Vienna, Austria - 20 July 1999Address by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the OSCE Permanent Council
Thank you very much Mr. Chairman and Secretary-General Kubis, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me say that I am also extremely happy to be here with you this morning. I believe that the bonds between the United Nations and OSCE have always been strong, but perhaps today they are stronger than ever. I say this not only because so many of the leaders of your organization, as Ambassador Kai Eide said, including himself, and Secretary-General Jan Kubis, have served with the United Nations and now are also our friends. I say this because the challenge of the new century will require us to strive further towards pulling our efforts and bringing the best of our abilities to the struggle for democracy and human rights.
I think the UN Charter itself recognizes the role for regional organizations and I think, ideally, problems are best solved at the national level, and when that fails perhaps at the regional level, and then at the international level. But we are in this together.
Let me also emphasize I did refer to human rights and that the humanitarian tragedy in Kosovo was first and foremost a human rights tragedy. If the rights of the people had been respected in the beginning we probably would not have faced the humanitarian tragedy that we face. I am particularly gratified to have this opportunity to address the Permanent Council of OSCE at a time of great challenge for both our organizations. Indeed, we could not be meeting at a more critical moment for our common efforts as securing lasting peace in the Balkans. I think our aim is clear to help create a secure multi-ethnic, prosperous and democratically governed society for all Kosovars, regardless of ethnicity. So far, I believe as Ambassador Eide said, we are off to an excellent start as true partners working in a spirit of shared endeavour. We are also applying the lessons of our common experience in Bosnia and elsewhere in the early phases of the interim administration.
Let me take this opportunity to pay tribute to OSCE for the seriousness, the determination, the constructive spirit with which you have joined the cause for peace in Kosovo. It is in this spirit that we must sustain, it is this spirit that we must sustain in the months and years ahead if this extraordinary challenge is to be met successfully. I say years ahead because I am afraid we are involved in a long-term proposition. People have often asked me how long would it take and I have been hesitant to give a date. I know that we will be on the ground at least for several years. But the reconstruction of Kosovo and the region, in my judgement, will take at least ten years.
Under the unified leadership of my Special Representative Kouchner, I am happy to say that every element of the unique operation of OSCE, European Union, the NGOs will be able to contribute to an integrated and in an effective manner that would ensure our maximum effectiveness. We can be effective if only we pull our efforts and continue to work as closely as we have started.
Under the Security Council Resolution governing the administration of Kosovo, the OSCE has been tasked with the essential and difficult responsibilities. When we speak of reconstructing Kosovo, we know that bricks and mortar are not enough. We have to build not only the houses but institutions as well and these institutions are absolutely crucial.
Under the able guidance of a Deputy Special Representative, the OSCE?s Daan Everts, your expertise and experience will help us to create those institutions of democracy, pluralism, human rights and the rule of law, which will form the lasting bulwark against violence and repression that have characterized life in Kosovo over the last decade. And some of the tasks that you are taking on are going to be particularly difficult. Training police, training them to risk to protect the rights of the individuals and protect their property. In effect, almost a mind change from a force that had been used as an instrument of state control to protecting the individuals and their rights. And this is quite a challenge. We did go through some of this is Bosnia and Kai (Ambassador Kai Eide) was there on the ground doing a similar thing there.
Together, we should do, we must do what we have to do also to educate the local civil administrators. First of all we have to identify them, recruit them, educate them and prepare them. We must train, as I have indicated, the local police so that the people also begin to have confidence in them as guardians of their security.
We must encourage citizens? groups and members of civil society to form the pillars of a new Kosovo dedicated to the well-being of every citizen. We must help establish a new penal system, as well as a legitimate judicial system for which we have already started appointing judges. Lawyers and public advocates will have to be also identified and they must be well-versed in democratic rule. We must also help establish a viable, diverse and vibrant free press and broadcast media dedicated to promoting knowledge and understanding, instead of hatred and prejudice.
Eventually, we will have the responsibility of conducting free and fair elections for which a thorough and comprehensive process of voter registration also needs to take place. This will be a particularly difficult task, given the systematic effort that took place to strip fleeing Kosovar, Albanians of their identification cards during their flight into exile.
But let me say that I am so far encouraged. I am very encouraged by the seriousness with which the international community is approaching this challenge. KFOR is doing its best to maintain security throughout the territory, despite the difficulty in preventing individuals from engaging in acts of violence and revenge. The European Union and the World Bank, as you know, have just concluded an important meeting on economic and reconstruction challenges facing Kosovo.
And just last week, Bernard Kouchner arrived to take up his duties. Sergio de Mello (Sergio Vieira de Mello), who served on an interim basis before him, had done a sterling job and has now handed over to Bernard. His first act was to chair - when Kouchner arrived - a meeting of the Kosovo Transitional Council, which will provide Kosovar leaders with an opportunity to take part in the reconstruction and decisions affecting their community. However, we all know well that to be able to pursue and maintain the task we have set ourselves we need to have the resources and the people we need. We?ve got pledges but pledges are not enough. We need to have them on the ground to do the work and I am happy to hear the report from Ambassador Eide that your recruitment is moving ahead very quickly. We are trying to do same. I wish the policemen also arrive as quickly as we would want them. But we all do understand that it is extremely difficult to pull police out of communities and cities, because each community does need its police and it often takes quite a lot of time to convince them to let them leave and even once they have agreed it takes time for them to arrive, unlike formed units like the military, who can move fairly quickly.
In addition to the police, we are trying to recruit international administrators, identify locally competent administrators to join the civil service and we hope that this civil service will be multi-ethnic. Both Serbs and Albanians will take part in the force. For the time being, we have tried to establish our headquarters not only in Kosovo, but have established a presence in all the five regions and are gradually building up.
We have also established an Advisory Council, which includes all the ethnic groups - Serbs, Kosovars, Albanians and others, and as I said earlier, we are reviving all the judicial, penal and other systems. This is important in an atmosphere where violence is going on and unless you can curb it quickly and create the impression that impunity will not be allowed things can get out of hand.
The other thing I would want to say is that I have focussed so far on Kosovo, but there is a stability pact for the entire region. In my judgement, we can not succeed in Kosovo unless we succeed in the entire region. There are linkages that one can not ignore. This is why I am gratified that there is a stability pact for the entire region, which obviously will take time to implement. Some of you have heard also my views on the humanitarian assistance which is going to be offered to the region. I think our focus rightly should be on Kosovo. But I have also maintained in my contacts with the leaders that even if one were to limit assistance to Yugoslavia, for example, only to humanitarian assistance, one should define humanitarian aid in broad enough terms to allow assistance to go to repairs of electrical systems, water supplies, hospitals, because these are essential life-sustaining systems. And in my judgement, if we do not make it possible for the Yugoslavs and the Serbs to stay at home, given the high unemployment, come winter, if there is no heat and employment, they will be the next to leave their countries seeking greener pasture and we can create another outflow. I think it is in our own self-interest to try and do whatever we can to create the minimum conditions that will make it possible for them to stay at home.
I think in conclusion let me say that when the conflict ended and the Security Council did not give a clear approval for the military action there was a sense that the Council was divided and was going to be divided for a long time. As it turned, out the Security Council had to play a role in the search for a solution, authorizing deployment of a force and an interim administration.
I think, now that that has been done, we can actually say that our joint effort in Kosovo has a wide international support and that should really give us encouragement to move ahead full steam to get the task done. And given the way we have begun, I have great hopes and confidence that we together as partners can meet this challenge together and set the entire region on an irreversible course towards democracy and stability.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
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