EU defends Kosovo role, takes swipe at USFeb 10, 2000
BRUSSELS - The European Union defended its support for Kosovos reconstruction, and took a gentle swipe at the United States for not moving fast enough to bankroll the cash-strapped UN effort in Kosovo.
In a statement, issued on Monday, the European Commission said it was considering the "urgent supply" of 10 million euros (dollars) to the UN Interim Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) by the end of this month.
That sum is on top of 35 million euros due to reach UNMIK "shortly," said the statement co-signed by EU Foreign Affairs High Representative Javier Solana and EU External Affairs Commissioner Chris Patten.
"The imminent arrival of money from the EU should help UNMIK considerably as it awaits the receipt of pledges from other donors, including the United States," it said.
The United States, which led the NATO air war that forced Serbian forces out of Kosovo last year, has repeatedly suggested that Europeans are failing to do more to rebuild the mainly ethnic Albanian province.
At the same time, UNMIK chief Bernard Kouchner warned that his administration is flat out of money. "We are facing an emergency," he said last Thursday in Tokyo, where Japan pledged 7.3 million dollars.
Mondays statement said European nations were providing 80 percent of the troops in the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR), and making "rightly the biggest contribution to the reconstruction effort."
Last year, 127 million euros were committed for Kosovo reconstruction, of which more than 50 million euros were contracted by the end of December, it said. Some 360 million euros will be available this year.
Under a UN Security Council resolution that put Kosovo under UN administration, the European Union is responsible for coordinating reconstruction efforts, which should go into full swing this year.