UNMIK out of Kosovo by next year, Ruecker predicts S. Papadopoulou

The head of the UN administration in Kosovo (UNMIK) Joachim Ruecker on Saturday expressed confidence that the proposal for the status of Kosovo presented by UN envoy Martti Ahtisaari after elections in Serbia would be "something that should be acceptable to both sides", in statements to the ANA-MPA.

He also predicted that the UN's political administration in Kosovo would not stay on beyond one year:

"I think UNMIK will stay here for one more year. I don't think that we will be here in November 2007," he said, though pointing out that UNMIK would cede its place to some other kind of international force in the region.

He noted that the Ahtisaari proposal would have to be approved by the UN Security Council, which would then have to issue a resolution replacing UNSCR 1244. "Otherwise, we will be here forever," he added.

Ruecker also underlined the need to maintain the momentum in the process for determining the future status of Kosovo, since any significant delay could render the problem unsolvable.

"It's like riding a bike. You have to keep pedalling. If you stop pedalling, you're in danger of falling," he said.

"If hope turns into disappointment, it is hard to control the margin of society, in all the world not just in Kosovo," Ruecker stressed.

He also described Kosovo as the "last piece in the Balkan puzzle" that had to be resolved, since failure to find a solution promptly would have significantly greater political and financial costs for the international community but also because it was important for strengthening regional stability.

UNMIK's chief was also positive about the climate in neigbouring countries regarding a solution, while predicting that the EU would finally reach a unanimous decision on the issue.

According to Ruecker, Kosovo's Serbs were coming under pressure from Belgrade not to become integrated in the province's economic and political life, whereas many among them were willing to do so if they were given the opportunity.

[Source: Athens News Agency, Pristina, 19Nov06]

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