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Russia against withdrawal of UNMIK from Kosovo - UN envoy Churkin

RIA Novosti

07:32 16/10/2009 NEW YORK, October 16 (RIA Novosti) - Russia believes that calls of Albanian authorities in Kosovo to end UN presence in the region are dangerous and inadmissible, Russia's envoy to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, said.

Kosovo unilaterally declared its independence from Serbia on February 17, 2008. The Kosovo constitution, adopted on June 15, 2008, does not specify any duties for the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). Kosovo authorities have repeatedly declared that the mission, which operates predominantly in Serb-populated northern districts of the northern city of Kosovska Mitrovica, must end its work in the area.

"No one has the right to obstruct the implementation of the UNMIK duties, including tasks of assisting in provision of the democratic standards in the region set by the international society," Churkin said at the UN Security Council meeting.

He added that Moscow considers it inadmissible to reduce further the UNMIK presence in Kosovo.

UNMIK, which has policed the province ever since NATO's 78-day bombing of Yugoslavia ended a bloody conflict between Kosovo Albanians and Serb forces in the region in 1999, is currently in the process of transferring its duties to the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX).

Last December EULEX assumed full responsibility for the maintenance of peace and stability in Kosovo, announcing that it would perform its duties under the general guidance of the UN, and assume a neutral stance in regard to Kosovo's independence. EULEX police have since been deployed at the police headquarters in Pristina, at all local and regional police stations, and at border checkpoints.

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