Serbia + 1 more

Summary of Press Briefing by UNMIK Spokesperson 18 Feb 2000

UNMIK Spokeswoman Ms Susan Manuel
I would like to introduce our guest today. UNMIK Police Officer Douglas Madden is Chief of Recruitment of the Kosovo Police School (KPS). He will be describing tomorrow's graduation of the second class of Kosovo Police Service cadets. He will speak following the presentation by Mr. Roland Bless of OSCE.

Today, following the meeting of the Interim Administrative Council, SRSG Bernard Kouchner and COMKFOR General Klaus Reinhardt will leave for Mitrovica. They have meetings with the general staff of KFOR, followed by a meeting with local Albanian leader Bajram Rexhepi. Next they will meet with Oliver Ivanovic, leader of the Serb community. Both meetings are at UNMIK headquarters in Mitrovica. We have tentatively planned a joint press conference by SRSG Kouchner and KFOR Commander General Reinhardt for 14:45 p.m., also at the UNMIK headquarters there. The topic is a review of the beefed up security measures already undertaken for Mitrovica to restore law and order and to announce further measures.

Today the Interim Administrative Council is discussing regulations on elections, on the establishment of administrative departments and the regulation on hate speech.

Yesterday, following the appointment Wednesday of the first international judge to serve on the Mitrovica District Court, SRSG Kouchner also swore in the first international prosecutor, Mr. Jan Reint Johannes van Wijland of the Netherlands who has been an attorney with the OSCE.

From UNMIK Police, we have the following. On February 16, the bodies of a 30-year-old man and a 20-year-old woman were found shot dead in a vehicle near Gracanica lake. There have been several peaceful demonstrations held in Kosovo over the past several days, mostly concerned with the situation in Mitrovica, but also about missing persons and the university. An estimated 30 international police have been arriving in Mitrovica every day this week, starting Monday. The cooperation between the new regional commander Sven Larsen and KFOR general staff is excellent. Daily meetings are held between UNMIK Police, KFOR and the Regional Administrator. Altogether 342 UNMIK Police are now in Mitrovica region, of which 150 are in the town of Mitrovica. Yesterday Tom Koenigs, DSRSG, signed a contract with Thomson ISR company for telecommunications equipment for the Kosovo Protection Corps. This will be a communication system of telephone and radio contact for the KPC in Pristina, Srbica, Prizren, Pec, Mitrovica and Gnjilane. The system is paid for by a 2 million deutsche mark grant from the government of France. There's been a slight improvement in the power situation recently. The repairs of Kosovo B were successfully completed when Unit 1 went on yesterday. It is currently producing 240 megawatts of power. Kosovo A is also running two units, producing a total of 175 megawatts, but both these units will have to be taken out of operation soon for repairs. We are importing a total of 114 megawatts, mostly from Serbia. The regime of restrictions is currently four hours on and two hours off. For those who experienced water problems yesterday, this may have been due to an accident two days ago when a de-mining team accidentally cut the water pipeline between the Gracanica water plant, treating water from Maticane reservoir, and Pristina. We understand this has been repaired but are awaiting full confirmation.

UNHCR Spokesman Mr. Peter Kessler

I'd like to notify everybody that the Kosovo Humanitarian Update and Humanitarian News are available outside in several languages and will be printed in the local media starting today. Almost 1,500 Kosovo Albanians have fled the northern side of Mitrovica since 4 February, and 37 families arrived from the north side of the Ibar River and registered with the UNHCR Office in Mitrovica. The UNHCR is preparing, in cooperation with CARE, a project to reinforce the doors of minority residents in Mitrovica. The UNHCR staff also carried out field visits this week to minority residents in the north of Mitrovica and is distributing parcels with fresh food. NGO partners will be doing the same, and KFOR personnel will also start distributing fresh food as part of this operation tomorrow. Many minority families living in northern Mitrovica are afraid to step outdoors, so the delivery of these parcels of fresh food will be of big help.

Yesterday, the UNHCR staff visited three families in northern Mitrovica,Kosovo Albanians, Kosovo Bosniacs and Kosovo Turks. All appeared frightened and asked for a greater security presence. They are blocking their doors to increase their residential security. Some people do venture to step cautiously outdoors to purchase food, but others are afraid to leave their apartments. Some report harassment by telephone. We also have reports that some Serb families have been warned not to help their Albanian neighbours, although in some cases these are the people they lived side by side for many years. They reportedly have been told that if they help their Albanian neighbours, they themselves would be evicted.

KFOR Spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Henning Philipp

Life on the streets in the southern part of Mitrovica appears to be quite normal, however tension and distrust encompasses the town, especially where minorities live. Since the violence of 3-4 February, nearly 1,500 Albanians have left their homes and apartments under police and KFOR escort seeking safety with family and friends or in special quarters in the south. French, Greek, Danish, Belgian, British, Canadian and German KFOR armoured infantry companies are spread throughout the city and the outskirts. The soldiers are conducting frequent foot patrols, vehicle checkpoints and static guard duty at buildings and in neighbourhoods. KFOR, in conjunction with UNMIK police, is prepared to take firm action against troublemakers, and anyone found with weapons will be arrested and detained. KFOR remains fully alert to any possible unrest and will react swiftly to protect innocent citizens. General Dr. Reinhardt highly welcomes the statement of the religious leaders of Kosovo about shared moral commitment made recently in Sarajevo. The spiritual leaders Dr. Rexhep Boja, the Mufti and President of the Islamic Community, Bishop Dr. Artemije, the Serbian Orthodox Bishop of Raska and Prizren, and Bishop Marko Sopi of the Roman Catholic Church of Prizren declare: "Violence against people or the violation of their basic rights are not only against man-made laws, but they also break God's law. We jointly condemn all violence against innocent persons and any form of abuse or violation of fundamental human rights, and specifically we condemn: acts of hatred based on ethnicity or religious differences; the desecration of religious buildings, and the destruction of graveyards; the expulsion of people from their homes; the obstruction of the free right of return to their homes; acts of revenge; and the abuse of the media with the aim of spreading hatred."

KFOR is convinced that the vast majority of the people in Kosovo fully support the words of the religious leaders and that it is only a relatively small number of criminals who actively try to undermine the process of peace and reconciliation with their violent activities.

General Wesley Clark, Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, will visit Kosovo on Sunday. His schedule includes meetings with General Reinhardt and Dr. Kouchner as well as local leaders. He will offer a brief media opportunity at the KFOR Main Headquarters, Film City, at approximately 2:45 p.m.

OSCE Spokesman Mr. Roland Bless

The "hate regulation" caused an animated debate in the local press. This in itself is very good. But some things are simply inaccurate. It was mentioned that the "hate regulation" is only related to media. This is not true. It applies to everybody. Especially in view of the elections, it certainly applies to politicians more than the media. It was also alleged that the "hate speech regulation" violates the international legal standards. I can only repeat what we said at the press conference that it had been cleared with the Council of Europe, it had been discussed in New York and had been cleared with the United Nations Legal Office, and it is also in line with the international convents on civil liberties. But it had also been cleared with the local legal experts in Kosovo.

UNMIK and OSCE will continue to explain this law which is in line with laws of most European democracies. The second point is the upcoming visit to Kosovo of the Chairperson-in-Office of the OSCE, the Austrian Foreign Minister. She will be in Kosovo in her capacity as the Chairperson-in-Office of the OSCE. She will visit the Police School, and you can expect a press conference around noon on Tuesday, 22 February. My third point is the Kosovo Police School (KPS) graduation tomorrow morning. The class of 176 students will be graduating from the KPS tomorrow, and it is the second graduation. The second class consists of 136 Albanians, 28 Serbs, 8 Turks, 3 Bosniacs and 1 Goran. Among them are 31 women, the youngest student is 21 years old and the oldest is 57. The third class starts on Monday, 21 February. There will be 250 students, and minorities, of course, will be represented, which shows that the KPS is at least one example of cooperation between ethnic minorities. The press are invited to attend the graduation ceremony at 10:30 a.m., at the University Sports Centre.

Kosovo Police School Deputy Chief of Personnel and Administration Mr. Douglas Madden Basically

I am here today to congratulate the graduates of the second class of the KPS. I remember when I graduated from the Police Academy how proud I was. The KPS graduates attended many of the same courses that I took when I graduated some 22 odd years ago.

Some of the course that they attended included democratic policing, legal affairs, patrol duties,ethics, police skills, criminal investigation, forensics, traffic, accident investigation and traffic control, and administration. They have overcome many challenges, including the challenge of working with people of various ethnic backgrounds. They will now join the 171 graduates from Class 1, who are already in their 13th week of their field training programme. Some of the new graduates will be deployed to the regions where they had been recruited from, and they will be assigned to an UNMIK officer who will be their training officer for the next 19 weeks. During this time they will undergo on-the-job training which will include all aspects of law enforcement. After 5 weeks of on-the-job training, they will return to their classroom for an additional 48 hours of instruction which is designed to give them the instruction given at a Police Academy. They will then return to the streets for 6 more weeks of on-the-job training and will be back to the classroom for an additional 40 hours of training. Upon completion, the KPS officers will begin a new programme where they will be exposed to several clear opportunities in administration, investigation, detention, traffic, border patrol and communications. Upon completion, they will be given the opportunities to apply and compete for positions in their respective areas of duty. The graduates will start their field training on Monday, 21 February. Again, they will be faced with many challenges, but they have been well trained at the KPS by their OSCE trainers. In the future they will become an integral part of the Kosovo Police Service.

EU Spokeswoman Ms Irene Mingasson

The supervisory board for the power sector (KSW) met yesterday with the participation of UNMIK and the Kosovars, the donors, the EU and KfW, the management of KEK company and the Matt MacDonald company. They discussed the functions of the board. In particular, the supervisory board will have the overall responsibility on the approval of the structure of the power company of Kosovo, its conduct of operations and policy, its budget, the department of management, and its relations with counterpart companies in other countries. The supervisory board will have up to six members, including the co-Heads of the Utilities Department and a representative of the electricity sector. It will also have up to three independent experts. Members of the power company management are of the Matt MacDonald team. The board will be chaired by deputy sector representative for Reconstruction, Recovery and Development, and will meet once a month. In the banking sector, the Bank Supervision Department of the BPK has given FINCA a preliminary approval to establish a micro-financing institution in Kosovo. FINCA will be engaged only in micro-finance activities, including extended credit and support of the private sector activities. As a micro-finance institution, FINCA will be making loans from 200 to 20,000 deutsche mark to small businesses. FINCA has been active in many developing countries around the world, providing valuable assistance and extending credit to entrepreneurs and small businesses. Finally, FINCA applied for and will soon receive a license from the Banking and Payment Authority to operate as a micro-finance institution.

Question and answers

Q: A question for KFOR. Have you found out what happened to the two wounded snipers? Where they are?

HP: We have found out that the French patrol was engaged with the fire after the French soldiers were shot at. About 45-60 minutes later, there was another incident. The French soldiers were shot at from a group of shooters. The French returned fire, and one of the men in that group was injured. He was immediately taken away by his comrades to the hospital and was released afterwards to his family. He was dead and he was buried immediately the day after.

Q: So, that means that there were no other snipers?

HP: I cannot speculate at this moment about other incidents of that day. We are still researching that, it is still the subject of investigation. I cannot give any further details right now.

Q: Is the new generation of police going to have guns? Has anybody been arrested with regard to the attack on lawyers in Mitrovica and with regard to those who were killed in northern Mitrovica? Is UNHCR doing about those people in northern Mitrovica who are not going out of their homes?

DN: With respect to the weapons, within the next two weeks the first class of the KPS will receive their weapons. There are weapons on order for the second class.

HP: So far, no one was arrested in that incident, but we are trying to get the facts.

PK: The UNHCR is visiting the people in the northern Mitrovica since the 4 February incidents. The only day we couldn?t get there was on 13 February. We are doing these visits virtually non-stop. So far we haven't seen any significant indications of any food problems. We are starting, as I have already mentioned, the distribution of fresh food parcels.

Q: How many people have died since the war in Kosovo? How many of these are Albanians and how many are Serbs?

HP: These statistics are available. You should contact me outside.