Kouchner seeking independent Kosovo

KOSOVSKA MITROVICA, Jun 16, 2000 -- (AFP) A Serb leader in Kosovo on Thursday accused the UN's administrator Bernard Kouchner in the rebel Yugoslav province of seeking to create the conditions for full independence.

Oliver Ivanovic, the Serb leader in Kosovska Mitrovica -- a divided town in northern Kosovo -- was angered by Kouchner's criticism of the UN human rights envoy in the Balkans, Jiri Dienstbier.

Kouchner, head of the UN mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), savaged Dienstbier on Monday in a war of words over the UN Mission.

"Please, Mr. Dienstbier, shut up," Kouchner said at a news conference in Kosovo's capital of Pristina.

Dienstbier retorted on Tuesday saying he would not stop criticizing UNKIM over its failure, as he saw it, of implementing the UN pledges on Kosovo.

Ivanovic said Thursday that "Kouchner has once again shown that he is intolerant and doesn't want to hear anyone else's opinion...

"I get the impression that he is trying to create all the conditions for an independent Kosovo.

Ivanovic accused Kouchner of gross violation of UN Security Council resolution 1244 which grants Kosovo "substantial autonomy" within the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, rather than full independence.

Several of Kouchner's decisions, such as adopting the deutschmark as Kosovo's official currency, are aimed at future independence, he added.

Ivanovic also accused Kouchner of hampering the return to Kosovo of tens of thousands of Serbs who fled the province amid revenge attacks from the region's ethnic Albanian majority.

"This tendency to create an independent Kosovo reflects particularly the fact that he was doing all he could to organize a census and elections with conditions impossible for the Serbs to meet".

The Serbs have refused to cooperate with Kouchner's UN mission saying their security was not being assured.

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