KOSOVO SITUATION CALM, BUT POLITICAL TRANSITION FOLLOWING DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE MORE COMPLEX THAN EXPECTED, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD
KOSOVO SITUATION CALM, BUT POLITICAL TRANSITION FOLLOWING DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE MORE COMPLEX THAN EXPECTED, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6025th Meeting (PM)
KOSOVO SITUATION CALM, BUT POLITICAL TRANSITION FOLLOWING DECLARATION
OF INDEPENDENCE MORE COMPLEX THAN EXPECTED, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD
European Union Speeds up Deployment of Rule of Law Mission, Says Special
Representative; Council Welcomes Union’s Vital Contribution to Regional Stability
As the Security Council took up the implementation of its resolutions on Kosovo, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) said the overall situation remained calm and stable, but the political transition following Kosovo’s declaration of independence on 17 February was proving to be more complex than many observers had expected.
Briefing the Council at the opening of the meeting, Lamberto Zannier said that the Mission was entering a new phase of its nine-year existence. In June, the Secretary-General had signalled his intention to reconfigure the international civil presence in Kosovo, since basic consent by Kosovo’s authorities to direct administration by UNMIK had, in practice, disappeared. UNMIK had since undertaken a thorough review of its size and functions, in order to be able to operate in the most appropriate way in the environment of change.
Presenting the Secretary-General’s latest report on Kosovo, which outlines the reconfiguration, Mr. Zannier said that the European Union was deploying its so-called “EULEX” mission on the rule of law “at an increasingly accelerated rate”, but for now the United Nations Mission remained the principle international guarantor of rule of law in Kosovo.
He said that UNMIK needed to be able to concentrate on the fields where it could make a difference for good, rather than attempt to continue functions which were neither relevant, nor needed. UNMIK’s role was becoming much more political, for example by providing an interface for the process of dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina.
Stressing that Serbia’s voice must be respected, Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremić said that a dialogue had begun, focusing on six areas of mutual concern, including judiciary, police, transportation and infrastructure, administrative boundaries and Serbian patrimony. The United Nations and Belgrade had reached an agreement that created the conditions to protect the well-being of Serbs and other gravely endangered communities in Kosovo. It cemented the fact that Serbia remained indispensable to the self-governance of its southern province.
While underscoring Kosovo’s full support for the deployment of EULEX, Skender Hyseni of Kosovo said that, in a declaration of 18 November, Kosovo had made very clear its rejection in its entirety of the “six-point proposal” contained in the Secretary-General’s report.
“We cannot permit any action that infringes upon sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Kosovo,” he said. Kosovo would cooperate with EULEX for its deployment throughout Kosovo on the basis of Kosovo’s declaration of independence, Constitution and laws, as well as the [United Nations Special Envoy for Kosovo, Maarti] Ahtisaari package, the European Union Joint Action plan of 4 February 2008, and the initiatives for EULEX deployment.
On behalf of the European Union, France’s speaker noted today’s reactions to the report by the representatives of Serbia and Kosovo. He welcomed Serbia’s stance, saying that by participating in the reconfiguration process, it was participating in creating a European future for the Western Balkans. His delegation had also noted the statement by Mr. Hyseni, recognizing that a dialogue would be maintained with the authorities in Pristina throughout EULEX’s deployment.
The Secretary-General had kept a permanent dialogue going with all concerned parties during the consideration of how to reconfigure the international presence in Kosovo, he continued. He had done that in pursuit of the goal of preserving regional stability and in light of the fact that such a reconfiguration of the international presence was the best way to achieve the goal. His delegation welcomed that reconfiguration. As a result, EULEX would continue to deploy, in cooperation with UNMIK, to take over all rule of law operations, functioning under resolution 1244 (1999) and in a fully transparent manner.
In a presidential statement that capped today’s meeting, the Council welcomed the intentions of Belgrade and Pristina to cooperate with the international community, taking into account their positions, as reflected in their statements today.
It also welcomed the cooperation between the United Nations and other international actors, within the framework of Security Council resolution 1244 (1999), which established the Mission, as well as continuing efforts of the European Union “to advance the European perspective in the whole of Western Balkans, thereby making a decisive contribution to regional stability and prosperity”.
Also participating in the discussion were representatives of United States, Italy, South Africa, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Russian Federation, Croatia, Indonesia, Viet Nam, China, Panama, Libya and the United Kingdom.
The meeting was called to order at 3:15 p.m., suspended at 5:12 p.m., resumed at 5:22 p.m. and adjourned at 5:25 p.m.
The text of presidential statement S/PRST/2008/44 reads, as follows:
“The Security Council welcomes the Secretary-General’s report on UNMIK (S/2008/692) dated 24 November 2008 and, taking into account the positions of Belgrade and Pristina on the report which were reflected in their respective statements, welcomes their intentions to cooperate with the international community.
“The Security Council welcomes the cooperation between the United Nations and other international actors, within the framework of Security Council resolution 1244 (1999), and also welcomes the continuing efforts of the European Union to advance the European perspective of the whole of the Western Balkans, thereby making a decisive contribution to regional stability and prosperity.”
When the Security Council met today to consider its resolution 1244 (1999) by which it decided, among other things, to establish the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), it had before it the Secretary-General’s report on the issue, covering the Mission’s activities and developments related thereto from 26 June to 31 October (document S/2008/692).
The report notes that, with the entry into force of the “Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo” on 15 June, the Kosovo authorities have continued to assert Kosovo’s statehood. On 8 October, the International Court of Justice was requested to issue an advisory opinion on the “unilateral declaration of independence by the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government”, to which the Kosovo authorities answered that Kosovo’s independence was irreversible.
The report further notes that the Government of Serbia and a majority of Kosovo Serbs continue to recognise UNMIK as their sole and legitimate civilian international interlocutor under resolution 1244 (1999), a factor that has significant implications on the police, customs and judicial sectors, where UNMIK continues to play a prominent role. A majority of Kosovo Serbs strongly rejects any authority of Kosovo’s institutions and continue to oppose the deployment of the European Union Rule of Law Mission for Kosovo (EULEX). There have been several inter-ethnic low-level security incidents, and Kosovo Serb police officers refuse to work with the Kosovo Protection Corps, which will be changed into the Kosovo security force.
The report states that the number of minority returns has sharply declined, but the “Returnee Sustainability Survey”, conducted by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, revealed that a very high percentage (84.45 per cent) returns were found to be sustainable. Following the adoption of the Kosovo Constitution, the Government of Serbia suspended the operations of the Kosovo Property Agency in Serbia, which delays the work of the Kosovo Property Claims Commission. While UNMIK continued to facilitate Kosovo’s participation in regional economic initiatives, the economic reconstruction pillar of UNMIK (pillar IV) ceased all substantive operations on 30 June, pursuant to a decision by the European Commission.
Also according to the report, the Kosovo authorities frequently question the authority of UNMIK. Against that background and on the basis of the Secretary-General’s instructions to his Special Representative to move forward with the reconfiguration of the international civil presence in Kosovo within the framework of resolution 1244 (1999), UNMIK formally announced the start of a reconfiguration process on 26 June. The UNMIK Department of Civil Administration and the Office of Communities, Returns and Minority Affairs have ceased their activities, and the civil administration field network has been recalibrated, with a focus on reporting on minority issues.
The Secretary-General observes that his Special Representative is facilitating the European Union’s preparations for an enhanced role in the rule of law area. EULEX will fully respect resolution 1244 (1999) and operate under the overall authority and within the status-neutral framework of the United Nations. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) will remain a central element of a reconfigured UNMIK and play a crucial role in building and monitoring Kosovo’s institutions and supporting Kosovo’s minority communities. The Special Representative has also embarked on an intensive dialogue with the Government of Serbia. That dialogue is being carried forward in consultation with the authorities in Pristina and with key stakeholders. The Secretary-General welcomes the results of those discussions.
Briefing by Special Representative
Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNMIK, LAMBERTO ZANNIER, said that the overall situation had remained calm and stable since his last briefing, but the political situation and the institutional landscape remained complex. Kosovo was undergoing a period of transition and adaptation to the new circumstances created by its declaration of independence on 17 February and subsequent entry into force of its Constitution. In fact, the transition was proving to be more complex that many observers had expected. Against the expectations that Kosovo would be recognized quickly by a large number of United Nations Member States, in fact, the pace of recognitions had slackened over the summer; it had now reached 52. That was hampering Kosovo’s ability to forge ties with external actors, obtain membership in international organizations and reinforce the self-government institutions.
Nevertheless, Kosovo expected to become a member of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank next year. Assisted by many of United Nations Member States that had recognized Kosovo, the Government, presidency and Assembly had continued to consolidate their control and authority over the institutions of Kosovo. In any case, it had been encouraging that the overall atmosphere in Kosovo had been generally calm throughout the summer, that there had been no major security incidents and that a series of minor problems had been managed and contained by low-level intervention.
Regarding UNMIK, he said that the Mission was entering a new phase of its nine-year existence. In June, the Secretary-General had signalled his intention to reconfigure the international civil presence in Kosovo, since basic consent for direct administration by UNMIK had in practice disappeared. UNMIK had since undertaken a thorough review of its size and functions in order to be able to operate in the most appropriate way in the environment of change. It needed to be able to concentrate on the fields where it could make a difference for good, rather than attempt to continue functions which were neither relevant, nor needed. UNMIK’s role was becoming much more political, for example, by providing an interface for the process of dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. Since it had not yet been possible to establish conditions for the two sides to talk to each other, UNMIK had a role as an interlocutor of both, although each side interpreted its role differently.
The Special Representative said he had visited Belgrade several times and had seen some progress towards resolving some very controversial issues. He considered particularly important the reopening of the courthouse in northern Mitrovica, which had not functioned since the public disturbances there in March. That step, in its initial phase, with the court being operated by UNMIK under resolution 1244, appeared to be acceptable to both Belgrade and Pristina. Complex negotiations were continuing on seeking agreement on the next phases, with the objective of fully normalizing the operation of the court. The negotiations were proving very difficult, however, especially on such issues as the future jurisdiction of the court, once it was transitioned. He urged all parties to continue acting responsibly and constructively and to accept the current transitional arrangements, until those issues were resolved. “If we can build up trust and cooperation through constructive engagement of all sides, then there is hope for progress in other areas,” he said. Maintaining the momentum required the good faith and political will of all concerned.
The Mission’s adaptation process was planned in three phases, he said. The first one was almost completed, and was intended to enhance the political and diplomatic elements of the Mission, bringing together the residual elements of civil administration with political affairs, and with more modest adjustments to the public information office and other departments. The plan during that phase was based on the premise that, although resolution 1244 remained in force and still provided the Mission’s mandate, recent actions of the institutions of Kosovo had made it no longer possible or practicable for UNMIK to function as an administrator. As a result, the Mission’s field presence was being re-oriented to concentrate in areas occupied by non-Albanian communities with a mandate to monitor the interests of those communities and retain a support and mediation role.
He went on to say that since his last address to the Council, he had made a suggestion to OSCE’s Permanent Council in Vienna for that organization to consider strengthening and focusing its activity in Kosovo. Steps were now being taken to better integrate common efforts, especially at the field level, in the spirit of resolution 1244 and in a status-neutral mode. The next phase, which involved essentially the administration and support services internal to the Mission, could not be completed until reconfiguration in the rule of law area was under way, because the size of the support services was dependent on the total size of the Mission. The broad target was a reduction in staff of approximately 70 per cent, including rule of law elements, but that would not be achieved until all three phases were complete. For now, UNMIK remained the principal international guarantor of rule of law in Kosovo. The Council was aware of the European Union’s willingness to launch its own rule of law mission in Kosovo within the framework provided in resolution 1244. EULEX staff was now deploying at an increasingly accelerated rate. When EULEX deployed throughout Kosovo under a United Nations umbrella, in the police, justice and customs sectors, UNMIK would review its presence accordingly.
The report before the Council described the conditions under which EULEX would be deployed, as well as the results of the dialogue with Belgrade mandated by the Secretary-General’s letter of 12 June, he noted. Those arrangements, which had been accepted by the Serbian Government, would largely translate into a more focused dialogue to address the issues identified in the six areas. In view of the strong objections by the Pristina authorities to those temporary arrangements, and taking into account an alternative four-point plan put forward by them, the Secretary-General had asked the Special Representative to reassure the Pristina authorities that the implementation would proceed on the basis of close cooperation and coordination.
Offering a personal observation, he said that nearly a decade after the end of the conflict in the region, Kosovo fundamentally remained an ethnically segregated society, including on the basis of its Constitution. Kosovo’s Albanians and Serbs lived apart, in parallel worlds. To a certain extent, that took place peacefully, but the potential of conflict was always there, and there had been an intensification of small incidents in the north recently. Although the questions regarding Kosovo’s status contributed to that, the international community should redouble its efforts to promote better conditions for safe and sustainable returns, which were currently at the lowest level since 2000, and for unimpeded freedom of movement throughout Kosovo for all communities. Looking for practical solutions, he would continue to be guided by the basic principles of inclusion, integration and protection of the most vulnerable elements of Kosovo society.
In conclusion, he said that UNMIK had constantly adapted itself to change, but had always sought to carry out its mandate under resolution 1244. That mandate had to be interpreted in the light of the events. “We are no longer engaged in relief work, for example, and have not been for a long time,” he said. By focusing on the field where there was still some room for intervention, and where the Mission could still make a difference, UNMIK could best discharge its responsibilities to the Security Council under its mandate.
VUK JEREMIĆ, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Serbia, expressed pleasure at taking part in an occasion in which the errors of the past, carried out in the name of “bare political expediency”, could begin to be set aright. Today afforded the chance to engage in a common effort to attenuate the effects of the challenge to the international system’s foundations posed by the unilateral declaration of independence, by the Albanian authorities in Serbia’s southern province of Kosovo and Metohija.
He made no apologies for his country’s insistence on the full respect of the binding obligations of the United Nations Charter, as well as of the Council’s resolution 1244 (1999), at all Council meetings regarding Serbia’s southern province. Serbia was unwavering in its determination to peacefully defend its principled position on Kosovo, using all political, diplomatic and legal means at its disposal. Thanking all Member States that supported Serbia’s position, particularly the Russian Federation, he said they stood together in their dedication to safeguard the principles of the Charter.
Serbia had insisted on resolving Kosovo’s future status in accordance with international law, not only for reasons of vital national interests and care for regional peace, but also out of concern for the survival of the United Nations system, he said. The argument that Kosovo was “sui generis” -- or a “unique case” -– was untenable. That was founded on the claim that Kosovo stood beyond the rules that governed the international community’s behaviour –- a claim rejected by Serbia. The only way to avoid challenging the territorial integrity of any Member State was for the world community to work constructively together through international institutions of indisputable and universal legitimacy.
The General Assembly, on 8 October, had approved the referral of the question of status to the International Court of Justice, thereby allowing the issue to steer clear of resorting to force, he said. That was the first in a series of steps to create an environment in which lasting stability could be secure, law strengthened and sovereign equality reinforced.
The second step involved restoring legitimacy to the international action in Serbia’s southern province, he went on to say. The Secretary-General, in his 12 June report, had informed the Council of his intention to reconfigure the international civilian presence in Kosovo, which had been done without the approval of Serbia, the host country, and without the endorsement of the Council. That action had set the stage for a crisis of legitimacy. Yet, Serbia had responded in a non-confrontational manner.
The point, he stressed, was clear: Serbia’s voice must be respected. A dialogue had begun on that basis, focusing on several areas of mutual concern, including judiciary, police, transportation and infrastructure, administrative boundaries and Serbian patrimony. The United Nations and Belgrade had reached an agreement, the details of which were outlined in the current report. That achievement was significant, as it created the conditions to protect the well-being of Serbs and other gravely endangered communities in Kosovo. It cemented the fact that Serbia remained indispensable to the self-governance of its southern province.
He emphasized that Serbia’s long-standing support for the deepening of the European Union’s engagement in any part of Serbia, including Kosovo, had never been at issue. The European Union could, and should, help build the institutional and societal fabric of that southern province. A clear and binding commitment by the European Union, confirmed by the Security Council, to remain status neutral and to anchor its presence under United Nations authority in conformity with resolution 1244 had always been a crucial condition for Serbia’s acceptance of any reconfiguration. Those reasonable conditions had been met and, giving full consent to the six-point agreement and the conditions laid out for the deployment of EULEX, Serbia welcomed the report and invited the Council to endorse it.
Expressing disappointment about the position taken by the authorities in Pristina on the report, he said the implementation of the six-point plan would be put into operation in consultation with relevant stakeholders. He thus called on Pristina to neither obstruct the international community’s will, nor oppose the Council’s binding resolve.
He drew the Council’s attention to the difficult environment in which the “most endangered” community in Europe still lived, inviting it to consider the abominable act of cultural cleansing seen in the paving over of the recently destroyed Serbian church in Djakovica; the refusal of municipal authorities to restore the “cadastral” record of land of the monastery of Visoki Dečani; the more than 30,000 outstanding cases of illegally seized property; and the seizure of massive amounts of medicine and medical equipment destined for north Kosovo or the enclaves, among other events.
The rapid realization of full membership in the European Union remained Serbia’s central strategic priority, he said, stressing that Serbia continued to believe in a shared destiny for all European nations. The whole of Serbia –- including Kosovo -– would become a member of the European Unionin the next few years, joining with its heads held high, its territorial integrity intact and its sovereignty preserved.
He said that, like other nations, Serbia had travelled through periods of tragedy and glory. It had sometimes been tragedy that had allowed it to achieve new heights -– not the reinvention of history. “This is why Serbia would never, ever accept the independence of Kosovo,” he declared, stressing that new heights were achieved by nurturing heritage, not suffocating it.
SKENDER HYSENI of Kosovo said that, in nine busy months since the declaration of independence in February, Kosovo had laid the foundations for a democratic, multi-ethnic State at peace with all its neighbours, and firmly established on its path towards integration into Euro-Atlantic structures. It had adopted a modern Constitution, which was based on the recommendations of Noble Peace Prize winner and United Nations Special Envoy for Kosovo Maarti Ahtisaari. It provided far-reaching protections for ethnic minorities. His Government had worked intensively to implement both the ideals and objectives enshrined in the Constitution and the Ahtisaari Plan. Municipalities had been afforded a large degree of local governance under Kosovo’s new legal framework. Kosovo’s ethnic minority members, including from the Serb community, regularly participated in the Parliament sessions, in the Government and other institutions of the Republic of Kosovo.
Continuing, he said that 52 States from around the world had recognized Kosovo’s independence, including the majority of nations represented in the Council chamber. Recent recognitions were further clear evidence of progress made by Kosovo, especially on the human and minority protection fronts. Recognition by Montenegro and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo’s “first neighbours”, besides confirming that Kosovo’s independence had added significantly to the overall stronger sense of safety and stability in the Western Balkans, had also strengthened the will and determination on the part of the countries of the region to work together on many issues of common concern and interest. He hoped that, in due course, Serbia would also join the efforts to establish an environment of cooperation and understanding in the region, including normalization of relations with the Republic of Kosovo.
With most countries in Europe having already recognized Kosovo, the people of Kosovo were grateful to all the Governments that had pledged nearly $2 billion in economic development assistance to the Government in July, he said. Those donors had included some countries, such as Saudi Arabia, that had not yet taken the decision to recognize Kosovo. He was also deeply thankful to members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) for continuing to provide resources and personnel to help ensure the safety and security of his country.
He said he expected more recognitions in the coming months, despite the fact that the Serbian Government had requested an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on Kosovo’s independence. It was regretful that such a request had been made. Both Kosovo and many international supporters had noted repeatedly that the question of independence was settled and irreversible. He was confident that the referral to the Court would not hamper nations around the world from assessing Kosovo’s continued progress and their eventual decision to recognize its independence. Kosovo was going to take an active part in presenting its case to the Court. He was confident that the Court’s deliberations would be fair and impartial. He also strongly believed that Kosovo’s position would be reconfirmed. Kosovo would pursue further recognitions of its independence through diplomatic activity and persistent international outreach. It had already started the membership process with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and in due course would seek membership in other international institutions.
The fist of 10 embassies of the Republic of Kosovo had already been established, he added. Today, sitting next to him, he had the Charge d’Affairs of Kosovo’s Embassy in Washington, D.C. The first half of 2009 would see the establishment of another 10 to 15 embassies of Kosovo throughout the world.
Kosovo was deeply conscious of the tasks that still lay ahead, he continued. Among the most pressing was the need to establish a unitary system of rule of law with a European perspective. On the very day of the independence declaration, the sovereign authorities of the Republic of Kosovo had invited the European Union and NATO to perform specific functions in an independent Kosovo. The Parliament of Kosovo and other State institutions and citizens had endorsed the establishment of the International Civilian Office to supervise the implementation of the Ahtisaari Comprehensive Settlement provisions. The deployment of EULEX also enjoyed the full support of the people and State authorities of Kosovo. Deployment of EULEX throughout Kosovo was critical, and Kosovo was therefore committed to its early deployment throughout Kosovo, in accordance with the mandate which derived from the Kosovo declaration of independence, the Ahtisaari package, the Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo, laws of Kosovo, the European Union Joint Action plan of 4 February 2008, and the initiatives of 17 February and 8 August for EULEX deployment.
In a declaration of 18 November, Kosovo had made very clear its rejection in its entirety of the “six-point proposal” contained in the Secretary-General’s report. “We cannot permit any action that infringes upon sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Kosovo,” he said. Kosovo would cooperate with EULEX for its deployment throughout Kosovo on the basis of the above-mentioned documents, fully respecting the sovereignty, territorial integrity and unitary character of the Republic of Kosovo. The international community had continued to underscore the illegitimacy of parallel municipal structures, self-declared municipal office holders, and attempts in some Serb-majority areas to intimidate those individuals who wished to work together with their Albanian neighbours to build a better future for all of Kosovo. The institutions of Kosovo would continue cooperation with the United States, European Union and NATO to achieve those goals.
In conclusion, he added that Kosovo would persistently seek ways to reach out and cooperate with Belgrade on many issues of common interest, and in the framework of regional cooperation structures and initiatives. At the same time, Kosovo would continue to react with restraint and moderation to provocations coming from Serbia, believing that to be the only way towards the establishment of a democratic and multi-ethnic State. Kosovo looked forward to working with all the members of the Council to promote shared goals of international peace and safety.
JEAN-MAURICE RIPERT (France), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that the Secretary-General had kept a permanent dialogue going with all concerned parties during the consideration of how to reconfigure the international presence in Kosovo. He had done that in pursuit of the goal of preserving regional stability and in light of the fact that such a reconfiguration of the international presence was the best way to achieve the goal. His delegation welcomed that reconfiguration. As a result, EULEX would continue to deploy, in cooperation with UNMIK, to take over all rule of law operations, operating under resolution 1244 and in a fully transparent manner.
He had noted today’s reactions to the report by the representatives of Serbia and Kosovo. He welcomed Serbia’s stance, saying that by participating in the reconfiguration process, it was participating in creating a European future for the Western Balkans. His delegation had noted the statement by Mr. Hyseni, recognizing that a dialogue would be maintained with the authorities in Pristina throughout EULEX’s deployment.
To move beyond the past, he said, he was proposing a common future within the European context. The Union was willing to support Kosovo’s economic development. It was fully conscious of its duties and, in that spirit, had deployed EULEX. It hoped to move ahead towards a common future for all Kosovars and Serbs.
ROSEMARY DICARLO ( United States) said that, to date, 52 countries had recognized Kosovo as a sovereign and independent State, with more expected to do so in the coming months. “Kosovo’s independence was irreversible,” she said, emphasizing that Kosovo had, since its declaration of independence, established a vision for its democracy. The Secretary-General’s report highlighted the progress made: the elaboration of a Constitution that guaranteed the rights of all of Kosovo’s minorities; the creation of Government institutions, including a Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and a planned security force, among others. Underscoring that inter-ethnic relations remained a concern, she encouraged Kosovo’s leaders to create institutions to overcome ethnic tensions.
She also welcomed the reconfiguration of UNMIK to allow for EULEX’s deployment throughout Kosovo. While Kosovo’s leaders had made clear that they rejected the six-point plan, they had welcomed EULEX’s deployment. For its part, the United States welcomed the Secretary-General’s commitment to consult and coordinate continuously with Kosovo authorities on UNMIK’s reconfiguration and on EULEX’s deployment. The Government of Kosovo had a complementary obligation to preserve and maintain the rule of law. The deployment of EULEX with a single chain of command and customs authority would help remedy current conditions which hampered economic development. In that context, she urged all stakeholders to ensure that EULEX was deployed without delay.
Continuing, she said the United States was committed to ensuring that Kosovo Serbs enjoyed all rights in Kosovo. Her country would work to secure a safe future for all ethnic minorities and to promote such a future for all countries in the Western Balkans.
ALDO MANTOVANI (Italy) noted the considerable challenges resulting from UNMIK’s downsizing, the assumption of unprecedented responsibilities by the European Union in the area and the growing difficulties facing the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Kosovo in exercising his mandate since the declaration of independence, and said it was time to strengthen the European Union’s presence on the ground.
He further noted that UNMIK and EULEX were working together to ensure that the European Union mission might begin deployment. He was pleased that dialogue with Belgrade and Pristina had brought about a framework agreement on the six points outlined in the Secretary-General’s 12 June report. On the basis of that agreement, a blueprint had been produced for Serb-majority areas in key sectors, such as police, justice and customs, in which EULEX would concentrate its activities. He commended Prisitina’s commitment to favouring prompt deployment of EULEX, despite some concerns, and expressed confidence that Belgrade would also cooperate with EULEX.
EULEX must be perceived by all local populations as a fundamental element for building a multi-ethnic society, in which people could live and prosper by standards of democracy and rule of law in line with those of the European Union, he said. Further, he fully supported the way forward outlined in the Secretary-General’s report, as that would benefit stability in Serbia, Kosovo and the entire region.
Noting that Italy was a main contributor to KFOR, as it would be to EULEX, he favoured an enhanced role for OSCE, and said that NATO must remain a key player in contributing to a safe and secure environment and to institution-building in Kosovo. NATO’s present structure, therefore, should not be changed. Italy was committed to contributing to the international community’s efforts in Kosovo, to regional democratic stability and to a European future for all countries of the Western Balkans, including Serbia. He also looked forward to the prompt entry into force of the Stabilization and Association Agreement with Belgrade.
BASO SANGQU ( South Africa) said that, from the Secretary-General’s report, he was particularly pleased to note the dialogue between the Secretariat and Serbia on reconfiguration. That reconfiguration should be pursued in a status-neutral manner, under resolution 1244 and under UNMIK’s authority. He also expressed concern over the low number of returns of displaced persons, which had become even slower recently. He was troubled that Kosovo’s relevant authorities were not functioning in a transparent manner. The issue of returns was central to the promotion of understanding between communities.
Continuing, he concurred with the view that the future of the region lay with the European Union, but achieving that goal would be difficult if the parties did not engage. The chapter of the Balkan wars would never be closed unless reconciliation between all parties was achieved. Previously, his delegation had stressed the need for the resolution of disputes through negotiations and dialogue, on the basis of international law and the Charter. In that regard, South Africa had expressed concern over how Kosovo had declared its independence from Serbia. He welcomed the decision of the General Assembly to refer the case to the International Court of Justice, and he hoped that would clarify the situation.
JAN GRAULS ( Belgium) said that, since the last debate in July, the reality on the ground had continued to evolve. The Kosovo authorities had taken tangible steps to consolidate their new State. The measures undertaken by Kosovo were described in the Secretary-General’s report, which also described the steps by the Secretary-General and Special Representative to adapt to the new reality. Those efforts showed a certain degree of realism and responsibility and deserved support. The process of adaptation and reconfiguration of the international presence continued and accelerated, taking into account the developments on the ground. The reconfiguration of UNMIK would be accompanied by accelerated deployment of EULEX. The deployment of the European mission was of paramount importance for Belgium, and his country’s involvement in it was evidence of that. UNMIK should intensify its cooperation in coming weeks to ensure full discharge of EULEX.
He also emphasized the responsibility of the two parties involved, saying that international organizations, including the United Nations and the European Union, were not the only ones who had to shoulder the responsibility for finding solutions. He was glad both parties had agreed to the deployment of EULEX and reconfiguration of the international presence in Kosovo. On some points, the positions of Belgrade and Pristina still differed, but on some, both parties had demonstrated pragmatism. Belgium encouraged them to continue developing a productive working relationship. He hoped the Security Council would be able to take note of that positive evolution.
MICHEL KAFANDO ( Burkina Faso) noted with satisfaction the relevant calm that had prevailed in Kosovo since its declaration of independence, and welcomed the efforts of its authorities to design institutions giving it the prerogatives of a sovereign State. The tensions that had arisen as a result of boycotts of the new State administration in the north were minor, but should not be ignored. Thus, the efforts of UNMIK police, together with those of KFOR, were commendable. His delegation shared the vision of the Secretary-General for reconfiguring UNMIK vis-à-vis the EULEX deployment. Theircoordination could only consolidate UNMIK’s successes. He supported the six-point plan, but asked that the views expressed by the Kosovo authorities, particularly in its sovereign declaration of 18 November, be kept in mind. Since both parties wished to join the European family, both should move beyond their past divergence. In that light, he urged the parties, together with the European Union, to continue on the path towards a durable solution.
IGOR SHCHERBAK ( Russian Federation) said his country’s position was unchanged; it believed there needed to be consistent respect for resolution 1244. Moreover, Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence and its support by a minority of international States ran counter to the United Nations Charter. It had often been said by the Secretary-General that resolution 1244 remained in force in its entirety. It was in that context that the United Nations should continue to work in the region. The main engine driving the international presence also had to maintain that resolution’s standards –- a point to which his delegation had repeatedly drawn attention.
He said the unilateral declaration of independence had not aided several persistent regional problems. Indeed, the situation in Kosovo could become a source of serious regional destabilization. For its part, Russia would like to see a radical change for the better throughout the Balkans and across a number of areas of concern, such as crime. He welcomed the agreement between Belgrade and the United Nations on the six points and said that all parties were required to implement them. If the Kosovo authorities sabotaged their implementation, the international community would be obliged to bring pressure to bear on them.
Turning to UNMIK’s reconfiguration, he stressed that, under paragraphs 49 and 50 of the Secretary-General’s report, the international parties had to conform to resolution 1244 and operate under United Nations authority. In closing, he asserted that the only solution was to return the issue to the international arena.
NEVEN JURICA ( Croatia) said he wished to underline the simple fact that the Republic of Kosovo had come into being as a newly established State, which was important for the stability and security in the region. Ensuring Kosovo’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity was fundamental for stability for their corner of the European continent. In that regard, he applauded the European Union for continuing its efforts to bring a European perspective for all countries of the region. The Union had proven to be a major force for much needed reforms. He expected EULEX to further solidify Kosovo’s independence and sovereignty and strengthen the rule of law there.
He also welcomed the decision of the Secretary-General to proceed with further reconfiguration of UNMIK. On 24 November, Croatia had signed an agreement, enabling it to participate in EULEX. His country had thus added its support to regional stability in South-Eastern Europe. He also reiterated a call on both countries and all citizens of Kosovo, regardless of ethnicity, to continue to cooperate with NATO, the United Nations and the European Union to ensure peace and stability in the region. He expressed his country’s desire to see both the Republic of Serbia and the Republic of Kosovo build neighbourly relations.
HASAN KLEIB ( Indonesia) said the inter-ethnic security incidents that had occurred during the reporting period were deeply troubling and must be brought to a halt through preventive measures, including non-coercive ones. While encouraging UNMIK and the Kosovo multinational security force (KFOR), along with its local partners, to curb the violence, he said the Security Council must, collectively, transmit a clear message to all parties to exercise restraint.
The diverging paths that Belgrade and Pristina had taken with regard to the space in which UNMIK could operate had had substantial impacts within which the Special Representative could exercise his mandate. UNMIK had already started a reconfiguration process and, in that regard, he acknowledged the need to adjust the structure and profile of the Mission, in response to Kosovo’s profoundly changed reality. Additionally, UNMIK should facilitate the European Union preparations to enhance its operational role, especially in the area of rule of law. The Office of the Special Representative was clearly linked to the European Union office and the International Civilian Office and, as such, the Council should keep abreast of their activities through regular briefings with the Special Representative.
While urging all parties on the ground to cooperate with the United Nations Mission, he reaffirmed that resolution 1244 continued to provide the necessary political and legal framework under which UNMIK could discharge its mandate, including the implementation of “standards”. The Mission’s operational mandate, as Indonesia understood it, was status neutral. Dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, under the auspices of the Secretary-General, should continue, though it was crucial that those efforts encompassed the wider question of final status, with a view to normalizing the situation on the ground. He welcomed Serbia’s commitment to resolve the final status question through political, diplomatic and legal means, and called on all parties in Kosovo to do the same. The Secretary-General should continue to engage all parties towards a mutually acceptable solution, in line with resolution 1244.
HOANG CHI TRUNG ( Viet Nam) said that, taking into account the prevailing circumstances, his delegation welcomed the six-point plan on UNMIK’s reconfiguration. He also welcomed the Secretary-General’s intention to conduct further consultations with the parties. He believed that any action regarding UNMIK or changing the format of the international presence in Kosovo would be possible only within the framework of resolution 1244 and on the basis of a Security Council decision. He welcomed the Secretary-General’s efforts to adapt UNMIK to changed reality and also understood the desire of the European Union to undertake an enhanced role in the rule of law area. The Union’s mission should be neutral and impartial, and act within the framework of the mandate entrusted to it by the United Nations and within resolution 1244.
He encouraged representatives of Belgrade and all Kosovo communities to engage in good-faith dialogue to solve problems and facilitate return of displaced persons. He emphasized the leading role of the Security Council and the need to comply with the norms of international law. The solution should be acceptable to both Belgrade and Pristina, thus contributing to peace and security in the immediate region and Europe as a whole.
LI KEXIN ( China) said his country’s position on Kosovo had been consistent: the matter should be resolved on the basis of the United Nations Charter and relevant resolutions. A mutually acceptable plan was the best basis for future progress. Serbia had held intensive discussions with the United Nations and the European Union, agreeing to the six-point plan. UNMIK’s reconfiguration was of a technical nature and did not affect Kosovo’s status. Nor did it undermine the Organization’s neutrality. Safeguarding the stability of the region was of international concern, and he hoped EULEX would be successfully deployed in that context.
ANDRÉS DE VENGOECHEA ( Panama) said that current realities in Kosovo made it impossible for UNMIK to discharge much of its mandate. On that basis, his delegation supported the Mission’s reconfiguration and the transfer of rule of law operations to EULEX. The actions of the Secretary-General and the European Union were particularly appropriate, given the Council’s inability to achieve consensus on the issue. Because this was not the most desirable path, however, it was important for Serbia to be included in all discussions. That was why the Secretary-General had instructed his Special Representative to engage in intensive dialogue with the Belgrade authorities. There was no doubt that the future of both Kosovo and Serbia lay in European integration. The divisive rhetoric should be left in the past and a spirit of economic and social cooperation should be allowed to prevail.
IBRAHIM O. A. DABBASHI ( Libya) said that the situation had changed significantly, and a new one was now confronting the international community. UNMIK had to adapt to that reality on the ground, and several challenges needed to be met within the context of resolution 1244 following Kosovo’s declaration of independence and Serbia’s subsequent rejection of that. He appreciated the Secretary-General’s decision regarding the factors affecting international presence in Kosovo, as well as the effort to reconfigure UNMIK and cooperation with the European Union in the area of the rule of law, based on resolution 1244. He was in favour of international presence in Kosovo. In that regard, his country reconfirmed that resolution 1244 was the legal framework for United Nations efforts in Kosovo. That mandate must continue to be discharged until the Council decided otherwise; any structure in the region must be part of that framework.
Taking note of the talks between representatives of the Secretary-General and European Union at the technical level, he said that his delegation supported the six points set forth by the Secretary-General in his letter of July. He also confirmed the importance of dialogue with both parties on operational matters. He had concerns regarding the differences between Belgrade and Pristina, which could create problems in the future, and he called on all parties to preserve proper channels for communication and dialogue. He called for the return of refugees and protection of minorities, as well as patrimony and cultural heritage, so that the parties could find a common area to preserve peace and stability. He also supported the Secretary-General’s recommendations for reconfiguration of the UNMIK. Steps should be taken swiftly to deal with the changing situation, but that must be done transparently, making sure there was a status-neutral approach.
KAREN PIERCE ( United Kingdom) said that Kosovo’s independence was irreversible and indivisible. One important thing regarding the proposals in the Secretary-General’s report was that the risk of partition was receding, which she applauded. Having followed today’s debate, she was pleased to have heard clear support for the Special Representative’s intentions for reconfiguring UNMIK, as well as clear support for full EULEX deployment. That was good news. She hoped the Council would be able to adopt a presidential statement later today.
In June, the Secretary-General had decided that it was right to reconfigure the international civilian presence in Kosovo, and events had borne out that it was indeed the correct decision, she continued. The Special Representative had noted today that once EULEX had fully deployed, UNMIK would be able to review its task. With the Secretary-General’s report and envisaged accelerated reconfiguration, it was important for the European Union and the United Nations to work closely together, while operating under United Nations overall authority.
The Secretary-General had made it clear that the dialogue and consultations set out in the report had been carried out with Belgrade and Pristina, without prejudice to the status issue, she noted, adding that that was important to keep in mind. While the Special Representative had engaged with both Belgrade and Pristina, there were different views on transitional arrangements and their implications. She was pleased that the Secretary-General had provided assurance that work would continue on the basis of continuous consultation and coordination. That was a strong assurance to Pristina, and transitional arrangements provided assurance to Kosovo Serbs and other minorities.
Mr. Jeremić and Mr. Hyseni had given their own interpretation of the situation, she continued. In that regard, she wanted to clarify that EULEX derived its mandate from the European Union, but would operate under the overall authority of the United Nations. EULEX constituted the largest ever European Union civilian mission. It could provide important lessons learned for integrated missions, providing synergies between the police and justice sectors. The mission would also support multi-ethnicity. She welcomed the Government’s assurance that interests of all communities would be taken into account. As EULEX deployment continued, she looked forward to constructive relations with all relevant actors on the ground. Everyone should be able to unite around such issues as embedding the rule of law, justice and peace, and making sure corruption and crime were tackled.
Responding to certain assertions made by Mr. Jeremić, she said she would not go into what resolution 1244 did or did not say, but she did not share Mr. Jeremić’s account of how Kosovo’s independence had come about. The Council had had no vote and issued no statement, but the majority of members had recognized Kosovo, and there was no question of defiance of the Council. On minorities, she said that all minority communities had supported “where we are on status”. At the same time, it was incumbent on all to ensure that deplorable attacks on international officials in March were never repeated and that perpetrators were brought to justice. Mr. Jeremić had also made reference to the International Court of Justice resolution passed by the General Assembly. In that connection, she said it was not the case that the Assembly had approved Serbia’s position on Kosovo status; it had merely asked that Court to opine on the matter.
“To end on a positive note”, she said that the representatives of Serbia and Kosovo had agreed that countries of the Balkans belonged in the European Union. All partners were committed to help them join, but those who cited Union treaties must abide by its values for a peaceful, tolerant and multi-ethnic society.
Mr. HYSENI of Kosovo noted the “very clear” support of the Council for the deployment of EULEX and thanked the relevant Member States for their contributions to that deployment. He underlined that EULEX would enjoy the full support of the institutions and the people of Kosovo, stressing that it was critical for it to deploy throughout Kosovo so that all of Kosovo’s citizens would benefit from its presence. Kosovo appreciated the mandate assigned to that mission and had enshrined that mandate in all of its institutions and in more than 40 pieces of legislation.
Mr. JEREMIĆ of Serbia, stressing that it was possible to unite under the work of the Secretary-General and his report, again invited the Council to support the report in the strongest possible language. For its part, Serbia hoped the law and order mission would be implemented, and the stronger the language of support, the better the chance for that implementation. He underscored the fact that 140 nations had not recognized the “illegal” declaration of independence of Serbia’s southern province and underscored Serbia’s decision to pursue the path of international law in protesting that declaration.
He said that, while several delegations had noted Kosovo’s democratic achievements, the printing of passports among them, today was the third time he had mentioned the paving over a Serbian church and had asked the Council to consider if such an action was consistent with the image of Kosovo as a multi-ethnic democracy. He pointed out that the Special Representative had concluded that Kosovo was deeply segregated. Finally, he said it was important to stay loyal to the decisions made in this Chamber. Also important was standing behind the Secretary-General. Serbia would be an active participant in the continuing dialogue.
* *** *