Fed-up Kouchner staying on in Kosovo for now

PARIS, Aug 4, 2000 -- (Reuters) Bernard Kouchner admitted on Friday that he often got fed up working in Kosovo, but said speculation he was about to step down as head of the province's U.N.-led administration was premature.

"I'm not going to spend all my life in Kosovo. One day I'm going to leave, but certainly not before the end of the year," he said in an interview with France Inter radio.

Asked if he had ever regretted the decision to come to Kosovo, he laughingly replied: "Oh, I've regretted it on many more than one occasion. From time to time you get fed up, completely fed up. You get exhausted," he said.

Kouchner, a former French health minister, became Kosovo's de facto governor in July 1999, the month after NATO-led forces had taken over control of the Serb province.

After more than a year at the helm, he said he was still struggling to win over Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority.

"It is tough because we are dealing with a very hard people," he said. "Nothing more resembles a Serb than an Albanian. I promise you. The sooner they realize this the better it might be.

"They are a very introverted people, turned in on themselves. Hard, hard willed, hard in the face of adversity, hard in the face of the future, they don't smile easily," he added.

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