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20 Jun, 2008 23:12

UN split over EU mission role in Kosovo

The UN Security Council remains split over plans to give the European Union greater operational responsibilities in Kosovo. The proposal was made by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon during a special session in New York on Friday.

The Secretary General has called for the reconfiguration of the UN mission in the breakaway province. The move would grant the European Union greater responsibility over areas including international policing, justice and customs in Kosovo.

The Secretary General says the 2,200-strong EU rule of law mission would work under the umbrella of the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and in conjunction with resolution 1244.

Under that resolution, the UN has been supervising the breakaway province since NATO's 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia.

Kosovo unilaterally declared independence in February, with some 43 UN member states recognising its sovereignty.

If the plan goes through, the complicated web of guardians over Kosovo would include the United Nations, the European Union, NATO and an International Steering Group of countries that have recognised the new state.

Many EU countries and the U.S. back Ban Ki-moon's proposal.

Meanwhile, Russia, which opposes Kosovo's secession, has blocked the mission's withdrawal after nine years of administering the breakaway territory.

Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin said: “We believe that any actions to hand over the UN mandate in Kosovo to the EU are unacceptable. The attempts of the UN administration to reconfigure the mission without the consent of the Security Council have undermined the UN’s authority.”

Russia is calling for more dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina.

But the president of Kosovo Fatmir Sejdiu dismissed the option.

The presidents of both Serbia and Kosovo attended the session.

Serbian President Boris Tadic addressed the Security Council rejecting any changes on the ground.

“This illegal act, intended to implement the Ahtisaari proposal, has not received the endorsement of this Council and therefore carries no legal weight whatsoever. The report says that it tries to remove from UNMIK its current powers,” he said.