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Rücker on Kosovo as December 10th looms

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Rücker on Kosovo as December 10th looms

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Joachim Rücker heads the UN interim Administration in Kosovo, which is due to come to an end on December the 10th. Kosovo became a UN protectorate in 1999 after UN forces drove Yugoslav troops out of the province amid inter-ethnic fighting between Kosovo Albanians and forces loyal to the Serb Autocrat Slobodan Milosevic.
Kosovo, where ethnic Albanians make up 90 percent of the population, intends to declare independence from Serbia in the New Year.
Rücker spoke to EuroNews about the past, present and future of the breakaway province.

Mr Rücker hello. When you took over the UN mission, there was at the time already a lot of criticism concerning the results of the mission. Economic problems remained, security problems were not solved, the issue of the status was dragging on..The criticism is still there it seems. So how do you account for such results, or at least for such dissatisfaction amongst the population of Kosovo?

JR.
Well there is no doubt that the..people in Kosovo are..tired and frustrated about the delays in the status process, about the inconclusiveness of the status process so far.
When it comes to what UNMIK has achieved or has not achieved, I would tend to say the glass is half full and not half empty. As you know, over the past eight years we have, together with our partners in Kosovo acieved to lay the foundations of a functionning democracy.
You saw the elections which went fine and according to all standards. The foundations also for a rule of law sector that is functionning, and for a market economy that is functionning. And I think that is no small achievement.

EN
Regarding the elections, you have said it was a good sign for democracy. The serbs don’t agree with that!

JR
Well the serbs were under.. the Kosovo serbs were under a lot of pressure from Belgrade and some of their leaders not to participate, and this went as far as intimidation and threats. And that’s of course of concern. Still there was a better turnout of the Kosovo serbs than in 2004.

EN
Amongst other criticisms, there have been allegations of corruption regarding UN staff… Your own deputy has said that he was under investigation. Kosovar media say that you are under investigation. Do you deny that ?

JR
Well when it comes to investigation we have this office of internal oversight in New York, and you should ask them what they’re investigating… They’re constantly investigating something in the missions..worldwide.

EN
But you’re not aware of what they’re doing ?

JR
I’m not aware, I’m not aware!

EN
You don’t know whether they’re doing..any investigation..?

JR
They don’t tell me, they don’t tell me! This is why you have to ask them!

EN
OK.. But your deputy knows about it !

JR
…yeah, but he has no real indications either… what the …. investigation is about for example.. So…

EN
So you just noticed…

JR
I, I recommend that you turn to New York and ask them.

EN
What would you say is the future of the UN mission in Kosovo. Some people say there are no plans, not even for 2008. Is that correct ?

JR
Well of course the future of the mission depends on the status process and the solution of the status question. You know that the troika process is now lasting until 10th of december. We hope that thereafter..even either in the troika process or thereafter we’ll have a solution very quickly. Then I assume there will be some sort of transition period, from UNMIK to the future authoirities of Kosovo under the future status.
So I do expect to be out of here… no later than next summer.

EN
What do you think the EU can do which hasn’t been done, or what is left to do for the next mission in Kosovo ?

JR
Basically I assume that future missions would be there to oversee the implementation of a future status settlement. And that’s a different mandate from UNMIK. Because UNMIK as you know is ulitmately responsible still for practically everything in Kosovo. And that would be different in a future mission.

EN
There are talks about a partition between the serb northern part of Kosovo and the rest of Kosovo. In that case, who will protect the serbian enclaves ?

JR
Well I would like to comment on your assumption that there should be a partition..

EN
I’m not saying there should be..I’m saying people are speculating about it!

JR
I mean..I would, I would like to stress that..partition was one of the things that the contact group, for good reasons, excluded at the begining of the status process. And of course we believe in this principle and we think it would be a very, very bad idea to think about partition. Having said that, the… so-called enclaves, ot the serbian villages and towns south of the river Ibar… are… as much in a safe and secure environment as.. every other village or town in Kosovo…

EN
Well, there’s still fear in the serb community..

JR
Well..there is..concerns..but hum, there is a plan on the table, I know it has not been accepted by the security council sp far..It’s called the Athissari plan..and it adresses exactly all of these concerns in a very detailed and specific way. Of course, one should also encourage the Kosovo serbs and all those who voice concerns, to look at the solutions for those concerns.

EN
What wil you most value and what will you most regret about this mission in Kosovo ?

JR
Well I value… very much the hum…. the way that the Kosovo people believe in their future. Despite a lot of disappointments, despite a lot of setbacks. And I think we can all learn from that.. The underlying confidence in their own future is something very admirable. And this is something i will miss.
I will not miss the garbage that is spread still too much outside of the houses and the streets..but that will improve too I’m sure.

EN
What will you do next, do you know ?

JR
I dont know ! Do you have a job ?

EN
I dont think so..

JR
Ok…

EN
Thank you very much Mr Rücker.