The UN has sent the wrong man to Kosovo

LEANING ON his shiny 7 Series BMW in his beige linen suit and Ray-Ban sunglasses, a mobile phone nestling in his gold-braceleted hand, Murad Hasani blended smoothly into the new Pristina. So did his companion, dressed entirely in black , down to the butt of his holstered pistol.

Murad is an Albanian from Tirana, where he makes a very good living with a part-share in one of the highly lucrative smuggling runs from Durres. He was in Kosovo to lend his expertise to the culture of freewheeling private enterprise that had come with liberation. The man he was talking to, Fadil, is a member of the Kosovo Liberation Army, and supposedly close to its chief of staff, Agim Ceku. He had just finished collecting "taxes" from traders in one of the markets on behalf of the KLA.

Pristina, the Kosovar capital, is reborn, louder and brasher than ever before, awash with Deutschmarks and personnel from the United Nations and other international organisations. It is a place where the right price will get you almost anything. To put things into context, this was a city which just five weeks ago had no water, no shops open, and gave little sign of getting over the traumas from ferocious Serbian repression.

A couple of miles away from the bright lights of downtown, a patrol of British Army Paras were seeing another face of the new order in Kosovo, confronting an aggressive crowd of young men claiming to be KLA soldiers, at a Serbian residential area near the university. The stand-off ended with a swift charge and disarming of five of the Albanians by the Paras. "They will be back, they always are," said the Para sergeant. "Six months from now we will be at war with the KLA. It will be just like Northern Ireland, you go in to protect a people and end up by fighting them."

Most of Nato's current roles should by now have been undertaken by the United Nations mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) which is supposed to provide the administration and the infrastructure for a civic society in the province. But it has failed to do so.

Its staff seem to spend most of their time trying to secure the best accommodation and offices, and hiring locals as clerks and interpreters at salaries which have led to resentment from those not benefiting from the largesse while suffering from the price rises resulting from the influx of foreign money. All this may be inevitable but what many among the military, foreign diplomats and civilian population cannot understand is the inertia in actually doing the job which has accompanied this.

The blame for this is often put at the door of the man appointed by Kofi Annan to be the civil administrator of Kosovo, Bernard Kouchner, the French Health Minister, who had made his name out of flamboyant and often effective action and self-publicity ever since he founded Medecins Sans Frontieres.

In Pristina, however, being the proconsul has somewhat gone to his head, according to some of his staff. One senior UN official described M Kouchner's office as like being present at a perpetual royal audience, with the courtiers, a varied bunch of European visitors, among them a large French contingent, trooping in and out. Most vaguely describe themselves as journalists.

M Kouchner's appointment to the post did not have the unanimous backing of Western governments. Tony Blair lobbied hard for Paddy Ashdown, a man who knows the Balkans and has visited the region regularly. There was also strong pressure to give the job to the Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari who had brokered the Kosovo peace deal, and there were also pitches for Italy's acting European Commissioner Emma Bonino and Carl Bildt, the former Swedish prime minister. At the end it boiled down to a two-horse contest between Mr Ashdown and Mr Koushner, and Mr Ashdown lost out because there was already a Briton, Lt Gen Sir Mike Jackson, as the Nato commander in Kosovo.

The French accused London of being too greedy. Mr Ashdown, on a recent trip to Kosovo, declared some parts of the UN structure there to be "disastrously weak", to which Mr Kouchner could say "he would say that wouldn't he". But there are others, and a growing number of doubters, beside the former Liberal Democrat leader. US officials have been increasingly vociferous about his slowness and, most worrying for Mr Kouchner, some of the most biting criticism comes from his own UN staff.

While the UN and Western governments bicker and dither, the KLA has set up its own government under its leader Hashim Thaci. Unlike the UN, their offices hum with activity. Ministries have been formed, orders given out and carried out. Efficiently and ruthlessly, the KLA goes about its business of taking over towns and cities, collecting taxes, appointing officials to state enterprises and allocating seized Serbian (and sometimes Albanian) homes and businesses to their supporters. They also control the petrol stations thus giving themselves enormous leverage in a land with acute fuel shortage.

The KLA's political opponents complain of mounting intimidation. Parliamentary elections are due to be held sometime in the future, but Mr Kouchner cannot say when. Baton Haxhiu, editor of the Albanian-language newspaper Koha Ditore sums up the mood: "The only political group that has any structure is the KLA. It is using it to take power, backed eventually by a police and national guard it alone will control ... each day it is becoming dangerous to think and speak independently."

Arts and Entertainment
Legendary blues and rock singer Joe Cocker has died of lung cancer, his management team as confirmed. He was 70
music The singer has died aged 70
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams looks concerned as Arya Stark
tv
Arts and Entertainment
photography Incredible images show London's skyline from its highest points
Arts and Entertainment
'Silent Night' last topped Classic FM's favourite Christmas carol poll in 2002
classical
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tv 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there