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In Kosovo, Privatizations May Include Ex-UN Officials Schook and Walker with Ramush

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, March 23 -- The Kosovo Trust Agency has passed from the UN into Kosovar hands, Foreign Minister Skender Hyseni told the Press on March 23, and it will privatize the "vast majority" of the underlying socially and publicly owned enterprises. Waiting in line, sources tell Inner City Press, are Kosovar Ramush Haradinaj and with him, two American former UN officials in Kosovo, Steven Schook and William Walker.  Inner City Press on Monday asked the current head of the UN Mission in Kosovo, Lamberto Zannier, if there are any rules concerning former UNMIK officials benefiting from the privatizations in Kosovo. Video here, from Minute 1:12.

   Zannier said he wasn't aware of any UN rules, only "professional ethics." He said that while Schook is a private individual, "we'll also assess what he does based on that," referring to undefined professional ethics.  The UN had claimed to have anti-revolving door safeguards.

   This case goes beyond the usual conflicts of interest. The allegation is that Schook passed information to Haradinaj, including about witnesses before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Several ended up dead. Now, the sources say, comes pay back time, referring not only to the Kosovo Power Plant Project (and other political projects), but even further privatizations. And the UN has nothing to say. There was a previous quashed probe of Schook by the UN's Office of Internal Oversight Services; click here for one of Inner City Press' previous articles on Schook and on the KTA.

    Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic, after predicting Inner City Press would ask "hard questions," said he's heard of Schook's involvement as well, and that the European Union's EULEX Rule of Law mission as well as the UN should investigate. Video here, from Minute 5:25. But EULEX cannot even agree to let the UN attend its meetings in Belgrade, it emerged on Monday. Zannier said the UN would only attend if the "two parties" agreed. Surprisingly, this did not mean Serbia and Kosovo, but Serbia and EULEX.

Schook, at right, at UNMIK in 2007, Kosovo privatizations not shown

   Inner City Press asked Hyseni about Serbian President Boris Tadic's complaint that the Mayor of Belgrade was barred from carrying humanitarian aid into northern Kosovo. Hyseni replied that these were "provocations," and that permission had to be sought from protocol officials of the Republic of Kosovo. Jeremic used the word province with respect to Kosovo, and said all should be on hold pending the case before the International Court of Justice about the legality of Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence.

   Hyseni on the other hand said he plans to meet with at least 20 countries' representatives during the next two days in New York, with an emphasis on countries which have not recognized Kosovo's UDI. Watch this site.

Footnote: The disparate response to the unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo and that of, for example, Western Sahara, Abkhazia and South Ossetia has previously been raised at the Security Council stakeout. More recently, a comparison that some have been has been to the situation of Tamils in northern Sri Lanka. There are many points on which to compare, from 1999 -- when as some said Monday in the Council, NATO bombed Serbia for its military acts in its province of Kosovo -- to 2008, when the UDI occurred and major Western powers strong armed smaller countries into granting recognition. Now even on the humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka, these powers hardly push for a Council briefing, and others on the Council try to block even this. To be continued.

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.

* * *

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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