Brussels, 7 February 2000 - The European Union and its Member States are making a very major contribution to the international effort in Kosovo.
European Nations provide over 36,000 of the KFOR troops in Kosovo, over 80% of its total strength.
And the EU is making rightly - the biggest contribution to the reconstruction effort now underway.
The figures speak for themselves: in 1999, the EU not counting bilateral contributions by its Member States - provided € 328 million to the region to cope with the Kosovo crisis. This included humanitarian assistance, budgetary support and reconstruction assistance.
In Kosovo alone, € 127 million were committed for reconstruction in 1999. Over € 50 million of this was contracted by the end of 1999. This year, the EU can make available € 360 million for Kosovo. Very substantial sums will be available next year as well.
And, learning from the lessons of Bosnia, we have adopted special procedures to speed up the delivery of assistance with the EU Task Force, established in Pristina within days of KFOR's arrival, able to disburse aid without constant reference to Brussels.
In seven short months, EU assistance is making a big difference to life in Kosovo. It has made possible, for example, the urgent repair of large numbers of homes and the emergency repair of transport infrastructure and education facilities. The EU has established a Customs Service for Kosovo, and is laying the foundations for a viable economy essential for Kosovo's long-term future.
The EU has pledged € 35 million in budgetary assistance towards a total of some € 80 milion pledged by the international community by far the largest contribution. This money will reach UNMIK shortly. In the meantime the Commission is considering the urgent supply of a further € 10 million, which would arrive with UNMIK before the end of this month bringing to € 45 million the EU's contribution to UNMIK's budget this year, more than half the total needed. The imminent arrival of money from the EU should help UNMIK considerably as it is awaits the receipt of pledges from other donors, including the US.
The EU has also been focussing on ensuring sufficient generation of electricity in Kosovo. The EU has made a considerable financial commitment to urgent repair of the generation and distribution facilities (staff, parts, chemicals, repair vehicles etc) coupled with emergency import of power from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Greece.
Given the urgency of the present power crisis, the Commission is also considering the emergency provision of a further € 20 million this month for further energy imports in the remaining winter months. This comes on top of the funds provided by the EU in 1999 for urgent repairs to water utilities.
In short, the EU is making a major contribution, with others, to the support of UNMIK and to the reconstruction of Kosovo. We look forward to working closely with our partners in the coming year, sharing the burden of repairing lives and hopes destroyed by Milosevic, and working towards a brighter future for the whole region.