Haekkerup sees progress in work on self-government framework
Haekkerup sees progress in work on self-government framework
The head of the United Nations mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) Hans Haekkerup said on Wednesday that a "good compromise" between the province's Serb and Albanian communities on a key legal document was drawing nearer.
Haekkerup said it had not yet been possible to reach consensus on the Legal Framework for institutions of provisional self-government in the province, but there was agreement on "98 per cent" of the document.
While the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia has still not fully agreed, there will be "understanding and acceptance" of the document when it is put forward, he noted.
Haekkerup, who spoke after briefing the Security Council in closed consultations, said that there was broad support in the Council for moving ahead.
Following Council approval, the final text of the Legal Framework will be promulgated and elections will be held this year.
The UNMIK had warned that elections might be postponed after it failed to agree with ethnic Albanian leaders on a blueprint for self-government.
A UN spokeswoman expressed disappointment after a meeting between Haekkerup and local Albanian leaders, saying they had been very close to an agreement following an intensive week of talks.
Haekkerup hopes to hold the first post-war general elections in Kosovo this year, but has made clear the need to first define provisional institutions for the province and their powers. He has opposed the Albanian leaders' request for a referendum on Kosovo's status.
Haekkerup said that despite pressure by ethnic Albanians for a referendum on independence, a framework agreement for the Yugoslav province will not include such a clause.
"The international community does not want any referendum clause in the legal framework," he said.
Acting US Ambassador James Cunningham, the current Council president, announced that a Security Council mission would visit Kosovo 15-18 June. He said there were "varying views expressed on the process of moving towards elections," but that all members were supportive of Haekkerup's efforts.
A planned Kosovo legislative assembly of 120 members would include 100 seats elected proportionally, 10 seats reserved for Kosovo Serbs and 10 seats for other minorities.
Serbs told to back Kosovo poll or face isolation
Kosovo's international administration urged Serbs on Tuesday to register for a province-wide election expected later this year or increase their isolation.
Daan Everts, head of the Kosovo mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on a visit to Serbia, said leaders in Belgrade should back registration now, even if they choose to wait before deciding whether Serbs should actually vote in the election, expected in late October or early November.
Serbian officials in Belgrade and politicians representing Kosovo's ethnic Serbs have voiced concern that the blueprint for self-government, which will set the stage for the election, will give de facto independence to Kosovo.
"There's no doubt that not joining the democratic process will lead to marginalization, further isolation and be very self-injurious," Everts told reporters in Belgrade.
The Serbs boycotted Kosovo local elections last year, encouraged by the previous Yugoslav and Serbian authorities under ousted autocrat Slobodan Milošević.
More Albanian refugees from Macedonia come to Kosovo
As of 8 May, ethnic Albanian refugees who fled the fighting areas in Macedonia for shelter in neighboring Kosovo reached a total of 6,600 on Tuesday, UNHCR's spokeswoman Astrid van Genderen Stort said. That number is increasing daily.
The latest wave of ethnic Albanian refugees started in the beginning of May, when the Macedonian army launched an offensive against Albanian rebels in the area. There was heavily shelling of villages in the Kumanovo region.
Meanwhile, over 8,000 refugees are still sheltered in Kosovo from the previous clashes in the Tetovo region last March.
Kosovo Helsinki Committee asks for Euro-US involvement in Macedonia
The Kosovo Helsinki Committee (KHC) expresses its deepest concern and strong condemnation of the dramatic escalation of violence and conflict taking place in recent days in Macedonia. They regretted that the offensive of state security forces was resulting in innocent civilians being killed and wounded, in considerable destruction and in increasing numbers of people being displaced from the crisis areas.
"The escalation of violence seriously endangers the prospects for peaceful resolution of the essential political issues at contest in Macedonia," a KHC press release said.
"The KHC appeals urgently for a vigorous, direct and immediate engagement of the US and the EU for mediation of the conflict. That would contribute to a just and stable political resolution. Only such an engagement could prevent further escalation of the conflict into a dangerous ethnically-based civil war in Macedonia," it said.
World Bank grants for Kosovo's energy and water supply projects
The World Bank approved a USD 2.5 million grant that will finance an urgently needed study of rehabilitation and development options for the energy sector in Kosovo, as well as the building up of local capacity and a sustainable energy policy.
A USD 4.6 million grant from the World Bank will assist with the reform of the water sector in the Gjakove (Dakovica)-Rahovec (Orahovac) area. The project area is one of the most damaged in Kosovo as a result of the conflict.
And in other news...
- UNMIK head Hans Haekkerup met EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Chief Javier Solana and NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson at the Skopje airport before leaving for New York for consultations with Secretary General Kofi Annan.
- UNMIK Police called on the population and politicians to back the weapons collection program that has already started in Kosovo but which is giving poor results at the beginning. Spokesman Dean Olson said, "We are hoping that community leaders will embrace the program as part of an anti-violence campaign." The new law goes into effect on 5 June.
- UNMIK police arrested three men in connection with one of Kosovo's killings last year that of the Albanian former guerrilla commander Ekrem Rexha, known as "Commander Drini." He was regarded as a moderate and key partner by international officials. Drini's killing on 8 May 2000 stunned both local people and international officials.
- A Kosovo Serb man was shot dead when he drew a weapon and threatened KFOR soldiers and UNMIK Police, KFOR Spokesman Sqn Ldr R P C Brown said Monday. The incident occurred at a mobile vehicle checkpoint, manned by a Danish Patrol and UNMIK police, near the village of Zupce. As they were checking the car one of the men fled from the scene and then drew a pistol, cocked it and aimed at the police and soldiers. In response, both the policeman and soldiers fired several shots at the man, hitting him twice in the chest.
Llazar Semini, 11 May 2001
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