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At UN, Deadlock Even on Format of Kosovo Meeting on Dec. 19, Croatia Joins a Council in Chaos

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

UNITED NATIONS, December 13 -- As the issue of Kosovo's status moves into overtime, Thursday the UN Security Council could not even agree on the format of its upcoming meeting on the subject on December 19. One question concerns whether Kosovo will have a seat at the Council table. Thursday night Inner City Press asked Serbia deputy ambassador Slavko Kruljevic about the issue. Amb. Kruljevic said that the Council's resolution 1244 assigns Kosovo's foreign policy to the UN mission, UNMIK, and that it is they would should speak for Kosovo. Russia and China, both with veto power in the Council, are opposed to any more involvement by Kosovo than was allowed in April, when UNMIK spoke for Kosovo. Other countries disagree. UK Ambassador John Sawers, for example, told Inner City Press on Thursday that since Kosovo negotiated with Serbia for the past 120 days, it should have a place at the table. He said that the "elements" that Russia had circulated hoping for a consensus Presidential Statement by the Council calling for extended negotiations were, in essence, dead.

            Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin saw and said it differently: some would like them to be dead, he said, but they are "very much alive" and on the table of the Security Council.

Croatia's Mirjana Mladineo, on the right in the GA, now Council

            Meanwhile, another Balkan country, Croatia, is set to join the Security Council in January. At a welcome-to-the-Council event at the Chinese mission, Inner City Press spoke with Croatia's permanent representative, Mrs. Mirjana Mladineo. She estimated that her mission will need at least six more staff, to handle being on the Council. But the country is between governments, and so there are no extra staff in sight. She would be returning to her mission to work, after the Chinese reception. She said that the so-called "Finnish Workshop" held in November for new Council members was useful; she said that the decisions on new members' committee and drafting assignments are made, in essence, by the Permanent Five members. A P-5 Ambassador who joined the conversation said that the assignments are done "after consultations."  The Security Council's work, such as it is, is done in such consultations.

Inner City Press footnote: The UN Security Council met until 7:15 p.m. on Thursday night, until finally adopting a so-called Presidential Statement condemning the assassination of General Francois al-Hajj in Lebanon. Council president Marcello Spatafora then came to the stakeout microphone and read what is called a press statement, about drugs in Guinea-Bissau. Not only was no agreement reaching on the format of the upcoming meeting on Kosovo; the issue of Iran moved further from the Council's agenda; Myanmar appeared forgotten. "They do nothing here," one frustrated Balkan journalist said, shaking his head. Amb. Spatafora said the long day showed that the Council was accomplishing something. What, it wasn't clear...

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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

  Because a number of Inner City Press' UN sources go out of their way to express commitment to serving the poor, and while it should be unnecessary, Inner City Press is compelled to conclude this installment in a necessarily-ongoing series by saluting the stated goals of the UN agencies and many of their staff. Keep those cards, letters and emails coming, and phone calls too, we apologize for any phone tag, but please continue trying, and keep the information flowing.

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Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

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UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540