09:20 GMT +322 March 2018
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    UN Kosovo mission could halve staff by June

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    SARAJEVO, May 5 (RIA Novosti) - The personnel of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) could be halved by June 1, from the current 1,000 to 500, a spokesman for UNMIK said on Tuesday.

    "The proposal to reduce the UN mission has been included in the draft UNMIK budget for the period of July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010, which will be discussed in late May in New York," Alexander Ivanko said.

    UNMIK, which has policed the province ever since NATO's 78-day bombing of Yugoslavia ended a bloody conflict between Kosovo Albanians and Serb forces in the region in 1999, is currently in the process of transferring its duties to the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX).

    On December 9 EULEX assumed full responsibility for the maintenance of peace and stability in Kosovo, announcing that it would perform its duties under the general guidance of the UN, and assume a neutral stance in regard to Kosovo's independence. EULEX and UNMIK also signed an agreement to transfer all legal cases under UNMIK supervision to EULEX judges and prosecutors.

    EULEX police have since been deployed at the police headquarters in Pristina, at all local and regional police stations, and at border checkpoints.

    The spokesman said that the mission will remain in Kosovo after the reforms are completed, but will perform a "purely political" function.

    "We will prepare reports for the UN Security Council and act as mediators when given the approval of both Serbs and Albanians," the spokesman said.

    Ivanko said that UNMIK and EULEX have established contacts on various levels.

    Kosovo unilaterally declared its independence from Serbia on February 17, 2008. It has been formally recognized as a sovereign state by 58 UN member states, including the U.S. and most EU members.

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