United Nations, 27 July 2001 (RFE/RL) -- UN Security Council members have called for tightening controls at the Kosovo-Macedonia border and appealed to Macedonia's warring sides to find a political solution to their dispute.
At a council meeting yesterday (26 July) focused on Kosovo, council members made repeated calls for restraint and political dialogue in neighboring Macedonia.
Russia's deputy UN ambassador, Gennady Gatilov, called on the UN Mission which administers Kosovo -- known as UNMIK -- to redouble its efforts to help disarm ethnic Albanian rebels in Kosovo. France's deputy ambassador, Yves Doutriaux, said UNMIK and NATO-led peacekeepers must increase border controls to prevent arms flows from Kosovo to Macedonia.
"We feel that UNMIK and KFOR must do more on the border of Kosovo and Macedonia to make sure that it is truly and completely controlled so that no illegal supplies of arms are provided to the conflict in Macedonia."
The head of the UN department of peacekeeping, Jean-Marie Guehenno, earlier told the council that so far this year, border forces had arrested more than 300 armed ethnic Albanians trying to cross into Macedonia.
Another effort to prevent ethnic Albanian armed groups from assisting rebels in Macedonia, Guehenno said, was the recent suspension of five senior members of the Kosovo Protection Corps.
In addition, NATO-led forces have made a number of arrests in recent days of suspected rebels trying to transport arms from Kosovo to Macedonia.
Guehenno also reviewed progress on preparations for province-wide elections later this year, a key part of the UN resolution that provides for "substantial autonomy" for Kosovo within Yugoslavia in the future.
Guehenno said more than 25 parties have submitted certification applications to the Central Election Commission, including four Kosovo Serb parties.
He said voter registration begins on 30 July and will last until 9 September. Special attention is being given, he said, to the hundreds of thousands of Kosovars still displaced in the rest of Yugoslavia. Guehenno said special registration centers are being planned for Kosovo's minorities, in coordination with Serbia, Montenegro, and the International Organization for Migration.
Guehenno urged Yugoslav officials to use their influence in getting Kosovo Serbs to participate.
"We are very pleased that four Kosovo Serb parties have decided to certify for the elections and again urge the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to unequivocally encourage participation in the elections as a means to undercut extremism, reduce interethnic tensions, and stake the rightful claim of the Kosovo-Serb community to participate in the political process."
Serb political parties boycotted municipal elections organized by the United Nations last October.
Yugoslav officials have linked their participation in the polls with the return of an estimated 250,000 Serbs to Kosovo and improvement of security and rights for their community in a province dominated by the ethnic Albanian majority.
The Yugoslav government's committee for Kosovo said yesterday that conditions to allow Serbs to participate in the November poll were poor. Yugoslavia's representative to the United Nations, Vladislav Mladenovic, told the council today that Belgrade was ready to support the participation of Serbs in the November polls if security conditions are met. But he expressed doubts any changes coming soon.
"Twenty-five thousand non-Albanians left the province in 2000 alone. Under the UNHCR plan, 2,000 persons are supposed to return this year. Considering the existing circumstances in Kosovo and Metojiha, even this modest number appears unrealistic."
The UN peacekeeping chief, Guehenno, said UNMIK has welcomed new closer coordination with Yugoslav officials on Kosovo matters. But he also accused Yugoslav and Serbian officials of overstepping their authority in Kosovo in recent months.
Guehenno said examples of this include attempts by the Yugloslav Federal Committee for Kosovo to establish its own taxation functions and business registration activities in Kosovo. He said in response, UNMIK has now issued guidelines for visits of Yugoslav representatives to Kosovo requiring pre-notification.