Former Irish Foreign Minister Dick Spring to succeed Holkeri?

Prishtina, 6 May 2004 – Diplomatic sources in Brussels have told Zëri that an agreement has been reached at the European Union that Harri Holkeri will be succeeded by former Irish Foreign Minister Dick Spring in the post of Kosovo chief administrator.

Zëri claims that since the violent events in March in Kosovo, the European Union has voiced its support in favor of restructuring the international administration (UNMIK), with the aim of strengthening its efficiency. The paper says that the foreign ministers of the European Union and EU High Representative Javier Solana have agreed that “the current structure of UNMIK doesn’t correspond with the current demands in Kosovo.”

Western sources told the paper that the EU is in favor of changes in UNMIK, ‘with the aim of strengthening UNMIK’s political and leadership role’ and also ‘to build a better partnership with Kosovo’s institutions’.

The paper claims to have a document of the European Union, according to which now is the time to redefine the role of the civil international presence in Kosovo. Sources in Brussels told the paper that there is also dissatisfaction with the work of SRSG Harri Holkeri. ‘In the meantime, even Holkeri has shown interest in leaving,’ added the sources.

EU sources claim that Great Britain has proposed former Irish Foreign Minister Dick Spring as successor to Holkeri in the post of chief administrator. Meanwhile, Spring has won the support of other EU countries, given the fact that he comes from a country with considerable and long-standing interethnic problems. The paper says that Europeans are talking to Spring to see if he is interested in the highest international post in Kosovo. According to European diplomatic sources, all that remains is to get Spring’s agreement, to make changes in UNMIK’s leadership within a short period of time.

On the same page Zëri carries an inbox headlined Holkeri doesn’t plan to leave Kosovo, in which it quotes sources close to the Office of UNMIK chief Harri Holkeri and the Office of EU High Representative Javier Solana as refuting the possibility that Holkeri would soon leave Kosovo and that Dick Spring would take on the post of SRSG in Kosovo.

The same sources told Zëri that Holkeri is committed to staying in Kosovo and contributing to the stabilization of the situation, the fulfillment of the implementation plan for standards and preparations for parliamentary elections, scheduled for 23 October this year.