Kosovo: Press Briefing Transcript for briefing of 15 Oct 2008

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UNMIK Director / Division of Public Information Alexander Ivanko

Good morning everybody, the SRSG Ambassador Zannier was last week in New York where he had several meetings, including with the UN Secretary General. He met on two occasions with Serbian Foreign Minister Jeremic to discuss the ongoing dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade. This morning at 09:00, the SRSG met with PM Thaçi and briefed him on his meetings in New York.

Today is actually our last press conference in this compound. The SRSG will leave this HQ and move to our new HQ on Friday. In the future, we might have briefings based on demand at our new premises or somewhere else, so we will keep you posted. That is why many thanks to the interpreters and technicians who made these press conferences work seamlessly and allowed us not to be miss-quoted too often. Of course myself and Russell Geekie are always available to answer your questions related to UNMIK. That is all I have, over to you.

KFOR Spokesperson Col. Adriano Graziani

Good morning ladies and gentlemen, we would like to inform you that a German/Austrian Battalion assigned to NATO will deploy to Kosovo next week to take part in a routinely scheduled operational rehearsal to ensure NATO troops are well trained and familiar with the Kosovo environment.

This rehearsal is not in response to, or in preparation for, any current situation either ongoing or expected within Kosovo. It will enable NATO forces to maintain a high state of readiness and be able to deploy rapidly in response to any scenario. Please, you can grab a press release just at exit of the press conference room. Thank you.

OSCE Spokesperson Elli Flen

From the OSCE side, I would like to thank UNMIK for the good cooperation in these press conferences, and to the media, I just want to remind you that even if we don't meet here anymore on a weekly basis, my contact details and the contact details to the press office at the OSCE are on the webpage, you can always call us at any hour that you need us, and we are always available for you. We will be organizing our own press conferences whenever we find a need for it but you are welcome and should contact us whenever you have any questions concerning the OSCE, thank you.

Kim Radio: I have the same question for Alexander and Elli, I would like to know your opinion about the justice sector. Do you consider that Kosovo justice sector is doing its job in accordance with the rule of law and what is according to your opinion the biggest failure of Kosovo justice and how can it improve its actions or do you consider that their work was sufficiently good?

Alex: Well, when UNMIK arrived in 1999, there was no justice sector at all. Now we have functioning courts, we have prosecutors, we have legal officers, it is not perfect, nobody said that it is perfect, but find me a country which has a perfect justice sector, I am drawing blanks actually right now, all justice systems are of course not fully perfect. So there is a lot of improvement to be done, UNMIK continues to work with the Kosovo Judicial Council, very closely by the way, we almost have daily meetings with them, and as you know the mandate of EULEX is also to assist the justice sector. So we are very far from having a perfect justice sector, but we are trying to move in that direction.

Elli: Well, I totally agree with Alex on the point that a lot has been made but there are still things that need to be dealt with. You might recall that in the beginning of September, the OSCE issued quite an extensive report on the situation in Kosovo and in this report, it was pointed out that the judiciary is de facto one of the weakest functioning institutions in Kosovo at the moment. So, we do see that there are issues that need to be dealt with still. The biggest problem would be the great backlog of cases. The OSCE continues as until now to monitor all courts, and we continue to report on our findings, you will find them on our webpage, all the court monitoring reports we have produced, and we produce recommendations on how these shortcomings can be remedied. But as a bottom-line, there is at least somehow functioning judiciary, even if there are things that still can be improved, thank you.

Alex: Let me just add, for example, one of the latest improvements as all of you know is the reopening of the Courthouse in the north, which is fully operational. There are prosecutors there, there are judges there, who are dealing with the backlog of cases that have not been dealt with for months and months. So, here is just one example of how we are trying to improve the situation on a day-by-day basis, but there still is a lot of work to be done. Any other questions? Well then let me thank you all for bearing with us for so many years in these facilities, it was a pleasure to work with all of you, and especially to our Serbian colleagues, if you ever need transportation to come to our press conferences, you know you can always call our Press Office and we will arrange whatever you need. So again many thanks for a job well done by all of you. Thank you very much.