Serbia is ready for good-faith dialogue on Kosovo issue, leader tells UN debate

Boris Tadic, President of the Republic of Serbia

25 September 2010 – Serbia is ready to engage in dialogue in good faith on Kosovo, but the process requires mutual trust and must be framed by rules and accountability, the country’s President Boris Tadic told the General Assembly’s high-level debate today.

Speaking at United Nations Headquarters in New York, Mr. Tadic reiterated that his country welcomed the European Union’s willingness to facilitate a process of dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade, as outlined in a General Assembly resolution earlier this month.

“We look forward to engage in the process that will hopefully lead to a mutually acceptable compromise solution to the problem of Kosovo,” he said.

Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in February 2008, but Serbia has said that it will not recognize the declaration, and today Mr. Tadic told the Assembly that the declaration violated the basic principles of the UN Charter.

In July the UN International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued an advisory opinion in which it concluded that the declaration did not violate either general international law, a 1999 Security Council resolution following the end of fighting in Kosovo, or the constitutional framework adopted by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on behalf of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).

The advisory opinion, which is non-binding, was issued in response to an earlier request from the General Assembly.

Mr. Tadic said today that the ICJ held only “that the text of the declaration [of independence] itself did not contain anything that violates international law. The court, thus, did not approve the province’s right to secession from Serbia nor did it support the claim that Kosovo is a sovereign State.”

He also said that the court “did not endorse the view Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence was sui generis – a unique case. Nor did it endorse any purported right to self-determination for the province’s ethnic Albanians.”

The President stressed that following the General Assembly resolution earlier this month, which acknowledged the content of the ICJ advisory opinion, “we are now ready to talk and we will do so in good faith.”

But he stressed that “a dialogue requires trust. Soon the two parties will be talking to each other for the first time in many years. We must be patient and seek out those issues which allow confidence to be built on each side. There will be many issues to discuss and some of them will be complicated.”

Mr. Tadic called on other UN Member States to play their part in creating an atmosphere of trust, where the two sides “will leave behind them anachronistic analyses and diplomatic ambushes.”

In his address today the Serbian leader also spoke out on the issue of organized crime, describing it as “the greatest single challenge” to both his country and the wider Western Balkans region.

“It always has been present and was given solid foundations because of the wars in our region. But I fear that it is developing capabilities – acquired from the globalization of crime and access to technology – at a much faster pace. These criminals are bringing drugs, guns, human trafficking and corruption into our societies. In doing so, they are using our region to spread into Europe.”

Mr. Tadic said the countries of the Western Balkans shared a common responsibility to work together to try to eradicate the threat.

“I fear that we are in a race against time in our region. The stark choice is that South-Eastern Europe will become either a valuable bridge between Europe and vital areas to the East or it will become the beachhead of organized crime trying to reach Europe.”

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