CEOL - UN Kosovo Chief Blasts Critics, Demands More Police

PARIS, Nov 24, 1999 -- (Reuters) The head of Kosovo's post-war U.N. administration said on Wednesday he was sick of critics preying on U.N. efforts to foster security and reconciliation in the Yugoslav province ravaged by war and ethnic hatred.

French U.N. mission chief Bernard Kouchner, in Paris for a forum on reconstruction in the Balkans, reiterated his appeal for more international police in Kosovo and said he would press the case with French Interior Minister Jean Pierre Chevenement.

The U.N. mission had moved quickly in the five months since Yugoslav Serb security forces withdrew under NATO bombing, even if it was impossible to expect it to establish proper security in such a short period of time with meager resources, he said.

"There were 40 years of communism and 10 years of apartheid. People are discouraged, they've come out of hell," the fiery former health minister told Europe 1 radio.

"I'm sick of hearing people coming and saying we have to move faster. Never have things moved so fast. What we've done in five months has never been done so fast."

"There are 1,700 international police, that is absolutely insufficient. We want 6,000. Where are the French police?" he said, pointedly referring to Chevenement. "What's he waiting for?"

"It's true security is not strong will obviously take a generation to transform mentalities. But I do not want to hear we are not ensuring enough security when on the other hand we're not getting enough police," he said.

"At the start there were 140 to 190 murders a week. Last week we had seven. It's still too much but it's less - even if it has to be conceded that the week before there were 32."

Kouchner said the U.N. mission was constantly faulted for its failings but rarely thanked for successes such as making tens of thousands of homes reusable, demining, setting up schools with teachers and disarming the Kosovo Liberation Army.

"We already produce more electricity than under the Serbs, despite what's being said by those who understand nothing," he said, acknowledging at the same time that home heating was still an issue as winter approached. As for the longer term in a province torn by violent enmity between majority ethnic Albanians and the Serbs who once ruled them, he said:

"Reconciliation took 15 years in Lebanon, it took 30 years on Cambodia. Stop dreaming. Kosovo is in the middle of Europe and it will obviously happen a little quicker, but not in five months. Who are the madmen who believe that?"

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