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UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK): 23 Feb 2000

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Developments today, 23 February 2000 - Updated 3:30 p.m. EST
Civilian administration

Kosovo Transitional Council calls for urgent action on missing and detained persons: The Kosovo Transitional Council (KTC) today urged the international community, and the UN Security Council in particular, to put maximum pressure on the authorities in Belgrade to release all detainees from Kosovo held unlawfully in Yugoslav prisons. The KTC said in a statement issued following its regular meeting that Belgrade should also be pressured to cooperate with international authorities in clarifying the destiny of a large number of missing persons. The KTC called on the Security Council to demand that the Belgrade government immediately grant the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) unconditional access to all detention facilities in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to verify the number of detainees from Kosovo, estimated at some 1,600. The KTC also urged the Security Council to demand that Belgrade stop all ongoing trials against detainees from Kosovo and hand over all those detainees to UNMIK for their release or trial, as appropriate.

The KTC also called on political leaders from Kosovo to assist in the clarification of the whereabouts of missing persons from the non-Albanian communities, including 346 Serbs, most of whom disappeared after 10 June 1999, according to the ICRC.

In its regular meeting today, the KTC also called for the creation of a 'United City' of Mitrovica and underlined the crucial need to find a political solution to the situation in the ethnically divided city. It demanded that expulsions be prevented, that freedom of movement be facilitated and that all those who fled their homes, including Albanians and Serbs, be enabled to return safely. The KTC urged representatives of the Kosovo Serb community to join the Joint Interim Administrative Structure as soon as possible.

Kosovo gets a new mobile telephone network: A new mobile telephone network begun operations in Pristina today and will be extended to cover the rest of the province by September, UNMIK said. The network, launched by PTK and Alcatel-Monaco Telecom, has between 500 and 600 channels available, compared to the 50-60 channels that Kosovo had with MOBTEL. MOBTEL, however, will continue to exist for the time being. Gerard Fischer, director of the Department of Economic Affairs and Natural Resources in UNMIK, said another significant advantage of the new system was that all the income will stay inside the country. The service will be extended to seven major cities in less than seven weeks. The cost of a local call will be 0.40 deutsche marks (about 20 US cents) per unit.

Motorists now required to ensure their vehicles: Motorists in Kosovo are now required to have third-party liability insurance, following the issuing operating licence to an insurance company, the Insurance Institute of Albania. UNMIK also announced today that it has introduced a green card insurance system that will entitle motorists to travel outside Kosovo. Mr. Gerard Fischer, director of the Department of Economic Affairs and Natural Resources, also said that UNMIK is trying to persuade the European Union and other players to recognize UN-issued travel documents. In addition, he said UNMIK will open vehicle registration sites in other areas of Kosovo " in the next few weeks" and a deadline for registering vehicles will be set.

UNMIK officials follow up on strategies for Mitrovica: The head of UNMIK, Dr. Bernard Kouchner and the UNMIK pillar heads, along with the commander of KFOR, General Klaus Reinhardt and his top staff, today met to further develop the short- and long-term strategies for Mitrovica. Also today, the Regional Administrator in Mitrovica, Mario Morcone, and General Saqui de Sannes, continued their meetings with Mr. Bajram Rexhepi, a Kosovo Albanian leader in Mitrovica, on the return of recently displaced Albanians from the north side of the city.

The Kosovo Serb leaders met yesterday with Mr. Morcone to discuss a special Joint Administration of Mitrovica, with its own special administration -- an idea proposed by Dr. Kouchner. Another proposal by Dr. Kouchner for building a footbridge across the Ibar River, linking a predominantly Albanian apartment block on the north with the south bank, was discussed with Kosovo Albanian leaders in Mitrovica, who endorsed it. Also yesterday, the UNMIK head of education visited Mitrovica to talk about locating educational facilities on the south side of the town with both local and international officials there.

Over 400 UNMIK police deployed in Mitrovica: There are 424 UNMIK police in the Mitrovica region as of today. UNMIK said 84 are deployed in the north and 42 in the south sector of the city and 126 officers are awaiting to be deployed in the north sector. By 15 March, 560 UNMIK Police will be deployed in the region with the majority in the city of Mitrovica. In other police news, an elderly Albanian man was found shot dead yesterday near Djakovica. In Grebnica, also in the Pec region, another Albanian man was shot dead by unknown persons in his house. Seven Serb members of the Kosovo Police Service have started work at the UNMIK Police station in Gracanica.

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