Chief UN cop in Kosovo enters blame game

UNITED NATIONS, Feb 3, 2000 -- (Reuters) The chief U.N. police commissioner in Kosovo came to New York on Wednesday to demand more officers as a blame game ensued in Washington about who was responsible for the lawlessness in the Yugoslav province.

Sven Frederiksen, a Danish policeman who worked on the international police force in Bosnia, said he had a force of 1,970 police officers from more than 40 countries out of 4,780 promised in a June Security Council resolution.

"If the countries that signed up to this Security Council resolution want a success, they will have to come up with some people," he told a news conference. "We need international police and we need them desperately."

The United Nations has always had difficulties recruiting civilian police because, unlike troops, they have to be released from active duty. But in Kosovo, compared to Bosnia and elsewhere, there is no local police force.

The U.N. officers have to provide basic law enforcement activities rather than just monitoring, Fredericksen noted.

U.N. and Western officials say that since NATO's air campaign against Yugoslavia ended in June, criminals have passed without difficulty into Kosovo from Albania and Macedonia, smuggling cars, cigarettes, fuel, narcotics and other goods, much of it bound for Western Europe.

Frederiksen said, however, that the number of murders had decreased from nearly 70 a week last July as compared to seven killings two weeks ago and one last week.

But he said kidnappings and organized crime persisted as well as tensions between the majority Albanian Kosovos and other minorities, especially Serbs.

"The hate is so extreme you can almost feel it. It will take time before crime is back to a normal level," he said.

The United Nations is attempting to create an entire administration including a judicial system, which now sees too many judges sentencing or not sentencing criminals on political or ethnic basis, although the situation has improved somewhat.

A training program to recruit local police is currently underway with about 19,000 people having applied for a force that will number less than 5,000.

As Frederiksen spoke in New York, Sen. John Warner, said at a hearing in Washington of the Senate Armed Services Committee he chairs that United Nations and other international institutions were responsible for the lawlessness for not policing the province.

The Virginia Republican said the world body was stretched far too thin and should not field troops elsewhere, such as in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He said the United Nations was "running on empty" in its cash flow, without mentioning the $1.3 billion U.S. debt to the world body.

Warner warned that U.S. participation in the Balkans could be in jeopardy. "Why are our troops still in Bosnia over four years after they first deployed?" he asked. "Why is there no end in sight in Kosovo?"

"The reason is that the United Nations and other international organizations charged with the responsibility of rebuilding the civilian structures in Bosnia and Kosovo are simply not doing their job," he said.

But Democratic Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan said the fault lay with the Europeans.

"I am mystified why our own NATO allies have not provided more police for service in their own backyard," Levin said, adding that the European Union has not provided any of the $35 million it had pledged for reconstruction.

"On my scorecard, the European nations and the European Union are flunking the test," he said.

NATO's military chief, U.S. Army Gen. Wesley Clark, however, told the hearing that the entire international community had to do more. He noted the Europeans were supplying 85 percent of the 44,000 NATO-led troops in Kosovo and said he believed the European Parliament would now begin to release the funds it had promised.

Governments, he said had not supplied the United Nations with the basic tools of building an infrastructure from scratch and paying salaries to Kosovo civil servants.