Official warns against reduction of UNMIK presence

KOSOVSKA MITROVICA -- Serbian government’s Office for Kosovo Director Aleksandar Vulin says that a reduction of UNMIK's presence in Kosovska Mitrovica was unacceptable.

Aleksandar Vulin (Beta, file)
Aleksandar Vulin (Beta, file)

He added that it would also threatened security in northern Kosovo.

UNMIK officials Massamba Seck and Kerim Bardad discussed with Vulin and Kosovska Mitrovica Mayor Krstimir Pantić the end of UNMIK Administration in Kosovska Mitrovica (UAM).

“The reduction of UNMIK's presence in Kosovska Mitrovica would at the very least push northern Kosovo into chaos,” Vulin remarked.

"If the reason for UNMIK's reduction are technical difficulties and lack of funds, the problem can be solved," he stressed, adding that the reduction was unacceptable if it was a political issue.

He said he would work towards preventing the reduction.

"I stated our concern and said that our Prime Minister Ivica Dačić would ask Hashim Thaci that the consolidated Kosovo budget start funding UNMIK," he said.

"They said they were not leaving and we are happy about that. UNMIK will stay here in a reduced form. The reduction worries us, but the fact that UNMIK is staying is definitely important to us," Vulin said, adding that UNMIK could not leave, because the work in Kosovo was not finished.

Pantić said after the meeting the contracts of local UAM staff expired on December 31 and that only the international employees would stay after that.

“The number of UAM officials is not large enough,” Pantić said, adding that UNMIK had an executive role in Kosovska Mitrovica.

"We think they cannot do their tasks with such a reduction in field manpower, which poses a danger of serious conflicts in Kosovska Mitrovica next spring," he pointed out.

He fears Albanians will continue with attempts to change the ethnic structure of the population in some parts of Kosovska Mitrovica and that EULEX and others are not willing to react in a status neutral fashion.

UNMIK ran the local government in the past years. An advisory body of six members, coming from all the nationalities plus one UNMIK official, had the executive role.

UAM had around 100 employees.