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UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK): 13 Dec 1999

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UNMIK marks six months of achievement in Kosovo: The UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) today marked its first six months in Kosovo with speeches on the achievements of the mission at a press conference held in Pristina. Deputy Secretary-General Louise Frechette said UNMIK was one of the most complex missions ever undertaken by the UN and what has been accomplished over the last six months was "a great deal for this time period." She said, "Not to say that there isn't still a lot to be done, but compared with six months ago, all the parts of UNMIK have quite a bit to show for their efforts."

The Head of the UNMIK, Dr. Bernard Kouchner outlined the achievements made by UNMIK in a territory ravaged by war. Among the achievements, he said, was the fact that 86 per cent of Kosovo's children are now in school and all hospitals and basic health services are functioning. Other achievements include rehabilitation of the infrastructure and public services. Dr. Kouchner said 12,000 houses were damaged or destroyed by war, however, everyone will be sheltered for the winter. UNMIK has passed 24 regulations and has administrators in all five regions and 29 municipalities, who work closely with their Kosovar counterparts. Multi-party municipal councils are being formed, he said.

KFOR Commander General Klaus Reinhardt said the demilitarization of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) was completed on 20 September. KLA has been transformed into the Kosovo Protection Corps, a civilian organization that is rebuilding damaged infrastructure and participating in disaster relief. In its attempt to make Kosovo safe, General Reinhardt said, KFOR is conducting more than 100 patrols in each brigade every day. "Three out of four soldiers are permanently out patrolling, running checkpoints and helping the population," General Reinhardt said. He said KFOR has built or repaired 200 kilometres of roads and six bridges among other projects. In addition, KFOR experts have inspected and cleared mines and other devices from 1,700 kilometres of roads, nearly 1,200 schools and 16,000 houses and public buildings.

Kouchner announces measures to strengthen law and order: The Head of the UNMIK, Dr. Bernard Kouchner today announced a series of measures to strengthen law and order in the province. "The primary law of the land will be the UNMIK regulations, " Dr Kouchner told a press conference marking UNMIK's first six months in Kosovo. Kosovar legal experts are drafting the new penal code with the assistance of the Council of Europe, he said. The second applicable law will be the law in force on 22 March 1989 -- the law governing Kosovo before Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic revoked its autonomy and imposed a new legal code.

Dr. Kouchner also announced he will appoint 400 new judges and prosecutors in the next few days and by early next year all courts will be functional. "The emergency judiciary has suffered from a lack of basic office equipment and facilities," he said. "All courts will have the means to work. Courthouses in every municipality will be refurbished. Every member of the judiciary will receive a proper salary." In addition, UNMIK will take over the entire correctional system by early next year and the pretrial detention of suspects will be extended beyond the current six-month limit.

In announcing the new measures, he stressed that all laws must conform to international human rights standards. A Kosovo Court for Human Rights will also be set up early next year to handle politically motivated and major human rights cases, he said. To further strengthen law and order in the territory, Dr Kouchner said joint UNMIK Police and KFOR operations, including vehicle and foot patrols, vehicle checkpoints, traffic control, surveillance and monitoring would be improved and expanded. To help further protect minorities in the territory, Dr. Kouchner announced the launching of an "agenda for co-existence," designed to provide safe access by minorities to essential public services, such as health and education.

Power company has begun issuing electricity bills: The Kosovo Power Company has begun issuing electricity bills and consumers have 15 days to pay up or be charged interest. Consumers who do not pay their bill may have their electricity supply disconnected, according to a statement issued on Saturday by UNMIK. The bills are for electricity supplied in October for domestic customers and September-October for industrial and commercial customers. Consumers with premises that do not have a meter or where the meter cannot be read will be charged a flat rate tariff. The statement added that the electrical system is "in a very poor state" and it will take considerable time to make it fully operational. "Every effort is being made to ensure that interruptions to supply are as infrequent as possible and are fairly distributed, and that places with no supply are reconnected as soon as possible," the statement said.

Board established to oversee management of power sector: A Supervisory Board has been established to oversee the management of the power sector in Kosovo and to facilitate coordination among UNMIK, international donors, managers of KEK (Kosovo power company) and Mott MacDonald, the company overseeing utilities distribution. The Deputy Special Representative will chair the Supervisory Board for Reconstruction, Recovery and Development, Mr. Joly Dixon, according to a statement issued by UNMIK on Saturday. The Board will have up to six members including representatives of the Civil Administration of UNMIK, the Reconstruction Pillar of UNMIK and the EC Task Force for Kosovo (TAFKO), as well as local experts of the KEK management and the Mott MacDonald team will participate in meeting of the Supervisory Board as appropriate.

Kouchner calls on local communities to condemn violence: The Head of UNMIK, Dr. Bernard Kouchner has called on the Serbian and Albanian population in Partes and Gnjilane to condemn violence and focus on the future. Community leaders at the Serbian village of Partes, which he visited on Saturday, voiced their concerns over insufficient security and complained of a lack of income generating activities, according to a statement issued by UNMIK in Pristina. On the same day in Gnjilane, Dr. Kouchner met with local leaders and visited both the Albanian and the Serbian sector of the city. He then hosted a town meeting where he answered questions from local residents and urged them to work closely with UNMIK and the international community to rebuild Kosovo.

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