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As Kosovo Arrests Serb Drivers, Ban's Call for "Restraint" Conjures Seat Belts

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 22 -- When UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon calls for "restraint" in the case of Kosovo arresting Serbian truck drivers, whom is he saying should be restrained?

 Should the truckers not drive? Or should the Kosovo police not arrest them? Or is Ban only referring to seatbelts?

  The question arose Thursday when Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky:

Inner City Press: the Kosovo police have detained 13 and counting Serb truckers in this dispute about who controls the border and the tax stamps. And I am wondering, since at various stakeouts certainly Russia and some other Council members say that UNMIK should take more of a role in this - what have they been doing, as this seemed to be escalating into arrests and a border fight?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, I think, as you know, the Secretary-General has repeatedly stressed the need for long-standing issues to be resolved through dialogue and in a peaceful manner. And he has also urged patience and restraint to ensure stability on the ground. And clearly that involves the work of our colleagues in the Mission there.

Inner City Press: But does that mean that Kosovo shouldn’t be arresting the truck drivers, or the truck drivers shouldn’t be driving across the border?

Trucks on border, meaningful statement by Ban Ki-moon or new SRSG not shown

Spokesperson Nesirky: It means that there should be dialogue, and it means that there should be patience and restraint on both sides.

Inner City Press: No driving, no arrests?

Spokesperson Nesirky: It means patience and restraint on both sides.

Since this didn't answer the question, we can only conclude that Ban's restraint means seat belts. Watch this site.

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At UN on Kosovo, Churkin Says Ban Ki-Moon Was Pressured to Leave UNMIK Vacant, Tells Hoxhaj to Obey Rules, UNGA

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 15 -- On Kosovo, the UN Security Council met past 8 pm on Thursday, ultimately not agreeing to a short statement proposed by Russia the brewing dispute about border posts should be resolved by dialogue.

  Afterward as Kosovo Foreign Minister Hoxhaj was speaking to the Press at the Security Council stakeout, Russia's Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told him he should not be speaking there without being accompanied by someone from the UN Mission in Kosovo, UNMIK.

  Hoxhaj remained at the microphone. Inner City Press asked him to respond to Churkin's position. We are an independent state, Hoxhaj answered, we will be a state forever.

  After Hoxhaj left and Churkin read out the proposed press statement that hadn't been agreed to, he was asked about "being rude" to Hoxhaj. "I didn't tackle him," Churkin said. "Let that be noted."

Inner City Press asked Churkin about his statement, alongside the Council's last Kosovo meeting, that UNMIK is rudderless and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon should already have named a new head of UNMIK to replace Lamberto Zannier who left to head the OSCE.

Churkin said it is "obvious" that Ban Ki-moon is being pressured, and has given to to pressure, not to name a new head of UNMIK.

In this view, Ban's reportedly strong statements about Syria earlier on Thursday were not courageous, but rather another example of being pressured to do and say things.

Vuk Jeremic previously in UNSC, pressure on Ban re UNMIK not shown

Churkin recalled when the Kosovo delegation came into the General Assembly Hall and stayed, and said that the rule is that they can come in only during the speech of the delegation which invited them. Expect fireworks, during the UNGA and possibly tomorrow in Northern Kosovo. Watch this site.

Footnote: before it became clear that no press statement would be agreed to, Inner City Press asked Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic to come and "do a stakeout." He said, "I don't know if the camera is still there," referring to the time earlier in the summer when the UN TV camera was gone when he came out to speak.

 This time, he said the vast majority of Council members said that KFOR and EULEX supporting Kosovo's moves was wrong. But even Churkin said that memberS opposed his simple draft press statement. And so it goes at the UN.

Click for July 7, 11 re Sudan, Libya, Syria, flotilla

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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