Kouchner May Quit as Kosovo Chief over Frustration from Lack of Progress

By Borowiec, Andrew | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), January 29, 2000 | Go to article overview
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Kouchner May Quit as Kosovo Chief over Frustration from Lack of Progress


Borowiec, Andrew, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


GENEVA - Bernard Kouchner, head of the U.N.-led civilian administration in Kosovo, is said by friends to be distraught over the lack of progress in the Yugoslav province and over Europe's apparent lack of interest in the Balkans.

The sense of stagnation in the region wrested from Yugoslav control by last year's NATO air campaign is reflected in recent reports received at U.N. headquarters in Geneva warning of the risk of new crises in the absence of a long-term policy for the region.

Greece, a reluctant NATO partner during the 78-day air war, is particularly concerned about further fragmentation of the region and the risk of Kosovo and perhaps parts of Macedonia joining with Albania in a "greater Albania."

Mr. Kouchner, a founder of the aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) and France's health minister before his U.N. appointment last year, was described after a recent visit to Geneva as being "close to despair."

People close to him said he complained about the lack of means to carry out his task, describing the situation as "hopeless" unless there is a massive injection of new funds and international good will.

At a private dinner, Mr. Kouchner described the United States as "the only solid factor" in the area. The statement, reported by one of the guests, was particularly remarkable coming from a former French Cabinet member.

Associates say Mr. Kouchner also admits in private it is now impossible to imagine that Kosovo could ever again be ruled by Serbia. Officially, Kosovo is part of the republic of Serbia, the dominant power in what remains of Yugoslavia.

Other sources in Geneva say Mr. Kouchner is "seriously contemplating resignation," lending credibility to rumors that have circulated for months.

John Fawcett, an analyst with the International Crisis Group, based in Brussels, said talk of Mr.

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