Kosovo: pace of UN mission’s reconfiguration picking up – Ban

19 March 2009

Despite a perception among many Kosovo Albanians that the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Kosovo has run its course, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon wrote in a new report that it has stepped up the pace of its adaptation to the changing situation on the ground.

Despite a perception among many Kosovo Albanians that the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Kosovo has run its course, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon wrote in a new report that it has stepped up the pace of its adaptation to the changing situation on the ground.

Under “significant pressure” from opposition parties, authorities in Kosovo have repeatedly said in recent months that resolution 1244, which set up the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), is “no longer relevant and that the institutions of Kosovo have no legal obligation to abide by it,” the publication said.

UNMIK took over the administration of Kosovo in 1999 after North Atlantic Treaty organization (NATO) forces drove out Yugoslav troops amid deadly fighting with the majority ethnic Albanian population there.

The UN has remained neutral on the question of the status of Kosovo since its declaration of independence last February, a move rejected by Serbia.

The report to the Security Council on UNMIK noted that, in line with Belgrade’s official policy, many Kosovo Serbs are rejecting the authority of Kosovo’s authorities, although many are applying for identify cards, driver’s licenses and other Kosovo documentation.

Notwithstanding these developments, Mr. Ban said that the reconfiguration of UNMIK, for which he called in response to the “profoundly changed reality” on the ground, has picked up pace.

After almost 10 years of policing Kosovo, UNMIK has been phasing out its police component to allow the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo, known as EULEX, to assume its operational functions in the rule of law sector under the UN’s overall authority.

The Secretary-General said this joint effort with the UN has taken place without significant security incidents and with the support of Pristina, Belgrade and international partners. “It constitutes a major milestone in the international involvement in Kosovo, and a positive example of cooperation between the United Nations and the European Union,” he wrote.

Also last November, UNMIK’s head told the Council that the mission is re-orienting its field presence to concentrate in areas occupied by ethnic non-Albanians following Kosovo’s declaration of independence.

“The recent actions of the institutions of Kosovo have made it no longer possible or practicable for UNMIK to function as an administrator,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative Lamberto Zannier.

“We need to be able to concentrate on the areas where we can still make a difference for good, rather than attempt to continue functions which are neither relevant nor needed,” he said, noting that UNMIK would monitor the well-being of the non-Albanian communities and retain a support and mediation role.

 

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Top UN envoy and Serb officials discuss Kosovo

The top United Nations envoy for Kosovo met with Serbian officials in Belgrade today to discuss a wide range of issues ahead of an upcoming meeting of the Security Council on Kosovo, which declared its independence from Serbia just over a year ago.