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Monday, 3 January, 2000, 03:00 GMT
Cash crisis threatens Kosovo elections

Serb homes on fire Mr Kouchner warned of a return to violence

The head of Kosovo's United Nations-led administration has attacked the international community for failing to provide enough funding for elections in the province, saying that the transition to democracy was now facing major delays.

It makes me really angry. This is important for the people, and for the world - stability in the Balkans
Bernard Kouchner
Bernard Kouchner said that registration - due to have started late last year - was not yet under way, making September the earliest realistic date for the polls.

And he warned governments that if they turned their attention away from Kosovo, the region could return to violence.

Kosovo: Special Report
"It's all too easy to say Kosovo's over. It's not over at all - it's ahead of us," he said.

Mr Kopuchner made his appeal as the French Defence Minister Alain Richard said Nato-led peacekeepers should play an increased policing role in Kosovo in order to end violence and lawlessness which is gripping the province.

My personal preference in the coming two or three months is that the military of K-For [the peacekeeping force] take more charge, more missions in current security
French Defence Minister Alain Richard
The peacekeepers arrived in Kosovo in June, when Serb forces withdrew after 11 weeks of Nato bombing to end Serb repression of the ethnic Albanian majority.

But ethnic violence has continued with the Serbs becoming targets of revenge attacks by Kosovo Albanians.

Stable democracy

Mr Kouchner said UN members, especially European states, must be prepared to commit more money and resources.

K-For troops restrain a Kosovo Albanian K-For troops restrain a Kosovo Albanian
Part of the UN's mission is to organise elections. The first planned elections at a municipal level could lead to an elected Kosovo-wide body.

But Mr Kouchner said: "We didn't start the registration and delivering of identity cards [for the election] because of the lack of money.

"It makes me really angry...This is important for the people, and for the world, stability in the Balkans."

Picking up the bill

In November international donors pledged more than $1bn to the reconstruction of Kosovo with a little more than half of the money coming from the European Union.

Around $970m is earmarked for specific reconstruction programmes while $47m was set aside for elections and support for a free media.

The international community is also picking up the wages bill for public sector workers at the United Nations'interim administration.

The EU and World Bank say that reconstruction in Kosovo can only succeed as part of a broader package for the Balkans. They estimate that Kosovo's needs over the next four to five years will amount to some $2.25 billion.

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See also:
15 Dec 99 |  Europe
Power-sharing council for Kosovo
16 Dec 99 |  Europe
UN plea for Kosovo funds
29 Dec 99 |  Europe
Annan condemns Kosovo violence
18 Nov 99 |  Europe
Kosovo's $1bn rescue package
06 Dec 99 |  Europe
Protection demanded for Kosovo Serbs
06 Dec 99 |  Europe
Horrors of Kosovo revealed

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