Michael Steiner today at the press conference at UNMIK HQ in Pristina, Oct 21

Announcement by the SRSG Michael Steiner
Pristina, 21 October 2002

I shall invite the leaders of the major Kosovo political parties and coalitions which participate in all-inclusive municipal elections to a Decentralisation Meeting on 1 November in Gnjilane/Gjilan. At this meeting I will present my concept of decentralisation which will bring government closer to the people in accordance with the Seven Point Plan and the Constitutional Framework. My concept includes the following elements:

- Municipal units may be established for sizeable non-majority communities. These municipal units will have a local council, administrative organs and a budget;
- Municipal units may be made up of one or more villages, settlements and urban quarters within a municipality;
- Municipal units will be established on the basis of a request by elected municipal assembly members or a petition by inhabitants in those areas where there has been sizeable participation by the community concerned in the municipal elections. UNMIK will ensure implementation;
- Municipal units will have the right to manage the areas of primary and secondary education, primary health care, urban and rural planning, and the development of services and facilities, in accordance with municipal policy. They will have decision making authority over issues of local importance, such as markets, public spaces, cultural activities and sports;
- Municipal units will be provided with a budget commensurate with the responsibilities and size of the unit.

Furthermore, it is my position that in those municipalities where non-majority communities have participated in a sizeable way in the municipal elections, they will be entitled to executive posts in the municipal government in line with Article 4.5 of the Constitutional Framework.

After discussion of this concept and taking due account of the opinions expressed, I will promulgate the decentralisation programme in the form of a legally binding document. Following this, elections for the councils of the municipal units will be organised within six months after the initiation of their establishment.

In the longer term, we will need to address issues of municipal development which are even more fundamental. In line with European standards, and on the basis of the principle of subsidiarity, we will need to take a look at the competencies of central and local authorities and redefine them where necessary. Another challenge will be to adapt the geographical size of municipalities to the changing number of inhabitants. For example, the population of Pristina municipality already exceeds half a million. This is far above the average size of European municipalities.
These fundamental issues of municipal development can, of course, not be resolved overnight. A comprehensive discussion will be needed so that the structure of government is appropriate to Kosovo’s needs and reflects modern European practice. I will invite European institutions, like the Council of Europe, to help us in this work.

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Kosovo Serb leaders ask for additional guarantees

STILL NO DECISION ON PARTICIPATION IN ELECTIONS

Belgrade, October 21, 2002
19:20

Kosovo Serb leaders have delayed a decision on voting in local government elections until tomorrow. Serb political representatives say they are seeking guarantees that Kosovo Governor Michael Steiner’s proposal for the establishment of ethnic sub-municipalities will be implemented. A six-member delegation of Kosovo Serb leaders is scheduled to meet Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica and the head of the Kosovo Coordination Centre, Nebojsa Covic.

Kosovo Serb leaders announced last week that Serbs would not participate in Kosovo's local elections unless UNMIK accepted the project of decentralization of the Province. Kosovo Serbs see decentralization as the only way to protect long-term interests of the Serbian people in Kosovo and Metohija. Serbian Orthodox Church strongly supported the requests of the Serb political leadership and refused to support elections without precise guarantees that UNMIK will establish a system of local, regional and national self-government in Kosovo and Metohija and thus protect Kosovo Serb community from ethnic discrimination and Kosovo Albanian repression.

The latest Serb plan decentralization proposed to Michael Steiner on Oct. 20
This plan encapsulates most important elements of the decentralization project of the Coordination center and offers concrete proposals for creation of new municipal units.

DECENTRALIZATION AND PROMOTION OF COMMUNITY IDENTITIES

The most effective method of gaining the confidence of all communities, especially the Serb communities, in UNMIK institutions and transitional institutions of self-government will be realized through institutional requirements for their participation, beginning at the local level, i.e., from the level of local communities, and ending with institutions at the Kosovo-Metohija level. This will represent the most effective means of speeding up the process of returns by members of this community. In order for these goals to be realized, it is necessary to further develop and amend the seven point plan called “A Choice for Mitrovica” dated October 1, 2002 in order to make it applicable throughout Kosovo and Metohija, and inclusive of developed principles of decentralization, local, regional and national self-government.

1. Units of local self-government - new entities would be a city comprised of two or more municipalities, associations of municipalities, municipalities and, exceptionally, municipal subunits, as well as forms of self-government (self-administration) by national communities - a council of national communities and a association of national communities.

a) In accordance with the principles of the European Charter on Local Self-Government adopted by the Council of Europe, municipalities will be so conceived that the number of residents and their territory are in harmony with the principle that government and public services should be brought as close as possible to citizens and national communities. In this context, Pristina municipality, with over 500,000 residents, is the prime example of inefficiency. Therefore, we propose that the following municipalities, among others, be established by a special regulation:

- Northern Kosovska Mitrovica
- Priluzje (now part of Vucitrn municipality)
- Gracanica (to include Laplje Selo, Caglavica and parts of the current municipalities of Lipljan, Kosovo Polje and Obilic)
- Gornje Kusce and surroundings (now part of Gnjilane municipality)
- Pasjane (now a part of Gnjilane municipality)
- Ranilug and surroundings (now part of Kosovska Kamenica municipality)
- Vrbovac municipality (now a part of Vitina municipality)
- Gorazdevac municipality (now a part of Pec municipality)
- Osojane and surroundings (now a part of Istok municipality)
- Gora municipality (now a part of Dragas municipality)
- Sredska municipality (now a part of Prizren municipality)

b) With the goal of more effective functioning and preservation of their multiethnic character, we propose that larger urban wholes function as united cities comprised of two or more municipalities.

- City of Pristina;
- City of Kosovska Mitrovica;
- City of Prizren;
- City of Pec;
- City of Gnjilane;
- City of Kosovska Kamenica.

2. Within the framework of municipalities in which there exist numerically clearly minority ethnic communities (less than 1,000 residents), we propose the formation of municipal subunits to which partial municipal authority, including budgeting, will be transferred, and which will be controlled by the local communities.

3. With the goal of more effective resolution of issues of common interest, municipalities will be given the option of uniting in municipal (regional) associations which can form joint organs.

4. National communities in Kosovo and Metohija may form organs of national self-government: a council of national communities and a association of national communities for the purpose of resolving issues of interest for the preservation of the national, cultural and religious identities of the communities.

5. The concept of the decentralization of Kosovo and Metohija will presuppose original and transferred authority of the entities, to include:

- education of organs and services to meet the needs of a concrete unit of local or regional self-government;
- authority in the area of tax policies at the level of the unit of local and regional self-government, including collection of its own revenues;
- establishment of institutions and organizations in the fields of education, culture, health, social services, physical culture and sports to meet the needs of local communities;
- taking care of environmental protection and promotion of tourism and transportation;
- adoption of plans and programs for development and urban plans, as well as their implementation;
- organizing and providing development of community activities and services;
- organization and work of local courts, proposal or election of judges;
- organization and work of local police;
- organization and work of crisis intervention services (firefighters, emergency response services);
- official use of language and script on the territory of the entity.

6. Units of local and regional self-government would have their own budgets comprised of original and transferred revenues.

7. In ethnically mixed units of local and regional self-government, specially developed mechanisms would be introduced to secure the interests of all communities, striking a balance between the principle of outvoting and marginalization and the principle of efficiency.

8. Establishing and functioning of units of local, regional and national self-government should not undermine the rights of national communities and citizens of Kosovo and Metohija.

9. The international community will establish a mechanism which will simultaneously and permanently guarantee the right to local, regional and national self-government and carry out harmonization of a thus established legal system. During the transitional period, this function and guarantee will be carried out by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General.

10. Within a period of 30 days from the publishing of this plan, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General will pass an appropriate act - lex specialis, which will legally establish a system of local, regional and national self-government in Kosovo and Metohija and as soon as possible (in not longer than 90 days) will pass an ancillary act on the election process for its implementation.


Bases of the Strategy Of

DECENTRALIZATION OF KOSOVO AND METOHIJA
AND
STRENGTHENING OF SELF-GOVERNMENT OF LOCAL, NATIONAL AND REGIONAL COMMUNITIES

THE PROJECT
BUILDING AND DEVELOPMENT OF LOCAL SELF-GOVERNMENT IN KOSOVO AND METOHIJA
(YUCOM/FER, Belgrade, July 2002)
Both versions contain the Annex with proposals of Ammendments