AIM: start

MON, 07 JAN 2002 23:35:53 GMT

Hans Haekkerup Resigned!

AIM Pristina, December 29, 2001

After all, the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary General for Kosovo, former Danish Defence Minister, Hans Haekkerup has resigned from his position as the Head of Civil Mission, which confirmed the assumptions and speculations of the Kosovo media in the last couple of weeks. Two days ago, after Christmas holidays, he returned to Pristina and held a meeting with leaders of Kosovo Albanians behind closed doors. A day later he held a similar meeting with Serbian political representatives and in a special interview for Public Radio&Television of Kosovo gave reasons for his resignation. "I am leaving Kosovo and the Mission for personal reasons. No one has asked that of me. That is my personal choice on which I have agreed with Mr. Kofi Annan," said Haekkerup thus rejecting assumptions of the press that his resignation was a result of pressure exerted by Western officials. He also addressed citizens and political leaders of Kosovo stating that it was important for them to turn their back to bad people, to stop all criminal activities, to provide the police with as much information as possible so that it could handle such cases. Haekkerup also reiterated that stable democracy should be developed in Kosovo where all communities would live together and take joint steps.

Incidentally, Haekkerup left Kosovo on December 13, just a day after the establishment of the Assembly of Kosovo, over which he presided until the election of President with the explanation that the wanted to spend the coming holidays with his family and said that since his wife was expecting he would not be back before next February. The UNMIK officials flatly rejected journalists' doubts about his return to Kosovo, just to announce several days ago that he would be coming back to "resolve some key problems". However, the fact that he resigned did not surprise the local broader and political public. Even more interesting is the fact that Kosovo will be without an international administrator for some time, that the new Head of the OSCE Mission has not yet been appointed and that all this is happening at the time of an evident parliamentary crisis, because neither the President of Kosovo has been elected nor the Government constituted. That is why some circles in Kosovo think that Hans Haekkerup's resignation has not come at the best time, with the explanation that this would prolong the institutionalisation and general transition process in Kosovo. These same people observe that the until-now Head of Mission was unable to understand "the Balkan way of decision-making" as he came from a democratic country.

Hans Haekkerup was appointed the UN Special Representative for Kosovo this January and, as he himself said, he had four priorities at that time: the establishment of substantial autonomy, holding of general elections, starting of a dialogue with the Yugoslav leadership and strengthening of the application of laws and reconstruction of the economy. However, from the local politicians' point of view, but also from the point of view of a greater part of the Albanian public Haekkerup will certainly be remembered as an Administrator who had his ups and downs. On the one hand, during his 11 months of work he managed to pass the Constitutional Framework of Kosovo, to sign several agreements with Belgrade officials and thus include the Kosovo Serbs in the registration process thereby securing their participation in the general elections, i.e. in the local Kosovo institutions. On the other hand, he was criticised by local Albanian leaders (and particularly by the entire press) who claimed that the agreements signed by Haekkerup with the Belgrade authorities were not binding on them because they had no intention of participating in joint groups. He received the greatest blow when at the first constitutive session of Parliament Hashim Thaci, President of the Democratic Party of Kosovo, accused him of violating human rights of delegates by disconnecting their microphones, i.e. not allowing them to state their views, suggestions and criticism. The newly elected President of Parliament, Nedzat Daci, in his meeting with the press several days ago, also stated that Haekkerup was not his boss, but the people of Kosovo and that the Assembly and not UNMIK would decide on his salary thus refusing to take a DM 1,000 salary. He also criticised Haekkerup's decision that the international administration would control 40 percent of the Kosovo's budget. Recent relations between Albanian political representative and Chief of Civil Mission-Haekkerup demonstrate very well the impossibility of having all members of the Provisional Administrative Council of Kosovo attend its meetings, which had been conceived as an advisory body until the establishment of all Government institutions. In the opinion of Kolė Berisha, Vice-President of Rugova's Democratic Alliance of Kosovo, this quick departure of the Head of Mission, as well as of Daan Everts, Head of the OSCE Mission, would arouse suspicions of the Kosovars because, according to him "this creates space for speculations that suspicious dealings are in question".

Fatmir Limaj, in charge of public relations in Thaci's Democratic Party of Kosovo, and Ramush Hardinaj, President of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, said that Haekkerup's resignation had been expected: "It is a moral and expected act," said Hardinaj stating that certain difficulties had occurred in relations between the Head of Mission and Albanian leaders, especially lack of cooperation. "This resignation will not prevent future successful cooperation with the international factor, but under new circumstances and with 'greater favouring of the Kosovo factor'," pointed out Ramush Hardinaj. Rada Trajkovic, Head of the Delegate Club of the "Coalition Return" expressed her regrets over the Civil Administrator's withdrawal: "I regret that he is going away and despite the fact that we have many objections, he did practically everything he promised. Haekkerup was a man of integrity who did not allow the emotions of Serbs and Albanians to influence his rational decisions", concluded Trajkovic.

Nevertheless, the question that will remain unanswered is - who will be appointed in place of the "cold and autistic Dane" (as some of his collocutors and the majority of local papers describe him) - Haekkerup? The list of potential candidates is long and among the names mentioned are Klaus Rainhardt (former KFOR commander), Emma Bonino, Sergio de Mella, Volfgang Petritsch. Analysts think that a German or an Italian have the best chances to be appointed explaining this assumption in the following way: Britain is already active with Peddy Ashdown in Bosnia, Bernard Kouchner from France has completed a Civil Administrator's mandate and the current KFOR commander Marcel Valenten also comes from this country. There are rumours that point to a conclusion that Germany and Italy have some special investments in the European Union, and observed from the point of diplomatic relations these two countries certainly have good contacts with official Belgrade the international community needs in order to carry out its mission in Kosovo. The Albanian leaders would prefer and trust the most an American as the first man of the Civil Administration or, at least, someone who knows well the circumstances in Kosovo and the region. What is known already now is that Hans Haekkerup's deputy the American Charles Brayshaw will exercise the duties of Kosovo's Administrator until the new one is appointed.

Violeta OROSHI