|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6097th Meeting (AM)
BRIEFING SECURITY COUNCIL, SPECIAL ENVOY SAYS RECENT DYNAMIC PERIOD FOR KOSOVO,
UNITED NATIONS MISSION ‘RIFE WITH CHALLENGES AND MILESTONES’, MAINLY STABLE
Says Pristina, Belgrade Stopped Short of Ensuring That Kosovo
Is ‘Well and Truly Launched’ onto Path of Lasting Peace, Prosperity
The last four months had been a very dynamic period for Kosovo and the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), rife with challenges and milestones, but the situation had remained substantially stable despite the potential for volatility, Lamberto Zannier told the Security Council this morning.
Briefing the Council on the latest developments, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo, said the European Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) had assumed full operational responsibility on 9 December 2008 under the overall authority and within the status-neutral framework of the United Nations. The deployment of EULEX police throughout Kosovo and the concomitant stand-down of UNMIK police had been completed smoothly and efficiently.
Several challenges remained, he said. The process of returns of internally displaced persons had seen a very sharp decline. The pace of identifications of missing persons had slowed considerably. The issue of electric power supply continued to plague the everyday lives of all residents, mainly due to non-payment by many consumers, including wholesale non-payment by the Kosovo Serb community, and the issue had been politicized. Also, over the past few weeks, several Belgrade officials had been denied entry into Kosovo by the Kosovo authorities.
He expressed satisfaction that UNMIK had managed to recalibrate its structure and profile in line with the new challenges. He was pleased by the progress that had been made towards advancing the European perspective of the Western Balkans with the deployment of EULEX. While the situation in Kosovo had remained relatively peaceful, Pristina and Belgrade had stopped short of ensuring that Kosovo was well and truly launched onto the path of lasting peace and prosperity. “That goal will only be reached if both Pristina and Belgrade look first of all to the interests of all of Kosovo’s communities and beyond their own legitimate larger political considerations,” he said.
Serbia’s President Boris Tadić said Serbia was a modern European democracy that threatened no one. The country would remain dedicated to resolving outstanding problems exclusively through dialogue, peacefully and without resorting to arms. Pristina’s unilateral and illegal declaration of independence was an attempt to forcibly partition a United Nations Member State against its will and without the consent of the Security Council. Even today, the Serbs in Kosovo lacked security, freedom of movement, rule of law, electricity and water. He disagreed with the optimistic views expressed in the Secretary-General’s report on those issues, saying they could not be substantiated in light of the reality on the ground.
He said it was obvious to everyone that today, 13 months after the illegal unilateral declaration of independence, Kosovo was not a State. The protection of human rights was minimal. Serbia, like other European Union member countries, faced tremendous problems arising from the ethnic-Albanian “mafia” in Kosovo, which specialized in trafficking in narcotics, human beings and weapons. He sought a return to normalcy in Serbia’s southern province and a restoration of peace and security for all residents. Albanians and Serbs could live side by side in peace and without fear and violence. That was why the United Nations and EULEX had to work hard to fully discharge their mandates.
Skender Hyseni of Kosovo, noting that, on 17 February, Kosovars had celebrated peacefully the first year of independence, said Kosovo had welcomed the EULEX deployment, and he requested the conclusion of UNMIK. State institution-building, based on European standards, had continued with the launching of the Kosovo Security Force. The Government had been working around the clock to address the many issues of economy, justice and security, as well as the fight against crime, including cross-border crime, and corruption.
He said the Government had also sought ways to improve the situation in minority areas, but Serbia supported illegal parallel structures that exploited Kosovo Serbian citizens but did not offer solutions. Lawlessness had turned the north of Kosovo into a safe haven for criminal activities and illegal economic activities. The Republic had prioritized cooperation with neighbours, but Serbia tried to block cooperation with regional organizations, as well as block exports. He hoped that Serbia would appreciate the need to cooperate with other nations and he stood ready to engage in talks with Serbia as two independent and sovereign States. There was no room for hatred and violence.
The representative of the Russian Federation, sharing Serbia’s assessments, said Security Council’s resolution 1244 (1999) remained fully in force. The Secretary-General’s Special Representative and UNMIK should, therefore, continue to implement their mandate, including guaranteeing minority rights and achieving democratic standards. Consultations with EULEX were acceptable, but the nature of its activities was far from “status neutral”.
He said that, because of the violence against Serbs in Kosovo five years ago, thousands of Serbs had become refugees, and monasteries had been destroyed. The unilateral declaration of independence, accepted by several States, had been a reward of terrorism. Problems in Kosovo, since its declaration of Statehood, had been exacerbated with a flourishing criminality and extremism raising its head again.
The representative of the United Kingdom said EULEX was fulfilling its task of monitoring and mentoring the Kosovo police and helping to maintain law and order, as well as establishing a multi-ethnic police unit in northern Mitrovica. He urged the Governments of Serbia and Kosovo to cooperate with it. In order for the European perspective to be advanced, greater acceleration on the part of Kosovo authorities was needed in rule of law, crime, and cultural heritage. It must be demonstrated that all citizens of Kosovo were treated equally.
She stressed that Kosovo’s independence was an irreversible fact. Both Kosovo and Serbia should enter the European Union as neighbours on good terms. Joining the Union was Serbia’s strategic goal. The road to Europe lay in reconciliation and not in retribution, she said.
The representatives of France, Austria, Japan, Uganda, Croatia, Mexico, Turkey, Burkina Faso, Costa Rica, China, Viet Nam, United States and Libya also spoke.
After Council members spoke, Messrs. Tadić and Hyseni had a subsequent exchange of views.
The meeting started at 10:40 a.m. and adjourned at 1:15 p.m.
When the Council met this morning, it had before it the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (document S/2009/149), which covers the period from 1 November 2008 to 9 March 2009. During that time, the Kosovo authorities continued to act on the basis of the “Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo”. Laws passed by the Assembly of Kosovo made no reference to the powers of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative. While the Kosovo authorities maintain working contacts with the Special Representative, the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) faces ever increasing challenges to its ability to fulfil its mandate. Perceiving the Mission’s tasks as having been accomplished, the Kosovo Albanians see UNMIK’s continued presence as an unwelcome obstacle to the desire for an independent Kosovo. With significant pressure from opposition parties, the Kosovo authorities have stated repeatedly that resolution 1244 (1999) is no longer relevant.
The report states that, in line with Belgrade’s official policy, many Kosovo Serbs continue to reject the authority of Kosovo’s institutions derived from the “Constitution”, although increasing numbers are applying for Kosovo identity cards, driver’s licences and other Kosovo documentation that facilitates their ability to live, work and move freely in Kosovo. In the north, four municipal structures in Kosovo Serb-majority areas continue to function on the basis of Serbia’s law on local self-governance. Municipal elections are expected to be held in Kosovo by the end of the year.
Despite some inter-ethnic incidents, the overall security situation in Kosovo remained stable, according to the report. On 21 January, the Kosovo Security Force was launched as envisaged by the “Constitution”. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which undertook to oversee the Force’s establishment and operation, announced that it would consist of 2,500 active members and 800 reservists, to be lightly armed and tasked to perform civil emergency operations. The creation of the Force rendered the Kosovo Protection Corps non-operational and unviable, requiring UNMIK to abolish the post of the Coordinator of the Corps and reducing and renaming the Office of the Coordinator. The new Office will provide administrative support to remaining Corps members and liaise with the resettlement programme of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
On 9 December, the report recalls, the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) assumed full operational responsibility in the area of rule of law within the framework of resolution 1244 (1999) and under the overall authority of the United Nations. As a result, UNMIK police successfully completed their operations, as EULEX deployed 1,045 police officers. Handover took place of certain justice-related investigative and case files. As a result of those developments, UNMIK has accelerated its reconfiguration in the rule of law sector. As the process of drawdown of UNMIK personnel proceeds, the assumption is that it will be concluded before the start of the 2009-2010 budget cycle.
The report explains that the reconfigured Mission will maintain a small field presence, focusing on reporting on minority issues, returns and freedom of movement, as well as issues relating to the protection, preservation and reconstruction of cultural heritage. The United Nations Officer in Belgrade continues to play a crucial political and diplomatic role. UNMIK will continue working towards the advancement of regional stability and prosperity, in close coordination with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Kosovo Force (KFOR), and in cooperation with authorities in Pristina and Belgrade. Its main functions will include monitoring and reporting, facilitation of external representation, and facilitation of dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade, among other things.
Also discussed in the report arecommunity issues; returns; property; cultural and religious heritage; economy; human rights; and dialogue with Belgrade.
LAMBERTO ZANNIER, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo, said the period from 1 November 2008 to 9 March 2009 had been a very dynamic one for UNMIK and Kosovo, rife with challenges and milestones. The situation in Kosovo had remained substantially stable, despite the potential for volatility presented by the development of the past quarter. Nevertheless, ethnic tensions had persisted at several traditional flashpoints, particularly in and around northern Mitrovica. The past few weeks had seen an alarming escalation of incidents. While UNMIK had continued to mediate between the communities, local leaders needed to make greater efforts to defuse tensions and promote coexistence and reconciliation.
He said EULEX had assumed full operational responsibility in the rule of law area on 9 December 2008 under the overall authority and within the status-neutral framework of the United Nations. The deployment of EULEX police throughout Kosovo and the concomitant stand-down of UNMIK police had been completed smoothly and efficiently. EULEX judges, prosecutors and other justice personnel had also taken on operational responsibilities. As a result, UNMIK had been able to step up its reconfiguration and would now be able to effectively carry out its reconfigured functions with a much lighter footprint. Forty-nine UNMIK police officers remained in Kosovo, handling liaison and external representation. UNMIK staff was actively involved in supporting the talks regarding the Mitrovica courthouse.
A central element of the reconfigured UNMIK remained the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Mission in Kosovo. After UNMIK’s downsizing, the OSCE had assumed the responsibility for comprehensive monitoring throughout Kosovo. The organization’s role in building capacities of local institutions crucially contributed to the effective protection of all people living in Kosovo. By 1 July, UNMIK would have refocused its staff on the tasks set out in the Secretary-General’s report of 12 June 2008 (document S/2008/354). A centrepiece of UNMIK’s reconfigured role had consisted of consultations with the different stakeholders on matters affecting the lives of all of Kosovo’s communities, such as cultural and religious heritage issues. It turned out that while Pristina and Belgrade had different understandings of the nature of mechanisms that should protect and preserve the cultural heritage and patrimony of the Serbian Orthodox church in Kosovo, their objectives largely coincided.
He said UNMIK had also engaged, together with EULEX, in further technical consultations with other stakeholders on issues related to the functioning of the justice system in northern Kosovo. Opportunities for reintroducing local judges in court proceedings had been identified.
A number of challenges remained, he said. The process of returns of internally displaced persons had seen a very sharp decline, with only 664 persons returning last year. The role of the authorities in Pristina and Belgrade in that respect remained key. There were also many missing persons from the conflict. The pace of identifications had slowed considerably, with 24 cases of missing persons closed last year and just one such case closed so far this year. The Pristina-Belgrade Technical Dialogue Working Group on Missing Persons, chaired by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), was one of the very few forums where Pristina and Belgrade experts met regularly. Cooperation must improve and politics should be set aside.
He said the issue of electric power supply continued to plague the everyday lives of all residents, mainly due to non-payment by many consumers, including wholesale non-payment by the Kosovo Serb community. The Kosovo Energy Corporation had allowed breakdowns in the electric power supply to go unrepaired for periods of a week or more. The issue had been politicized, leading to demonstrations by angry Kosovo Serbs. The Pristina-Belgrade Technical Dialogue Working Group on Energy, which had been dormant for the past two years, should re-engage. Also, over the past few weeks, a number of Belgrade officials had been denied entry into Kosovo by the Kosovo authorities.
At the same time, he expressed satisfaction that UNMIK had managed to recalibrate its structure and profile in line with the new challenges posed by the situation. He was pleased by the progress that had been made towards advancing the European perspective of the Western Balkans with the deployment of EULEX, but much remained to be done. While the situation in Kosovo had remained relatively peaceful, Pristina and Belgrade had stopped short of where one needed to be in order to feel confident that Kosovo was well and truly launched onto the path of lasting peace and prosperity. “That goal will only be reached if both Pristina and Belgrade look first of all to the interests of all of Kosovo’s communities and beyond their own legitimate larger political considerations,” he said.
BORIS TADIĆ, President of Serbia, said tomorrow was the tenth anniversary of the NATO bombing of Serbia. During that bombing, 2,500 civilians had been killed, including 89 children, and 12,500 had been injured. The damage to the Serbian economy was an estimated $30 billion, and the indirect damage was much greater. Serbia had been collectively accused, and then collectively bombed, as it was then claimed, for the expulsion of 800,000 ethnic Albanians from Kosovo and Metohija. The war resulted in the exodus of more than 200,000 ethnic Serbs, Roma, Bosniaks and other non-Albanians from the province. Ten years later, those internally displaced persons could still not return home.
He said the Serbs had been punished 10 years ago with bombs, but a decade later, in the wake of the mass expulsion of Serbs and the firestorms against their homes and holy site, the Kosovo Albanians had been rewarded by the recognition of their illegal declaration of independence by more than 50 countries. Just as the lessons for Serbia was that never again should a situation be created in which its citizens were punished and killed, the lessons for the international community must be that innocent civilians should not have to die for a wrongful policy.
As a matter of principle, he condemned every war crime and affirmed that all accused must be brought to justice. The recent decision by The Hague Tribunal against particular individuals in the Kosovo case ‑‑ involving four former officials of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and one Serbian official ‑‑ demonstrated that the State’s collective responsibility, or that of its citizens, did not exist. It was possible to debate whether the sentence was too harsh, especially in light of the non-guilty verdict handed down in the case of a leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army and former Prime Minister of the Kosovo Provisional Institutions of Self-Government, Ramoush Haradinaj. According to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia’s then Chief Prosecutor, Carla del Ponte, witnesses were not only intimidated, but they were also physically liquidated. Specific individuals had been convicted of specific crimes ‑‑ once more, removing any possibility of anathematizing an entire nation.
Today, Serbia was a modern European democracy that threatened no one, he said. Joining the European Union was its most important strategic goal. By pursuing that policy, Serbia had remained a crucial factor of stability in the region. It would remain dedicated to resolving outstanding problems exclusively through dialogue, peacefully and without resorting to arms. Pristina’s unilateral and illegal declaration of independence was an attempt to forcibly partition a United Nations Member State against its will and without the consent of the Security Council. Even today, the Serbs in Kosovo lacked security, freedom of movement, rule of law, electricity and water. He disagreed with the optimistic views expressed in the Secretary-General’s report on those issues, saying they could not be substantiated in light of the reality on the ground.
During the March 2004 pogrom, more than 50,000 ethnic Albanian extremists had participated in an organized campaign of violence, in which 19 people had been killed, 950 injured and more than 4,000 Serbs expelled from their homes, he said. Five years later, not a single individual remained behind bars for the organized burning down of a church in Kosovo. He said that was why he had called on UNMIK and EULEX to take the necessary measures to ensure that justice was served to all in Kosovo and Metohija, irrespective of ethnicity or religious affiliation. Every crime, particularly hate crimes, must be thoroughly investigated and processed, and the accused must be tried before a just and passionless court. He expected the peacekeepers of the United Nations and the European Union to establish the rule of law and provide the preconditions for a peaceful life in the province, instead of releasing perpetrators back onto the street.
It was obvious to everyone that today, 13 months after the illegal unilateral declaration of independence, Kosovo was not a State, he said. The protection of human rights was minimal, demonstrated by the fact that the number of Kosovo Serbs and other non-Albanian internally displaced persons returning to the province was small. Serbia, like other European Union member countries, faced tremendous problems arising from the ethnic-Albanian “mafia” in Kosovo, which specialized in trafficking in narcotics, human beings and weapons. He sought a return to normalcy in Serbia’s southern province and a restoration of peace and security for all residents. Albanians and Serbs could live side by side in peace and without fear and violence. That was why the United Nations and EULEX had to work hard to fully discharge their mandates.
He also underlined the importance for UNMIK and EULEX to ensure freedom of movement throughout Kosovo for the democratically chosen officials in Serbia. They must not be turned back at the administrative boundary line by the Pristina authorities; such provocations would only deeply distress the Serbian population in the province. United Nations Member States should respect the fact that the International Court of Justice would decide the Kosovo case. No one should in any way prejudge its deliberations. He, therefore, expected that no further recognitions would be encouraged, and he called on Member States that had not recognized Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence to stay the course while the Court conducted its work.
Serbia supported new negotiations on Kosovo’s future status, as the only way to find a just compromise and mutually acceptable solution, he said. Serbia would never recognize Kosovo’s independence, directly or indirectly, and it would continue in the diplomatic, legal and peaceful defence of its integrity. The Court’s advisory opinion would be immensely useful for the international system and it would prevent the Kosovo issue from serving as a deeply dangerous precedent in any part of the globe where secessionist ambitions were harboured. Serbia would remain a good-faith partner to the international community in the interim administration of its southern province.
He noted the Secretary-General’s November 2008 report in which EULEX’s mandate was clearly defined as fully respecting resolution 1244 (1999). Serbia’s collective partnership with EULEX and UNMIK would continue, in order to implement the report’s provisions, namely the six points that provided for continuing a dialogue with Belgrade. Serbia would also continue to contribute constructively to finding a mechanism to fully implement the six points in the context of the negotiating process. It had made concrete proposals on judiciary issues and the safeguarding of Serbian patrimony in Kosovo, and it remained open to further talks on all levels with United Nations representatives, supported by EULEX. A clear and binding commitment by the European Union to be fully “status neutral” and anchored in its presence in Kosovo under United Nations authority had always been a crucial condition for Serbia’s acceptance of reconfiguration. Those reasonable conditions had been met. The November 2008 report had defined the status neutrality of EULEX’s engagement, which was a guarantee that no part of its mandate could be devoted to implementing the Ahtisaari Plan for Kosovo’s independence, rejected by Serbia and, as stated in the previous report, “not endorsed by the Security Council”.
The six points should be implemented, notwithstanding the existence of some problems, and in consultation with all relevant stakeholders, particularly Serbia, he urged, calling on the authorities in Pristina to neither obstruct the will of the international community nor oppose the binding resolve of the Security Council. Serbia was ready to continue to cooperate with EULEX, which it welcomed in Kosovo and Metohija. UNMIK must continue its mission and mandate and be fully present on the ground, and its budget should not be reduced. Without UNMIK, it would be impossible to fulfil the requirements of 1244 (1999), or the six points. UNMIK should be part of the Pristina delegation at all international and regional meetings, where it must be identified and heard under the name “UNMIK/Kosovo”.
SKENDER HYSENI of Kosovo said the Republic of Kosovo had continued steady progress in all areas since November. On 17 February, the people of Kosovo had celebrated peacefully the first year of independence despite a challenge to the security situation incited by several members of Serbia’s Parliament. The Independence Day had also been an occasion to take stock of achievements and developments in Kosovo. The achievements were huge. Recognition of Kosovo had continued; another four countries had recognized the independence since his last address to the Council.
He said that internally, Kosovo had also seen a number of positive developments. Reconfiguration of UNMIK had continued and EULEX had deployed on 9 December 2008. Kosovo had welcomed the EULEX deployment, and he requested the conclusion of UNMIK. Kosovo had also continued to progress on other fronts. The parliament had approved important laws. State institution-building, based on European standards, had continued with the launching of the Kosovo Security Force. The Force was a great benefit to the neighbours and would be democratically controlled and multi-ethnic, focused on emergency response and stability. The Kosovo Security Council had also been appointed.
The Government had been working around the clock to address the many issues of economy, justice and security, as well as the fight against crime, cross-border crime and corruption, he said. Substantial improvements in school and road infrastructure were obvious. The Government had sought ways to improve the situation in minority areas. Serbia had not been helpful in that regard at all, as it had continued to support the illegal and criminal structures in Kosovo.
Indeed, the Serbian Government supported illegal parallel structures that exploited Kosovo Serbian citizens but did not offer solutions, he asserted. Lawlessness had turned the north of Kosovo into a safe haven for criminal activities and illegal economic activities. The authorities were determined to work closely with EULEX to restore law and order in the north. The Republic had prioritized cooperation with neighbours, but Serbia tried to block cooperation with regional organizations, as well as block exports. He hoped that Serbia would appreciate the need to cooperate with other nations in the region to advance understanding among them. He stood ready to engage with talks with Serbia as two independent and sovereign States. There was no room for hatred and violence.
He said he was committed to pursue the goal of full membership in the European Union as soon as possible. The European Commission’s conclusion that Kosovo had a clear European perspective was encouraging. The future of all nations in the Western Balkans lay in European integration. In achieving all objectives mentioned, Kosovo institutions would continue to cooperate closely with the European Union, United Nations and NATO. He emphasized Kosovo’s commitment to become a contributing member of the international community and looked forward to working with all Council members to ensure international peace and safety.
JEAN-MAURICE RIPERT ( France) pointed to the defusion of tensions in Kosovo and the rest of the Balkans and the fact that the parties had kept their commitments. He also noted the adoption of a “Constitution” in line with European Union standards, favouring the participation of minorities and serving all communities, with the support of the EULEX mission. The increasing number of States recognizing Kosovo had given it more importance and had further stabilized the Balkans. Construction of the rule of law must continue. The European Union had provided essential support to the EULEX mission, accompanied by the establishment of legal institutions in Kosovo. The work of EULEX and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General had contributed to the creation of a multi-ethnic Kosovo. Protecting minorities was a priority for EULEX. Despite negative propaganda of some extremist groups to the contrary, all must be allowed to benefit in Kosovo. Links to criminal networks were an obstacle in that regard.
In recent months, he noted, EULEX’s activities had been intensified, addressing first Kosovar authorities, and then neighbouring countries. Serbia’s cooperation was indispensable for EULEX’s success. He sought practical solutions to specific problems in terms of customs or legal cooperation. He took note of President Tadić’s position and said it was a strong affirmation of the Serbian Government to join the European Union, which would be a significant stabilizing factor for the region. He had also listened closely to Mr. Hyseni. The rule of law and the wish to build a multi-ethnic State and respect for minorities were also major commitments, which should be welcomed. It was essential to move forward in the coming months.
THOMAS MAYR-HARTING ( Austria) noted that one year after the declaration of independence, the world could look at significant progress made by the Republic of Kosovo, where so far some 56 countries had recognized the young State. At the same time, however, there were worrying reports on the inter-ethnic violence in the Mitrovica region. The agreement between the police commanders of both parts of that region to organize joint patrols could be an essential element in securing peace and stability.
He expressed disappointment at the decline in voluntary minority returns, which had dropped sharply compared to 2006 and 2007. He hoped that Kosovo’s recently-launched Return Project, as well as the survey of internally displaced persons from Kosovo to be conducted by Serbia in conjunction with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, would facilitate the returns. Austria shared the Secretary-General’s observation that the efforts of all concerned sides and the support of the international community were needed to further implement the temporary arrangements outlined in the last report. Austria was convinced that pragmatism and a sense of responsibility would lead to tangible results in finding a solution to the outstanding practical issues.
Austria fully supported the OSCE’s mission in Kosovo, which fulfilled an important role in guaranteeing a democratic and multi-ethnic future of that country, particularly in building and monitoring Kosovo’s democratic institutions and in its support of human rights and the preservation of minority rights. Stability in the Balkans was a shared goal of the United Nations, the European Union and OSCE, and Austria looked forward to continued OSCE engagement there.
KAREN PIERCE ( United Kingdom) said there had been several positive developments. The Government had established the legal and administrative structure of the State, which would help protect the interests of all of Kosovo’s communities. EULEX was fulfilling its task of monitoring and mentoring the Kosovo police and helping to maintain law and order, as well as establishing a multi-ethnic police unit in northern Mitrovica. She welcomed the start of the technical dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina over transitional arrangements and urged the Government of Serbia and Kosovo to cooperate with EULEX. The Kosovo Security Force had been established and would provide Kosovo with a multi-ethnic and civilian-led force. It did not constitute a threat to any neighbour. In order for the European perspective to be advanced, greater acceleration on the part of Kosovo authorities was needed in rule of law, crime, and cultural heritage. It must be demonstrated that all citizens of Kosovo needed to be treated equally.
She did not agree with a number of statements from Serbia, including his description of the European Union mission. As for the tenth anniversary of the bombing, she said the action by NATO had been intended to avert a human tragedy in Kosovo. Serbia had ignored several Chapter VII resolutions of the Council to negotiate and cease its repression, which had seen 10,000 people killed. That was not to belittle the subsequent violence. The United Kingdom had also condemned violence against Kosovo Serbs. However, there was a difference between those acts and the deliberate policies of Serbia in 1999. The Government had a responsibility to educate their citizens to the crimes committed in Serbia’s name.
She stressed that Kosovo’s independence was an irreversible fact. Both Kosovo and Serbia should enter the European Union as neighbours on good terms. Joining the Union was Serbia’s strategic goal. The road to Europe lay in reconciliation and not in retribution.
VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) said he shared Serbian assessments, while Mr. Hyseni had attempted to accuse Belgrade of all problems facing Kosovo. Regarding the bombing of Serbia 10 years ago, nothing had been said about the terrorist activities of the Kosovo Liberation Army. For 78 days, the bombardment had destroyed mainly civilian facilities. The Security Council’s resolution 1244 (1999) remained fully in force. The Secretary-General’s Special Representative and UNMIK should continue to discharge their functions, including guaranteeing minority rights and achieving democratic standards. Because of the violence against Serbs in Kosovo five years ago, thousands of Serbs had become refugees, and monasteries had been destroyed. He demanded information regarding measures that had been taken to punish the perpetrators of terrorist acts.
He said the unilateral declaration of independence, accepted by several States, had been a reward of terrorism. Problems in Kosovo, since its declaration of statehood, had been exacerbated with a flourishing criminality and extremism raising its head again. The task of creating a multi-ethnic society had been forgotten. There was a decrease of voluntary minority returns because of an absence of the most basic security conditions. UNMIK, the OSCE mission and the NATO presence must remain in Kosovo. UNMIK must retain its administrative functions, which was only possible through dialogue between the United Nations and Serbia. Consultations with EULEX were acceptable, but the nature of its activities was far from “status neutral”. The EULEX report annexed to that of the Secretary-General had not made a single reference to the fact that EULEX was acting on a status-neutral basis.
YUKIO TAKASU ( Japan) said 13 months since the declaration of independence of Kosovo, the situation there was calm and stable. He welcomed the fact that Kosovo had built ministries and institutions and he lauded the support to Kosovo provided by UNMIK and EULEX. It was important that EULEX had begun its deployment efficiently, for its support of Kosovo was necessary in terms of developing the rule of law in the police force and through customs cooperation. It was also necessary to support Kosovo as a multi-ethnic, democratic State and to support its economic development. He stressed the need to consider carefully the future role and size of UNMIK. He stressed the importance of commencing dialogue on the six points in the Secretary-General’s report. Also critical was protecting human rights and the rights of minorities, and normalizing trade and transport relations between Kosovo and its neighbours.
He expressed concern over the reference in the Secretary-General’s report that too few internally displaced persons who were minorities had returned home. Public subsidies should be provided to all minorities and groups, without discrimination. Kosovo was a test case for providing validity to the human security approach based on freedom from fear and want. Japan was active in that regard through the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security, and it had provided $200 million to Kosovo for multi-ethnic humanitarian needs. Japan would continue to help Kosovo achieve socio-economic stability through bilateral and multilateral channels. Development of a multi-ethnic State would contribute to stability in the entire region.
RUHAKANA RUGUNDA ( Uganda) noted the success so far of UNMIK and its eventual drawdown, as recommended by the Secretary-General. But he also noted the challenges it faced in fulfilling its mandate. All efforts must be undertaken to ensure that the deployment of the European Unionrule of law mission in Kosovo went smoothly. EULEX had assumed full operational responsibility in terms of the rule of law, in accordance with resolution 1244 (1999). The acceptance of EULEX and the deployment by the Government of Serbia, as well as cooperation between UNMIK police and EULEX was encouraging. Kosovo authorities should maintain good working relations with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General. But new laws passed by Kosovo authorities had made no reference to the power of the Special Representative, further increasing the challenge for UNMIK.
He called on both parties to recognize and respect the role of UNMIK and to cooperate with the Mission. The best way to address the Kosovo issue was for both parties to have mutual respect during negotiations and for resolution 1244 (1999). He expressed concern over the incidents of inter-ethnic violence between Kosovo Serbs and ethnic Albanians in Metohija. He saluted the prompt intervention of UNMIK to improve security in the region, aimed at long-term stability, which was needed for the next phase of post-conflict reconstruction. He urged the Council and the international community to continue to lend the necessary support to UNMIK to ensure that it was successful in implementing the reconfiguration and in playing a positive role in maintaining peace and stability on the ground there.
NEVEN JURICA ( Croatia), noting that “ Europe’s youngest State” had celebrated its first anniversary, said Kosovo was at peace and steadily making headway in the international arena. Laws were being passed and the Government was improving its capacity to deliver to its citizens. EULEX had been deployed efficiently, which was of benefit to all of Kosovo’s people and had started the process of European integration. The security situation was stable, he said, emphasizing that the only realistic way in which the Serbian minority could protect its rights was through participation in the democratic Kosovo institutions. One of the main preconditions for international recognition had been that Kosovo’s “Constitution” address that issue.
He said Kosovo’s second year should bring integration into the international financial institutions. He hoped that Kosovo Serbs would fully realize and exercise their rights. Croatia stood ready to help Serbia, Kosovo and other South European countries in the integration into the European Union.
CLAUDE HELLER ( Mexico) said a permanent solution to the issue of Kosovo was an indispensable element for the stabilization of the Balkan region. The reconfiguration of UNMIK and establishment of EULEX had been successful. Although security remained stable, tensions between communities remained a cause of concern and UNMIK should be allowed to fulfil its mandate. Because resolution 1244 (1999) was the legal framework to seek a solution to the problem of Kosovo, the United Nations was the forum for achieving a long-term decision on the issue.
He said he hoped that peace could be safeguarded so that Kosovo and the Balkans could move forward towards integration with Europe. Laws should be applied throughout Kosovo without discrimination against minorities. Measures should be taken in such areas as providing secure conditions for returns, reconciliation and protection of property. It was essential for the Council to continue to support UNMIK in coordination with the European Union, OSCE and NATO. UNMIK should strengthen the mechanisms to settle disputes between parties, while stressing respect for the human rights of minorities.
BAKİ İLKİN ( Turkey) supported the efforts of the Special Representative to reconfigure UNMIK and to adapt it to the current circumstances. Turkey continued to provide support to UNMIK and EULEX. He was encouraged by the overall stable situation in Kosovo, and said he was ready to further contribute in any way possible. He also noted the positive developments in terms of community issues, property, and cultural and religious heritage. Harmonious inter-ethnic relations were imperative. That was of particular importance when the complexity of the atmosphere in Balkans still required close attention.
He said that Kosovo’s independence must be seen in the framework of lasting peace in the region. Assistance to Kosovo for regional integration should be further encouraged and intensified. A prosperous Serbia at peace with all its neighbours should also be encouraged, as that too was important for regional stability. Serbia should in no way be isolated, and Turkey was committed to continuing good relations with Serbia. It was a top priority of Turkish foreign policy to have good relations with its neighbours.
MICHEL KAFANDO ( Burkina Faso) said Kosovo had been stable at the political and security levels. He welcomed the efforts of the Kosovo authorities towards nation-building, as well as their determination and resolve to build a stable Kosovo and one that was fully integrated into the European Union. The issue of Kosovo’s status remained at the heart of problem, as illustrated by the staunch opposition. Belgrade and Pristina must continue to have a dialogue to achieve a peaceful and mutually acceptable solution. He encouraged the United Nations to further develop activities to create freedom of movement, long-term reconciliation and a region based on common European values.
He lauded the efforts of UNMIK and its partners. UNMIK should spare no effort to contribute to Kosovo’s development in accordance with resolution 1244 (1999). There must be regional cooperation in terms of transport and the administration of customs services. He welcomed the takeover of the rule of law by EULEX, as well as initiatives to provide follow-up to the Secretary-General’s November 2008 report to maintain high-level contacts with authorities in Belgrade and Pristina.
JORGE URBINA ( Costa Rica) said the development of the situation in Kosovo should lead to a peaceful settlement of the dispute, which had come as a result of the unilateral declaration of independence. He welcomed the reconfiguration of UNMIK. The creation of the Kosovo police force was a step towards order that should not be perceived as a threat to any minority, but as an opportunity to build institutions that contributed to peace. The deployment of EULEX within the framework of resolution 1244 (1999) was a milestone that should lead to the peaceful coexistence of all communities in Kosovo and Serbia. It was a cause of concern that there were so many impediments to such coexistence. Both the Government of Serbia and of Kosovo should strive to overcome the difficulties. Continued European assistance would contribute to the prosperity of the region.
LIU ZHENMIN ( China) noted that over the past four months the security situation in Kosovo had remained stable despite incidents, particularly in Mitrovica. He hoped that all parties concerned would intensify dialogue and refrain from actions that could destabilize the region. Concerned about the decline in voluntary minority returns, he called on the parties to create a favourable environment for the process. All parties should uphold the United Nations Charter and Security Council resolutions and respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, including Serbia.
He said the best way to solve the issue was through a negotiated settlement acceptable to both Serbia and Kosovo. Nine years ago, the Council had adopted resolution 1244 (1999), which served as the legal basis for the settlement of the Kosovo question. Although some aspects of the situation had changed, the conditions for implementing resolution 1244 remained unchanged. UNMIK should, therefore, fulfil its mandate. Noting the “accelerated reconfiguration of UNMIK” aimed at adapting to the changed situation on the ground, he said adjustments undertaken by the Mission should be technical in nature and not involve the status of Kosovo or compromise neutrality. He noted the commitment by EULEX to comply with resolution 1244 (1999), adding his hope that it would continue to comply with the resolution, and assume its responsibilities under the umbrella of the United Nations and support UNMIK.
BUI THE GIANG ( Viet Nam), while noting the overall stable security situation in and around Kosovo, expressed concern and disappointment at the sharp decline in the number of voluntary returns to Kosovo and said it was imperative to promptly address the issue, in particular the non-implementation of the reintegration strategy for forced returnees. Also crucial was to ensure real progress in safeguarding the rights and security of minorities in order to avoid potentially exacerbating inter-ethnic mistrust and tension as in Mitrovica.
Commending UNMIK’s efforts to engage with all sides to facilitate the implementation of the Secretary-General’s six-point plan, he observed that, while some of the six points had yielded positive results, others would required great political will and good-faith efforts. Given the fragility of the situation in the region, the possibility that the six-point plan could collapse remained high. That loss of momentum could leave the underlying tensions between Serbs and Albanians open to manipulation by “spoilers”.
Against that background, he reiterated Viet Nam’s support of independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Serbia and he supported the Secretary-General’s view that UNMIK should continue to work towards advancing regional stability and prosperity in close coordination with the OSCE and KFOR, as well as in cooperation with authorities in Belgrade and Pristina.
ROSEMARY DICARLO ( United States) commended the Special Representative for his dedication and work with stakeholders. Kosovo continued to expand its “Constitution”. It was second to none in terms of providing rights to all communities and ethnicities. Kosovo had established a foreign ministry, a national security council and links with the private sector. Kosovo’s independence was irreversible. Fifty-six United Nations Member States, including nine Security Council members, had recognized Kosovo’s independence. With the rise of Kosovo, UNMIK’s presence had been substantially reduced and replaced by EULEX’s presence. She welcomed the important role of the European Union’s rule of law mission in Kosovo and noted the progress report EULEX had provided. The mission was on track to reach full operational capacity. Seeing the rule of law in Kosovo strengthened in a uniform, transparent and professional manner was the common goal.
She expressed hope that EULEX would continue to discuss such practical concerns as police, justice and customs matters with the Governments of Serbia and Kosovo. Regrettably, however, the Serbian Government still supported parallel structures in Kosovo. Security was important. She commended NATO’s continued efforts in Kosovo, particularly as they concerned civilian protection according to the highest standards. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia recently issued a decision detailing findings that the then-Government of Yugoslavia had engaged in State policy to force ethnic Albanians out of Kosovo in early 1999. The world had witnessed significant changes in the Balkans in the last five years. She commended President Tadić for progress in advancing reforms in Serbia. She supported Serbia’s aspirations for the future, pledging the United States’ continued cooperation with Serbia, Kosovo and other nations in the region.
ABDURRAHMAN MOHAMED SHALGHAM ( Libya) said the situation in Kosovo had undergone drastic changes. UNMIK’s mandate had to adjust to the new realities on the ground and in accordance with resolution 1244 (1999), particularly given the fact that many Kosovo Albanians believed UNMIK had achieved its goals. He welcomed the deployment of EULEX and commended UNMIK’s reconfiguration. He also welcomed the willingness of Pristina and Belgrade to resume dialogue and engage in discussions on technical matters. He expressed hope that efforts to enforce temporary measures relating to the six points outlined in the Secretary-General’s report would continue in terms of customs, police, the court system, transport, infrastructure and Serbian heritage.
He emphasized the need for dialogue to continue with all parties in all practical matters. While welcoming the stable security situation, he expressed concern over the divergence of views between Kosovo Albanians and Serbs in Kosovo. That might impact Kosovo’s independence in the long run. He called on all parties to exert further efforts to ensure coexistence and harmony, as well as to keep open channels of constructive dialogue and avoid confrontation and violence. He also stressed the need for greater efforts to ensure the return of all internally displaced persons and to protect them, as well as to protect holy and cultural sites.
Taking the floor for the second time, Mr. TADIĆ ( Serbia) said that, although he strongly condemned all crimes committed in 1999, years later, every Albanian who had lived in Kosovo at that time still lived there. Two hundred thousand Serbian souls, however, no longer lived there. That was going to be the legacy of the 1999 policy. Serbia had been a democracy since the Milošević regime had been defeated ‑‑ a democracy that had established rule of law and minority rights. At the same time, Serbia was protecting its sovereignty and integrity of territory. It would continue with its policy of establishing democracy and rule of law for all citizens of its country.
Responding to the intervention by the representative of the United Kingdom, he said he was not making up his own definition of UNMIK or EULEX, but was just reading the Secretary-General report, which made crystal clear that UNMIK and EULEX were working under resolution 1244 (1999) and operating under a status-neutral position. United Nations presence was crucial for Serbia, as was that of EULEX. He expected UNMIK’s continued presence in regional meetings. “We must work together and not squeeze each other out. We need each other”, in order to solve significant problems successfully, he said.
He said that stopping Serbian officials from entering Kosovo was extremely disturbing and dangerous. Today, the Mayor of Belgrade had been prevented from delivering humanitarian aid to Serbian villages of Kosovo. Such situations must be avoided. The six-point plan mentioned by the Secretary-General in his report must be fully implemented. That was not only a Council decision, but would also help everybody in establishing normal conditions. The Kosovo Security Force was unacceptable for Serbia as it represented a paramilitary organization that violated resolution 1244 (1999) and challenged regional stability. It should be dismantled. He recalled that Serbia had proposed the demilitarization of Kosovo.
Regarding free trade in the region, he said Serbia had signed the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA), which established a free trade zone in the former Yugoslavia. Unfortunately, the Pristina representative had said Serbia was blocking trade with the province. That was not true. Serbia remained ready to implement the CEFTA but could not accept unilaterally designed Kosovo customs forms under the heading “ Republic of Kosovo”.
He assured the Council that Serbia would continue efforts to establish peace on a democratic basis and remain a cornerstone of security in the Balkans. Serbia, however, would not give up its legitimate interests.
Mr. HYSENI said that in listening to President Tadić one got the impression that Serbia was the sole victim of all the wars in the former Yugoslavia, that 10,000 Croats had not been killed, that thousands of Albanians had not been slaughtered and that everyone else was to blame but the Serbian State. He condemned the March 2004 events. Hundreds of mosques and churches had been destroyed in the former Yugoslavia. In times of conflict, religious sites often became deliberate targets of indiscriminate fire. There was no justification for that. But President Tadić had failed to take stock of how many mosques and churches had been destroyed.
Recalling key events that preceded the NATO intervention, Mr. Hyseni drew attention to various massacres and widespread repression of Albanian civilians throughout Kosovo, hundreds of thousands of whom had been forced out of their jobs and schools. President Tadić had said 200,000 Serbs had been forced out of Kosovo, but according to the Serbian Government’s own population censuses, there were never more than 197,000 Serbs living in Kosovo. He asked why the Serbian Government had not offered information to thousands of Kosovo Albanian families about the whereabouts of loved ones in Serbia.
The new Kosovo was firmly committed to protecting and honouring the independence of the justice system, he said, adding that Kosovo was going through changes based on highest global standards. But President Tadić had made reference to some sort of “mafia” in Kosovo. It was true that not everyone was “an angel” in Kosovo, but the very core of the organized crime, smuggling and trafficking in Kosovo was located in the north of the country, owing to lawlessness and the Serbian authorities’ support of the parallel structures.
Kosovo was ready to work with EULEX, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the international community to advance Kosovo’s future, he said. It was committed to putting the past behind. It was not, however, going to forget the many casualties. Everyone had felt the horrors of war conducted by Serbia’s State-planned and State-sponsored crimes against humanity.
Taking the floor again, Mr. TADIĆ said the conflict between the Serbs and Albanians dated back in history, covering the past century; it had not started when Milošević took power. The request for independence of Kosovo had not been raised because of the war of 1999, but had already been expressed in the 1960s and 1980s. The political plan for establishing Kosovo’s independence had been realized after a humanitarian catastrophe that had affected everybody in the former Yugoslavia. He was the only President in the region who had extended apologies to all people in the region, and he expected reciprocal apologies to his people.
He said Serbia wanted peace and stability in the region, which was not possible without Kosovo’s participation. Also, without UNMIK and EULEX, peace and stability could not be established. Serbia would continue its approach to the future status of Kosovo in accordance with international law. The perpetrators responsible for the destruction of all historical sites in the former Yugoslavia should be prosecuted. That was why Serbia was cooperating with The Hague Tribunal. He expected others to cooperate as well.
Mr. HYSENI said that when the plan had been put forth by Martti Ahtisaari, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Future Status Process for Kosovo, the Security Council had set several objectives based on its presidential statement at the time. One key objective was to reach a solution to Kosovo’s status that would ensure peace, safety and security in the whole region. That objective was well on the way to being achieved, thanks to the overwhelming support Kosovo was receiving from the international community and Kosovo’s own firm commitment to look to the future and to its relationship with Serbia and other neighbours.
He said Kosovo would not give up its efforts to reach out to the Serb community in Kosovo, and it had blueprints to address all the grievances of that community in Kosovo. It was again the Belgrade leadership that was encouraging and even blackmailing the Serb community in Kosovo from working with Kosovo authorities. He pleaded with the leadership in Belgrade to talk to him on an equal footing so that they could solve many issues together. That could only be done with Kosovo as an independent and sovereign State.
* *** *For information media • not an official record