UNMIK-KFOR-EU-OSCE-UNHCR Press Briefing: 1 Sep 2000
KFOR Spokesman Major Scott Slaten
OSCE Spokesman Laura O'Mahony
EU Spokesman Mike Todd
UNHCR Spokeswoman Paula Ghedini
UNMIK Spokeswoman Claire Trevena
The IAC is meeting again today after a two-week break.
Among the issues which are being discussed are the follow up to the Airlie House declaration - and the day of non violence as well as Monday's visit to Pec/Peja to visit Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities. The UNHCR will have more details about that.
The IAC will also be presented with the draft technical agreement between KEK and the Serbian power company. The purpose of this is to settle all the technical aspects for safe power imports into Kosovo.
They are also being presented with the draft regulation which will establish the JIAS department of trade and industry. And they'll have an update on social welfare issues.
Police in the Kamenica area are investigating a number of death threats which have been issued to LDK members in villages there. UNMIK police have provided extra protection and patrols for those who have been threatened. .
In the Prizren area, police are investigating an attack on a Roma woman. Two Kosovo Albanians allegedly beat her with iron bars, injuring her head and her arms. She was taken to hospital for treatment and police are hunting for the two attackers.
Envoy on persons deprived of liberty
The United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, has appointed Ambassador Henrik Amneus of Sweden as her special Envoy on persons deprived of liberty, in connection with the Kosovo Crisis. His mandate will cover all persons deprived of liberty including prisoners, detainees and missing persons in the FRY, regardless of their ethnicity.
Ambassador Amneus' focus will be on addressing the nature of the problem and seeking comprehensive solutions - not intervening on individual cases.
He'll be working with international, national and local authorities and be supportive of the main international actors addressing these issues - the ICRC and the Special Rapporteur of the Commission of Human Rights.
Dr Kouchner has welcomed the appointment, saying: "We hope that Ambassador Amneus will be instrumental in tackling the issues which have devastated the lives of so many families in Kosovo and which have been a serious stumbling block on Kosovo's road to democracy".
There'll be a press release on it in a short while outside.
The Media Appeals Board, established under regulation 2000/36, has been constituted. On the recommendation of the DSRSG, institution building, Dr Kouchner appointed Guy Goodwin-Gill, Julie Chadbourne and Ramadan Vraniqi to the board.
Mr Goodwin Gill, a lawyer and professor at the University of Oxford in England, will act as president of the Board. Ms Chadbourne is a human rights lawyer. Mr Vraniqi is a former president of the Supreme Court of Kosovo and president of the lawyers association in Kosovo.
The media appeals board is a body independent of UNMIK and the OSCE. Its job is to decided on appeals against decisions of the temporary media commissioner. Laura will have more on their meetings.
A reminder that the SRSG is visiting Istog tomorrow. He'll be meeting political representatives and be holding another Town Hall meeting. Dr. Kouchner will also be visiting Dubrava Prison, where he'll be opening a new prison block. And he will go the Trofta Fish farm which is being supported by UNMIK. The media bus leaves at 7:45 am from the back of the auditorium. Contact Sylvana if you want to come.
Pristina Press Briefing
And another reminder, that the regular Pristina press briefing will be on Monday at 10:15, the new Pristina Regional Administrator, Jean Guinard, will be there for the first time.
KFOR Spokesman Major Scott Slaten
Tragic Accident; Girl Dies
In a tragic accident, a five-year-old Kosovar Albanian girl died after falling into a well in the village of Zitrje. A local resident notified KFOR US headquarters that the little girl had fallen into the well, the KFOR commander immediately dispatched a patrol from the 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment to the scene.
UNMIK Police were also notified and responded to the scene. In the hopes that the little girl was still alive KFOR sent an ambulance from Camp Bondsteel to assist. The girl had been reported missing for an hour and after being pulled from the well was pronounced dead at the scene. The well was located behind the family's home. The family was present during the search and rescue operation.
This is the second tragic incident involving the needless death of children in as many weeks. Local residents are reminded to insure that currently used or abandoned wells are properly marked and covered in a manner that children will be unable to gain access or accidentally fall in. UNMIK Police is investigating.
Yesterday morning, three suspects were involved in an attempted kidnapping / hijacking of two civilian trucks and their drivers. A witness at the scene stated that one of the suspects was armed. One of the civilian drivers was wounded during the attack and is now in the hospital in Prishtina / Pristina. The suspects were driving a blue Peugeot car. Descriptions of the vehicles and incident have been circulated to KFOR and UNMIK. UNMIK Police is currently investigating.
Men Injured in Mine Accident
At approximately 5:30 a.m. this morning, the KFOR 13th Tactical Group reported that four Kosovar Albanians approached their position at the Nytex factory in a car and requested medical evacuation.
The factory is located near the town of Manjevac, about 600 meters from the Kosovo / Serb boundary. The four men reported they were walking their cow on the Serbian side of the boundary when they struck a trip wire, activating an anti-personnel mine.
The men had managed to get into a car and travel across the border to the Nytex factory where they were picked up by a KFOR patrol. The commander of the 13th Tactical Group requested helicopter medical evacuation, which quickly arrived at the scene and transported the men to the Camp Bondsteel Medical Facility.
KFOR US Medical officials report that all four men were treated for their injuries. Three were treated for minor injuries and remain at Camp Bondsteel Medical Facility for observation. The fourth man is in a serious condition with a head injury and will be transferred to Pristina Hospital. The investigation is ongoing.
A cordon and search operation was conducted in MNB South of six houses in the village of Semetishte / Semetiste. During the search one AK-47 Assault Rifle, one pistol, eight blank passports, assorted ammunition and military equipment were discovered. Two persons were detained as a result of the find. The investigation is ongoing.
Last night, a grenade attack occurred in a brick factory, two kilometres south west of Podujeve / Podujevo. Fortunately, there were no casualties as a result of the attack. UNMIK police responded to the scene.
A KFOR Prince of Wales Royal Regiment patrol was asked for and cordoned off the area while the incident was investigated. Officials reported the factory sustained minor damage with some shrapnel damage to the walls and broken windows. UNMIK Police is investigating.
OSCE Spokesman Laura O'Mahony
The CEC will meet again this afternoon. It has a light agenda today, compared to other weeks. The two most important issues that they will be looking at are the Municipal Election Commissions (MEC), and we hope also that they'll be able to approve at least some of the ballot papers for some of the municipalities, because the printing process for the ballots needs to take place next week.
To follow up on the subject that Claire mentioned a few minutes ago; the appointment of the Media Appeals Board: The Media Appeals Board held its first meetings on 30-31 August 2000. As required by UNMIK Regulation 2000/36, section 4.6, the Board finalised rules of procedure to govern the filing of appeals and the conduct of hearings. These are being translated and will be issued simultaneously in English and Albanian.
Regulation 2000/36 calls on the Board to ensure that its procedure guarantees fair and impartial proceedings in accordance with internationally recognised human rights standards.
Members of the Media Appeals Board are required to act independently and impartially in the determination of appeals lodged against decisions of the Temporary Media Commissioner, for example, to refuse broadcasting licences or to impose sanctions on the print media.
The first appeal will be heard by the Media Appeals Board in the week of 11 September 2000. The Board is competent to uphold, modify or rescind decisions of the Temporary Media Commissioner. It will give its decisions on the basis of written submissions and after oral hearings.
EU Spokesman Mike Todd
Some load shedding was necessary yesterday morning, this was due to a problem with the feeding pump of the Kosovo A3 unit. This problem is ongoing and load shedding will again be necessary today: power will be three hours on and three hours off in two groups. Around 200 MW are being imported daily from Bulgaria: this will continue throughout September thanks to the financial support of the European Agency of Reconstruction. Power updates on today's situation have been distributed and are available outside.
Another successful week for revenue generated by customs. Last week saw a total of over 6.5 million DM collected. Also, the recruitment process for new customs officers is progressing, a total of ninety new officers will be recruited by the beginning of 2001. Last week the customs service delivered the lists of suitable candidates to the regional administrations. These lists are currently being displayed in the regional administrations - all applicants are encouraged to check the lists. Suitable candidates can then gather further information on the next stage of the recruitment process.
Department of Reconstruction
Fertilizer auctions are ongoing: Thursday, 31 August, saw the 3rd out of 5 auctions held, 80 lots per 50 tons were sold and which will be used for the winter-planting season. 20.000 tons of this fertiliser will be sold to local dealers by end of September. This project is sponsored by the European Agency for Reconstruction, the revenues will go into an especially established Agricultural Development Fund.
Finally, Monday will see Andy Bearpark join the EU-Pillar as the new Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General for Economic Development and Reconstruction. Mr Bearpark is currently Deputy High Representative and Head of the Reconstruction Task Force in the Office of the High Representative in Bosnia. Mr Bearpark is taking over from Mr Alan Pearson, Acting DSRSG of the EU Pillar
UNHCR Spokeswoman Paula Ghedini
About three weeks I announced the beginning of an exercise among all UN agencies conducted under the auspices of the UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator. It is called the Humanitarian Accounting exercise, and it's one whereby we will reassess what has been in the last year and what gaps might be (..)alled international humanitarian and development communities for this winter. We have already started the preliminary assessments, and we will regularly update the press on new developments and information as we find them.
Q: Can we expect an announcement from Dr. Kouchner today concerning the claims that the Serbs will be holding elections within Kosovo?
CT: It will likely be on Monday.
Q: Yesterday Susan Manuel was saying that he would make the statement today. Can you say the reasons for the delay?
CT: As far as I know he still got various leaders to talk to about this.
Q: Albanian leaders?
CT: Albanian and international.
Q: To KFOR: How did the delegation from SPS from Belgrade get to Gracanica - were they escorted, and for UNMIK: is that acceptable?
SS: From what I understand there was no request made for security from KFOR. In the past how we have known that these groups have come into Kosovo is by a request for security. None was made to KFOR or MNB Centre. We do not restrict movement across the boundary for people going back and forth from Kosovo and back into Serbia. What we do is check for contraband, weapons, explosives and so forth. The party came across the boundary, there were no illegal items with them. They were normally proceeded on. It was their assessment that they made that they could travel through Kosovo to Gracanica without security problems.
CT: As far as we are concerned KFOR is happy with security issues. We are working very closely with KFOR.
Q: For UNMIK: Having in mind that the delegation from SPS would probably hold a hate speech; is that acceptable for UNMIK?
CT: I haven't got a transcript of what they said. It was a private meeting as far as I know. Under the hate regulation somebody has to complain specifically on a specific subject.
SS: The KFOR perspective on that is that it was a peaceful demonstration, from what I understand, and they went to Gracanica and they requested an audience. They then moved out. Had a speech. The speech did not result in violence. Did not result in a mob. KFOR was in the area. We have a presence in the town. So technically no rules were broken. So we didn't respond to it.
Q: Does UNMIK have a response to the allegations from (..), the head of the police in Kukes in Albania, that they are not getting enough co-operation from UNMIK Police in dealing with (..) issues and particularly the arrest of criminals who have left Albania (..) in Kosovo?
CT: No, we don't, but I can talk to UNMIK Police. We are trying to have working relations with police on all sides.
Q: Is KFOR ready to, in case of (..) attack by Serb forces during the month of September?
For UNMIK: Is it acceptable that someone makes a hate speech, not in a private meeting but in a gathering of 300 people?
SS: As far as the security situation if a threat is posed from the VJ: KFOR is not concerned at this point. We are fully capable of handling any threats that are posed against the international forces. We have the assets available. We have intelligence assets available to see if those forces are massing to pose a threat against KFOR, and we will respond accordingly.
Q: Are you saying that you don't have any indication of any massing of troops and any sort of threat coming from Serbia for the moment?
SS: No, I won't say that at all. I won't say either way. First of all, we do monitor the situation, both here and in Serbia - that is part of our intelligence gathering system. That is then given to the commanders who then make their assessment based on that information. I would not feel concerned about KFOR's ability to react to any serious threats.
Q: Is the massing of KFOR troops in Kosovo now a response to Kosovo elections or the elections process in Serbia itself?
SS: The massing of troops as you call it. If you are talking about the increase in KFOR troops that has been planned for numerous months in Kosovo to provide additional security for the elections. It has nothing to do with any type of threat from the VJ forces. If there was a serious threat you would be very aware of it. We would have a significant response, and it would be very obvious what we were doing.
CT: As far as your question on hate speech goes; we don't condone hate speeches from any party or anybody, including Socialist Party, including LDK, including the Turkish Party. We don't condone hate speeches from anyone.
Q: Can an NGO provide security for the Socialist Party of Serbia, in this case the Centre for Peace and Tolerance? Were you aware of this, and did you speak to the Centre for Peace and Tolerance about these issues?
SS: I'm unaware of the security that was provided within their internal organisation. I do know that KFOR monitored the situation. I do know that body guards that were present were checked - they had authorisation, they had valid documentation - everything was on the up-and-up.
Q: They had guns?
SS: I am not sure. There were people there that had valid authorisation to be bodyguards. That is not the entire party. That is not the party that came from Serbia.
Q: I want to go back to the Berisha's (?)case, when his visit was forbidden in Kosova for security reasons, as Dr. Kouchner said. And now a few days ago we have armed people with their bodyguards coming here and, how do you explain this? Somebody can come to Kosovo - this is a question for both KFOR and UNMIK.
CT: As Scott mentioned before; when they came across the border they were checked. There was no problem. We don't restrict people's movement.
Q: Even when they are armed?
SS: In issue with his return to Kosovo, specifically, if I recall right, there was an issue on the day he chose to return. It was linked to a major issue here in Kosovo. It was determined on that day that it would be an increase in the security risk for the people living here, and I think it was stated at the time that if he had planned this trip a week or two weeks later it would not have been issue. It was specifically designed so that it would cause unrest here in Kosovo. Determination was made at the time that he would not be allowed into Kosovo at that time.
Q: So the people that accuse the UNMIK mission in Kosova, and that they should go away from Kosova, they can hold a meeting here, and it is ok for UNMIK and KFOR?
SS: First I will be very blunt with the fact that we are not here to infringe on the freedom of speech here in Kosovo. You should be free to voice your opinion as you see fit. That's part of the importance of the press here - to figure out what is just rhetoric and what is fact. If that rhetoric transforms into violence, transforms itself into unrest, then we can and should do something to correct that situation.
Q: Question for Scott: Can you just assure us that all members of the party who came across the boundary from Serbia, that if any of the party were armed, or find themselves inside Kosovo in possession of valid (..) cards..?
SS: No, none of the party that came into Kosovo had weapons, to my knowledge. I don't have a listing of everyone. The people that were already here: there was security in the area. KFOR was there, UNMIK was there. Not on a request from them, but just because of our presence in the community. If they had illegal weapons, then they would have been detained like everyone else that is found with illegal weapons in Kosovo
Q: Questions for Scott: Concerning yesterday's evening edition of Le Monde in Paris that the KFOR build-up in Macedonia and its eventual deployment in Kosovo was a breach of the Vienna accords and .. because international observers weren't invited to study the deployment of troops. This was the reason why the Russian troops felt provoked to leaving from Bosnia to Pristina airport. Your comments on these allegations?
SS: You have to direct your comments to SHAPE HQ. It's outside of my scope.
Q: Concerning yesterday's Dita that United Arab Emirates troops are handing out hundreds of dollars from the back of trucks in their area. Is this true, and where do we go if we want to receive some of this money?
SS: I've heard reports that that is not untrue. I don't know the details on it this time. They're free to do whatever they like in that regard. Just head north out of Pristina, and I think they are on the main road to Mitrovica. Maybe you'll get lucky.