Recent Violence Called ‘Stark Reminder' of Threats to Security in Kosovo as Secretary-General’s Special Representative Briefs Security Council
Recent Violence Called ‘Stark Reminder' of Threats to Security in Kosovo as Secretary-General’s Special Representative Briefs Security Council
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6604th Meeting (AM)
Recent Violence Called ‘Stark Reminder’ of Threats to Security in Kosovo
as Secretary-General’s Special Representative Briefs Security Council
Urging Parties to Continue Dialogue,
Members also Welcome Progress in Probe into Trafficking of Human Organs
Recent violence accompanying a customs dispute between Kosovo and Serbia was a stark reminder of the threats to the former’s security, the Secretary-General’s Acting Special Representative there told the Security Council today, emphasizing that both sides must refrain from actions leading to an escalation of tensions and demonstrate confidence in their European Union-mediated dialogue.
“We are of the belief that the recent troubles must be a wake-up call to all that rebuilding trust and promoting inter-community cooperation and understanding cannot be further postponed,” said Farid Zarif, who is also Acting Head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). The language on both sides had become more divisive during the crisis, he said, adding that UNMIK had been urging the respective leaders to speak the language of reconciliation and accompany their words with concrete actions.
Presenting the Secretary-General’s latest report on UNMIK, he said it painted a hopeful picture of the dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade, but the situation had changed with the postponement of the sixth session of talks because of continuing disagreements over Kosovo’s customs stamps, among other issues. On 20 July, he recalled, Pristina had effectively placed Serbian goods under embargo, and attempted unilaterally to deploy a special police unit to two northern boundary crossing points, where Kosovo customs officials had not been able to operate. Roadblocks by Kosovo Serbs had stranded the police and a fire-fight had erupted during their withdrawal, despite the intervention of the Kosovo multinational security force (KFOR), which had resulted in the death of a local police officer.
The violence had not spread beyond northern Kosovo, he continued, warning, however, that progress on reconciliation between the ethnic Albanian and Serb communities, as well as confidence in the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, must occur to reduce the chance of further destabilization. The Belgrade-Pristina dialogue was scheduled to resume on 2 September, he noted. “It is hoped that when the dialogue resumes, the parties will resolve their long-standing commercial dispute and find a mutually agreed way forward”. He called for greater progress on the return of displaced persons, and for clarifying the fate of missing persons. He also noted the completion of recruitment of a group of the European Union Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) Task Force to investigate allegations of human-organ trafficking in Kosovo.
Vuk Jeremić, Serbia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, reaffirmed his country’s rejection of Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence, saying the region had become less secure as a result of the unprovoked armed incursion into northern Kosovo by the ethnic Albanian secessionist leadership. He urged the Council to send a clear message to the perpetrators that such unilateralism was unacceptable.
Citing alarming criminal incidents that had contributed to the overall escalation of fear and uncertainty among Kosovo Serbs, he said that some Serbian religious sites and Orthodox graveyards had been damaged, and called on the Council to authorize a mechanism that would carry out a comprehensive investigation of organ-trafficking allegations since EULEX lacked a mandate to do so.
Enver Hoxhaj of Kosovo said police had been to the northern borders simply to reinforce trade-reciprocity measures. Unfortunately, illegal parallel structures and Serbian Government officials had placed roadblocks that had resulted in the violence and “the biggest challenge we have seen to peace in the Balkans in many years”. Serbia had no legal right to finance and support its own armed paramilitary, security, intelligence and other institutions inside Kosovo, he stressed, declaring: “This has to stop.”
Emphasizing that Kosovo had proved its ability to deliver to minorities, he said new municipalities had become fully functional, and the Government would redouble its efforts to provide democratic representation throughout its territory. Its institutions were open to all those seeking political change through institutional means, including Kosovo Serb politicians in the north, he added, also citing progress in the economy, the rule of law and the visa-liberalization process. More countries had recognized Kosovo as an independent State since the last briefing to the Council, he noted.
In the ensuing debate, Council members urged officials in Pristina and Belgrade to continue their dialogue in good faith, welcoming progress on the issues of civil registry, freedom of movement and academic certification. Most also expressed concern over the recent crisis and praised the response of KFOR and EULEX. Most speakers also welcomed progress in the organ-trafficking investigation, with many calling for a full, independent inquiry, and some discussing the jurisdictions under which it should be conducted.
While members remained divided over the issue of Kosovo’s status, the role of UNMIK continued to receive wide support. However, the Russian Federation’s representative said the Mission’s inaction during the events in the north showed a lack of leadership, and called for the immediate appointment of a new Special Representative of the Secretary-General. In addition, he expressed regret that the “obstructionist quintet” in the Council had blocked his delegation’s proposed draft presidential statement opposing further unilateral action.
Also speaking today were representatives of Colombia, France, Germany, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Gabon, Portugal, United Kingdom, Lebanon, China, Nigeria, United States, Brazil, South Africa and India.
The meeting began at 10:10 a.m. and ended at 12:30 p.m.
Council members had before them the Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (document S/2011/514) covering the period from 16 April to 15 July 2011, which states that the Mission’s priorities remain unchanged — to promote security, stability and respect for human rights in Kosovo and the region.
According to the report, the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) continued to further those goals by engaging with Pristina and Belgrade, communities in Kosovo, as well as regional and international actors. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Kosovo Force (KFOR) continued to perform their important roles in accordance with the relevant Security Council resolutions, reports and presidential statements. Further, the European Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) was operating under the overall authority and within the status-neutral framework of the United Nations.
Turning to the political situation, the report says that the Kosovo authorities, including the Democratic Party of Kosovo and the New Kosovo Alliance, are focused on consolidating and ensuring institutional stability, adding that the Ad Hoc Assembly Committee on the reform of the electoral law, comprising representatives from all Assembly caucuses, commenced its work early in May.
Meanwhile, the dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade continued during the reporting period, facilitated by the European Union, the report states. The fourth and fifth meetings of the process were held in Brussels on 17 and 18 May and on 2 July. There was also a marked increase in bilateral and trilateral contacts between the European Union team and the parties. In that vein, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Belgrade continued to hold regular meetings with the Serbian leadership, and contacts with the Kosovo authorities intensified. On 15 July 2011, the Pristina-Belgrade Working Group on Missing Persons held its first meeting in nearly one year; 11 missing persons were identified and their remains returned to their families, while 1,809 persons are still missing.
According to the report, the overall situation in northern Kosovo remained relatively calm, but tensions increased towards the end of the reporting period as Kosovo Serb leaders raised concerns about the decisions by the local Ministry of Internal Affairs to expand its operations into Serb-majority northern municipalities. Other tensions were piqued by community protests in Zubin Potok and northern Mitrovica, which were related to the imposition of controversial taxes, among other issues.
On the economic front, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced on 1 June the interruption of the 18-month standby arrangement with Kosovo, resulting in the latter’s inability to access IMF funds to be distributed in 2011. Additionally, a considerable amount of European Union and World Bank funds will not materialize, as they are linked to clear assurances of a sound macroeconomic framework. All this would contribute to financial pressure on the Kosovo budget, the report says, noting, however, that in May, the Kosovo authorities started preparing amendments to the legal framework for privatization established by UNMIK.
Noting that the overall security situation remained relatively calm, the report notes, however, that criminal incidents affecting minority communities nearly doubled over the past three months compared to the same period in 2010. UNMIK continued to exercise certain responsibilities in the rule-of-law area. Meanwhile, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported 244 individual voluntary minority reforms in April and May, though the number of forced minority returns was reported at 100.
With regard to human rights, the report says the Ombudsperson Institution is still waiting the appointment of a Deputy Ombudsperson, although the Assembly of Kosovo has initiated the procedure. Challenges to the appointment stem from alleged attempts to infringe upon the institution’s independence through budgetary interventions by the Government.
In his concluding observations, the Secretary-General says he is pleased with the “intense pace” of dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade and urges both sides to engage fully in implementing the first concrete measures that have emerged since the dialogue was launched — mainly in the areas of freedom of movement, civil registry and academic diplomas. He also appeals to Council members to continue to encourage both sides to make “good-faith efforts” to tackle remaining challenges.
FARID ZARIF, Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), presenting the Secretary-General’s report, recalled that after the reporting period, an attempt by the Kosovo authorities to take control of gates on the administrative boundary line had led Alain Le Roy, former Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, to brief a closed Council session on 28 July. The situation had improved somewhat since then, but remained tense and unpredictable.
He said the hopeful picture that the report painted of the dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade had changed after the reporting period, beginning with the postponement of the sixth session of talks due to continuing disagreements over Kosovo customs stamps and other issues. On 20 July, Pristina had announced the imposition of “reciprocal measures” on Serbian goods, effectively placing them under embargo. It had also attempted unilaterally to deploy special police to the two northern boundary crossing points, where Kosovo Customs had not previously been able to operate. One of the police personnel had been wounded and the units had been blocked by roadblocks set up by northern Kosovo Serbs.
He went on to report that KFOR had then deployed to the area and facilitated an agreement to allow the withdrawal of special police units, but a gunfight had erupted, resulting in the death of one special police member and the torching of gate facilities by masked perpetrators. Both incidents were currently the subject of criminal investigations conducted by EULEX, he said, adding that the torching of gates 1 and 31 had led KFOR to declare them both military protected zones under the control of its troops, and to negotiate its retention of control until at least 15 September, beyond the expected resumption of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, currently scheduled for 2 September. “It is hoped that when the dialogue resumes, the parties will resolve their long-standing commercial dispute and find a mutually agreed way forward.”
In the meantime, EULEX had increased patrols in multi-ethnic areas and at the Mitrovica District Court, which remained a symbol of contention, he said. Despite the containment of the situation, however, those events served as a stark reminder of threats to Kosovo’s peace and security, and it remained essential that all sides refrain from unilateral actions that would escalate existing tensions and demonstrate confidence in dialogue. Tensions in the north had not spilled over, but there had been an increase in the intimidation of Kosovo Serbs and attacks on their property south of the Ibar River. “We are of the belief that the recent troubles must be a wake-up call to all that rebuilding trust and promoting inter-community cooperation and understanding cannot be further postponed,” he stressed, noting that the language of both sides had become more divisive during the crisis. UNMIK had been urging leaders on both sides to speak the language of reconciliation and to accompany their words with concrete actions, he added.
UNMIK, as well as United Nations funds, agencies and programmes and OSCE were taking steps to increase reconciliation efforts, working with the communities and liaising with the political leadership in both Pristina and Belgrade, he said. The United Nations team’s plan was focused on the themes of inclusion, participation and accountability. It took advantage of its status as a neutral partner to work with Government structures and civil society in both north and south. He noted, however, that the team had suffered a nearly 40 per cent decrease in funding, and major donors did not focus on either conflict prevention or reconciliation. He appealed for continued support for the work of the United Nations so as to rebuild trust and foster reconciliation.
He went on to report that the Kosovo Tax Administration had seized the bank accounts of a mining company, ostensibly over outstanding tax liabilities, affecting some 3,500 employees and their families in northern Kosovo and further heightening tensions. That action was a clear violation of applicable laws and procedures, and UNMIK had requested an immediate reversal.
Progress on returns remained slow, he said, noting that, according to UNHCR, the total number between April and July had been 333. Returns were impeded by a lack of economic prospects and reconciliation, on which no significant progress could be reported, with 1,800 people still listed as missing. He renewed the call for help in clarifying their fate.
Turning to UNMIK’s facilitation of external relations, he said Belgrade had initiated a dispute-resolution procedure regarding Kosovo’s embargo on Serbian goods, through the Central European Free Trade Agreement, but a consensus had emerged that Belgrade and Pristina would deal with the matter in the next dialogue session. UNMIK was ensuring coordination between the dialogue and the Central European Free Trade Agreement process with a view to reaching a swift resolution of the issue, he said, welcoming Pristina’s decision to resume its participation in meetings of the Sarajevo-based Regional Cooperation Council.
Finally, he reported that EULEX had informed him that members of the special investigative task force on the Council of Europe allegations of illicit trafficking in human organs had been recruited and facilities had been secured in Brussels. The task force was expected to begin its work in September.
VUK JEREMIĆ, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Serbia, reaffirmed his country’s non-recognition of Kosovo’s attempt at unilateral secession. He urged Member States that respected Serbia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, in line with the United Nations Charter and the Helsinki Final Act, to maintain their principled stance, thus ensuring that unilateral moves that imposed outcomes to territorial and ethnic disputes were not legitimized. Such a stance would prevent Kosovo’s unilateral declaration from becoming a “dangerous and destabilizing precedent” for the world, he added.
Last month’s unprovoked armed incursion into northern Kosovo by the ethnic Albanian secessionist leadership had made the situation in the region less secure, less stable and less predictable, he said, urging the Council to send a clear message to the perpetrators that such unilateralism was unacceptable. The 25 July incursion, when Pristina’s special operations militia had sent hundreds of heavily-armed men across the River Ibar, had been in blatant violation of the long-standing agreement between Pristina and EULEX that the militia would not be deployed in the north without the Mission’s approval, he recalled, stressing that those who destabilized northern Kosovo through such actions must be brought to account.
Who had ordered the unilateral action? he asked, wondering also whether anyone from the international community had known it was about to be put into effect. He also wanted to know why EULEX had disappeared from northern Kosovo in the wake of the incursion, leaving the local Serb community without international police protection. Why had EULEX not exercised its broad executive power to reverse Pristina’s unilateral decision as soon as it had begun? he asked. “Should attempting to create a new reality on the ground through the use of force be allowed to stand, especially when dialogue between the parties was producing results?”
Such behaviour must be rejected and condemned in the clearest possible terms, he continued, emphasizing that silence would be interpreted as acquiescence, dramatically increasing the likelihood of further unilateral incursions. As for the public perception that his country had postponed talks set for 20 July between Belgrade and Pristina, it was incorrect, he said, stressing also that the term “parallel structures” used to refer to ethnic Serb institutions in Kosovo was misleading. The truly parallel structures were those created by the so-called Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo, a document that had not been approved by UNMIK or the Council.
He went on to say that the Secretary-General’s report cited several disturbing developments concerning the Serb community, noting that criminal incidents affecting non-Albanian ethnic communities had nearly doubled in the past three months compared to the same period a year earlier. It under-emphasized several alarming incidents that had contributed to the overall escalation of fear and uncertainty among Kosovo Serbs, stating that “some” Serbian religious sites and Orthodox graveyards had been damaged. While focusing on attacks by ethnic Albanian extremists on two medieval holy sites, it failed, however, to mention the most atrocious example of such hate crimes — the use of the thirteenth century Church of St. John the Baptist, an important holy site, as a toilet and waste-disposal site by pupils from the nearby Kosovo Albanian elementary school for more than a decade — even though the OSCE Mission had reported it to UNMIK in May and June. Calling for a comprehensive, independent investigation of allegations in the recently released report titled “Inhuman Treatment of People and Illicit Trafficking in Human Organs in Kosovo”, he welcomed the contribution of EULEX to uncovering the practice and emphasized that the Council must create a mechanism to carry out a comprehensive investigation since EULEX lacked a mandate to do so.
ENVER HOXHAJ, of Kosovo, while citing clear economic, political and social progress during the reporting period, expressed grave concern over the escalation of rhetoric and violent acts by Belgrade and its illegal structures in the north. Describing Kosovo as a functional multi-ethnic State, he said the Assembly of Republic of Kosovo was focused on reforming the Constitution and the electoral law. It had invested €150 million over the last three years to implement the Ahtisaari Plan, including the creation of new municipalities and mechanisms for the protection of minorities. That had resulted in a distinct drop in inter-ethnic incidents and increased interaction between the State and minority citizens in the last three months, he said.
Kosovo’s economy had benefited from the resulting political stability, he said. In August, an IMF mission had projected 6 per cent growth in gross domestic product for 2011, with foreign direct and public investments reaching “fervent” levels. Kosovo had also made substantial infrastructure investments, including in a new highway along the Adriatic coast that would link Kosovo to Albania, Montenegro and Serbia. He also cited progress on the rule of law, visa-liberalization process, and the formation of a contractual relationship with the European Union, all of which were top priorities.
He said that since his last briefing to the Council, several more nations had recognized Kosovo’s independence. Kosovo had reached its first agreement with Serbia in their ongoing technical dialogue. The two sides had been scheduled to meet in July, but the Serbian delegation had refused to take part in the meeting. Kosovo had hoped to reach agreement on ending Serbia’s refusal to accept its customs stamps, he said, adding that it had also expected to import €500 million worth of goods from Serbia in 2011. However, Serbia had banned all imports from Kosovo and all goods transiting its territory on the way to other European markets. Senior Serbian leaders had frequently proposed the ethnic division of Kosovo, forcing the latter to retaliate against Serbian goods and to take control of its northern border crossings, he said.
Kosovo had not sent police to the northern borders to disturb or attack citizens, he continued, emphasizing that its actions had been aimed simply at reinforcing trade-reciprocity measures and were legitimate. Illegal parallel structures and Serbian Government officials had placed roadblocks, with the latter illegally entering Kosovo several times to make “very inflammatory remarks”, he said. “What happened was, frankly, the biggest challenge we have seen to peace in the Balkans in many years.” Serbia had no legal right to finance and support its own armed paramilitary, security, intelligence and other institutions inside Kosovo, he stressed, recalling that, in the last year, the Serbian Government had invested more than €6 billion to maintain and control those illegal structures.
“This has to stop,” he continued, noting that such were in violation of Council resolution 1244 (1999), the Ahtisaari Agreement and international law, in addition to being a “grave attack” on the entire international security architecture established in the Balkans since 1999. Kosovo had proved that it could deliver to minorities, he said, noting that new municipalities had become fully functional. Meanwhile, Zubin Potok, Leposavic and northern Mitrovica had never had proper and free elections, remaining the only corner of Europe in which criminal structures held the local population hostage to extremist aims. That must change, he added.
Calling on the Council not to tolerate efforts to challenge the legal order established after the adoption of resolution 1244 (1999), he said the Kosovo Government was committed to ensuring implementation of the rule of law in its entire territory. “Status quo, frozen conflict and partition are not acceptable at all,” he emphasized, adding that Serbia must dissolve its parallel structures and come to terms with independent Kosovo as a neighbour and partner. The Kosovo Government would redouble efforts to provide democratic representation throughout its territory, and its institutions were open to all those seeking political change through institutional means, including Kosovo Serb politicians in the north, he said.
NÉSTOR OSORIO (Colombia) said that, with the crisis having abated, the Kosovo authorities now had the opportunity to focus on institutional consolidation. The Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, while critical, was unfortunately prey to interruption by such crises, and the authorities must prevent them from occurring again. Welcoming UNMIK’s continuing role in pursuit of reconciliation, he said the criminal justice system must be strengthened so that crimes were not committed with impunity. The parties should avoid unilateral actions and all stakeholders should exercise restraint while doing their utmost to prevent violence. He also called for progress in the investigation of organ trafficking.
MARTIN BRIENS ( France), noting the violence in the north of Kosovo, said the international community must remain vigilant. Hasty and unilateral actions, as well as violence, must be avoided in the resolution of disputes, he affirmed, calling on both Serbia and Kosovo to return to constructive dialogue, and to demonstrate compromise and creativity while developing mutual trust. All stakeholders should cooperate with the investigation into the violence, he stressed, paying tribute to the UMIK’S leadership and affirming the important role of EULEX. A special representative of the European Union would assume office soon to coordinate efforts towards European integration, he added.
PETER WITTIG ( Germany) welcomed the decrease in severe crime, but expressed regret over the low-level incidents affecting minority communities and the continuation of organized crime. He said the incident in the north showed that the situation there must be a key element of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, emphasizing, however, that Kosovo’s territorial integrity was not up for negotiation. On the way forward, all parties concerned must cooperate fully with international presences and focus on practical solutions to outstanding issues through the dialogue, which was the only way to resolve customs and trade issues, among others. He welcomed positive developments on the rule of law, the resumption of the working group on missing persons, progress in the EULEX investigation of the organ-trafficking issue, and Kosovo’s commitment to cooperate. Finally, he called on States that had not yet done so to recognize Kosovo as an independent entity, stressing that the objective was peace and stability in the region within a clear European perspective.
NOEL NELSON MESSONE (Gabon) condemned all unilateral actions by either side that could create tensions, expressing support for the efforts of UNMIK, in line with resolution 1244 (1999), as well as those by EULEX and the OSCE to ensure regional peace and stability. Hailing the resumed activities of the working group concerning disappeared people, he said that resolving such humanitarian concerns was crucial. The investigation team looking into organ-trafficking must work transparently, he said, adding that addressing the situation in northern Kosovo must also be a priority. The parties must create an environment conducive to dialogue, he emphasized, describing the trade embargo as a counter-productive that could hinder the negotiation process.
VITALY CHURKIN (Russian Federation), expressing support for Serbia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, said his country was deeply concerned about the swift deterioration of the situation in the north and the provocative acts by the Kosovo authorities, particularly concerning border control, which had destabilized an already tenuous situation. He called for a return to pre-25 July status, warning that failure to do so would be rewarding Pristina for its unilateral actions. KFOR must step up efforts to restrain dangerous ambitions, he stressed, describing the use of KFOR helicopters in July as a flagrant violation of neutrality. He called on KFOR commanders to act responsibly and avoid extreme measures, saying a temporary plan was needed to impose border control in northern Kosovo.
There was a genuine lack of leadership on the part of UNMIK, he said, adding that the Mission had not taken action to address recent events in the north. The Russian Federation called for the immediate appointment of a new Special Representative of the Secretary-General. He insisted on a full and objective investigation into allegations of illegal trafficking in human organs, pointing out that the EULEX focus group established for that purpose had been delayed for no reason. He supported Serbia’s proposal to create a special international investigation mechanism that would answer to the Council, saying that July’s tragic events in northern Kosovo showed the explosive nature of the situation. Emphasizing that his delegation’s draft presidential statement had aimed to provide a clear, unequivocal message on the need to refrain from unilateral actions, he said it was balanced and non-confrontational, but regrettably, the obstructionist quintet in the Council had blocked it.
JOSE FILIPE MORAES CABRAL (Portugal) said dialogue was the most important setting in which to achieve progress on outstanding issues with an impact on the daily lives of people in both Serbia and Kosovo. He called for concessions from both sides. Hailing the role of EULEX, he welcomed the progress made in the investigation of organ-trafficking and called for updates to the Council on further developments. He described the actions that had led to the recent crisis as unacceptable and welcomed the response by EULEX and KFOR. Welcoming the decrease in violence, he said it was critical to further strengthen rule-of-law institutions.
MARK LYALL GRANT (United Kingdom) said it was regrettable that the so-called parallel structures prevented the completion of a census, a situation that underlined the need to place relations between Kosovo and Serbia on a more constructive track. The Belgrade-Pristina dialogue was important for that purpose, he stressed, affirming that the leaders should be ready to make progress in the upcoming round. He also underscored the importance of progress by the working group on missing persons, and noted his country’s support for the return of displaced persons. The increasing recognition of an independent Kosovo showed that it had made progress as an independent State, he said, adding that he looked forward to the integration of both Kosovo and Serbia into the European Union.
NAWAF SALAM ( Lebanon) said he was encouraged by the progress in the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina on many daily life issues, such as civil registry, freedom of movement and academic diplomas. He expressed hope that the process would be a start to resolving all remaining issues, and that the two sides would make an effort to achieve genuine reconciliation in order to advance long-term peace and security. Any unilateral action would impact dialogue and trust between the parties, as the 25 and 26 July incidents had done, he said, urging the parties to refrain from further unilateral actions. On security, he expressed satisfaction with the relative calm in most of the region during the reporting period, but said he shared the Secretary-General’s concern over increased tensions in northern Kosovo. Delicate issues must be sorted out through peaceful means and consultations among local communities, he stressed. The current effort to shed light on the fate of missing persons was also important, he said, adding that every effort must be made to uncover the truth about alleged human-organ trafficking and hold the perpetrators to account.
LI BAODONG ( China) expressed grave concern over the recent tension in northern Kosovo, underlining the need for the parties to exercise caution, resolve their differences through dialogue and negotiations, and refrain from unilateral actions. The question of Kosovo had a direct bearing on regional peace and stability, he pointed out, underlining that Serbia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity must be respected, with resolution 1244 (1999) as the legal basis for resolving outstanding issues. Encouraged by recent progress during the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, he urged both parties to keep up the momentum and find a mutually acceptable solution at an early date. He commended UNMIK’s progress in implementing its mandate, and expressed hope that the relevant regional organizations would continue to play a positive, constructive role. Expressing deep concern over illicit trafficking in human organs, he said no violation of international humanitarian law could be tolerated, and expressed support for the investigation of such cases.
OBINNA C. ONOWU (Nigeria) urged the parties to guard against a relapse into violence, and actively to promote reconciliation through compromise and mutual respect. Expressing regret over remaining tensions, he said law enforcement must be strengthened. Welcoming UNMIK’s continuing efforts to promote reconciliation, as well as the roles of EULEX and KFOR, he urged regional and international entities to act in concert, and expressed support for proposals to encourage an increase in the number of returning displaced persons. He also underlined the importance of inclusiveness in the investigation of alleged human-organ trafficking.
ROSEMARY DICARLO ( United States) welcomed the common understanding reached between the authorities on both sides following the recent crisis and called on them to uphold their responsibilities. As an independent State, Kosovo had the right to extend national authority and the rule of law in its northern area, she emphasized, expressing concern over the engagement of Serbian police in that area. Calling on the authorities in Belgrade and Pristina to recommence their dialogue, she underlined that it was not about Kosovo’s status, but about making progress on the path to full European integration. Noting that her country had offered its support to the investigation of human-organ trafficking, she said the United States remained committed to an independent Kosovo, which would contribute to regional stability, and called on countries that had not yet done so to recognize its independence.
REGINA MARIA CORDEIRO DUNLOP ( Brazil) welcomed the progress made on the issues of civil registry, freedom of movement and academic certification, saying the dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade was the only way to promote peace and stability in the region. Regarding northern Kosovo, she urged all stakeholders to promote reconciliation and reduce tensions, and called for action to reduce criminal incidents against minorities. Welcoming the resumption of work on missing persons, she expressed concern over the low level of returns, while noting that the involvement of various jurisdictions might be needed in the investigation of organ trafficking. Resolution 1244 (1999) contained the ingredients for the resolution of all issues in the region, she said, adding that UNMIK should retain its role.
BASO SANGQU ( South Africa) said resolution 1244 (1999) was the basis for resolving the situation in Kosovo, and the international presence there must maintain its neutral status. Expressing support for the dialogue, he said regular consultations between the two parties were an important confidence-building measure. Progress in the dialogue could be undermined by negative developments on the ground, he cautioned, expressing concern over the events of 25 July and warning that unilateral action by Pristina would jeopardize the achievements made through dialogue. Stressing the need to investigate the allegations of human organ trafficking, he noted the creation of the EULEX Special Task force for that purpose.
Council President HARDEEP SINGH PURI (India), speaking in his national capacity, expressed hope that the scheduled resumption of talks between Belgrade and Pristina next month would build trust and confidence between the two sides. The Kosovo issue should be resolved peacefully through consultation and dialogue, which had the potential to bridge long-standing differences. He urged both parties to show flexibility, understanding and creativity to achieve results. The continuing voluntary return of refugees, coordinated by UNHCR, was heartening, but the returnee numbers remained low, he noted. Concerned about recurring threats against UNMIK premises, he also expressed deep regret over the Council’s failure to issue a presidential statement on recent developments in Kosovo. India supported the creation of a mechanism to investigate allegations of human-organ trafficking, he said, adding that all issues concerning Kosovo should be resolved peacefully.
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