|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fourth General Assembly
Adopting Consensus Resolution, General Assembly Acknowledges World Court Opinion
on Kosovo, Welcomes European Union Readiness to Facilitate Process of Dialogue
Serbia’s Foreign Minister Introduces Text, Which Is
Sponsored by His Government and 27 Member States of European Union
The United Nations General Assembly today welcomed the European Union’s readiness to facilitate dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo over the province’s unilateral declaration of independence, saying that the process of such talks would itself be a factor for peace, security and stability in the Balkan region.
By a consensus resolution, the Assembly also acknowledged the 22 July advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on whether Kosovo’s declaration of independence was in accordance with international law. In that non-binding decision, the Court ruled that Kosovo’s 17 February 2008 declaration “did not violate general international law”.
Further by the resolution, a compromise text crafted by Serbia and the 27 member States of the European Union, the Assembly welcomed that the proposed dialogue between the parties would help promote cooperation, achieve progress on the path to the European Union and improve the lives of the people.
“The Republic of Serbia does not and shall not recognize the unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo,” said Vuk Jeremić, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Serbia, introducing the text. Yet, if the text were adopted, it would help create an atmosphere conducive for creating peace between Serbs and Albanians. Only such an approach could produce legitimate and sustainable results, in line with United Nations principles.
“Come what may, Serbia’s resolve shall not pass,” he declared, stressing: “We will not tire, because we must not fail. Though challenges remain formidable, so do our strengths. We look to the future and the justice of our cause.”
Delegations taking the floor before and after the text’s adoption stressed that continued dialogue was the only way to achieve durable peace in the Balkan region, and Euro-Atlantic integration for the parties. Several underscored the importance of States’ sovereignty and territorial integrity. A few delegates who joined consensus on the text, including the Russian Federation, also underscored that Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) was the legal basis for achieving those aims and resolving the Kosovo question. It was still binding on all parties.
Cautioning that other regions faced similar situations, Fiji’s delegate said there was often a fine line between respect for the self-determination of peoples, on the one hand, and the territorial integrity of States, on the other. The overriding purpose was to maintain international peace and security. As such, the Court’s opinion must be addressed in a way that did not “give a green light” to other unilateral declarations of independence around the world.
Also speaking on the resolution were the representatives of Azerbaijan, Venezuela and Argentina.
Speaking in explanation of position after action were the representatives of the United States, Turkey, Brazil, China, India, Peru, Albania, Indonesia and Iran.
The General Assembly will reconvene at 3 p.m. Monday, 13 September.
The General Assembly met today to take up a draft resolution, submitted by Serbia and the 27 member States of the European Union, pertaining to the request for an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on whether the unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo is in accordance with international law (document A/64/L.65/Rev.1).
Introduction of Draft Resolution
Speaking in a point of order, VUK JEREMIĆ, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Serbia, wondered why representatives of Pristina were in the Assembly hall when they were not sovereign members of the Assembly.
General Assembly President ALI ABDUSSALAM TREKI, of Libya, responded that those representatives were guests of France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Introducing the text, Mr. JEREMIĆ said that, in accordance with established practice, his Government was here to follow up on the Court’s advice. To that end, Serbia had submitted the draft, co-sponsored by the 27 member States of the European Union. Some of those States continued to respect Serbia’s territorial integrity, while others recognized Kosovo’s decision. Common ground had been found, and he described the resolution as a “status-neutral” document.
“ Serbia does not and shall not recognize the unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo,” he asserted. The resolution acknowledged the Court’s findings. In addition, it welcomed the European Union’s readiness to facilitate the process of dialogue. The resolution, if adopted, would help create an atmosphere conducive for creating peace between Serbs and Albanians. Only such an approach could produce legitimate and sustainable results, in line with United Nations principles. He proposed that it be adopted by acclamation. “Have no doubt: come what may, Serbia’s resolve shall not pass,” he said. “We will not tire, because we must not fail. Though challenges remain formidable, so do our strengths. We look to the future and the justice of our cause.”
AGSHIN MEHDIYEV ( Azerbaijan), referring to the draft, said it aimed to find mutually acceptable ways to find peace for the region. At the same time, he reiterated that a unilateral declaration of independence could not be an acceptable way for resolving armed conflicts and territorial issues. States were at the heart of the international system, and the principle of territorial integrity was bound to assume importance.
Unilateral actions did not involvethe rights conferred by international law. In its opinion, the Court reaffirmed the legality attached to the unilateral secession. Azerbaijan’s firm position was that the only way for reaching a just settlement was through an approach based on the full respect for international law. The international community should reject any attempts to impose unilateral actions. As a country suffering from ethnic cleansing within its territories, Azerbaijan believed that States’ fulfilment of their obligations was of the greatest importance for maintaining international peace and stability.
JORGE VALERO ( Venezuela) said his Government considered the unilateral declaration by Kosovo’s authorities a violation of Security Council resolution 1244 (1999), among other resolutions adopted by the 15-member body. The Venezuelan Government maintained that the right to secession, framed on the principle of the right of peoples to self-determination applied “only and exclusively to the colonized territories, within the terms contained in resolution 2625 of the General Assembly of the United Nations”.
In that context, Venezuela supported any initiative put forward by the Assembly, in the ambit of maintaining and preserving international law, the supremacy of which was unquestioned. He emphasized, therefore, the need to encourage the parties to find a mutually acceptable resolution to the outstanding issues, in the interest of peace and security in the Balkan region.
DEIGO LIMERES ( Argentina) said his delegation supported the resolution, since it believed it was necessary to promote a peaceful dialogue between the parties towards reaching a satisfactory agreement. He recalled that the Members of the United Nations were obliged to comply with the resolutions approved by the Organization. To that end, all must be aware of the Security Council resolution 1244 (1999). That text was the legal basis for achieving a political solution to the current issue, he said.
Action on Draft
The Assembly then adopted by consensus resolution A/64/L.65/Rev.1, “request for an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on whether the unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo is in accordance with international law”.
Speaking in explanation of position following that action, the representative of the United States welcomed the adoption of the resolution, which had responded to the opinion handed down by the International Court of Justice. The United States fully supported that decision and had joined in the consensus on the current resolution. The Court’s decision had been clear that Kosovo’s declaration did not violate international law and did not violate Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).
She said that the United States had consistently held that Kosovo was a special case and the Court’s decision had expressed a similar view, that the situation of Kosovo must be viewed through a prism that encompassed the situation in its region. Now was the time for that region to move forward, and specifically for Serbia and Kosovo to move forward towards new relations and a future within the European Union. The United States welcomed the European Union’s offer to assist the sides in a dialogue aimed at securing such a future and remained ready to help the constructive dialogue move forward.
Turkey’s representative said the advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice on Kosovo’s declaration of independence had stated, without ambiguity, that the declaration did not violate international law. As such, the advisory opinion marked the end of the legal discussion on Kosovo on that matter. Turkey supported the resolution just adopted by the Assembly. Turkey also welcomed the dialogue that was to be established as the only way towards a viable solution.
He went on to say that Turkey’s position on Kosovo’s independence was well known. Turkey supported Kosovo and its democratic structures and institutions, and believed that Kosovo should be integrated into regional structures. What remained now was for Kosovo and Serbia to work together on the way forward. Turkey enjoyed friendly relations with both sides and was committed to the peace, stability and prosperity of the entire Balkan region. The future of the region lay with the European Union and European-Atlantic integration.
Brazil’s delegate said the resolution was auspicious, as it offered the continuity of dialogue between the parties. Appreciating the European Union’s role, she reiterated that any solution must have the support of the entire international community. Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) remained the basis for durable peace and stability in the region, and for addressing the question of Kosovo.
The representative of the Russian Federation said that, while his Government joined the consensus on the resolution, its position on Kosovo remained unchanged. Security Council 1244 (1999) remained fully in force and was still binding on all. It was the international basis for settling the Kosovo problem. It was important that the parties resume dialogue, with a view to settling the Kosovo problem. An important role would continue to be played by the United Nations Mission in Kosovo, based on the mandate given to it by the Security Council.
China’s representative said the Kosovo question was a complex and sensitive one. His Government had always believed that the best way forward was for the parties to seek a mutually acceptable solution within the framework of relevant Security Council resolutions. China had noted the Court’s advisory opinion and was aware of the fact that different parties held different views. His Government had always held that respect for national sovereignty and territorial integrity were fundamental principles and the basis for the international legal order. As such, the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States should be respected. The Court’s opinion should not preclude the parties from finding a proper negotiated solution to the problem.
Next, India’s representative said his delegation joined others in welcoming the consensus adoption of the text. At the same time, India had consistently held the view that the territorial integrity and sovereignty of States was a key principle of international law and had, therefore, not recognized Kosovo. India believed the issue should be resolved peacefully and with dialogue among the concerned parties.
The representative of Peru reminded delegations that the International Court of Justice was the only universal legal entity and its impartial and considered opinions contributed to the evolution of international law. Peru, “with great satisfaction”, had joined consensus on the resolution just adopted. He added that it was important to underscore and acknowledge the constructive sprit and maturity shown by Serbia and the delegations of the European Union. Peru believed that the decision taken by the Assembly today would help initiate dialogue between the two parties and begin the process of ensuring peace, stability and harmony for all the Balkan States and peoples.
The representative of Albania said that his delegation was pleased that Serbia had withdrawn the text that had previously been under negotiation. Indeed, Albania supported Serbia’s “wise decision” to offer a substitute text that had been backed by the European Union. The International Court of Justice had delivered its decision in response to the question of Kosovo’s independence put forward by the General Assembly. The judges’ subsequent decision had been unambiguous and had made it clear that Kosovo’s case was unique and should not be compared to any other situation anywhere else in the world.
He said that Kosovo’s independence was a reality that had undergone many phases. That reality was increasingly being recognized by many States. The Court’s opinion offered a chance for a new phase in the relations between Kosovo and Serbia. Albania was aware of the resistance of some in Serbia and elsewhere to the resolution, but was nevertheless pleased with the outcome of today’s meeting and the action taken by the Assembly.
Fiji’s representative welcomed the consensus achieved, as well as the European Union’s readiness to facilitate dialogue between the parties. He reaffirmed that peaceful dialogue was fundamental to international relations. As a member of the Special Committee on Decolonization, Fiji gave careful consideration to the Court’s opinion. There was often a fine line between respect for self-determination of peoples, on the one hand, and the territorial integrity of States, on the other. The overriding purpose was to maintain international peace and security. As such, the Court’s opinion must be addressed in a way that did not “give a green light” to other unilateral declarations of independence around the world. He reiterated the need for careful consideration of the implications of the Court’s opinion.
Indonesia’s representative said the resolution was in line with his country’s long-expressed preference for dialogue on the question of Kosovo. That path alone would help guarantee that the region achieved peace and prosperity. As such, it was important to garner full diplomatic energy to find a sustainable solution to the issue. The Court’s opinion carried a host of new ramifications. Indonesia, aware that the opinion would have a life of its own, would delve into its content. He emphasized the importance of maintaining the sanctity of peaceful conflict settlement and political independence, and expressed hope that the dialogue process would start immediately and lead to a mutually acceptable solution. The United Nations should remain engaged in the political process.
Iran’s delegate said his Government joined consensus on the resolution, which represented a compromise between Serbia and the European Union. Iran reiterated the importance of adhering to international law, stressing that disputes must be resolved peacefully, in accordance with international law and respect of the United Nations Charter, notably the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence.
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