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Open Debate on the Situation in Kosovo

(New York, November 06, 2002)

Statement by Ambassador Andrés Franco, Deputy Permanent Representative of Colombia


We are grateful to Mr. Guéhenno for the information he has provided, which helps us get a clearer picture of the events of recent days. Before I address some of the points made by the Under-Secretary-General, I wish to refer to the Secretary-General's report (S/2002/1126), in which we see progress in various areas. We commend the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. Steiner, and the members of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) for the excellent job they are doing.

We wish to mention three specific points. The first point is on the return of refugees. It is good to note that the number of organized and individual returns is continuing to grow. The comprehensive fashion in which this issue is being handled has ensured that the people returning have at least the minimum security and development conditions that enable them to re-establish their lives. For that reason, we believe that the initiative of the Special Representative to create a Task Force on Returns will make it possible to appraise and improve that policy in order, as Mr. Steiner has said, "to turn this priority into reality".

My second point pertains to the situation in Mitrovica. We acknowledge that the situation in the Mitrovica area has improved substantially. I am speaking not only of the security situation, but also of the work in which UNMIK is engaged, together with the population, in an effort to dismantle the existing parallel structures and to incorporate this region into the framework that is being applied to the rest of Kosovo. For this reason, we regard the seven-point plan proposed by the Special Representative on 1 October as an important step in the right direction.

The third point relates to the political situation. There has been marked improvement in the consolidation of executive and legislative power. The commitment of the people working in these areas will make the decisions that they are making more efficient and effective. We appeal to those just elected to join in this endeavour and to work to bolster the institutions in a way that will ensure the formation of a multi-ethnic society.

There was a very high rate of abstention in the 26 October elections. We regret that majorities decided not to participate to any great extent in the electoral process. That decision, specifically that of the Kosovo Serbs, is directly detrimental to them, since it reduces their ability to influence and participate in decision-making processes. Unfortunately, the decision of certain Serb politicians to encourage a boycott by Kosovo Serbs through a disinformation campaign prevailed over the efforts of other leaders and of the international community.

These results should be cause for further reflection, because we believe that they may have been the consequence of a variety of factors, including the following: electoral fatigue; rejection of UNMIK's policies; indifference to democratic mechanisms; lack of information; the influence of electoral groups in the region; and lack of commitment on the part of local leaders to induce electors to vote. That list of concerns could go on. So we believe that these results should not be taken lightly, because through analysis of their implications and causes it may be possible to identify a promising space within which to design policies that better reflect reality.

We regret that the Special Representative's presentation of an administrative decentralization programme had to be postponed in view of the electoral results. We consider the principles of decentralization to be very important for the future administration of Kosovo. Accordingly, we are sure that Mr. Steiner will continue to try to implement his programme, with the necessary reforms. We support the initiative of proposing that the Council of Europe present a programme in this regard.

In conclusion, we would like to mention the work that has been done with neighbouring countries and, of course, with the Government of Yugoslavia. The regional perspective ensures that the programmes developed by UNMIK are not isolated and that they enable the institutions that are being created to be self-sustaining over time.


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