Misleading UN Report on Kosovo (B)

TFF PressInfo 78

 October 3, 1999


"The UN and NATO missions in Kosovo violate Security Council Resolution 1244 which clearly guarantees the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY). The Security Council has just reaffirmed that Kosovo is a part of FRY. 1244 also demands the full cooperation of FRY in implementing the missions tasks. All this is pure pretence, as any visitor to Kosovo will learn - and mission members will tell you privately.

The Report of the Secretary-General (S/1999/987 of September 16) does not even bother to mention whether KFOR/UNMIK cooperates with Belgrade! It seems pretty clear, rather, that the international community has fooled Belgrade and considers it so weak that it doesn't even have to be polite or give the world the impression that it respects the country's sovereignty. This coincides with credible press analyses that the U.S. decision makers think Kosovo must become independent.

The international presence of UNMIK and NATO in Kosovo base itself on the bombing campaign the legality of which remains highly disputable. In its day-to-day operations, this presence amounts to a de facto occupation force that co-operates with Albania military and civilian leaders who have perpetrated gross human rights violations," says Jan Oberg upon his return from Pristina, Skopje and Belgrade, TFF's 37 mission to the region.

Here follow some facts:

"The missions have set up border points to Serbia but until recently not to Macedonia and Albania. Public and state property is 'taken over' by the UN and KFOR, no legal regulations done or rent or compensation paid to the Yugoslav state. Visa is not needed to enter Kosovo. The German Mark is introduced and the Yugoslav dinar disappearing. Tax and customs are now collected to the benefit of Kosovo, with no proportion going to Serbia or Yugoslavia. A new army-like "Kosovo Protection/Defence Force" is established and has the old KLA commander at its head. Should we be surprised if the mineral resources and the Trpca mining industry complex in Mitrovica is soon 'taken over' by foreign capital? Dr. Kouchner serves at the moment as a one-man legislature: he can overrule any federal law and he promulgates legally binding "regulations" by the day.

Resolution 1244 stipulates that 'after the withdrawal an agreed number of Yugoslav and Serb military and police personnel will be permitted to return to Kosovo to perform functions' such as liaising with the international civil and military missions, marking and clearing mine fields, maintaining a presence at Serb patrimonial sites and maintain a presence at key border crossings (specified in Annex 2). Reference to all this is conveniently omitted in the UN Report - that serves to evaluate the UN mission and is written, we must assume, by the UN staff in Pristina itself.

So much for the United Nations manifest, gross violation of FRY's sovereignty and territorial integrity. One understands why all this goes unmentioned in the Report. I am not a lawyer, but it looks to me as a new sort of international lawlessness and might-makes-right," says Jan Oberg.

"There are many other quite strange aspects of this Report. For instance, it conveniently avoids telling its readers that there are four government structures in Kosovo. KLA rapidly set up a government and local administration as well as other institutions before NATO got in. Naturally, it runs the place and it is not willing to hand over to the UN, as it believes it has legitimacy because of the military struggle to liberate Kosova. All personalities are appointed, nobody elected and there is, thus, no element of democracy. The earlier, elected, government and parallel society of the self-proclaimed Republic of Kosovo under the leadership of its elected president Dr. Ibrahim Rugova, constitutes another government structure but it has been systematically undermined and marginalized by leading actors of the international community as well as by KLA.

The third government structure - had it not been driven out by the UN, KFOR and KLA - was that of Yugoslavia. Had the KFOR and the UN not been so keen on getting rid of them all, there would have been more competent administrators, doctors, nurses, public utility technicians, teachers etc available today. And finally, according to resolution 1244, the UN administration of Kosovo is to become the FOURTH government with all executive powers in this tiny territory - but with little chance of implementing its authority, because:

The present situation is a farce. The total international presence encompass NATO/KFOR, the UN (UNMIK and all UN family organisation), OSCE, the European Union, over 300 NGOs, some media - perhaps as many as 70.000 foreigners! They all need interpreters, assistants, drivers, technicians and practical fixers. So, any local with some command of foreign languages and an administrative talent now seeks employment with international (better paying) organisations rather than with the local administration. The UN desperately needs experienced internationals and thousands of local staff to take over the executive power and complete administration of Kosovo as is its mandate - but a) they are not available and b) if they were available, they are likely to have to fight their way into the town halls or be polite assistants to those sitting there already appointed by KLA! UN officials catapulted into the towns as local government officials have no experience from Kosovo - one, I heard, did not know who Dr. Rugova is!

Again, such minor problems is not mentioned in the UN Report. Absent is also any assessment of the wider stability of the region post KFOR/UNMIK. There is not a word about helping Serb refugees (about 1 million) in Serbia or the increasing destabilisation of Serbia that NATO bombings and KFOR's mode of operation have contributed greatly to." Oberg summarises:

"This extremely coloured report can do nothing but disservice to the international community's decision makers. It tells us that UNMIK and KFOR make significant progress. This may be true on small issues but in vital areas for the future, the mission is already beyond repair. If the international community gets no better evaluations of the strong and the weak sides of its missions, one wonders whether it would not be wiser to have some impartial - non-NATO and non-UN - expert group to evaluate its missions. The real situation is obviously filtered and censored up to the point when the honest and visionary Secretary-General - who has to rely in the information he gets from missions - puts his signature on what is basically a falsifying picture of reality.

This is also the moment when the media ought to keep an eye on the situation. But most left when there were no more dead bodies to film and we were told that 'peace' would be come!

Without more honest reporting and evaluation of progress, UNMIK and KFOR will rapidly disintegrate beyond repair.

And mind you, I am not saying that I think everything could or should have been done differently from some more or less idealistic peace perspective. I am saying that the mission threatens to be a disaster as judged on ITS OWN criteria, mandate and mode of operation. KFOR and UNMIK spell further disaster in the region. Members of the missions who are skeptical and deeply concerned - should be encouraged to voice that concern publicly and be rewarded, not punished, for doing so. The UNMIK and OSCE, not KFOR - Europe, not the United States - will be blamed when this goes as wrong as I fear. That must be avoided now. The missions must be fundamentally reshaped and become both lawful, morally principled and accountable which they are not today," ends Jan Oberg.


© TFF 1999

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