UN claims new Kosovo government is undermining its authority

The United Nations mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) said Friday its power to administer the former Serb province has practically disappeared after the government in Pristina instituted its constitution last month.

Lamberto Zannier, the new head of UNMIK, told the UN Security Council in New York that the ethnic Albanian-led Kosovo government has sought to assume powers and responsibilities of a "sovereign state" since the "Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo" entered into force on June 15, the dpa reported.

The minority Serbs in northern Kosovo have, on the other hand, held elections in their municipalities to form local government with the support of Serbia. Zannier has declared those election results invalid.

"As a consequences of this stark divergence of paths taken by Kosovo's Serb and Albanian communities, the space in which UNMIK can operate has changed," said Zannier, who assumed his post as the special representative of the UN secretary general on June 20.

Zannier said the Kosovo parliament issued new legislation and the government in Pristina took decisions without seeking his approval.

UNMIK was created in 1999 to administer Kosovo until its final political status was decided by the UN Security Council. But Kosovo unilaterally declared independence in February, and is now recognized by more than 40 countries, including many European nations and the United States.

The UN is not in the position to recognize Kosovo as a country. Kosovo, like newly formed states in the past, has sought recognition from other states and may one day seek UN membership. But it will certainly face a veto from Russia in the UN Security Council.

Serbia and Russia continue to strongly reject Kosovo's independence and Belgrade still considers the territory its province.

Zannier said ties between UNMIK and Pristina had changed drastically and UN work in Kosovo has been reduced because UNMIK is no longer the broker in solving problems and proclaiming legislation in Kosovo.

"While I and my staff continue to monitor the work of the Kosovo authorities and to mediate and facilitate in disputes between communities, my power to impose solutions through much of the territory has in practice disappeared," Zannier said in the speech to the 15-nation council.

UNMIK is operating under a resolution from 1999, which gave it vast authority to govern Kosovo after Serb security forces, accused of atrocities against ethnic Albanians, were pushed out of the province by NATO.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for restructuring UNMIK based on the new situation in Kosovo. But Russia wanted UNMIK to remain as Resolution 1244 has not been repelled.

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