EU, Japan, France release 20.5 mln dollars for Kosovo

UNITED NATIONS, Mar 8, 2000 -- (Reuters) The European Union, France and Japan over the weekend provided 20.5 million dollars of emergency funding for the administration of Kosovo, the mission's head Bernard Kouchner, said Tuesday.

Kouchner told AFP the EU had made 10 million dollars of emergency cash available. France had separately made three million dollars available, and Japan provided 7.5 million.

The payments averted a funding crisis at the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). The mission was on the verge of being unable to pay the salaries of the officials, teachers and health personnel whom it has on its payroll in the province, according to the United Nations.

Kouchner said accusations the EU had been slow in freeing up funding were "very unjust," and described the EU as "the most generous donor" to UNMIK.

He emphasised that the EU's weekend emergency disbursement of 10 million dollars was made in addition to the 35 million dollars it had already pledged, and which was "in the pipeline."

And outside of the donations to the province's budget, the EU last week donated 20 million dollars for the reconstruction of Kosovo's power sector, Kouchner added.

But he urged all donors, including the EU, to make good pledged funding as a matter of "urgency."

The weekend payments from the EU, France and Japan would allow UNMIK to "to keep (its) head above water for a few weeks, until the rest of the money arrives," a MINUK official said.

The United States has committed to donating 16 million dollars, but has yet to release this funding.

Kosovo's total budget for the current year to December totals 210 million dollars. Half of the total is to be contributed by donor countries and the other half is projected to come from tax receipts in the province.

The United Nations has administered Kosovo since NATO forces entered the province in June 1999, after an 11-week air campaign against Yugoslavia by NATO forces aimed at securing the return to their homes of hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanian Kosovars.

Original article