New UN envoy for Kosovo takes up duties in Pristina

New UN envoy for Kosovo takes up duties in Pristina

UN Police securing UNMIK Court building in Mitrovica
The new United Nations envoy for Kosovo, Lamberto Zannier, has arrived in Pristina to take up his duties amid what he called “a moment of transition” for the world body’s presence there.

Mr. Zannier succeeds Joachim Rücker as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) at a time when Ban Ki-moon has proposed reconfiguring the Organization’s presence in the wake of Kosovo’s decision earlier this year to declare its independence from Serbia.

Under Mr. Ban’s plan, the European Union play an enhanced operational role in the area of rule of law under a UN “umbrella” headed by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and in line with the 1999 Security Council resolution that established UNMIK.

“I see this as a moment of transition,” Mr. Zannier told a news conference last Friday. “There are a number of things to be readjusted. It is not only UNMIK reconfiguring, but it is the whole set of activities that UNMIK was handling that needs to be reviewed.”

A reconfigured and restructured UNMIK, according to the proposals presented by the Secretary-General, would continue to carry out many functions, including those related to a dialogue with Serbia on provisions in six areas: police, courts, customs, transport and infrastructure, boundaries and Serbian patrimony.

Mr. Zannier said he sees his role as one focused on helping to maintain peace, security and stability in the region, as a key condition for economic and social development.

He also highlighted the need to develop policies to improve the interaction between communities and ensure respect of fundamental rights and freedoms. The UN is a “key facilitator” in this regard, he added.

UNMIK has been in place since mid-1999 after NATO forces drove Yugoslav troops out of Kosovo, where ethnic Albanians outnumber Serbs and other minorities by nine to one, that year amid deadly inter-communal fighting.