Testimony :: Amb. James W. Pardew
Deputy Special Advisor for Kosovo Implementation - European Bureau, U.S. Department of State
Mr. Chairman, I am pleased to be here today to join General Ralston and Ambassador Everts in updating the Commission on the situation in Kosovo nearly two years after the NATO air campaign expelled Milosevic's security forces. I will also discuss the implications of fighting in neighboring areas. I have just returned from the region, and would like to share my impressions of the progress we have made and the challenges that remain.
The process of change in Kosovo continues at an impressive pace; every time I travel there I notice abundant signs of progress. It is important to remember that Kosovo was in ruins when the international community entered the scene in June 1999. More than one million ethnic Albanians had been expelled from their homes; the economy was completely destroyed; and there were no functioning laws or institutions of any kind. We have come a long way since then. Everyday life is increasingly returning to normal. Children are going to school; Kosovars are governing at the municipal level and working closely with UNMIK at the province-wide level; trained Kosovar police are now visible on the streets.
In the region, the fall from power of the Milosevic regime last October has led to the emergence of a new democratic government in Belgrade and new opportunities to address outstanding problems in Kosovo and neighboring regions. We now have new, more promising authorities in Belgrade to approach on problems such as ethnic conflict in Mitrovica, Kosovar Albanian political prisoners in Serbia, or the status of Serbs in Kosovo. We are working daily to seek ways of using this new opportunity.
But, as always, serious challenges remain. In Kosovo, ethnic tensions continue, and Serbs and other minorities are not fully integrated into the society. The Kosovar Albanian extremists who failed to win support in recent municipal elections have turned to the use of force to promote their agenda in northern Macedonia and southern Serbia. These insurgencies threaten to destabilize the region and to undermine seriously the support of the international community to Kosovo.
UN Security Council Resolution 1244 established a powerful mandate for the international mission in Kosovo. The resolution authorizes UNMIK to establish democratic self-governing institutions to govern Kosovo during the interim period until final status can be determined through a political process. Bernard Kouchner, who led this effort as the original head of UNMIK, was superb. His long list of accomplishments included the successful municipal elections last October. Former Danish Defense Minister Hans Haekkerup took charge of the mission in January, and is preparing for province-wide elections in 2001. We strongly support the holding of Kosovo-wide elections this year in order to empower the Kosovars to be responsible for democratic institutions in the interim period. Rapid progress toward self-government in the context of UNSCR 1244 will help lower these anxieties, thereby reducing support for extremists.
The international community during its first year faced enormous challenges in establishing its own presence and developing, in the chaos of post-war Kosovo, the basic elements of a functioning society. Though we often wished implementation could move forward more quickly, it is truly remarkable what was accomplished in the first 365 days:
The intervention by the international community stopped the killing and expelled the Milosevic security forces from Kosovo.
International agencies helped return over one million refugees and displaced persons to their homes. The international community ensured that no Kosovar went without food and warm, dry shelter during the first winter, avoiding a potential humanitarian catastrophe.
Basic services were provided to some degree in most areas, schools were opened, basic health care was made available, and civil workers were paid.
The international community began Kosovo's transition to a market economy with a hard currency monetary system and a new Central Bank. A micro-credit bank was established and began to assist in the financing of small start-up businesses.
KFOR and UNMIK together began to establish public order, under a new system designed to promote a rule-of-law society.
UNMIK created the Joint Interim Administrative Structure (JIAS), in which Kosovars and internationals work together on the day-to-day administration of Kosovo. The JIAS replaced the parallel Kosovar structures that had sprung up after the NATO Air Campaign.
KFOR oversaw the demilitarization and disarmament of the KLA. The former KLA handed in 10,000 arms during the demilitarization process; 3,800 other small arms were subsequently collected and destroyed. The international community created the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC), a civil emergency services organization of 5,000, to employ former KLA in useful public service efforts.
UNMIK and OSCE created the Kosovo Police Service (KPS), an indigenous, multi-ethnic police force. More than 1,000 new recruits were graduated from the OSCE police school in the first year.
More recently, the international community has made major strides toward establishing interim, democratic self-government, as called for in UNSCR 1244:
Municipal elections were successfully held on October 28, 2000. All Albanian-majority municipal assemblies and the three UNMIK-appointed assemblies in Serb-majority municipalities have elected their leadership and begun work.
UNMIK is working with Kosovars on the development of the Legal Framework that will define the province-wide institutions that will govern Kosovo during the interim period.
UNMIK has published more than 100 regulations with the force of law.
OSCE has begun preparing for province-wide elections, which it hopes to hold in the fall.
Many Kosovars had been unable to travel because FRY forces had deliberately destroyed their passports and other identification documents during the war. UNMIK recently began issuing travel documents, which are now recognized by 20 countries. Work is underway on an ID card for Kosovo residents.
UNMIK has appointed more than 400 local judges and prosecutors, and trials are being conducted in all five district courts and some lower courts. UNMIK has also appointed 10 international judges and five international prosecutors to the district courts, and one international judge to the supreme court.
The international community has assisted in the reconstruction of nearly 40,000 of the estimated 100,000 houses destroyed or damaged during the war, while many Kosovar families have rebuilt on their own. UNMIK officials believe that no emergency shelter assistance will be required for next winter.
The OSCE-run police school has graduated nearly 3,700 Kosovar police trainees. The school is on track to reach its original target of 4,000 by May. UNMIK and OSCE plan to significantly increase the KPS beyond the 4,000 target and are working to determine the appropriate staffing level. UNMIK police have transferred basic patrol responsibilities to more than 1,600 KPS recruits while continuing to provide oversight.
UNMIK has promulgated a regulation on Trafficking in Women, and the Kosovo Judicial Institute will conduct seminars on the regulation this spring.
UNMIK established a Human Rights Ombudsperson's Institution and appointed Polish human rights lawyer Marek Antoni Nowicki to the post.
There are currently seven daily newspapers, more than 50 radio stations, 12 TV stations (three are province-wide) operating in Kosovo.
To achieve these results, our European allies shouldered most of the burden. Other NATO countries supply the bulk of KFOR's troops, with the U.S. providing 5,600 KFOR soldiers stationed in Kosovo, about 14 percent of the total. Similarly, the Europeans are the leading donors of reconstruction and recovery assistance. U.S. development assistance to Kosovo was approximately 15 percent of total donor resources in 2000. The program will continue at this proportional level in 2001 per congressional mandate.
Still, much remains undone. The northern region and the city of Mitrovica are divided along ethnic lines, Serbs to the north, Albanians to the south. UNMIK and KFOR are unable to fully assert their authority north of the Ibar River. We have urged the new Belgrade government to encourage Mitrovica Serbs to cooperate with the international community. FRY officials have shown interest, and we are hopeful we can make progress.
Ethnic violence continues, despite the overall downward trend in violence. The February 16 bomb attack on a bus carrying Kosovo Serbs was a brutal and cowardly reminder that a small but dangerous extremist minority in Kosovo continues to pursue its agenda through violence. I am happy to report that KFOR and UNMIK have arrested suspects in the bombing.
Most Serbs continue to live in enclaves, protected by KFOR and cutoff from the society at large. Serbs overwhelmingly boycotted the October 28 elections and have kept their distance from preparations for Kosovo-wide elections. Few Serbs have agreed to participate in the judicial system, and Serbs cannot get a fair trial before Kosovar judges in a system plagued by ethnic bias.
The international community has undertaken a number of measures to improve security for Serbs and other minorities and encourage multi-ethnic participation in governance. UNMIK last June signed a compact with Kosovo Serbs on additional measures to protect their freedom of movement and fundamental rights, including the establishment of a Special Security Task Force. Last year, the U.S. pledged $4 million to support minority communities, including support for efforts to help pave the way for the return of displaced Kosovo Serbs. The U.S. will provide additional funding this year for programs to promote stabilization of ethnic minority communities in Kosovo. UNMIK has established Local Community Offices in minority communities across Kosovo.
Though Serbs in the northern municipalities boycotted the October elections, UNMIK appointed Serb representatives to the municipal assemblies, and intends to hold by-elections there this year. UNMIK and OSCE have also successfully recruited minorities for the KPS: about 16 percent of the KPS is composed of Serbs, Bosniaks, Roma, and other minorities.
Organized crime and corruption complicate the international mission at every turn. UNMIK currently has limited capacity to tackle organized crime, but has established a Criminal Intelligence Unit to focus on the issue. We are working closely with our allies to provide expertise and other resources.
Unfortunately, we now find ourselves unable to fully focus on completing the job in Kosovo because we are faced with ethnic Albanian violence in Macedonia and southern Serbia. The insurgents in these two regions are manipulating valid grievances in the local Albanian communities, but the political instigation is coming from Kosovo. The vast majority of Kosovars are moderates who want to live peacefully within their borders; Kosovar voters soundly rejected extremist parties in the October elections. But these extremists have found places where their violent message resonates.
Violence in Macedonia
The administration is very actively engaged and working very closely with the EU and NATO allies as the situation develops. President Bush released a statement March 23 strongly condemning the violence perpetrated by the extremists and supporting the democratic, multi-ethnic government of Macedonia. Secretary Powell has spoken with President Trajkovski, with NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson and with EU High Representative Solana, and has been consulting closely with his other European and Allied counterparts to assist the democratically elected, multiethnic Macedonian government in countering the violence perpetrated by the extremists.
NATO and the Government of Macedonia have improved coordination considerably, including through NATO's appointment of a resident senior diplomat -- Ambassador Eiff of Germany. NATO is conducting an assessment of Macedonia's immediate security needs, which we support. We will look to contribute our share to meeting those needs by expediting $17 million in Foreign Military Financing funds already in the pipeline. We will be working with Congress to re-allocate funds within the SEED account to increase our assistance for Macedonia by $5 million this year, (for a total of $38 million) focusing on programs to defuse interethnic tensions and address Albanian grievances.
One of our senior diplomats, Ambassador Robert Frowick, is in Skopje as personal representative of the OSCE Chairman in Office. He will be working with our Ambassador Michael Einik, with NATO Ambassador Eiff, and with EU representatives to facilitate discussions among all political parties on concrete political steps to address underlying causes of the crisis.
The international community must not allow the small group of extremists in Macedonia to destabilize the government and upset the delicate ethnic balance there. Their goals are to capture the popular political agenda and to provoke government forces to overreact, thus gaining support from the Albanian population. They seek a settlement that would put northern Macedonia beyond Skopje's control, allowing them to operate without regard for borders.
The President has made clear our strong support the efforts of President Trajkovski and the Macedonian government to uphold democracy and the rule of law. We have encouraged the government to respond proportionately to attacks by extremists and to exercise restraint, taking all possible steps to avoid civilian casualties. At the same time, we are encouraging the government to launch a broad-based dialogue with elected representatives of the Albanian community to address legitimate concerns. While we strongly oppose any dialogue with insurgents, who have rejected democracy and the political process in favor of extremist, terrorist violence, we have voiced our strong support for the dedication and commitment of Prime Minister Georgievski and Arben Xhaferi, head of the ethnic Albanian coalition party, and other moderate elected leaders as they work toward a political solution which preserves the coalition and upholds democracy.
We have a long-standing commitment to Macedonia -- a close friend, invaluable partner of NATO, and successful example of multiethnic democracy in the Balkans. The Administration will continue its close work to uphold this commitment.
Ethnic Albanian extremists in the Presevo Valley region of southern Serbia also are exploiting the frustrations of local Albanians, who, in this case, have long suffered under the abusive rule of Milosevic. These insurgents were using the Ground Safety Zone (GSZ), established after the war as a buffer between KFOR and FRY forces, as a safe haven for guerrilla attacks. NATO allies determined this was intolerable and needed to be addressed urgently. As a result, NATO has accepted in principle a FRY plan to ensure minority rights and improve conditions in southern Serbia as part of a negotiation process and a phased and conditional relaxation of NATO's GSZ restrictions. NATO allowed the FRY back into portions of the GSZ, a five-kilometer strip running along the Serbia side of the boundary with Kosovo. The relaxation of the GSZ has been carried out without any major incidents so far. The FRY government and Presevo Albanians have reached a cease-fire, though there have been sporadic violations, and on March 23 representatives from both sides met face-to-face for the first time in a process we hope will evolve into a negotiation.
Pressuring Kosovar Leaders
The insurgents in Macedonia and southern Serbia are few in number and have a limited support base at this point. But they have proven capable of threatening the region's fragile political landscape. They rely on support from within Kosovo, as well as from the ethnic Albanian diaspora. Moderate Albanian leaders in Kosovo are afraid to challenge them head on, for fear of appearing weak in defense of ethnic Albanian interests.
But these insurgencies are poison for Kosovo. They threaten to dry up international support and disrupt efforts to establish provisional self-government under UNSCR 1244. We are hammering this message home with Kosovar leaders every day. We must work together to contain these extremists for the benefit of Albanians in Kosovo, Macedonia and southern Serbia.
We are approaching the threat of Albanian extremism in a number of ways:
Diplomacy to ensure the Kosovar Albanians understand the damage being done to Kosovo by extremists who use force to promote their political agenda.
Support to democratic, moderate political leaders in Kosovo, Macedonia and Serbia by promoting reform, minority rights, an Legal Framework and elections.
Active measures by UNMIK and KFOR to reduce the ability of extremists to use Kosovo and the GSZ as safe havens for insurgents.
Improving the human rights situation for ethnic Albanians in Macedonia and Serbia.
Demanding calibrated and proportional security measures by national forces in Serbia and Macedonia; promoting reform of the FRY/Serbian security forces, and enhancing the capabilities of the Macedonian security forces.
Focusing on programs to defuse inter-ethnic and intra-ethnic tensions in flashpoint zones.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my statement. I will be happy to respond to the Commission's questions.