Pristina, 16 July 1999 UNMIK/PR/12

Press Release


Recruitment of new Kosovo Police Service launched;

Confidence-building measures agreed

The newly formed Kosovo Transitional Council met for the first time today under United Nations auspices, marking a critical first step towards development of self-government in Kosovo. The Transitional Council, which is chaired by the SRSG, will be the highest political consultative body under the United Nations Interim Administration, which holds executive authority in the territory. The Transitional Council will offer the main political parties and ethnic communities in Kosovo an opportunity for direct input into the decision-making process of UNMIK. It will serve as a forum where the parties can work together towards achieving consensus on a broad range of issues relating to civil administration, institution building, reconstruction and essential services.

The agenda for the first session included items relating to security, creation of a new Kosovo Police Service, the judiciary and the media. UNMIK’s Police Commissioner, Sven Frederiksen, updated the participants on the launching of the recruitment process to begin forming a new Kosovo Police Service – and the need to recruit prospective police officers as individuals subject to strict recruitment criteria. The group agreed to a number of confidence-building measures, including joint visits by the Albanians and Serbs, accompanied by UNMIK and KFOR, to flashpoints around the territory, including Orahovac, Gnjilane and Mitrovica, as well to visit apartments where previous occupants had been evicted. They also decided to create a sub-commission on prisoners and detainees from Kosovo held in central Serbia and in Kosovo. They addressed the problem of the media and called for urgent efforts to re-start broadcasting at Radio-Television Pristina and to make a common appeal to both sides to resolve the radio and television problem.

Today’s three-hour meeting was convened by Mr. Bernard Kouchner, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). Mr. Sergio Viera de Mello, who as interim Special Representative of the Secretary-General from 10 June until Mr. Kouchner’s arrival on 15 July, co-chaired the session. Major-General Michael Jackson, Commander of KFOR, also attended the meeting. The next meeting of the Transitional Council was set for 26 July.

Representatives from across Kosovo’s political and ethnic communities, including Albanians, Serbs, Bosniaks and Turks participated in today’s meeting. The twelve Council members met in a Pristina building formerly occupied by the Ministry of Interior Police (MUP) which now serves as the headquarters for the United Nations International Police. The main political groupings of Kosovo Albanians, with the exception of Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), participated in the meeting. Mr. Hashim Thaci and Mr. Xhavit Haliti represented the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK). The United Democratic Movement (LBD) was represented by Mr. Rexhep Qosja and Mr. Mehmet Hajrizi. Independents Veton Surroi and Blerim Shala also participated.

Kosovo Serbs were represented by Bishop Artemije of Raska and Prizren of the Serbian Orthodox Church and Mr. Momcilo Trajkovic of the Serbian Resistance Movement. Numan Balic of the Party of Democratic Action, a Bosniak, and Sezair Shaipi of the Turkish People’s Party also participated.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Kouchner said his agenda was to make sure that immediate humanitarian needs were met in Kosovo, to assure essential public functions – especially law and order; to lay the foundations for economic recovery and developments, and to progressively build the necessary institutions of self government. Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) gave UNMIK the necessary powers, he said, and UNMIK was determined to work with the parties. Describing the task of the Transitional Council, Mr. Kouchner saw it as "the most important body to accomplish both the task of the UN involving the parties, as well as the task of the parties working together…In the Council we will discuss all important issues. There will be no voting; it will be the weight of argument that will count. We will work together to reach agreement, but if we fail to do it, I will have to make a decision".

He also noted that the present composition of the Council was not final. "Some groups are not represented yet, some others are unhappy with its current composition." He promised to address these questions in the coming days with all of the participants and to "make concrete proposals to re-align the membership of the Council." In his remarks to the participants, and later to journalists, Mr. Kouchner added that he was "sad" and "disappointed" that the LDK had decided not to participate after he had met with the party leader, Mr. Ibrahim Rugova, and his colleague Ms. Edita Tahiri yesterday. "I heartily hope that they will come back soon," he added.