UN envoy and Kosovo leaders visit power plants: Head of UNMIK, Dr. Bernard Kouchner and members of the Interim Administrative Council (IAC) today visited the Kosovo power plants to see progress being made to restore electricity in the territory. Dr. Kouchner, together with Hashim Thaci, Ibrahim Rugova and Rexhep Qosja, toured Kosovo A and B power plants whose production of electricity has risen from 120 to 500 megawatts this week. Dr. Kouchner told journalists and power plant workers during the visit that he and the IAC members had come together "to show you that we will work together". Paying tribute to the power plant workers, he said Kosovo A had not been maintained for 10 to 15 years and the workers "are making miracles and are speeding up the process to provide power to the people of Kosovo".
Mr. Fatos Aliu, director of the Kosovo Electric Company (KEK) told the council members that his workers have been busy trying to get the plants up and running. Kosovo A power plant is now running after alternative oil was found to restart the plant. Unit 2 of the Kosovo B power plant has been repaired. However, Unit 1 of Kosovo B is still down due to problems with the generator, but technicians hope to have the problem fixed today.
Kouchner calls for healing of wounds of war in New Year message: Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Kosovo, Dr. Bernard Kouchner in his New Year message urged Kosovars to start the process of healing the wounds of war which "are still so fresh". A statement issued by UNMIK in Pristina yesterday said all communities in Kosovo have suffered and urged all sides to start the process of forgiveness. "This is a time to look to the future, " he told a large crowd gathered in Pristina. "I am not saying that we should forget about the suffering of the past. We must not forget but we need to start to forgive, " he said. Dr Kouchner said that the international community must stand by and assist in this process of recovery. "We are here to help as needed and not to impose anything that the population is not really ready for. It is for this reason that we no longer talk about reconciliation but rather about the first step of co-existence." He urged the international community to continue their generous funding so that progress could continue, leading to free and democratic elections.
Earlier, Dr. Kouchner had visited the divided city of Mitrovica where at a ceremony on the bridge between the two parts of the city he urged the Albanian and Serb communities to work together to achieve peaceful co-existence in Kosovo. At the ceremony, he was accompanied by Albanian and Serb leaders, Bajram Rexhepi and Oliver Ivanovic, who both declared their desire for a united Mitrovica. He was also accompanied by Father Sava who participated with Dr Kouchner and Mr. Rexhepi in a New Year's television broadcast at the UN headquarters in Mitrovica.
Interim Administrative Council meets today: The Interim Administrative Council (IAC) meets today to discuss the draft regulation establishing the Joint Interim Administrative Structure, which has been submitted to the UN Headquarters in New York for approval. A statement issued by UNMIK yesterday said the Council would also continue its discussion on the administrative departments, as well as the enlargement of the Kosovo Transitional Council to include a civil society component. The IAC secretariat, composed of officials appointed by the three political parties and UNMIK counterparts, has already discussed the draft.
Two new regulations come into force: UNMIK has approved two new regulations on pre-trial detention and budget expenditures. The first regulation extends the period of pre-trial detention by up to six months for those charged with a crime carrying a possible prison sentence of five years or more. The second regulation approves the Kosovo Consolidated budget and authorizes expenditures for the year 2000. A statement issued yesterday by UNMIK in Pristina said the regulations were approved last week.