime, to refrain from extremist statements, and to call on the public to cooperate with the police and courts. Tacit tolerance for crime and corruption must stop."

Mr. Steiner stressed that it was crucially important the Council remain in charge of Kosovo until the main objective set out in its resolution had been fulfilled, and noted that the European Union was expected to outline a more energetic strategy towards the Balkans at its Summit on 21 June. "Any engagement by the international community must be matched by equal engagement of our local partners in fulfilling the standards - the standards of a functioning democratic society," he said.