Dienstbier surprised at Kouchner's sharp words

SARAJEVO/PRAGUE, Jun 13, 2000 -- (CTK) UN special human rights envoy Jiri Dienstbier told CTK late tonight that he was surprised at sharp criticism of himself by head of the United Nations civilian administration in Kosovo (UNMIK) Bernard Kouchner.

"I do not know where Kouchner's anger stems from because I did not criticize directly him. I criticized those who bombed Yugoslavia and now are not able to fulfil their commitments. It is, among other things, to provide enough money and police officers and judges, who would fulfil the resolution 1244 of the Council of Europe [in Kosovo]. So I do not know what Mr.Kouchner leans on," Dienstbier said in his first reaction.

Dienstbier nevertheless added that even though he had not criticized Kouchner directly, Kouchner was co-responsible for not fulfilling the resolution. "Please Mr Dienstbier, shut up!" Kouchner told Dienstbier, the AFP and Reuters news agencies informed.

"Mr Dienstbier does not interest me at all. I don't want to receive this person and I will never receive him again," AFP quoted Kouchner as saying at a press conference which he organized in Pristina.

According to Reuters, Kouchner extended his anger to Czech President Vaclav Havel and said: "Not only will I not receive this person, but (not) Vaclav Havel either."

Kouchner was reacting to a question of what he thought about some United Nations officials accusing him of allowing extremists to operate with impunity in Kosovo and that his interference with teams investigating human rights violations had damaged chances of reconciliation between ethnic Albanians and Serbs.

Kouchner evidently recognized Dienstbier among these critical officials. Dienstbier said in his reaction that "responsibility for what happened last year after NATO launched raids, when around 800,000 Albanians were expelled from Kosovo, is up to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic because he is responsible for Yugoslavia. But who is responsible for what happened after the arrival of international forces which are responsible for Kosovo?"

"I do not understand the [Kouchner's] invective because I did not criticize the work of people in Kosovo but the fact that the international community is not able to define the mandate clearly and is not able to insist in fulfilling the resolution of the Council of Europe," Dienstbier said.

He noted in this connection that the international community was represented by the United Nations, the European Union, NATO and/or the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which "are no abstract institutions but organizations consisting of the most powerful countries of this world."

"And if the most powerful countries of the world are not able to push through a single joint resolution in a territory which is as small as one seventh of the Czech Republic, it is a terrible defeat. It is a signal for all extremists around the world that such a power is not able to face them," Dienstbier said.

Original article