PRESS BRIEFING BY DEPUTY REPRESENTATIVE OF SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR CIVIL ADMINISTRATION IN UNITED NATIONS INTERIM ADMINISTRATION IN KOSOVO
Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York
8 November 1999
The United Nations Interim Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) would fail unless it found donors to finance its budget for 1999 and 2000, Tom Koenigs, Deputy Representative of the Secretary-General for Civil Administration in the United Nations Interim Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), said at a Headquarters press briefing this afternoon.
It was necessary to go back and seek additional support from national governments that had already supported UNMIK, he said. It was not a matter of investing in Kosovo, or selling goods manufactured in those donor countries -- it was a matter of financing the day-to-day business of government, which was two-thirds local wages and other recurrent expenditure. The Kosovo budget could not be refinanced through taxes or duties.
Briefing correspondents on the subject of lessons of UNMIK that could be applied in East Timor, he said East Timor would have to set up a national budget that was distinct from the interim mission budget. That budget must be set up as soon as possible with financing from donors, who would need assurance that it was sustainable, that it would lead to the phase-out of existing deficits, and that the country's revenue-generating power would make up for recurrent budgetary expenditures.
Stressing the importance of coordination on the ground for the success of any interim administration mission, he said that meant coordination of the military, United Nations agencies and non- governmental organizations (NGO). The cooperation of all international staff on the ground was decisive for a secure environment, not only for the mission, but also for those it was supposed to serve.
He said UNMIK had done well to focus on municipal administration, because international staff, usually coming from national governments, tended to forget the lower levels of government. A mission should deploy people rapidly to the municipal level. It should not create or tolerate a power and administrative vacuum on the local level.
The absence of a transition strategy could lead to the mission staying too long or becoming inefficient, he said. The local people must be involved politically and in building administrative capacities. Politicians and local leaders must be involved in creating a secure environment. International civilian police and military personnel could provide a certain measure of security, but basic security was based on those living in the country. Cooperation in the security field was decisive for the future.
Finally, Mr. Koenigs stressed the need for a mission to maintain its visibility in the media of contributing countries. The minute a mission vanished from the headlines, nobody could be found to finance it. The UNMIK was still on the front page in donor countries and United Nations Headquarters was still ready and flexible enough to help the mission meet its challenges.
Asked about the service economy engendered by the huge international presence in Kosovo, Mr. Koenigs said that while the international staff in Kosovo created an unsustainable local economy, their impact could not be avoided. However, it could be limited through coordination to create an understanding that it was not good for the local economy to pay larger international staff salaries than the country could sustain.
How would the United Nations rebuild Dili (East Timor) and Pristina (Kosovo) without at the same time creating a local dependency on the Organization? another correspondent asked.
Mr. Koenigs said that in the countryside of Kosovo, where at least one-third of the houses had been destroyed, no international agency or financier could afford to rebuild them all. Those shelters that were really needed would have to be winterized to last through the winter. They could then be rebuilt next year.
What special problems were there in creating a local administration from scratch in places like East Timor? another journalist asked.
That was a matter of capacity-building, Mr. Koenigs said. The missions in both Kosovo and East Timor were not there just to monitor the government, but actually to make the government. That was something quite basic, especially in East Timor where people had no documents or public utilities.
Responding to another question, he said that rebuilding the justice system had been particularly difficult in Kosovo, where multi- ethnic courts were needed as well as people who were both experienced and impartial.
The specific problem was that, for security reasons, Serb judges had not remained in areas where they were in the minority, he said. Another specific problem -- one that East Timor could face -- was that if the courts were functional, they would be overwhelmed by property claims.
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