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UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK): 08 Mar 2000

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Developments today, 8 March 2000 - Updated 3:30 p.m. EST
Civilian administration

Kosovo Transitional Council condemns violence in Mitrovica: The Kosovo Transitional Council has strongly condemned the violence, which broke, out yesterday in Mitrovica and called for dialogue as the only way to achieve lasting peace in Kosovo.

In a statement issued after its meeting today, the Council said there could be no excuse for such senseless violence and hatred which hurt all people in Kosovo. "We want to enable all communities in Mitrovica to lead a normal and peaceful life. This requires a steady process, in which the rights and the security of all national communities in Mitrovica must be respected and ensured," the statement said.

Violence erupted in northern Mitrovica yesterday afternoon following a brawl between a Serb and an Albanian in which some 40 people were injured. The violence came a few days after 38 Albanians who had fled their homes in northern Mitrovica returned under armed guard. UNMIK is not encouraging further returns for the moment, according to spokeswoman Susan Manuel.

UNMIK signs cooperation agreement with FYR of Macedonia: UNMIK yesterday in Skopje signed a cooperation agreement on cross-border economic issues with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The comprehensive programme of cooperation is aimed at improving the Skopje-Pristina corridor and should lead to a great reduction of delays on the border, UNMIK spokeswoman Susan Manuel told journalists in Pristina today. "But it is also intended to lay the foundations for future mutual economic and political development and cooperation, " she said.

The agreement was signed in the presence of the European Commissioner for External Affairs, Mr. Christopher Patten, who said the cross-border cooperation was an excellent example of the Stability Pact [for the Balkan countries] in action. The Pact, established by the General Affairs Council of the European Union on 17 May 1999, is a post-conflict economic regeneration and development plan to stabilize the region. Mr. Patten said the European Union will support the cooperation with 5 million euros ($4.8 million) for a number of projects at the Blace/Hani I Elezit border crossing.

Kosovo marks Women's Day with commitments to empower women: UNMIK today marked the International Women's Day with commitments to empower Kosovar women.

In a speech marking the occasion, the Principal Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. Jock Covey, said UNMIK was encouraging women towards decision-making and leadership roles at all levels, including in the Kosovo Transitional Council, which has five women members, and the Joint Interim Administrative Structure, which has three Kosovar and four UNMIK women co-heads of departments. The head of UNMIK, Dr. Bernard Kouchner, has made the appointment of women a priority for the year 2000.

Mr. Covey said policies and programmes are being developed to encourage women in small business development, to provide women with training and skills that match market demand, and to improve women's access to credit, information and know-how on markets. The present review of laws will ensure that there are guarantees of equal rights and treatment of women and the law is enforced, he said.

UNMIK stops encouraging displaced persons to return: UNMIK has stopped encouraging people who fled their homes in Mitrovica to return, following the breakout of ethnic violence in the city yesterday. On Friday, 38 Albanians returned to their homes in the Serb-dominated northern Mitrovica. But during the violence yesterday a rocket was fired into one of the three apartments occupied by the Kosovo Albanians who UNMIK had assisted to return. UNMIK police are now checking all the apartments in the three blocks to ensure that the people are content with staying there. "We are not encouraging further returns at this moment," UNMIK spokeswoman Susan Manuel said today. Just before the violence erupted, a few Serbs had registered with UNMIK, expressing their desire to return home in the south. This process was interrupted by the violence, but is continuing today in Mitrovica, Ms. Manuel added.

UNMIK police stops 200 window-breaking Albanians: UNMIK police today reported that a disturbance in Obilic where some 200 Albanians celebrating a recent commemoration were advancing on a Serb-owned bar and breaking windows all along their way. UNMIK police and KFOR stopped them. Earlier that day at the train station, a fight broke out between Albanians and Serbs. Police also said that grenade and arson attacks have also continued against minority-owned property around Kosovo.

Kosovo's power plant shuts down: Kosovo's power plant, Kosovo A, has shut down due to a lack of hydrochloric acid and the second plant, Kosovo B, is producing 270 megawatts of power per day, UNMIK said today. Apparently there is a shortage of hydrochloric acid in the entire region, UNMIK spokeswoman Susan Manuel said. The power-rationing regime is currently two hours on and four hours off.

New postage stamps to be launched on 14 March: The head of UNMIK, Dr. Bernard Kouchner, will launch the new postage stamps for Kosovo on 14 March. The new postage includes five stamps in denominations from 20 pfennings up to 2 deutsche marks. Eight million stamps will be put on sale all over Kosovo in 90 post offices and first day covers will be available from 15 March. The stamps have been donated by the French Postal Administration.

Economic reconstruction

European Commission to spend $345.6 million in Kosovo: The Commissioner for Foreign Relations of the European Commission, Sir Christopher Patten, today told a meeting of the Kosovo Transitional Council that 360 million euro ($345.6 million) of the 600 million euro ($576 million), which the European Commission has earmarked for the former Yugoslavia and Albania, would be spent in Kosovo. The funds will be used for transport, housing, water and electricity, as well as for the Kosovo budget and the establishment of a functioning civil administration.

For further information, contact the Spokesman's Office: tel (212) 963-7161/2; fax (212) 963-7055.