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Kosovo Serbs of Gracanica Endorse UNMIK Measures for Mitrovica

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Press Release UNMIK/PR/159
PRISTINA--The Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Bernard Kouchner, received endorsement today from leaders of the Serb National Council in Gracanica, Kosovo, to a package of measures UNMIK has undertaken to restore security and build peaceful co-existence in the town of Mitrovica in northern Kosovo.

Kouchner presented the plan to Bishop Artemije, the highest-ranking Orthodox cleric in Kosovo, in the Serb monastery at Gracanica just before Artemije left for the U.S. to seek additional support for the Serb minority in Kosovo.

The package, which was presented to Kosovo's Interim Administrative Council last night, includes several extraordinary measures designed to ensure security and restore freedom of movement for all communities in the divided town. It also presents ways to protect the property and freedom to return for all displaced persons--both Albanians recently forced from homes in the predominantly Serb northern part of town, and Serbs expelled earlier this year from their homes south of the Iber River.

The measures include immediate re-deployment of 100 UNMIK International Police from other parts of Kosovo to northern Mitrovica, followed by 200 more police officers, for a total of some 600 targeted for the Mitrovica region. The UNMIK Police will patrol and work in tandem with KFOR troops.

UNMIK will also appoint international judges and prosecutors to Mitrovica to strengthen the judicial system and to try as quickly and fairly as possible suspects charged in the recent spate of violence there.

A night-time curfew along with restrictions on public gatherings and demonstrations are also part of the package.

At the same time, UNMIK has re-invigorated its Regulation 2 of July 1999, which allows persons suspected as posing threats to the public order to be expelled from sensitive areas or detained.

SRSG Kouchner again urged the leadership of the Serb National Council to join the Interim Administrative Council, which continues to hold one of four Kosovo seats open for a Serb representative.

"We want a demonstration by the Serbs to work with us and to show the rest of the population that working together is possible," Kouchner told the Bishop and Momcilo Trajkovic, another local Serb leader who with Artemije is a member of the Kosovo Transitional Council.

Kouchner said that following the improvement of the security situation in Mitrovica, UNMIK will be working on more long-term measures to restore the confidence of the population, including the return of both Albanians and Serbs to their homes, and re-starting employment, initially with the re-opening of three factories and parts of the Trepce mining complex.

"We don't expect people to live together for the moment," Kouchner said. "But if they can work together, it will be a real step forward."

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Contact UNMIK Press and Information Office - (381-38) 500-223, ext. 5719.