Accessibility links

Breaking News

Yugoslavia: UN Conference Sees Need For Kosovo Order

United Nations, 1 July 1999 (RFE/RL) -- Foreign ministers of the G-7 industrial democracies and representatives of 11 other countries agreed at the U.N. yesterday that law order and order must be quickly restored to Kosovo. But they left without sufficient pledges of civilian police or money to pay for the proposed U.N. governance of the war-torn province.

The first meeting of the so-called Friends of Kosovo also remained divided on giving humanitarian aid to Serbia as long as Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, an indicted war crime suspect, retains power.

The ministers agreed the most urgent need is a quick deployment of U.N. civilian police to halt a wave of murder, looting and arson that is spreading in Kosovo in the wake of NATO's 78-day air campaign that drove 40,000 Serbian troops out of the province.

U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright announced that the United States would send 450 policemen and 100 police trainers from the streets of American cities into Kosovo to join the U.N. mission. The first 150 would arrive by July 15, Albright said.

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan said the United Nations received pledges from several countries for 1,938 civilian policemen out of 3,110 the UN says it needs. So far only 40 U.N. police officers are on the Kosovo beat and it is unclear how long it will take for the rest to arrive.

"Everybody is eager to get it moving faster," Albright told reporters. "It behooves all of us to keep pressing the U.N. to keep up the pace."

But Annan said "the timing of this is entirely in the hands of the member states. As a secretariat we have no police and we cannot deploy what we do not have."

Annan also said the foreign ministers from NATO and Russia, whose troops constitute the peacekeeping force in Kosovo known as KFOR, said they would speed up deployment of a promised 50,000 troops. So far, 24,000 KFOR troops are on the ground and they are fulfilling police duties until the U.N. peace officer arrive. British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said three-fourths of KFOR's duties were now police-related and the troops were eager to retreat to barracks to serve a back-up role.

The U.N. will also set up a legal and correctional system to replace the one that the Serbs had run in Kosovo. The U.N. this week appointed its first nine prosecutors and judges -- both Serb and Albanian -- to deal with 221 suspects arrested by KFOR.

Their salaries will be paid by the U.N. as well those of other Kosovars who will fill jobs in a new civil administration. But the U.N. has still not said how much this far-reaching administration will cost or how long it will last.

Annan will submit a budget by July 10 to the General Assembly. The European Union, which will run the reconstruction effort, and the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe, which will train the police and rebuild political institutions, will pay those costs separately.

Other expenses will be paid from a trust fund the U.N. has set up. But only Britain has made a contribution yesterday -- $1 million. The U.N. has not announced a target for this fund.

"We are not prepared yet to make a commitment," Albright said. "We are still reviewing the needs."

The secretary of state said the United States had set aside $1.3 billion for the humanitarian effort, being run by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.

The issue of providing humanitarian aid to Serbia was the meetings' most divisive issue. Both Russia and China, which opposed NATO's air war, argued that Serbia should not be left out. Annan agreed. Without such aid to Belgrade "we are going to have a real challenge of reconstructing the economy of southeastern Europe with a big hole of Serbia in the middle," Annan said.

The U.N. chief said humanitarian assistance should repair Serbia's electricity and water systems, destroyed by NATO bombing.

"I think it is pointless to take in loads and loads of medicine if people are going to drink dirty water and fall sick," he said.

But Albright said U.S. humanitarian aid to Serbia should "do nothing to bolster Milosevic and his cronies." A U.S. official later questioned whether water and electricity were humanitarian issues.

The Italian foreign minister, Lamberto Dini, suggested the international community pay to clear the debris of Danube bridges destroyed by NATO so that shipping can resume. The U.S. said it might support that effort, a U.N. official said.

Russia also argued that Serbia's sovereignty over Kosovo would be undermined if Washington succeeds in establishing a separate currency for the Yugoslav province. The UN is considering the Euro and the German mark to become a parallel currency, UN sources said. The concern is that international aid would fall into Milosevic's hands.