19 April 2013 Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed a “landmark” agreement between leaders of Serbia and Kosovo in the context of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue facilitated by the European Union, voicing hoped that the new accord would help usher in a future of peace and stability in the Balkans.
“The Secretary-General congratulates and commends the leaders from both sides for their steadfast determination and hopes that the agreement will bring about a brighter future and lasting stability to the region,” a statement issued by Mr. Ban’s spokesperson announced.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in February 2008 following years of ethnic tensions, but Serbia has not recognized the declaration. The EU has since been facilitating dialogue between the parties on a range of practical matters.
Tensions between ethnic Serbs and ethnic Albanians have flared up over the years, particularly in the north of Kosovo – which has an ethnic Serbian majority, unlike the rest of Kosovo, where ethnic Albanians are the majority – sparking concerns from UN officials.
Brokered in Brussels by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, the new agreement is an important step in normalizing relations between Belgrade and Pristina and contains provisions allowing ethnic Serbs living in Kosovo’s north access to their own police and appeals court, according to initial media reports.
In his statement, the Secretary-General congratulated Lady Ashton for what he described as “her strong efforts and her successful personal role” in helping to bring about the agreement and “strongly encouraged” Serb and Kosovar authorities “to conclude this historic process and take concrete measures for a faithful implementation of the agreement.”
“The United Nations stands ready to assist the parties in this endeavour,” the statement added.
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