Reconfigured Kosovo Mission Different, ‘But No Less Relevant or Vital’, with Focus Shifting to Diplomatic, Political Role, Security Council Told
Reconfigured Kosovo Mission Different, ‘But No Less Relevant or Vital’, with Focus Shifting to Diplomatic, Political Role, Security Council Told
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6144th Meeting (PM)
RECONFIGURED KOSOVO MISSION DIFFERENT, ‘BUT NO LESS RELEVANT OR VITAL’, WITH FOCUS
SHIFTING TO DIPLOMATIC, POLITICAL ROLE, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD
Special Representative and Mission Head Lamberto Zannier Briefs;
Council Also Hears from Serbia’s Foreign Minister, Speaker from Kosovo
With its structure reconfigured in the wake of Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia early last year, the United Nations Mission “was different […] but no less relevant or vital,” as it stepped up its diplomatic role in the region, its chief told the Security Council this afternoon.
“The United Nations remains uniquely situated to play a useful role for both sides, by facilitating the resolution of problems as an intermediary between parties that are not ready to deal with each other directly,” said Lamberto Zannier, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), which had been run by the world body since 1999.
Briefing the Security Council on the Mission’s work and the status of the restructuring plan outlined last year by the Secretary-General covering the areas of police, judiciary, boundary management, protection of religious facilities, transport and customs, Mr. Zannier said that as the three-phased reconfiguration was winding up, UNMIK was progressively shifting its focus towards an increasingly diplomatic and political role aimed at facilitating dialogue and external relations, and fostering minority rights.
He stressed that the reconfiguration had been “both timely and necessary”, and had served to enhance the Mission’s effectiveness in view of the prevailing circumstances on the ground, which had increasingly limited the scope for performing administrative functions. It was also consistent with the United Nations position of strict neutrality on the question of Kosovo’s status, and in line with UNMIK’s founding Council resolution 1244 (1999). The reconfiguration reflected the new role taken on by the European Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX), and the continuing role of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in monitoring the respect of human rights and minority rights.
“Whether mediating between the communities or facilitating Kosovo’s engagement in external affairs […] our status neutrality allows us to use our efforts to nurture and foster regional cooperation, for the benefit of all Kosovo’s people and for the stability and development of the region as a whole,” he said. The reconfiguration was also providing an opportunity to enhance cooperation between the various United Nations actors operating in Kosovo, improving the overall effectiveness of the world body’s actions, he added.
While acknowledging the work being carried out by the Mission, Vuk Jeremić, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia, urged that no further reduction be made in UNMIK’s resources, saying that the United Nations was the authority in Kosovo and must continue to coordinate all international organizations operating under its umbrella. He also “deeply regretted” Pristina’s “dismissal” of resolution 1244 (1999), and urged the Council to insist that all parties uphold commitments arising from that text.
“ Serbia will never implicitly or explicitly recognize the unilateral declaration of independence by ethnic Albanian authorities of its southern region […] we shall not yield, come what may,” he declared. Kosovo should not stand beyond the rules of the international system, he continued, and should its unilateral declaration stand, a door would open to challenge the territorial integrity of any Member State.
He went on to propose that work begin on a priority issue for Serbia: the return of internally displaced persons, some 200,000 of whom were Kosovo Serbs who had not returned to the province. They wanted to exercise their right of return and the Council must do everything to bring them home, which meant first ensuring that illegally seized private property was returned to the more than 40,000 who had filed claims. He called for embracing the Special Representative’s initiative that would allow the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to take over functions previously performed by the Kosovo Property Agency.
The Security Council must continue to play a key role in the Kosovo dispute, he said, urging members to visit Serbia ‑‑ Belgrade, Pristina, North Kosovo and the enclaves ‑‑ to see first-hand how much needed to be done. Taking the right path would not be easy. Serbia had taken the first step, but could not take the next alone. The country was waiting patiently for a partner to join it in turning away from the painful past towards a hopeful future.
Skender Hyseni, of Kosovo, said that the day before yesterday, Kosovo had celebrated the first anniversary of the entry into force of its Constitution. “After enduring decades of unspeakable occupation, terrorism and slavery, the people of Kosovo deserve to be free and to join the community of free and democratic nations,” he declared, adding that, in clear testimony to the progress and stability in Kosovo, recognition of it as an independent and sovereign State had continued.
He said that UNMIK’s reconfiguration had continued, and the EULEX had achieved full operational capability on 6 April. The successful deployment of EULEX throughout Kosovo was widely appreciated, and the Government of Kosovo was cooperating closely on all issues. The situation in the north had improved since the deployment. Still, a lot remained to be done, though the overall security situation in Kosovo was very calm and stable. For “very practical and pragmatic reasons”, he requested the conclusion of the Mission and mandate of UNMIK.
In light of continued positive developments in Kosovo and the widespread deployment of EULEX, he reiterated the request he had made in March, as well as the commitment expressed in Kosovo’s Declaration of Independence and Constitution regarding respect for, and adherence to, international law, including binding resolutions of the Security Council. That commitment had never wavered.
As the Government of Kosovo assumed full responsibility over the organization of elections and over the Central Election Commission, the President of the Republic, after lengthy consultations with political parties, had announced 15 November as the date for the new municipal elections, he informed the Council. State institution-building had continued, based on European standards. The build-up of the security force was also progressing. He added that the Government had been working hard on issues of the economy, justice and security and safety for all its citizens, with the integration of minorities and minority returns remaining a standing priority.
Unfortunately, the Government of Serbia continued to prevent Serbian citizens of Kosovo from cooperating with Kosovo’s institutions, and Belgrade continued to impede Kosovo’s cooperation with its neighbours and the international community by blocking its participation in regional and other bodies. He reiterated that, in the new Kosovo, there was no room for hatred and violence. Kosovo institutions were committed to building a multi-ethnic, democratic society, at peace with its neighbours and engaged in regional cooperation, peace and safety.
When Council members took the floor, the representative of the Russian Federation said that his delegation was concerned that, despite all signals from the Council to Pristina to respect the Council’s decisions, Kosovo authorities continued to demand that UNMIK suspend its activities due to the alleged “irrelevance” of resolution 1244 (1999). That view was wholly incorrect. Council resolution 1244 remained fully in effect. With that in mind, he said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and UNMIK should continue to carry out their functions, including ensuring protection of the rights of all Kosovo’s diverse minorities, as outlined in that text.
Any attempt to alter the substance or authority of UNMIK would run counter to resolution 1244 (1999) and the reconfiguration package set out by the Secretary-General and approved by the Council. He reiterated that any international presence must operate in a status neutral manner and in accordance with resolution 1244 (1999) and other decisions taken by the Council. The Council must remain the custodian of international law and of the implementation of its own decisions, he added.
However, the representative of the United Kingdom said it was right that UNMIK should continue to drawdown. Given the global economic difficulties, it was more important than ever that United Nations missions should be no larger than strictly necessary. Indeed, promoting the rule of law, implementing decentralization and encouraging the participation of all Kosovo citizens in the democratic process were key to a better future for all in Kosovo. UNMIK, EULEX and all other partners must continue to cooperate closely, he added.
The Kosovo government must reach out to all communities and strive to achieve well-supported, free and fair local elections, he said. The OSCE could also play an important role in assisting the elections through capacity-building. Serbians, despite their position on Kosovo’s status, should continue to engage with the European Union and encourage Serbian minority participation.
Also speaking were the representatives of Viet Nam, Japan, Burkina Faso, China, Libya, United States, Croatia, Austria, Mexico, Uganda, Costa Rica, France and Turkey.
The meeting began at 3:10 p.m. and ended at 5:25 p.m.
The Security Council met this afternoon to consider the United Nations Secretary-General’s latest report on the work of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) (document S/2009/300), which covers the activities of the long-running operation, including its recent reconfiguration, and developments related thereto, from 10 March to 31 May 2009. It also covers political and security issues, matters related to human rights and the rule of law in Kosovo, as well as Pristina’s ongoing dialogue with Belgrade.
The report states that Kosovo authorities continued to act on the basis of the “Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo” and made a series of public statements requesting UNMIK to conclude its mission, asserting that Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) “is no longer relevant and that they had no legal obligation to abide by it”. Since the Secretary-General’s last report to the Council (document S/2009/149), four additional States have recognized Kosovo, bringing the total to 60.
Although the Kosovo authorities maintained minimal contact with UNMIK chief, Lamberto Zannier, during the reporting period, there continued to be practical cooperation between the Mission’s representatives and Kosovo officials. Mr. Zannier and international stakeholders encouraged Pristina to take a more constructive stance towards engagement with UNMIK, the report adds.
It goes on to note that, in line with the Secretary-General’s observations included in his reports of 24 November 2008 (document S/2008/692) and 17 March 2009 (document S/2009/149) and the Security Council’s presidential statement of 26 November 2008 (document S/PRST/2008/44), the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX), which began deploying in February 2008, has continued to operate under the overall authority of the United Nations and within the status-neutral framework of Security Council resolution 1244 (1999), which, according to the report, is key to the maintenance of stability on the ground.
During the reporting period, EULEX continued to build up its presence to the current total of 1,651 international and 918 local employees. On 6 April, the European Union announced that EULEX had reached full operational capability. UNMIK and EULEX exchange information and coordinate on issues of mutual concern on a regular basis. The report stresses that, as EULEX develops its road map for the strengthening of the rule of law throughout Kosovo, the concerns of all communities should continue to be taken fully into account, in close consultation with UNMIK. A joint report of the Secretary-General and High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union on the activities of EULEX is attached as annex I to the current report.
On UNMIK’s reconfiguration, the Secretary-General notes that that exercise and the downsizing of the Mission are close to finalization. He appeals for cooperation and constructive engagement from all concerned for a reconfigured UNMIK, which, he adds, is continuing to play an important role amid the changing reality on the ground following Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia last year.
While the Secretary-General stresses that the United Nations will continue to adopt a position of “strict neutrality” on the question of Kosovo’s status, he adds, referring to the details of the restructuring that he put forth last year: “UNMIK, as reconfigured, can continue to play an effective and useful role in mediating between communities, in promoting practical arrangements that can benefit both Pristina and Belgrade, and in carrying out the functions set out in my reports of 12 June and 24 November 2008.”
However, in order to do so effectively, UNMIK requires the cooperation and constructive engagement of all concerned,” he added. “The continuing support of the Security Council and of the broader international community for a reconfigured UNMIK is of crucial importance.”
[The reconfiguration plan includes an enhanced operational role for the European Union in the area of rule of law under a United Nations “umbrella” headed by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and in line with the 1999 Security Council resolution (1244) that established the Mission. The Secretary-General has stressed that a reconfigured UNMIK would continue to carry out many functions, including those related to a dialogue with Serbia on provisions in six areas: police; courts; customs; transport and infrastructure; boundaries; and Serbian patrimony.]
According to the report, the Secretary-General’s 2009/10 budget proposal reflects the projected end-state of the reconfiguration process, which envisages that the Mission will be reduced from the overall current authorized personnel strength of 4,911 to 507 proposed personnel, comprising 491 civilians, 8 United Nations police and 8 military liaison officers. The assumption of an operational role in the rule of law sector by EULEX last December has been reflected in the corresponding drawdown of the UNMIK rule of law component, from the authorized strength of 3,329 to the proposed 22 personnel of the Police and Justice Liaison Office, effective as of 1 July 2009.
Briefing by Special Representative of Secretary-General
LAMBERTO ZANNIER, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) said that with the conclusion of the three phases of the Mission’s reconfiguration, UNMIK had progressively shifted its focus towards an increasingly diplomatic and political role targeted on facilitating dialogue and external relations, and fostering minority rights.
As set out in the Secretary-General’s 24 November report, which the Council had welcomed in a presidential statement, UNMIK’s reconfiguration was “both timely and necessary”. Moreover, he continued, it had served to enhance the Mission’s effectiveness in view of the prevailing circumstances on the ground, which had increasingly limited the scope for performing administrative functions. That reconfiguration had taken place in a transparent manner and was consistent with the United Nations position of strict neutrality on the question of Kosovo’s status. The Mission’s role was different today, but no less relevant or vital, he said, stressing that UNMIK would continue to perform its functions under Security Council resolution 1244 (1999), with the overall aim of ensuring peace and stability in Kosovo.
He went on to say that UNMIK’s proposed 2009-2010 budget cycle of some $47 million and 507 staff, reflected the new role taken on by the European Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX), and the continuing role of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in monitoring the respect of human rights and minority rights. Further, UNMIK’s resources and skills, combined with those of EULEX and the OSCE, provided a full panoply of expertise and staff for implementing the United Nations mandate, while promoting synergies and avoiding duplication of efforts. The United Nations remained uniquely suited to play a useful role for both sides, among other ways, by facilitating the resolution of problems as an intermediary between parties that were not ready to deal with each other directly.
“Whether mediating between the communities or facilitating Kosovo’s engagement in external affairs […] our status neutrality allows us to use our efforts to nurture and foster regional cooperation, for the benefit of all Kosovo’s people and for the stability and development of the region as a whole,” he said. Still, it was regrettable that UNMIK’s ability to promote status neutral solutions to practical issues was being affected by positions taken by the parties in anticipation of the advisory opinion requested by the General Assembly from the International Court of Justice on Kosovo’s declaration of independence. Whether justified or not, Belgrade and Pristina had been viewing every action they took, or that UNMIK took, through the prism of how it might be perceived or interpreted by the World Court, as potentially weakening or strengthening the case of one side or the other.
In spite of those difficulties, he said, UNMIK continued to engage with the different stakeholders on matters affecting the lives of all Kosovo’s communities, as a facilitator of a process in which opportunities existed for sides to engage and resolve differences. He urged both Belgrade and Pristina to find more ways to engage at the technical level to deliver what both sides clearly advocated: a better life for all the people of Kosovo. In that regard, the period covered by the report had been marked by some tangible progress in a number of areas, including finding a solution to the decade-old problem of electricity supply to the Kosovo Serb community south of the Ibar River.
Another step forward on a technical issue regarding the peaceful coexistence of Kosovo’s communities had occurred in the area of protection of Serbian cultural heritage in Kosovo. He said UNMIK was engaged in strategic cooperation in that area with other actors, such as the Council of Europe. UNMIK had also succeeded, in coordination with other stakeholders, in overcoming a year-long stalemate, leading to the reactivation last month of the Reconstruction Implementation Commission (RIC), which dealt with reconstruction of Serbian Orthodox Church sites. He also cited progress in the area of missing persons, where Pristina and Belgrade continued to meet, putting status-related concerns aside, and he added that the Dialogue Working Group on Missing Persons had agreed that positive momentum must be achieved. There was too much remaining to be done on that issue and it must remain non-politicized, he said.
Turning to challenges, he said that the number of voluntary returns remained “disappointingly low” and, despite repeated calls by the Kosovo authorities for Serbs to return to Kosovo and reclaim their homes, the response had been negligible. To their credit, Kosovo authorities, supported by the international community, were making efforts to ensure that the conditions existed for sustainable returns. On other matters, he said that throughout the reporting period, UNMIK had been cooperating with EULEX, which had continued to operate throughout Kosovo under overall authority of the United Nations. EULEX had declared full operational capacity in early April and now had a staff of 2,569.
With the process of reconfiguring UNMIK nearly completed, the OSCE continued to carry out its mandated responsibility of comprehensive monitoring, throughout Kosovo through its extensive field presence. He noted that the OSCE’s timely reporting earlier this year on the disputed reconstruction of Kosovo Albanian houses north of the Ibar River, and on electricity cuts in Serbian enclaves south of the River, were just two examples of how that organization fulfilled that important role. Mainly focused on ensuring that the human rights of Kosovo’s diverse ethnic minorities were protected, the OSCE was well placed to play an even greater role as mediator in disputes between communities, a role he strongly encouraged it to play, as it built the capacities of local institutions and fostered democratic principles.
Reflecting on his first year as head of UNMIK, he said the past 12 months had been marked by “intensive activities”. With the cooperation of all, UNMIK had managed to ensure that a delicate phase of transition did not produce instability or crisis. However, much remained to be done, and that meant that the United Nations would need to continue working towards resolution of the remaining issues. Looking ahead, he said UNMIK’s reconfiguration was also presenting the international community with an opportunity to enhance cooperation between the various United Nations actors operating in Kosovo, improving the overall coherence and effectiveness of the Organization’s actions and promoting greater interaction in pursuit of shared objectives.
“Our goal, with the support of EULEX, OSCE and the international military presence, remained to ensure stability, foster reconciliation and allow for the return of internally displaced persons,” he said, stressing that, during UNMIK’s reconfiguration, United Nations officials had been focused on the world body’s founding principles, including promoting respect for human rights and other fundamental freedoms. He was confident that the reconfigured Mission, enhanced by the presence on European police and justice components, represented a well-honed tool for performing those functions on the Council’s behalf and on behalf of the Secretary-General.
VUK JEREMIĆ, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia, urged that no further reduction be made in the resources of UNMIK, saying that the United Nations was the authority in Kosovo and must continue to coordinate all international organizations operating under its umbrella. UNMIK’s capacity to cooperate effectively with EULEX must not be constrained. Thanking the substantial majority of United Nations Member States that respected Serbia’s sovereignty, he said such solidarity had encouraged his country to resolve the future status of Kosovo in a manner acceptable to all responsible stakeholders.
At the same time, he noted with deep regret the dismissal of resolution 1244 (1999) by Pristina and urged the Council to insist that all parties uphold commitments arising from that text. Serbia would never ‑‑ implicitly or explicitly ‑‑ recognize the unilateral declaration of independence by ethnic Albanian authorities of its southern region. “We shall not yield ‑‑ come what may,” he said. As a result of Serbia’s measured response to the declaration, the unstable equilibrium on the ground had largely been kept in check.
Kosovo should not stand beyond the rules of the international system, he continued, and should its unilateral declaration stand, a door would open to challenge the territorial integrity of any Member State. Recalling the General Assembly’s 2008 decision to refer the issue to the International Court of Justice, he said that marked the first time the Court had been asked to consider the legality of a unilateral attempt by an ethnic minority to secede from a Member State, in defiance of its democratic Constitution and the will of the Security Council. Once the Court’s opinion was handed down, there would be cause to look again into the issue. In the meantime, differences on status should be set aside. “This is a time for leadership and working together ‑‑ armed with prudence and strategic vision,” he said.
With that, he proposed that work begin on the issue of internally displaced persons, as some 200,000 of them were Kosovo Serbs who had not returned to the province. They wanted to exercise their right of return and the Council must do everything to bring them home, which meant first ensuring that illegally seized private property was returned to the more than 40,000 who had filed claims. He called for embracing the Special Representative’s initiative that would allow the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to take over functions previously performed by the Kosovo Property Agency.
Serbia had engaged with EULEX and UNMIK on a host of issues, within parameters welcomed by the Council, he explained. The Secretary-General’s six-point agreement must be applied in full, especially as long-term solutions had not yet been agreed. He deeply regretted that more had not been done to date, due in part to Pristina’s reluctance to accept that the infamous Ahtisaari Plan had not been endorsed by the Council.
Turning to the six points, specifically the police, he said the question of senior positions for qualified Kosovo Serbs had not been resolved. However, EULEX police and Serbia had begun to address technical matters related to cross-administrative line cooperation. On the judiciary, unresolved issues included the appointment of local judges and prosecutors and the question over the territorial jurisdiction of the North Mitrovica courthouse. Resolving the delicate matter of customs required new dedication to work together to find acceptable operating methods, such as co-location. As for the Central European Free Trade Agreement, its success depended on the consistent application of agreed rules. As for facilitating the entry of Serbian officials into the province, he said the issue threatened constructive efforts on all other fronts. Those officials must be able to visit churches, assist in the return of displaced persons, provide food and engage a host of other activities. Operational responsibility to EULEX was welcomed and now was the time for it to use its extensive functions.
He said the Kosovo Force’s (KFOR) neutral presence in the province was still required to satisfy people’s legitimate security needs and, thus, a troop reduction would be counter-productive. However, the “Kosovo Security Force” was an illegal paramilitary operation and must be immediately disbanded.
“Serbia’s democracy is secure,” he said. The country had shown time and again under difficult circumstances its determination to become a member of the European Union. That was a strategic priority and he welcomed the 15 June decision by European Union foreign ministers to commit to placing the Western Balkans States on the White Schengen List.
The Security Council must continue to play a key role in the Kosovo dispute, he said, urging members to visit Serbia ‑‑ Belgrade, Pristina, North Kosovo and the enclaves ‑‑ to see first-hand how much needed to be done. Taking the right path would not be easy. Serbia had taken the first step, but could not take the next alone. The country was waiting patiently for a partner to join it in turning away from the painful past towards a hopeful future.
SKENDER HYSENI of Kosovo, reporting on the steady progress being made by Kosovo in all areas since his last briefing in March, said that the day before yesterday, Kosovo had celebrated the first anniversary of the entry into force of its Constitution. The new democratic Constitution was a very modern, foundational document, which incorporated all minority rights protections, and based on the “Ahtisaari Plan”. The leaders and people of Kosovo had been honoured to welcome Mr. Ahtisaari’s presence at that celebration.
He said that UNMIK’s reconfiguration had continued, and the European Union rule of law mission ‑‑ EULEX ‑‑ had achieved full operational capability on 6 April. The successful deployment of EULEX throughout Kosovo was widely appreciated, and the Government of Kosovo was cooperating closely on all issues. The situation in the north had improved since the deployment. Still, a lot remained to be done, though the overall security situation in Kosovo was very calm and stable. For very practical and pragmatic reasons, he requested the conclusion of the Mission and mandate of UNMIK. In light of continued positive developments in Kosovo and the widespread deployment of EULEX, he reiterated the request he had made in March, as well as the commitment expressed in Kosovo’s Declaration of Independence and Constitution regarding respect for, and adherence to, international law, including binding resolutions of the Security Council. That commitment had never wavered.
As the Government of Kosovo assumed full responsibility over the organization of elections and over the Central Election Commission, the President of the Republic, after lengthy consultations with political parties, had announced 15 November as the date for the new municipal elections, he informed the Council. The Parliament had elected members of the Constitutional Court of Kosovo. State institution-building had continued, based on European standards. The build-up of the security force was also progressing. The NATO-trained Kosovo security force was a democratic and civilian-controlled force. That multi-ethnic and apolitical force would be focused primarily on emergency response and on activities to promote development and regional peace, safety and stability.
In line with the request by the General Assembly for an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the question of Kosovo’s declaration of independence, the Republic of Kosovo had submitted to the court its written contribution on 17 April, he noted. It had also informed the court of its intention to participate in all proceedings, including in hearings due to open on 1 December. He emphasized here Kosovo’s commitment to, and trust in, justice, including in “ICJ justice”. He was confident that the court’s deliberations and ruling would be fair and impartial, and he strongly believed that Kosovo’s position would be reconfirmed.
He said that, in clear testimony to the progress and stability in Kosovo, recognition of it as an independent and sovereign State had continued. Free nations of the world continued to appreciate Kosovo’s contribution to regional peace and safety. He expressed profound appreciation for the Governments and peoples of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Gambia and Comoros for their recent recognitions. He urged all others to support the efforts of the people of Kosovo to build their future as a free and independent country. After having endured decades of unspeakable occupation, terrorism and slavery, the people of Kosovo deserved to be free and to join the community of free and democratic nations.
Supplying the Council with detail’s of Kosovo’s recent admission to the two main international financial institutions ‑‑ the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank ‑‑ he said that, on 6 May, the Fund’s Board of Governors had approved Kosovo’s application with the participation of 138 Member States, 96 of which had approved the decision, including 41 countries that had not yet recognized Kosovo. And on 3 June, the voting process at the World Bank had included the participation of 139 Member States, with 95 countries approving Kosovo’s application. Formal accession to both institutions would take place on 29 June in Washington, D.C., when the Republic of Kosovo signed the Articles of Agreements. He added that the Government had been working hard on issues of the economy, justice and security and safety for all its citizens, with the integration of minorities and minority returns remaining a standing priority. Unfortunately, the Government of Serbia continued to prevent Serbian citizens of Kosovo from cooperating with Kosovo’s institutions, and Belgrade continued to impede Kosovo’s cooperation with its neighbours and the international community by blocking its participation in regional and other bodies.
He reiterated that, in the new Kosovo, there was no room for hatred and violence. Kosovo institutions were committed to building a multi-ethnic, democratic society, at peace with its neighbours and engaged in regional cooperation, peace and safety. The future of the West Balkans was in European integration, and Kosovo intended to pursue that goal very vigorously. It would continue close cooperation with the European Union, the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
BUI THE GIANG ( Viet Nam) said he was encouraged by the period of calm in Kosovo. The Viet Nam Government welcomed UNMIK’s efforts in promoting dialogue among the communities in north Kosovo and north Mitrovica, and took note of EULEX’s assumption of full operations in the rule of law sector. Viet Nam commended the regular exchange of information between UNMIK and EULEX, and hoped that such interaction would continue. In light of the incidents in north Mitrovica, however, Viet Nam was concerned about attempts to conclude UNMIK’s mission. It believed that UNMIK’s continued presence ‑‑ with the good faith cooperation of Belgrade and Pristina, and in close coordination with EULEX and KFOR ‑‑ was key to maintaining peace.
He reaffirmed Viet Nam’s view that UNMIK’s reconfiguration and downsizing be conducted in a transparent manner. Furthermore, it should be conducted in accordance with the United Nations’ strict, neutral position on Kosovo’s status, and in ways that would enable UNMIK to perform in mediating functions. He called on all parties to cooperate with UNMIK and said he expected the Council and the Secretary-General to continue to play a vigorous role in that endeavour.
He said he was mindful of the low number of voluntary returns in 2009, which lagged behind 2009 figures. Lack of real progress in safeguarding the rights and security of national minorities would lead to inter-ethnic tension. In that context, he called on all parties to refrain from inflammatory rhetoric and action. UNMIK and EULEX were urged to redouble their efforts to promote the establishment of a safe and stable environment that was conducive to the return of refugees and internally displaced persons. He called for “even greater effort” in minimizing tension in and around Kosovo, and in reaching negotiated and peaceful solutions.
YUKIO TAKASU (Japan) commended EULEX, KFOR and the OSCE for contributing to Kosovo’s stabilization. Serbia’s commitment to the European integration process served to promote stability and prosperity in the entire West Balkan region, including Kosovo. He expected Serbia to continue to further integrate into Europe, in cooperation with the international community. He expressed hope that Kosovo would develop fully as a democratic, multi-ethnic country that would contribute to the stabilization of the West Balkan region. He lauded the fact that a gradually increasing number of countries were recognizing Kosovo. Kosovo’s new membership in international financial institutions, such as the IMF in May and the World Bank in July, represented a significant opening for its future development in the global economy. He expressed hope that Kosovo would continue to play a constructive role as a responsible member of the international community.
While the situation on the ground was generally stable, there were occasionally inter-ethnic tensions in certain areas in Kosovo, he said. He expressed concern over the recent incident in Mitrovica. He called for greater efforts to better protect minorities, saying UNMIK could play a useful role in inter-ethnic mediation and the six-point plan, in close cooperation with KFOR, EULEX and interested States. Japan actively supported Kosovo through the United Nations Human Security Trust Fund, in an effort to help it create peaceful coexistence and sustainable development as a multi-ethnic society, particularly in the northern province. Japan would continue to strongly support Kosovo, particularly from a human security perspective.
MICHEL KAFANDO (Burkina Faso) said that it was with relief, if not total satisfaction, that he had listened to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, who had reported that the situation in Kosovo remained relatively calm, despite recent tension over home construction in the North. Due to the rapid intervention of UNMIK, EULEX and the Kosovo police forces, that situation had been effectively addressed. It was in the interest of all authorities in Pristina to ensure that those types of incidents were resolved peacefully.
He went on to say that it was clear that, even reconfigured, UNMIK, with the support of the Council and the international community, would always have a key role to play. He stressed that the question of the status of Kosovo was critical to an overall solution and would need to be dealt with. At the same time, it was important to note progress in the area of administration of justice and reconstruction of cultural heritage sites. He hoped that increased cooperation between Pristina and Belgrade would pave the way towards building a bridge to lasting peace. The international community must shoulder its burden in helping Kosovo create and maintain a viable economy. He encouraged all parties to work together to ensure peace and stability throughout the region.
PHILIP JOHN PARHAM (United Kingdom) said that, despite economic difficulties and continuing inter-communal tensions, Kosovo was making good progress. A growing number of United Nations Member States ‑‑ 60 ‑‑ now recognized Kosovo, whose acceptance by the international financial institutions was also significant. The United Kingdom recognized the first anniversary of Kosovo’s Constitution. At the same time, he shared the concerns over the recent tensions related to home-building in Metohija. In that connection, he welcomed the response of both KFOR and EULEX. His country was committed to assisting Kosovo’s Property Agency to restore rightful title to Kosovars of all communities. It welcomed cooperation between the United Nations and European Union on Kosovo. The Union’s role continued to increase through EULEX, which had achieved full operational capacity in April, with a focus on rule of law and re-establishing customs control.
He said it was right that UNMIK should continue to draw down. Given the global economic difficulties, it was more important than ever that United Nations missions should be no larger than strictly necessary. The revised UNMIK budget met in full the Mission’s future mandate requirements. Promoting the rule of law, implementing decentralization and encouraging the participation of all Kosovo citizens in the democratic process were key to a better future for all in Kosovo. UNMIK, EULEX and all other partners must continue to cooperate closely. Local and regional governments must work pragmatically with the international community’s representatives. Particularly important were advancing decentralization and avoiding recognition of parallel institutions.
The Kosovo government must reach out to all communities and strive to achieve well-supported, free and fair local elections, he said. The OSCE could also play an important role in assisting the elections through capacity-building. Serbians, despite their position on Kosovo’s status, should continue to engage with the European Union and encourage Serbian minority participation. The United Kingdom remained committed to eventual integration of the European perspective in Kosovo, in line with that of its neighbours.
VITALY CHURKIN (Russian Federation) said his delegation shared the assessments of the Serbian representative. The Russian Federation was concerned that, despite all signals from the Council to Pristina to respect the Council’s decisions, Kosovo authorities continued to demand that UNMIK suspend its activities due to the alleged “irrelevance” of resolution 1244 (1999). That view was wholly incorrect. Council resolution 1244 remained fully in effect. With that in mind, he said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and UNMIK should continue to carry out their functions, including ensuring protection of the rights of all Kosovo’s diverse minorities, as outlined in that text.
Any attempt to alter the substance or authority of UNMIK would run counter to resolution 1244 (1999) and the reconfiguration package set out by the Secretary-General and approved by the Council. He reiterated that any international presence must operate in a status neutral manner and in accordance with resolution 1244 (1999) and other decisions taken by the Council.
He went on to say that, while the Russian Federation recognized the right of all refugees to return home, that right must be fostered among and extended to both Albanian and Serb communities in the province. He said that Kosovo authorities were reluctant to objectively and impartially consider the issue of the impact of the International Court of Justice decision, and added that on 16 April, Russia had submitted to the Court its position the issue. He said that as the General Assembly’s Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) was currently discussing the budget of all United Nations peacekeeping missions, the Russian Federation hoped that the proposed expenditures would prove sufficient so that UNMIK would carry out its mandate and take into account the concerns of the Serbian side. The Council must remain the custodian of international law and of the implementation of its own decisions, he added.
LA YIFAN (China) said the security situation in Kosovo had been calm during the past three months, but tensions remained in some areas, particularly in northern Metohija, where a series of incidents had occurred. He had been pleased to see that, under UNMIK’s mediation, initial settlements had been reached, including on housing construction. He hoped all parties would enhance their dialogue and refrain from actions that ran contrary to a settlement. He was encouraged at the increase in the voluntary minority returns, but the number still lagged behind that of 2008. He urged the parties to coordinate and create enabling conditions for voluntary returns.
He said that the best way to solve the question of Kosovo was for the Serbian and Kosovo parties to arrive at a mutually acceptable plan through negotiations. The situation had undergone changes, but the basis for a solution remained the same, as laid out in resolution 1244 (1999). Noting the references in the Secretary-General’s report to accelerate the reconfiguration and drawdown of UNMIK commensurate with the changed situation, he said those were technical in nature and should not involve the status of Kosovo or change United Nations impartiality in that regard. UNMIK must continue to play a key and constructive role for a proper settlement of the question. He understood the European Union’s willingness to contribute to peace and stability in the Balkan region. EULEX had pledged to abide by 1244 and had recently submitted another report on its activities. He hoped it would continue to operate under the United Nations and under the 1244 framework, in support of UNMIK’s work, and contribute overall to the region’s peace and stability.
IBRAHIM O.A. DABBASHI (Libya) said his delegation was satisfied that the security situation in Kosovo had remained generally calm, despite the differences of opinion between Pristina and Belgrade on key issues. Libya also noted the number of positive indicators on which the international community could begin building sustainable peace in Kosovo, including in the area of cultural and religious heritage and rebuilding of homes within the framework of partnership. Nevertheless, despite such positive developments, he was concerned that provinces in northern Kosovo still worked independently of authorities in other parts of Kosovo. He was also concerned by divisions in police units and encouraged all communities to participate in local administrations and security forces.
He went on to urge stepped up action in the area of human rights. Libya hoped that all parties would cooperate with EULEX and UNMIK, within the framework of relevant Council decisions. At the same time, he hoped that both Pristina and Belgrade would continue to cooperate on the six-point plan set out by the Secretary-General. He stressed the need for the return of all refugees, as well as for the protection of all internally displaced persons. The situation of missing persons must not be politicized, he said, calling for both sides to reach common ground on key issues in order to attain and maintain peace in the region.
ROSEMARY DICARLO (United States) said that democratic institutions had continued to mature since Kosovo’s independence. She noted, among other examples, the recent appointment of an ombudsman to guard against any abuse of authority, the appointment of a constitutional court, and the selection for the Electoral Commission, as well as the setting of the date for the first local elections. She also noted the recent admission of Kosovo to the International Monetary Fund and awaited final results of the vote on its bid to join the World Bank. All of those, and other developments, were consistent with the vision of the Ahtisaari plan. Sixty United Nations member countries had recognized Kosovo as an independent and sovereign State.
Welcoming the Prime Ministers restatement of Kosovo’s commitment to returns, she said that, for Kosovo to become a truly multi-ethnic society, Belgrade’s commitment was essential. It should cooperate with EULEX, now fully deployed. She had appreciated EULEX’s and KFOR’s response to the recent violence, and she encouraged Belgrade to support the integration of Kosovo Serb communities into Kosovo’s institutions. In that, she urged Belgrade to encourage Serbs to return to their positions in the Kosovo police force and other pragmatic measures. Unfortunately, Serbia continued to block trade with Kosovo. She encouraged support for interregional trade in keeping with commitments under the Central European Free-Trade Agreement (CEFTA).
The United States supported the reconfiguration and downsizing of UNMIK, as reflected in reports of the Secretary-General and his recent budget proposal, she said. The Secretary-General should continue to downsize UNMIK’s presence to functions others could not perform, such as facilitating Kosovo’s participation in regional organizations. Kosovo’s participation in those forums promoted regional cooperation and growth, and was in the entire region’s interest. The stability of the West Balkans remained a high priority for the United States, which supported Kosovo’s full participation in the Euro-Atlantic community and in regional organizations. It would continue to support Kosovo’s progress.
RANKO VILOVIĆ (Croatia) welcomed the continued and steady progress Kosovo was making on its path towards creating a stable, peaceful society and viable economy. Notwithstanding some concerning incidents, the security situation had remained generally calm. The progress achieved and the increased cooperation between the parties demonstrated the critical role being played by UNMIK and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General. He acknowledged the efforts made on the reconstruction of cultural property and returns. Further progress in that are was needed. He called on the international community to continue to support Kosovo in its effort to ensure a diverse, multi-ethnic society.
THOMAS MAYR-HARTING (Austria) said his delegation noted with satisfaction that UNMIK was completing its reconfiguration and downsizing exercise. Austria was convinced that those changes would help it carry out the duties outlined in the Secretary-General’s 24 November 2008 report to the Council, and he welcomed the Mission’s increased focus on mediation, human rights and reconstruction issues. Austria was also satisfied that EULEX had reached full capacity this past April and was now carrying out its mandate. Austria was providing 26 experts to that effort, he said, and added that his Government would more or less maintain its current level of contribution, making it the largest non-NATO contributor to KFOR.
In light of UNMIK’s downsizing, he continued, Austria appreciated the increased role being played by the OSCE, especially its unparalleled civilian field presence. The early warning mechanism that presence provided was indispensable, especially at the municipal level. He was confident that, with the necessary sense of pragmatism, solutions to contentious issues could be found, thus taking Kosovo that much closer towards becoming a stable and ethnically diverse society.
He stressed that lasting and peaceful solutions could only be found if all communities engaged with each other and the international presences working on the ground in Kosovo. He added that impasses in the areas of police and property rights continued to hinder the daily lives of people in Kosovo and he urged both Pristina and Belgrade to make progress towards a better working relationship. All minorities, particularly the smaller ones, must be encouraged to participate in everyday life, he said, calling for more focus by the parties on the promotion and protection of international human rights norms.
CLAUDE HELLER (Mexico), having followed closely the process of UNMIK’s reconfiguration and EULEX’s deployment, said the cooperation between them in the areas of justice, rule of law and customs highlighted the cooperation between the United Nations and the European Union in the promotion of peace and stability in the region. The parties should come together with UNMIK in fulfilment of its mandate, in accordance with resolution 1244 (1999), respecting the criterion of neutrality as the legal basis for bringing about a sustainable and peaceful solution to the Kosovo question, and the stability of the Balkans overall.
The situation in Kosovo was relatively stable, but he expressed concern about ongoing incidents in recent months, which demonstrated the fragile nature of stability in the region and the need to promote inter-community dialogue and confidence-building measures. There was still a need to strengthen cooperation between UNMIK and EULEX, in order to agree on measures to contain possible outbreaks of inter-ethnic violence, particularly in the north. Likewise, greater cooperation of UNMIK was needed with the parties and with EULEX to ensure that Serbian Kosovars participated in the police force. Strengthening the rule of law was of the greatest importance, and he encouraged UNMIK and EULEX to look for ways to work together. He called on the parties and UNMIK to support the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, in order to ensure due process.
The reintegration of Serbian Kosovars was indispensable to promoting a strategic association between the programmes and agencies of the United Nations for development, the donor community, regional organizations and the Government of Serbia in favour of economic development, he said. He welcomed the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s involvement in projects in Kosovo, which encouraged the return of Serbian Kosovar families and reconstruction of their houses. Inter-ethnic relations were among the most pressing challenges for Kosovo. UNMIK’s presence, therefore, was vital for guaranteeing protection of human rights and housing rights for minorities. When it came to the Mission’s reconfiguration, particular attention should be paid to strengthening the components related to human rights.
PATRICK MUGOYA (Uganda) said that, while his delegation welcomed the progress reported by the Secretary-General, it was nevertheless concerned by ongoing challenges in ethnic relations. Uganda urged the Council to ensure that the reconfigured UNMIK was indeed better placed and resourced to mediate between Pristina and Belgrade, as well as among the diverse communities in Kosovo. Uganda was pleased that the EULEX had reached full capacity and was continuing to work within the framework of the United Nations, as outlined in resolution 1244 (1999). Although it appeared that the overall situation remained calm, he was concerned by the occurrence of ethnic incidents in northern Mitrovica and urged all parties and communities to cooperate on finding ways to live together in peace. He commended UNMIK for its work and urged the international community to continue its support, so that it could continue to carry out its duties of maintaining peace and stability in Kosovo.
JORGE URBINA (Costa Rica) said UNMIK should remain a mediator between the parties. He urged the Pristina authorities to continue working with the United Nations. Costa Rica recognized the work done by UNMIK, as well as EULEX’s deployment, which were positive developments that would help consolidate the rule of law, protect human rights, and preserve Kosovo’s rich culture and religious heritage. He saluted the cooperation between the United Nations and other regional bodies and welcomed the efforts of the European Union to add a European dimension to the Balkans. Also welcome was UNMIK’s reconfiguration and the strengthened functions of EULEX, particularly in rule of law consolidation. However, there was also a need to adopt preventive measures and provide the necessary guarantees to ensure that that process would contribute to lasting peace and political stability in a regional context.
He reiterated his conviction that a civilian international presence should help oversee the transfer from the provisional to the permanent institutions of Government. He supported the efforts of the “ Kosovo State”, which Costa Rica had recognized, and he was pleased to see it taking steps to normalize relations. Kosovo would hopefully become a State, he added, asking all parties to implement the practical elements needed to overcome the isolation of specific groups caused by ethnic provocation. The European Union should ensure equal rights for all those living in Kosovo. Against the backdrop of a complex financial situation, Kosovo was facing other important challenges. Those included strengthening its young institutions, showing integrity in the application of the rule of law, establishing the necessary balance and moving towards a future with the European Union, and exhibiting sustainability as a State. The European Union, with its political vision, should contribute by ensuring common security and acceptance of the new political realities. He urged the Union and all other organizations to support Kosovo’s socio-economic development, and facilitate its national reconciliation, regional integration and aspirations to join the global family of nations.
JEAN-MAURICE RIPERT (France) said that almost exactly one year ago, Kosovo had adopted its constitution. At the time, France had called on it to implement all the elements of the document. The authorities had kept to their commitment, particularly regarding the rehabilitation of administrative bodies and the promotion of the protection of minority rights. That was a priority of the European Union and which would lead to a multi-ethnic society. To date, some 60 countries had welcomed Kosovo’s declaration of independence, thus presaging the emergence of a new State on the international stage, as well as stability throughout the Balkan region.
He went on to stress that the EULEX was acting for the benefit of all communities within Kosovo and was now responsible for all tasks in the rule of law previously carried out by UNMIK. He also stressed that the reconfiguration of UNMIK and the assumption of duties in the area of the rule of law by EULEX should not be seen as a decrease in international attention, but rather a robust step by the international community to support Kosovo. EULEX worked in cooperation with other actors in Kosovo and in line with resolution 1244 (1999). While the reconfiguration of UNMIK was welcomed, deep difference between Serb and Kosovo authorities could not be overcome overnight. The international community should continue to seek ways to promote dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade. France was aware of the responsibilities of the European Union in bringing about a stable future for the Balkans, and would continue to work towards that goal.
BAKI İLKIN (Turkey) noted that 60 countries had recognized Kosovo. Turkey had been one of the first to do so. Recognition by 60 countries lent “clear legitimacy” to Kosovo’s declaration of independence. The Turkish Government was pleased to see stability in Kosovo and that the Kosovo authorities were taking steps to consolidate their state institutions and system. Turkey supported that process and stood ready to contribute in any way it could. It also supported the Secretary-General’s efforts, and those of his Special Representative, to reconfigure UNMIK. It was pleased to see that the process was going smoothly and was close to finalization, although UNMIK still had an important role to play in facilitating the resolution of a number of problems. Turkey was pleased to see UNMIK and the European Union Rule of Law Mission enjoying a good working relationship, and encouraged both Serbia and Kosovo to cooperate with them.
He stressed the great importance that Turkey attached to security and stability in the Balkans. It saw Kosovo’s independence as part of a larger framework of lasting peace, stability and prosperity in the entire region. The international community and its institutions should intensify efforts to integrate Kosovo into the international community. It should continue to encourage and support Serbia in its efforts to integrate with European and Euro-Atlantic structures, since a democratic and prosperous Serbia at peace with all its neighbours was crucial for stability and cooperation. Turkey was determined to carry forward friendly and mutually beneficial relations with Serbia. Being “very much part of the Balkans”, Turkey was committed to ensuring a safe, stable and prosperous future for the region.
Mr. HYSENI said there had been an effort to mislead the Security Council today, especially with regard to the statement that Kosovo’s independence was declared by the provisional institutions of self-government, or, by Albanians alone. The independence of the Republic of Kosovo had been declared by elected representatives of the people of Kosovo, including by all elected representatives of non-Albanian communities, except the members of the Serb community. That meant, among others, Bosnians, Turks, Roma, and so forth.
Concerning the returnees, he informed the Council that the Government of the Republic of Kosovo was vitally committed to, and interested in, the return to their homes of every single displaced person and refugee ‑‑ every single one. And it stood ready to provide ‑‑ at whatever cost ‑‑ conditions for returning “every single citizen of ours”. The kind of game being played with figures was not helpful. Mr. Jeremić had said that 200,000 Kosovo Serbs were still displaced. But according to the last census conducted by Serbian-imposed authorities in Kosovo, the largest number of Serbs ever having lived in Kosovo was 195,000. Presently, there were 135,000 Serbs in Kosovo.
He said he also wished to inform the Council that the Belgrade Government was not helping the returns, but was encouraging the refugees from Kosovo in Serbia not to return, so that the Government in Belgrade could have an alibi to tell respectable forums like this one that Kosovars were not doing what they should be doing. “We have no reason to fear whatsoever the returnees; quite the opposite,” he said, adding that all members of the Government were doing their utmost to ensure that all necessary conditions were in place. Ultimately, it was impossible to force returns. As for the unauthorized rebuilding of houses, Kosovo was an independent country and it would never again seek authorization from Belgrade for anything. That should be clear once and for all. But that should not prevent them from working together to improve the situation of Kosovo Serbs.
In closing, he said there was “an unspeakable, close to science fiction game” being played with the figures. The Kosovo Property Agency would carefully consider every single claim, and property would be restored to every single citizen. But the game being played with figures might cause great damage. Kosovo was a single customs entity and a single judicial entity, insisting on being part of efforts to fight organized crime, strengthen cross-border controls and engage in all other regional initiatives to benefit people throughout the States of the region. The Kosovo security force was not an illegal paramilitary institution; it had been established on the basis of the Ahtisaari recommendations.
In response, Mr. JEREMIĆ (Serbia) said the source of his Government’s figures on the number of displaced Serbians ‑‑ some 206,000 ‑‑ was the official count provided by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. “It is unbelievable that someone sitting in this building would dispute that number,” he said, reiterating that the figure had not been calculated by the Serbian Government. Further, the other figures mentioned in his initial statement could also be verified by international sources.
He told the Council that Serbia wanted to find ways of working together on the matter of the police force. At the same time, Serbia itself did not fear the Kosovo police force; rather, the Serbian citizens who lived in the province lived in fear. He admitted that both sides needed to do more to try and build the trust of those people “that have been living under these conditions since 1999”. The reason that they weren’t seeking solutions in Pristina was probably because of the way they had been treated over the intervening years. He went on to say that Kosovo was the hub of organized crime, not just in the Western Balkans, but for all Europe. Serbia wanted to help address that issue within the framework of the European Union. Finally, he said Serbia looked forward to a more hopeful future, where all United Nations Member States of the western Balkans could become members of the European Union.
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