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UN Split on Kosovo As Precedent, Russia Speaks of Shockwaves and China of Disaster

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

UNITED NATIONS, December 19 -- At Wednesday's Kosovo meeting at the UN in New York, after all the weeks of build-up, it was just a routine theater in a room closed to the public. Outside, the proponents of independence for Kosovo spoke first. Fatmir Sejdiu emphasized "Kosovo's sui generis nature" as "not a case of ethnic secession." Inner City Press asked Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin if Kosovo presented a precedent.  "Especially you who work in this building," Amb. Churkin said, "you can feel palpably the concern the possibility of the precedent of Kosovo is spreading throughout this building and throughout the UN... If things go in directly of unilateral [declaration of independence] it will send shockwaves through the international system." Video here, from Minute 6:35.

            In order to gauge the level of concern about the precedent, Inner City Press asked Serbia's foreign minister Vuk Jeremic which of the 15 countries on the Security Council, beyond Russia, are supporting Serbia's position. Jeremic named China, Indonesia and "the Africans," without specifying if this meant Congo-Brazzaville and Ghana as well as South Africa. Afterward, a diplomat emerging from the Council told Inner City Press this list was wishful thinking on Serbia's part. Inner City Press asked China's Deputy Permanent Representative Liu Zhenmin about China's position. "They should continue to talk," he said, "to find a solution and... avoid disastrous effects." Amb. Liu added that "There are different view in the Council." And if a referendum were held in the General Assembly?

Supporters of Kosovo independence, precedent not shown

            At the UN's noon briefing on Wednesday, Inner City Press asked about reports that UNMIK's Number Two, Steven Schook, has left the mission, and is in New York. Schook has previously acknowledged being under investigation by the UN's Office of Internal Oversight Services, in connection with irregularities in privatizations and, he said, for loving (certain) Kosovar woman too much. As reiterated on Pristina-based Koha Television, singer Nora Istrefi's name has come up. Spokesperson Michele Montas confirmed that Schook is out, his contracts ends on December 31 and will not be renewed. Inner City Press asked if Mr. Schook is in New York, and if so, whether a media availability could be arranged. Ms. Montas said she would look into it. For now we can report that Ms. Istrefi is singing in New York on December 24. Happy holidays...

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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.

Feedback: Editorial [at]

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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