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At UN, Of Serbian Cell Phones in Kosovo and Transport Corruption, Jeremic Runs

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 17 -- "Kosovo cannot tolerate any longer so much lawlessness, " Skender Hyseni, Foreign Minister of Kosovo, told the Press on Monday. Inner City Press has asked Hyseni about this government's move last month to disable the repeaters of Telekom and Telenor, two Serbia-based cell phone companies, from providing service south of the Ibar River.

"Any company which seeks a license will be duly considered and eventually honored," Hyseni said. Video here, from Minute 2:50.

  Who provides cell service is a politically charged issue. Currently, according to Hyseni, 68 countries recognize the unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo. He predicted the number will grow after the International Court of Justice rules on Serbia's case, which he said will be soon.

  The Serbs argue that regulating telecommunications should still be the responsibility of the UN, under Resolution 1244. After a Security Council meeting Monday about Kosovo, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin came out smiling. "Resolution 1244," he told the Press as he passed.

  Inner City Press asked Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic to, like Hyseni, take questions at the stakeout. Jeremic shook his head. "It was a good session," he said, gesturing back at the Council. Last Kosovo debate in January, Boris Tadic similarly declined to take questions.

Hyseni on May 17, Zennier in background, cell phone regulation not seen

  Jeremic on Monday might have been asked about the mass grave recently found in Southern Serbia, or whether Kovoso's participation in the upcoming EU - Wester Balkan conference in Sarajevo connotes increased recognition of the UDI.

  Perhaps he would have wanted to call for the ouster of Kosovo transportation minister Fatmir Limoj, whose office was recently raided by EULEX. Hyseni when asked by Inner City Press declined to speak on this, saying that the judiciary in Kosovo is independent, and that questions of corruption should be kept separate from "projects." Video here, from Minute 4:16.

  But if the alleged corruption was in the procurement for the project, how can they be separate? Watch this site.

* * *
At UN, Kosovo Debate Ends with a Flush and a Cough, Last One Turn the Lights Out

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 22 -- When Kosovo comes before the UN Security Council these days, each time it is with more and more of a whimper. Friday Serbian President Boris Tadic, in the Chamber, spoke darkly of a "final solution" being imposed on northern Kosovo. But he declined to speak to the press when he emerged.

  His entourage prepared to leave, then turned back into the UN. When the Press tried to follow the entourage into the now empty Delegates' Lounge, a Serb Mission staffer stood in the way. You cannot come in, she said, later clarifying that Tadic was only using the bathroom. "Then he has to leave, to come to our party then fly back to Belgrade."

  Meanwhile, Kosovo's Skender Hyseni, after lowering the UN microphone to his height, ridiculed Tadic's arguments. Inner City Press asked about Tadic's statement that elections not called by the UN Mission, UNMIK, are illegal. Hyseni said that the authorities in Belgrade have also opposed any election called by UNMIK. Video here, from Minute 7:36.

Tadic in Council in 2009, flush out of press not yet shown

  Inner City Press asked about Tadic's remark that the International Civilian Office under Peter Feith is trying to impose a "final solution." Hyseni wouldn't repeat the phrase, calling it a "final whatever," and saying it would be "irrational" to comment on that. He said the ICO is a "European accredited mission to Kosovo." Then, coughing, he left the stakeout. The UN's Special Representative never appears, and no Council member came and spoke to the Press.

  Meanwhile, while the case of Kosovo is pending in the International Court of Justice, three more countries have recognized the unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo: New Zealand, Mauritania and Malawi.

  As Tadic put it, that still means that 127 nations respect Serbia's territorial integrity. But for how long? Especially when Serbia doesn't make its case to the press? Minister Vuk Jeremic was there in the entourage, fresh from profile in the Grey Lady, but didn't want to upstage his President. But he shouldn't have let Hyseni upstage him either. Strange diplomacy.

Footnote: during the Council debate, multiple references were made to whether Serbs in northern Kosovo pay their electricity bills, and to whom. The privatization of Kosovo Electricity, however, was not discussed.... In the emptying UN, last one here, turn the lights out.

* * *

At UN, Serbia on Churches Paved Over, Kosovo Calls World Court Merely Advisory

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 15 -- Even in the run up to the International Court of Justice's proceeding on the legality of Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence, at the UN Security Council the issue has lost its juice. As the Council on Thursday debated whether or not to let Kosovo speak, the stakeout outside was as empty as for Nepal. When the principals emerged, only the Kosovar spoke. Lamberto Zannier, who cashes checks at the UN's envoy to Kosovo, did not speak to the Press.

Vuk Jeremic, when he emerged, walked slowly by the stakeout. There was no other reporter waiting other than Inner City Press. Further up the hall he graciously stopped and answered three questions. Inner City Press asked, what can the ICJ case actually change, on the ground?

Jeremic said it's the biggest ICJ case in history, with 31 countries participating including each of the Council's Permanent Five member. What about cultural damage? Jeremic spoke of a church demolished, paved over and turned into a park. It must be reversed, he said.

  Zannier in his testimony complained that until the eve of his flight to the Council in New York, the Kosovo authorities refused to meet with him. Jeremic afterwards told Inner City Press the meeting only took place between the Kosovars were embarrassed. But what is the future of UNMIK?

Serb protests of Kosovo's UDI, whimper not shown

  Inner City Press asked Kosovo's representative if he wants the UN to leave. He spoke highly of the EU and EULEX. And that may say it all.

Footnote: that Kosovo even spoke, inside the chamber, may create a precedent. Others wondered by South Ossetia and Abkhazia can't do it. The answer is the power of the U.S. as host country. They have to let in representatives of any member state. But on the cusp states like Kosovo and Abkhazia, they are not required and can choose. Some power.

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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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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