Washington Post - Kosovo civilian chief needs money

By Jeffrey Ulbrich

BRUSSELS, Belgium –– "We need money!" was the plea Thursday from Bernard Kouchner, head of United Nations' civilian operations in Kosovo to foreign ministers from the 19 NATO nations and 26 partner countries.

Kouchner said he needs millions of dollars to pay teachers, policemen and other civil servants working in the Yugoslav province. Making peace and building democracy isn't free, he said, adding that lack of funds had reduced him to a "beggar."

The special representative to Kosovo of the U.N. secretary-general came to Brussels on the final day of the two-day NATO foreign ministers' meeting to brief them on the civilian side of an operation that also includes nearly 50,000 NATO-led troops. The ministers were making a year-end assessment of Bosnia and Kosovo.

"Without money, no success," said Kouchner, a French physician and politician. "Without money, no confidence. Without money, no restarting of daily life."

At the NATO defense ministers meeting two weeks ago, the commander of alliance forces in Kosovo, Gen. Klaus Reinhardt, said the United Nations needed $120 million to pay civil servants and $10 million for the Kosovo Protection Corps, the civil defense unit that includes many members of the Kosovo Liberation Army. The KLA fought for Kosovo's independence from Serbia, Yugoslavia's dominant republic.

Lord Robertson, the NATO secretary-general, said Kouchner's message would be taken away from here to capitals around the world.

"It is widely recognized that it is not going to be easy or quick to move from the killing fields of (President Slobodan) Milosevic to a multiethnic, tolerant democracy," Robertson said. "But huge efforts have already been made and enormous progress is there. But the international community must do more."

Many of the 26 members of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, a group of countries associated with NATO but not members, are participating in the Kosovo military operation.

Kouchner said one of his biggest problems was getting enough police to keep law and order in a province that had recorded more than 400 murders in four months. He said he had asked the international community for 6,000 police, but has received only 1,800.

"This is ridiculous and a scandal," he said.

Crime remains rampant in Kosovo, but Kouchner said that was not his fault.

A new power-sharing agreement for Kosovo in which the United Nations and ethnic Albanian leaders will jointly administer the province was warmly welcomed by NATO foreign ministers. The new administration, in which Kouchner will serve as a governor, is to absorb all existing administrative structures in place.

The agreement provided one position for a Kosovo Serb along with three ethnic Albanians. However, no Kosovo Serb leader showed up for the signing ceremony, and Serb community leaders denounced the agreement.

After winding up the NATO meeting, foreign ministers from the Group of Eight nations gathered in Berlin on Thursday to start a two-day summit, where Russia – which is included in the group – is expected to come under heavy criticism for its military campaign in Chechnya.

A diplomatic source said the discussions regarding Chechnya would be pointed, but that it is unlikely that ministers will issue any official condemnation because it would require Russia's agreement as part of the forum.

Speaking after a bilateral meeting with German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said no breakthroughs were likely during the G-8 session that opens with a working dinner.

"I don't think we've come to Berlin to solve the Chechnya problem," Ivanov told reporters. "Of course this will also be part of our discussions. It is in our common interests that the situation in this region is normalized."

Fischer signaled, however, that the ministers would try to make some progress toward peace. "We hope that the fighting will end sooner rather than later, that refugees can return and one can find a political solution," he said.

The two-day summit of foreign ministers from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States, plus Russia, ends Friday.


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