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U.S. Statement on Kosovo to OSCE Permanent Council

U.S. Envoy Johnson on violence, programs, needs

"Kosovo cannot move forward and build a democratic, pluralistic society when people continue to commit acts of violence and intimidation," U.S. Ambassador David T. Johnson told the Permanent Council of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Vienna December 2.

Johnson, head of the U.S. Mission to the OSCE, prefaced his remarks on a variety of other matters by deploring the recent killing of a Serb man during Kosovar Flag Day celebrations in Pristina. He agreed with the assessment that the attack was "cowardly and appalling."

In his response to a report to the Permanent Council by Daan Everts, head of the OSCE Mission to Kosovo, Johnson encouraged the international community to fill the urgent need for police in Kosovo, urged support for the work on free media as a necessary prelude to free and fair elections, and praised as "heartening" the recent pledging of more than one thousand million dollars in reconstruction and recovery aid for the province.

Regarding U.S. contributions to Kosovo, Johnson mentioned the recent pledge of 10 million dollars for the Kosovo protection corps.

Following is the text of his statement:

[In the text, 1 billion = 1,000 million]

(begin text)

Vienna, Austria
December 2, 1999


(As prepared)

Mr. Chairman, Before addressing Ambassador Everts' remarks, I would like to associate myself with KFOR [international security force in Kosovo] Commander Reinhardt who, in speaking to the recent killing of a Serb man during Flag Day celebrations, described this attack as cowardly and appalling. As President Clinton said when he was in Kosovo last week, hatred, vengeance and reprisal attacks must come to an end. Kosovo cannot move forward and build a democratic, pluralistic society when people continue to commit acts of violence and intimidation.

With respect to Ambassador Everts' remarks, we welcome his balanced report on the work of the Kosovo Mission. And we very much appreciate the challenges faced by him and his colleagues in doing their work.

We are pleased that the second class of the Kosovar police school is underway. We are hopeful the new contractor will quickly resolve the school's infrastructure problems.

With regard to the international police, SRSG Kouchner [Bernard Kouchner, Special Representative of the (United Nations) Secretary General] has requested additional personnel to address law enforcement requirements in Kosovo. We encourage donors to come forward quickly to help meet this urgent need.

The new MOU between the law faculty of Pristina University and the Mission's rule of law division is a significant development. We look forward to learning about what the assistance program under that agreement will entail.

The important work of the Kosovo Mission on free media deserves our fullest support. Free, independent media will play a key role in free and fair elections in Kosovo. The OSCE, as well as voluntary donors must meet those needs promptly to establish the conditions in which elections meeting OSCE standards can take place. We share Ambassador Everts' and others' concerns regarding the necessity for progress on creation of a civil registry.

Given the dependence which successful elections will have on an authoritative civil registry, we believe the OSCE should assist UNMIK [United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo] in its effort promptly to create this registry. We are confident the OSCE, under Ambassador Everts' leadership, can make a valuable contribution to this effort.

The recent ODIHR [OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights] action plan to combat trafficking in human beings makes a number of useful recommendations for the Mission. Regretfully, Kosovo provides fertile territory for trafficking activities. We encourage the Kosovo Mission to consider carefully the recommendations in this report - in particular those concerning training of Mission personnel and the new Kosovo police.

On a positive note, it was heartening to hear that international donors in Brussels pledged more than one billion U.S. dollars in reconstruction and recovery aid for Kosovo, in addition to the humanitarian assistance already being provided.

For its part, the U.S. has announced a contribution of USD ten million for the Kosovo Protection Corps [KPC]. The contribution will be allocated in two components: a donation of USD five million to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) for training of the KPC. In addition, the U.S. has provided to the KPC over USD four million worth of non-lethal military goods and services for items such as boots, office uniforms, coveralls, winter clothing, raingear, backpacks, etc.

No doubt, Kosovo will require additional assistance from the donor community, international organizations including the OSCE, and the NGO community. The future stability and prosperity of the region are at stake.

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(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State)