The UN Security Council has unanimously endorsed the deployment of an EU police and justice mission in Kosovo that will gradually take over from UN forces in the former Serbian province beginning in early December.
The UN Security Council on Wednesday unanimously endorsed a plan by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on the deployment of an EU police and justice mission in Kosovo.
"The Security Council welcomes the Secretary-General's report" and "welcomes the cooperation between the UN and other international actors, within the framework of Security Council resolution 1244," said the council's declaration, which was read by the representative of Costa Rica, which is this month's council president.
The declaration meant the council had given the green light to the planned EU mission, known as Eulex, which will gradually take over from the UN mission in Kosovo, diplomats said. The vague wording of the text sidestepped the question of Kosovo's independence.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in a report published Tuesday said Eulex would observe strict neutrality regarding Kosovo's independence, meaning the law and order mission did not convey any UN recognition of the territory's political status.
The council also "welcomes the continuing efforts of the European Union to advance the European perspective of the whole of the Western Balkans, thereby making a decisive contribution to regional stability and prosperity," it said.
During a debate preceding the statement, the foreign ministers of Serbia, Vuk Jeremic, and Kosovo, Skender Hiseni, promised their governments' cooperation with the Eulex mission.
"I want to assure all the nations that will participate in Eulex, that Eulex will enjoy the full support of the institutions and the people of Kosovo," said Hiseni, adding it was crucial the EU mission "deploys throughout Kosovo."
Jeremic said: "We are now getting close to the point where we can unite behind the Secretary-General and the report he produced. I invite the Council to support it in the strongest possible terms."
The UN has not made a decision on Kosovo's independence, which Pristina's majority Albanian authorities declared unilaterally in February in a move rejected by Serbia.
Some 50 countries, including the United States and most European countries, backed the move.
Russia has supported its Serbian ally and through its veto power can block any attempt by the Security Council to guarantee Kosovo's independence.
The EU agreed in February to send the Eulex mission to Kosovo to gradually replace a United Nations mission and oversee the police, judiciary and customs.
But Serbia has rejected the secession of its former province and its opposition has delayed the mission's deployment.
The European mission of some 2,000 policemen, judges and customs officers intends to deploy to Kosovo in early December, according to EU officials.
Date created : 2008-11-27