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Nicholas Wood in Pristina
"As Dr Kouchner leaves he can point to huge changes in Kosovo"
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Friday, 12 January, 2001, 17:06 GMT
UN 'failed' Kosovo Serbs
Bernard Kouchner
Dr Kouchner admitted the UN had been unprepared
Bernard Kouchner, the high-profile doctor who has administered Kosovo for 18 months, has admitted that the United Nations has failed to protect the province's Serbian minority.

In a flamboyant ceremony to mark the end of his 18 months in the post, he warned the province's Kosovo Albanians that, in the eyes of the international community, they had turned from victims to oppressors.

We were unable, because it was impossible, to protect enough the minorities, and mainly the Serbs

Bernard Kouchner
"My final message to you is very simple," the Frenchman told hundreds of people, overwhelmingly Kosovo-Albanians, at a sports hall in the Kosovo capital Pristina. "Please, my dear friends, stop the killings. Please, my dear friends, stop the violence."

The ceremony, which featured live music, concluded with Dr Kouchner singing the USA for Africa song We Are the World with local political leaders and a mutli-ethnic children's choir.

Hans Haekkerup, incoming UN Kosovo administrator
Mr Haekkerup: Shuns publicity
The province is likely to be in for a change of pace when the low-key Danish former Defence Minister Hans Haekkerup arrives to take over from Dr Kouchner, who leaves on Saturday.

Dr Kouchner, 61, pointedly refused to advocate Kosovo's independence from Yugoslavia, a goal shared by all Kosovan political movements.

Speaking to the BBC's Nicholas Wood, Dr Kouchner said that Serbia and Kosovo were in a "race to democracy" that could determine the future relationship between the two.

Uranium row

He also said that the UN had not sufficiently realised that Kosovo Albanians - an overall minority in the former Yugoslavia - would take revenge on Serbs in Kosovo, where Kosovo Albanians are the majority.

Dr Kouchner, a former French health minister and a co-founder of the aid agency Medecins sans Frontieres, addressed a gathering that included rival political leaders, the media and UN adminstrators in a ceremony designed to send him out on a high note.

There has been controversy about Nato's use of depleted uranium weapons in the Balkans, and international organisations did not want that to overshadow a mission that has had its share of successes.

Under Dr Kouchner, a police service has been created from scratch, and new roads and services have been established.

New administrator, Mr Haekerrup, hopes life will continue to improve in the province, but he shuns the publicity with which Dr Kouchner is so comfortable.

Mr Haerkerrup has said he wants to take Kosovo out of the headlines.

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See also:

09 Dec 00 | Europe
Dane named as new Kosovo chief
17 Nov 00 | Europe
Kouchner: Doctor with a vision
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