UN mission in Kosovo issues stamps

PRISTINA, Mar 15, 2000 -- (Reuters) U.N. authorities issued the first postage stamps for post-war Kosovo on Tuesday, a move likely to draw complaints from Belgrade over another alleged diminution of Yugoslav sovereignty.

"We (the U.N. administration) deliver services and this is a service that needs delivering," Tom Koenigs, U.N. deputy for Kosovo's civil administration, told Reuters.

"There would be no other postal service here otherwise. It is vital that people are able to communicate."

The five stamps are denominated from 20 German pfennigs to two marks and bear images from Kosovo's heritage centred on the theme "Peace in Kosovo". Their use in the international mail system was approved by the Universal Postal Union.

The international community wrested control of Kosovo from Serbian security forces last year after a 78-day NATO bombing campaign.

U.N. Security Council Resolution 1244 authorised a post-war, international occupation of Kosovo for security and administrative purposes while stating that the area remained a Yugoslav province.

Belgrade argues that moves made by the U.N. since it took over administration of Kosovo have amounted to an illegal and provocative usurpation of sovereign Yugoslav rights.

Cited in such broadsides are the adoption of the German mark as the local currency, the issuance of new vehicle number plates and U.N. customs operations.

Stamps reading "United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo" in English, Albanian and Serbian likely now will be added to that list of complaints.

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