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UN mission reasserts its control over stretch of rail line in northern Kosovo

4 March 2008 – The United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) today reasserted control of a rail line in northern Kosovo, a day after Serbian Railways had challenged its authority over the stretch.

Joachim Rücker, the head of UNMIK and the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, said that the intervention of UNMIK Border Police “reverses the challenge to UNMIK’s authority that occurred yesterday when Serbian Railways illegally sent two of its trains south of Leshak/Lešak.”

In a statement issued in Pristina, Mr. Rücker noted that about 9.35 a.m. today UNMIK Border Police at the Leshak/Lešak train station informed a representative of Serbian Railways that their train would not be allowed to travel south, and Serbian Railways complied.

“UNMIK and its partners will continue to meet any challenges to law and order throughout Kosovo,” he said.

The envoy stressed that “any movement south of Leshak/Lešak by Serbian Railways is a clear challenge to UNMIK’s authority as well as a breach of the 2003 Memorandum of Understanding that Yugoslav Railways [now Serbian Railways] signed with UNMIK Railways [also called Kosovo Railways] and will not be tolerated.”

Last month the Assembly of Kosovo’s Provisional Institutions of Self-Government declared independence from Serbia, and since then both Mr. Rücker and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon have underlined the need for restraint from all sides.

Ethnic Albanians outnumber Serbs and other minorities by nine to one in Kosovo, which was administered by the UN after Western forces drove out Yugoslav forces amid inter-ethnic fighting in 1999.



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