Serbia + 1 more

Kosovo: SRSG Bernard Kouchner's Press Statement Following the IAC Meeting

Press Release UNMIK/PR/154
PRISTINA - This was a very important Interim Administrative Council, because we are in the middle of a crisis in Mitrovica. We were all together able to deal with this crisis and to take a common position, first on the reestablishment of law and order, to quiet down the situation, to quiet down everything, and then to start a real discussion next week on strategy for Mitrovica. A strategy for Mitrovica is certainly to give security, but as I already told you we must give jobs to restart the industry. Because we believe, they all believe in the IAC, the Kosovars and the internationals, that first we have to secure the people, materially and psychologically, and then to establish common places where they should be able to work together.

I know the impatience of everybody, including me, for reconciliation, but this is not the time. We have to establish peaceful co-existence and this is a very difficult perspective for the moment. Certainly behind the scenes, some people are putting oil on the fire. Certainly yes we know that extremism exists on both sides. I was confident that we were able to altogether to talk about this serious and important crisis.

We established the payment of the KPC members. We have the money. Already we have spent a lot of money to rebuilt barracks and buildings. We have the money in cash to pay the people for the year, the 3,000 regular people first and the 2,000 reservists we'll see.

We talked about the co-heads, we have an appointment for Friday for that and we talked of the establishment of real structures and the way we are going to work together. We established the co-heads, the first co-head with Mr. Jock Covey should be Mr. Thaci, the second, Mr. Rugova, and the third one Mr. Qosja. The main statement was around Mitrovica.

Q: Can you comment on Mr. Angelkovich moving to Mitrovica?

As I told you, Mr. Angelkovich is the official representative of Belgrade, and Mr. Vukichevich, the representative to UNMIK, and this is legal and it is not to be stopped. If Mr. Angelkovich is leaving for Mitrovica and is establishing new parallel structures, we have to tell him, and I'm telling all of the Kosovars, that it will not be tolerated. All the parallel structures are now abolished. Everyone must be allowed to live in Mitrovica in a unified city, in a united Kosovo but parallel structures - no.

Q: Some have argued that your real problem is a lack of money. Is this lack of money responsible for some of the problems in Mitrovica?

The problem with pledging money is that it's easier to pledge than to give the money in cash, because of all the procedures. It's not only because of bad will, I know that some people are very angry. I understand them. I was angry too, and I had to tell the public opinion that in order to pay the people, who haven't been paid in December, January and February, I need money in my pocket. You have to understand that pledging money for projects - reconstruction of roads this is easier than to pledge money for a budget. The budget is a sort of ghost for people. It's very difficult for donors to make up their mind enough to give money for the budget, because this is the first time. In East Timor, this is the second. According to my knowledge, it has been done only in Ukraine, with a lot of control.

Always the lack of money is making things worse, but I don't think Mitrovica is a problem of money. It is a problem of work partly. This is partly a problem of giving them hope in offering them to work together. Remember that Mitrovica was the place where the very strong and the very honorable union of miners were established because they were living on Trepca. They kicked out the Albanian from Trepca ten years ago. Now to reopen Trepca is a problem of money. We have reopened part of Trepca and unfortunately the Serb management left. And I want to put the Albanian workers and the Serb management together. But for that we need money, because the security conditions inside are absolutely awful. This is a real danger for everybody. It is a huge amount of money we need. For example, we have the money for three factories to be started. It has taken one month and a half in terms of finding money for the battery, bakery and window and door factories. We now need to rebuild and fix the places to give the people the opportunity to work. I don't want people to love each other, not for the moment. I don't want them to reconcile, not for the moment. Yes, reconciliation is my main goal, but to work together during the day, to be protected at night, all of them, Albanians at the north at night, but also Serbs in the sourthern part, if it is possible.

What is your view on the money being held by Mr. Bukoshi?

We talked about that. Mr Bukoshi for the moment is not in Kosovo. I have an appointment with him when he gets back. I plan to offer him to put the money belonging to the people of Kosovo into the budget for the people of Kosovo. It will take some hours of discussion, some weeks. But we were all of us in agreement on that.

Mr. Bukoshi says you'll make it a humanitarian fund?

This is not Mr. Bukoshi's money. Humanitarian is not a good word. Thirty years involved in humanitarian work and I don't know what that means. The poorest of the poor must certainly be helped by the so-called Bukoshi funds. Why not? Those who are not receiving any marks for their pensions, nothing, they should certainly be helped in the first round.

Albanians are claiming that they were wounded in front of the eyes of UNMIK and KFOR. What is your comment?

According to my knowledge, eight Albanians only have been killed and the other two are Serbs who have been killed in the bus in this professional attack. But I agree with Mr. Thaci we have to ensure more protection and it is a KFOR problem, but we talked about it, because our relations are so close we have to work together. It should be their decision and for us, a decision for the UNMIK police. But I agree we have to improve the level of protection in the northern part of Mitrovica.

For information only - not an official record

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