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Kosovo: UN envoy ready to hand over more responsibilities to local institutions

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New York, Jan 20 2003 4:00PM - The top United Nations envoy for Kosovo, Michael Steiner, said today he is ready to hand over all competencies that he legally can to Kosovo's provisional institutions on one condition - that they work more seriously.
"If they do I will develop a joint plan directly with Prime Minister Bajram Rexhepi - to work out how this transfer can be done smoothly and efficiently," Mr. Steiner, the chief of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), said in a speech broadcast this evening on the province's television stations.

However, Mr. Steiner made it equally clear that there were certain things that he could not transfer, such as an insistence on fair treatment for minorities, and external relations, such as the fight against organized crime and security.

"These are my mandate - entrusted to me by the highest international authority in the world, the Security Council of the United Nations," he stressed.

In his statement, Mr. Steiner also spelled out several priorities for Kosovo in the year ahead, including economic reform, progress in fighting crime and efforts to build a multi-ethnic society.

"We need to boost the economy - to give your children a future," Mr. Steiner said. "We need to attack crime - to give your families security. We need to create a multi-ethnic society - in order for you all to be welcome into the family of European societies."

"If we, UNMIK, Kosovo's institutions and the people of Kosovo roll up our sleeves and work together, I am confident that we can do it," he said.