Security Council president says delegation will visit Kosovo this month

4 April 2007

The Security Council will this month send a delegation to Kosovo, the 15-member body’s President said today, as it considers a United Nations envoy’s proposal for granting independence in a phased process to the ethnic-Albanian majority Serbian province that has been run by the world body since Western forces drove out Yugoslav troops in 1999.

“I would expect that during the month of April there would be a Security Council mission to Belgrade and to Pristina,” Emyr Jones Parry, the Ambassador of the United Kingdom, which holds the Council’s rotating presidency this month, told a press briefing in New York.

He added that details would follow after meetings with other Council members to see “how they’d like to conduct that mission.”

Asked how the Council would advance the issue given the divergent views on how to proceed, including strong opposition to independence by the Russian Federation and Serbia, Mr. Jones Parry said yesterday’s discussion was informative because it demonstrated to the Council “how sensitive this issue is and how carefully [former Finnish] President [Martti] Ahtisaari [the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the future status process for Kosovo], had formulated his proposal.

“Within the Council there is a natural sense of: we want more information, we are worried about the dismemberment of a State. At the same time many in the Council acknowledge that we’ve gotten to the point where what President Ahtisaari is proposing is the logical, the necessary political step and that if this is done in a carefully managed way, we can end up with stability, rights and reconciliation all furthered between Kosovo and Serbia.”

Regarding the next steps, he said it would be necessary to take decisions on the Council mission’s leadership and terms of reference. “What I do not expect is the early tabling of a resolution,” he said, pointing out that consultations will have to be held in key capitals first.

On Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Ahtisaari briefed the Security Council in a private meeting, which was later followed by closed consultations.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Mr. Ahtisaari said this was the start of a process and that he was pleased by the discussions with the members of the Security Council. He said that the process, if not a marathon, was “at least a 10,000-metre run.”

He also stressed that the Council must recognize that the sooner a decision is made on Kosovo, the better.

Meanwhile, the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today condemned the recent attack on the Monastery of Decani in Kosovo and pledged the agency’s continued support to ensure the preservation of the edifice, which is considered an endangered cultural site.

“UNESCO and the whole international community recognized the universal value of this property when they inscribed it on the World Heritage List,” said Koïchiro Matsuura, referring to the fact that the Monastery is part of the ensemble of Medieval Monuments in Kosovo, inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2004, and put on the World Heritage in Danger List in 2006.

On 30 March, a grenade launcher was found on the hillside overlooking the monastery, and a rocket engine was discovered lodged in one of its outer walls, according to the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). This follows reports of two explosive noises heard by the monks on Friday.

“I condemn the attack on the Monastery of Decani,” Mr. Matsuura declared. “We at UNESCO remain committed to pursue the work undertaken to ensure the preservation of cultural heritage in Kosovo and I urge the leaders of all of Kosovo's communities to exercise restraint for the sake of a heritage that is valuable to us all.”

The largest medieval church in South-Eastern Europe, the Decani Monastery has come under attack several times since the late 1990s. Initial reports indicate that the 14th century edifice sustained only light damage in last week’s attack, according to UNESCO, which said none of the monks living in the Monastery were injured.

Following the attack, the senior UN envoy to Kosovo, Joachim Rücker, voiced concern about the situation and called the monastery “a place of immense spiritual importance for the Kosovo Serb community and a treasure for the people of Kosovo and beyond.”

 

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