Kosovo Needs Leadership That Transcends Ethno-national Divisions, Special Representative Tells Security Council

SC/12824
16 May 2017
7940th Meeting (AM)

Kosovo Needs Leadership That Transcends Ethno-national Divisions, Special Representative Tells Security Council

The situation in Kosovo was “generally stable” although fluctuating tensions remained in the Balkans region, the senior United Nations official there told the Security Council today.

Zahir Tanin, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), said that Kosovo required leadership that transcended ethno-national divisions.  Instead, the holding of frequent electoral cycles was a distraction that did not help to advance the European Union-led dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade.

Inflammatory and irresponsible statements had led to an erosion of trust between the two sides, he said, noting that public communications had descended into ethno-nationalist slogans outside the realm of civil political discourse.  He reiterated the remarks of various leaders on regional and subregional unions, including the Prime Minister of Albania, who said that while a large union was hoped for, “smaller unions may happen”.  He also quoted Serbian cabinet Minister Aleksandar Vulin, who said that Greater Albania “can only be accomplished by a great Balkan war”.  Comments such as those might only serve to fuel fears, he said.

On a more positive note, he highlighted that evidence of constructive engagement continued.  He had met and spoken with municipal mayors and witnessed real commitment to resolve issues in Gjilan/Gnjilane, Pristina, and North and South Mitrovica.  In that vein, he hoped that the leaders in Belgrade and Pristina would proceed with far-sighted dialogue in the interest of their people.

The Minister of Justice of Serbia, Nela Kuburović, highlighted Belgrade’s dialogue with Pristina, which it continued to participate in, she said, despite the process of normalization of relations as a means to “blackmail” the Serbian side.  In addition, no significant progress had been made on the establishment in Kosovo of a Community of Serbian Municipalities, part of the First Agreement on Principles Governing the Normalization of Relations.  There had also been ethnically motivated attacks against Serbs, and not a single killer of any of the 1,000 Serbs killed since the end of the conflict had been convicted under a sentence that was legally effective.  In particular, the decision by the French court of Colmar to refuse to extradite Ramush Haradinaj, the leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army, was “shameful, illegal and scandalous”.

The human rights of non-Albanians across Kosovo and Metohija continued to be under threat, and the rate of return for internally displaced persons in those areas remained lower than in most traumatic post-conflict areas around the world, she emphasized.  As such, Serbia opposed the establishment of a Kosovo army, which was an attempt to raise tensions and was in violation of Council resolution 1244 (1999).  Dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade should not be used as a platform for the imposition of the interests of one side, but should instead find solutions that were mutually acceptable.

“I invite you all to come to Kosovo, and see the reality, because trust me, the conversations in this chamber do not match it,” said Vlora Çitaku of Kosovo, noting that even though the it was not yet a United Nations Member, that did not make it any less of a State.  She said it was cynical to come to the Security Council Chamber every three months for political reasons.

Citing a report by the Centre for Human Rights in Serbia, she said that State had failed to deal with its past crimes.  Meanwhile, Kosovo had issued more than 20 indictments for war crimes, and was working to become a responsible member of the world’s free nations.  It had also initiated the establishment of the Kosovo army and would engage in efforts to convince local Serbians to support that project.  In addition, it would hold Parliamentary elections in June and had invited international observers to monitor the process.

The Council, she said, first discussed Kosovo in 1993 and adopted seven resolutions between 1998 and 1999, which called for peace and the end of ethnic cleansing.  In 2005, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy proposed Kosovo’s independence, and the International Court of Justice had stated that a declaration of independence was not a violation of international law.  Today, while Kosovo had its challenges, the Council was not the correct venue to discuss them.  UNMIK, she said, had no role in Kosovo, and it was unnecessary for the Organization to continue to spend its resources there.

Several delegates expressed similar views on the subject of UNMIK, including the representative of the United States, who said that the Mission risked being remembered as a programme that lingered beyond its relevance.  It was overresourced and overstaffed, she said, and had requested additional resources for programming that was largely redundant, particularly given the presence of the European Union Rule of Law Mission (EULEX).

The time was ripe for a review of UNMIK, the representative of Japan said, noting that the Council should have clear priorities in the face of serious conflicts and crises in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere.  The delegate of Italy also encouraged the Council to review the presence of UNMIK, and perhaps reconfigure it in line with the reform of peacekeeping operations by the United Nations.

The representative of the Russian Federation said that the request to close the Mission was counterproductive, and that efforts to normalize the situation should be made instead.  He cited the weakness of Kosovo’s institutions, Pristina’s moves to appropriate Serbian State properties, and attempts to prevent the return of refugees and internally displaced persons, as reasons for UNMIK to remain.

The representative of Bolivia also raised the subject of internally displaced persons, raising his objection to obstacles put in the place of their safe return.  The representative of Uruguay similarly noted those obstacles, and appealed for progress with regard to “disappeared” persons after four cases were reopened.  Their families should have information on their fate, he said.

Other representatives raised the proposal to transform the Kosovo Security Force into an army.  The representative of the United Kingdom said that he welcomed its withdrawal, while the representative of Ukraine called the proposal irresponsible, as it could lead to heightened regional tensions and be an “explosive cocktail” when linked with ethno-nationalist sentiments.

Speakers generally called upon both Kosovo and Serbia to resume their participation in the European Union-led dialogue, which was widely seen to offer the best path to future peace and cooperation.

Also speaking today were representatives of Egypt, Senegal, Sweden, China, Kazakhstan, Ethiopia and France.

The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 12:25 p.m.

Briefing

ZAHIR TANIN, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), said that there were fluctuating tensions and fragility in the region, although the situation remained generally stable.  Escalation had been avoided in several instances due to external diplomatic interventions, but the necessary level of trust between Pristina and Belgrade had been further eroded by a number of irresponsible and inflammatory statements.  Both sides had accused one another of provocation, but cooperation was what was needed.

He said that the decision to call an early parliamentary election in Kosovo in June following the collapse of the governing alliance was a significant development.  He also expressed his shock regarding the recent attack against former journalist Arbana Xharra, and stressed the need for a swift and full investigation.  The frequent electoral cycles were part of a continuum of distraction that did not help to advance the European Union-led dialogue, which had stood in abeyance for months.  Public communications had also descended into intolerant and ethno-nationalist slogans, which were outside the realm of civil political discourse.

On the question of regional or subregional unions, he noted the remarks of various leaders on that matter, including the Prime Minister of Albania, who said that while a large union was hoped for, “smaller unions may happen”.  He also quoted the Serbian cabinet Minister Aleksandar Vulin, who said that Greater Albania “can only be accomplished by a great Balkan war”.  Such remarks, he said, could fuel fears.

While there had been a notable cluster of security incidents centred upon the city of Mitrovica, constructive engagement continued to be possible.  He had met and spoken with the municipal mayors of Gjilan/Gnjilane, Pristina, and North and South Mitrovica, and witnessed real commitment to promote cooperation and resolve real issues.  Also of note was the work of the European Union Special Representative in Kosovo, who had worked to reinvigorate the Implementation and Monitoring Council for cultural heritage protection, which was crucial for the implementation of the Law on Special Protective Zones.

The improvement of the situation in Kosovo and the region required leadership that transcended ethno-national divisions rather than amplifying them, he said, and he encouraged members of the Council to use their influence to encourage democratic institutions to serve the real needs of people, and hoped that the leaders in Belgrade and Pristina would proceed with far-sighted dialogue in the interest of their people.

Statements

NELA KUBUROVIĆ, Minister of Justice of Serbia, said that, despite numerous challenges, Belgrade continued to participate in dialogue with Pristina in a constructive, responsible and dedicated manner.  However, the latter’s treatment of that dialogue and the process of normalization of relations as a means of blackmailing the Serbian side and its European partners was unacceptable.  She pointed out that such an attitude had been illustrated in March when the Pristina Assembly had decided to suspend dialogue based on the de facto destiny of one person — the Kosovo Liberation Army leader Ramush Haradinaj — who had been charged with the most heinous crimes.  That had been followed by overt threats by regional Albanian leaders to redraw borders and create a so-called “greater Albania” unless their European integration ambitions were met in an accelerated way.

Noting that no significant progress had been made during the reporting period on the establishment of a Community of Serbian Municipalities — the most important part of the First Agreement on Principles Governing the Normalization of Relations — she called on Serbia’s European partners and the Security Council to speak with a “unified voice” on that matter.  She went on to describe ongoing ethnically motivated attacks against Serbs, including a recent threat by Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) member of Parliament Daut Haradinaj “that not a single living Serb will remain in Kosovo and Metohija” if the proceedings against his brother, Ramush Haradinaj, were concluded against the wishes of the Albanians.  Also noting that not a single killer of any of the 1,000 Serbs killed since the end of the conflict had been convicted under a legally effective sentence, she emphasized that impunity for committed crimes must not be tolerated, and presented a serious test for the entire United Nations membership.

In that context, she continued, the decision by the French court of Colmar to refuse to extradite Ramush Haradinaj was “shameful, illegal and scandalous”.  Describing the crimes and atrocities committed by the terrorist organization known as the Kosovo Liberation Army — of which Mr. Haradinaj was a leader — she said they included brutal and repeated rapes, torture, beatings and ruthless killings.  In addition, she cited the recent unveiling of past efforts by William Walker, then-Head of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Kosovo Verification Mission, to facilitate the 1999 aggression on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.  Those abusive efforts — along with recent evidence that the United States had been investing in the independence of “Kosovo” for 20 years — showed an abuse of Mr. Walker’s mandated objectivity and impartiality, she said.

Indeed, she said, the decision to use force against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia had been carried out without the Council’s authorization by the same countries that continued to this day to advocate the recognition of an independent “Kosovo”.  Today, the human rights of non-Albanians continued to be systematically threatened across Kosovo and Metohija, and the rate of returns for internally displaced persons remained at only 1.9 per cent, lower than in most traumatic post-conflict areas around the world.  Against that backdrop, Serbia was strongly opposed to the establishment of the so-called “Kosovo Army”, contrary to Council resolution 1244 (1999), which was nothing but an attempt to raise new tensions at an extremely sensitive moment.  In order for the current dialogue to be meaningful, it must not be abused as a platform for the imposition of the interests of one side, she warned, expressing hope that Pristina would realize that it must find solutions that were mutually acceptable to Belgrade and avoid unilateral acts, including attempts to be admitted to various international organizations or appropriate Serbia’s property.

VLORA ÇITAKU, of Kosovo, recalled that it was in 1993 when the Council first spoke about Kosovo, when Kosovars had been exposed to apartheid, imprisoned for their political beliefs and expelled from schools.  It adopted seven resolutions between 1998 and 1999, calling for peace and the end of ethnic cleansing.  The Council again was with Kosovo when 1 million people — half the population — was deported, and again when they returned home.  But today, it was unnecessary and “frankly speaking” cynical to come to the Chamber every three months for political reasons.  Resolution 1244 (1999) had expired long ago, referring to a union of Serbia and Montenegro that no longer existed.  It was the presidential statement of 24 October 2005, which had called for a political process to determine Kosovo’s future status, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy who had proposed Kosovo’s independence as a final solution, and the International Court of Justice that had stated its declaration of independence was within its right and had not violated international law.

“I invite you all to come to Kosovo, and see the reality, because trust me, the conversations in this chamber do not match it,” she said, stressing that simply because Kosovo was not yet a United Nations Member, that did not make it any less of a State.  If the issue of minority rights was reason to meet every three months, Kosovo would be far down the list, as it had gone to great lengths to accommodate their needs.  Serbs in Kosovo were the most privileged minority in Europe, while Albanians in Serbia — in Preshevë, Medvegjë and Bujanovac — faced constant ethnic discrimination and underrepresentation in both local and central public employment.  While Serbia insisted that it was superior, “we are independent, equal”, she said.  While Kosovo had many challenges, the Council was not the venue in which to address them and spending valuable resources on a mission that no longer served its purpose was an injustice to all those in need of United Nations help.  “UNMIK has no role in Kosovo,” she said.

While Kosovo was committed to the dialogue with Serbia, it was tired of double standards, games and ambiguity, she said, pointing to Serbia’s misuse of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) Red Notice system, issuing warrants against Kosovo’s leaders and freedom fighters who defended people from atrocities, events about which the Council was aware.  It was an old pattern of brutality mixed with fake bureaucracy which had tormented Kosovars for decades, which in the best cases, had led to expelling Albanians from Kosovo.  Serbian police would draw up terrorism charges against them to prevent them from returning home, the latest episode of the former Prime Minister of Kosovo thankfully ending.  Militarily, Serbia had lost the battle in 1999, politically in 2008 and juridically in 2009, with the Court’s ruling.  It wanted to win the moral challenge by imposing a moral parity with other countries of the former Yugoslavia.  There was one aggressor, Serbia.  The rest — Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo — were fighting for their lives.

She said Serbia had failed to deal with its past crimes committed in Kosovo, citing a report by the Centre for Human Rights in Serbia demonstrating how that country had taken unprecedented measures to hide war crimes.  Kosovo would not allow Serbia to deter it from its own commitments.  Between 2009 and 2015, Kosovo institutions had issued more than 20 indictments for war crimes and would work to become a responsible member of the world’s free nations.  It hoped to become a contributor to regional and global security, and had initiated the establishment of the Kosovo army.  It would engage in serious efforts to convince local Serbians to support that project.  While it would push for constitutional changes, if Serbia’s interference became clear, it would move ahead with legislative changes.  After the no-confidence motion last week, Kosovo would hold early parliamentary elections in June and had invited international observers to monitor the process.  While there were differences between political parties, as in any democracy, there was also broad social consensus about Kosovo’s Euro-Atlantic future, she asserted.

AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt) said he commended the economic progress of Kosovo, which had been reflected in its higher development rates and lower unemployment levels.  He called upon the new Kosovo government to continue the approach of settling differences through dialogue.  He expressed concern over the mention of obstacles between Pristina and Belgrade in the Secretary-General’s report, noting that high-level dialogue between the two remained the most appropriate framework to settle differences peacefully.  He called upon the two sides to refrain from unilateral steps that might exacerbate the situation between them.

MICHELE J. SISON (United States) said the situation in Kosovo today was very different from when it was first created.  Given how it had developed, the United States and a growing number of Member States had urged the United Nations to wind down UNMIK.  While the Mission should go down in history, it increasingly risked being remembered as a programme lingering beyond its relevance.  Without regard to realities on the ground, it continued to be overresourced and overstaffed in comparison with its limited responsibilities.  She noted it had requested additional resources for programming that was largely redundant, especially given the presence of European Union Rule of Law Mission (EULEX).  She called on leaders in Pristina and Belgrade to take steps to revitalize talks and to exercise restraint as provocations arose.  She emphasized that the bodies at Rahovec were testimony to the violence that took place there, and forensic work at the time was clear and unambiguous.  All Balkan countries must take a full and honest accounting of what took place during the breakup of Yugoslavia.  Leaders needed to focus on the hard work necessary to promote reconciliation, and Member States that had not yet done so needed to recognize Kosovo as an independent State.

FODÉ SECK (Senegal) expressed concern over persistent tensions and encouraged political actors to maintain a serene political climate on which the quality of dialogue with Belgrade depended.  He encouraged Serb authorities to maintain commitment to constructive dialogue with Pristina, and countries and actors with influence to support negotiations.  Agreements must be implemented and political leaders must fully commit to continue dialogue, which was the only viable path to normalized relations.  The proposed conversion of security forces into an armed force was controversial.  Fortunately, the bill had been withdrawn with a pledge that no unilateral action would be taken on that front.  The adoption by Kosovo’s Assembly of a resolution calling for an end of dialogue facilitated by the European Union — as a protest over the detention of a certain person — had also heightened tensions, which he hoped would be reduced following his release.  He welcomed Kosovar Serbs’ participation in Serbia’s presidential elections and the smooth conduct of that process.  He also welcomed the high-level meetings in Brussels with the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security, and the related pledges to refrain from any war-like declarations.

OLOF SKOOG (Sweden) said that delivering on Kosovo’s European perspective remained a top priority for the European Union.  He expressed concern regarding the “hardened rhetoric” in the region in recent months, and called on both sides to redouble their efforts for peace by working to build mutual understanding.  The European Union-facilitated Kosovo-Serbia dialogue provided an important framework for finding mutually acceptable solutions.  Pristina and Belgrade must implement their respective parts of the agreement, including by dismantling parallel structures in Serb majority areas and by the establishment of the Association of Serb Municipalities.  It was also essential that the issue of status did not hinder Kosovo’s European perspective or its membership in international organizations.

VLADIMIR K. SAFRONKOV (Russian Federation) said serious problems remained in Kosovo, requiring solutions and outside oversight, as the goal of creating a multi-ethnic society was far from sight.  The Brussels mediation was biased.  Dialogue was at an impasse.  The Russian Federation had not changed its position about creating Serb municipalities in Kosovo.  It was destructive to impose on Serbs a way of self-governing which would have their authority minimized.  The lack of pressure from Brussels meant that Kosovo’s leaders felt they could do anything.  He objected to the Kosovo Assembly’s resolution to suspend dialogue until France released someone suspected of serious crimes.  At the same time, he was not surprised that the investigation into crimes by the Kosovo Liberation Army had been protracted.  More broadly, he said regional deterioration threatened the territorial integrity of several countries, citing comments by Hashim Thaçi in Kosovo that all Albanians would live in the same State unless the European Union fulfilled his integration expectations.  Similar things were being said by Albanians living in southern Serbia.  He called on European Union and Western capitals to stop such provocations.  The weakness of Kosovo’s institutions was also on display, amid events which had violated the freedoms of speech and movement.  Pristina’s moves to appropriate Serbian State properties were also unacceptable, as were physical attacks on Serbs, attempts to prevent the return of refugees and internally displaced persons and efforts to alienate properties of the Serbian Orthodox Church.  He also expressed concern that Kosovo was being used to recruit fighters to the Middle East.  In sum, it was counterproductive to reduce the staff and budget for the Kosovo Mission and he urged giving up on the request to close it.  Rather, it should engage in efforts to normalize the situation, in line with resolution 1244 (1999), which remained fully valid.  For such reasons, he saw no reason to review the practice of informing the Council quarterly on the situation in Kosovo.

WU HAITAO (China) said that the security situation on the ground in Kosovo was relatively stable, and commended the usefulness of high-level dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade.  All agreements already reached by the parties involved should be implemented, and he hoped that they would always put the welfare of people first, and safeguard the peace, stability and development of the Balkans.  China appreciated the work carried out by UNMIK and supported it to continue to discharge its duties in accordance with its mandate, working in close collaboration with EULEX.

SEBASTIANO CARDI (Italy) said that the normalization of relations between Pristina and Belgrade could only be achieved through the dialogue facilitated by the European Union.  He shared the hope of the Secretary-General to see more consistent efforts by both parties to sustain talks and deliver more substantial results, and all measures agreed in the European Union-facilitated dialogue should be implemented.  It was important for Pristina to keep the pace on the path to reform, strengthening the rule of law, and increasing socioeconomic development, and that should be pursued by the new government.  He encouraged the Council to review the presence of the United Nations in Kosovo and consider the reconfiguration of UNMIK in line with peacekeeping reform.

BARLYBAY SADYKOV (Kazakhstan) said recent events underscored the need for increased engagement, in accordance with the Brussels agreement and focused on military, economic and other dimensions.  No initiative should cause tensions and instability.  The situation in Kosovo required the Council’s attention amid the lack of inter-community trust, hatred, missing persons, and lack of respect for native languages for Serbs in the area.  Both sides should implement language laws and show full respect for each other’s heritage, with cultural heritage in particular helping to build trust.  He welcomed civil society measures to foster dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo, encouraging all interested parties to help local residents understand that dialogue was the only means of bringing governance and the rule of law to bear in solving such problems as employment and health care.  He also urged a focus on implementing resolution 1325 (2000).  Social stability could only be achieved with the engagement of the United Nations country team, regional and subregional organizations and civil society, he said, stressing that normalized relations were essential for regional and international security, which required genuine political dialogue.

YASUHISA KAWAMURA (Japan) said that while he fully supported the peace, stability and democracy of Kosovo, the Council should be clear about its priorities.  It was faced with serious conflicts and crises in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere and, while the risk of violence in Kosovo had not completely diminished, it was far less than in other regions.  The time was ripe for the Council to undertake a review of UNMIK to assess the functions that it alone could provide.  That was not to deny the outstanding issues faced by Kosovo, including the fact that many Kosovar Serbs were unable to return.  It was also necessary for the European Union-facilitated dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade to continue, he said.

TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia) said that the issues surrounding Kosovo should be resolved in a just and fair manner, in accordance with the Brussels agreement.  He also recognized the efforts of the European Union in facilitating dialogue between the two parties.  However, he expressed concern over the latest political developments between Belgrade and Pristina, as well as the slow implementation of agreements and a lack of concrete steps.  He also recognized positive developments, including the upcoming elections in Kosovo and the lessening of tension in north Kosovo.  He expressed support for the work of UNMIK, particularly with regard to defusing tensions and promoting consensual solutions to problems on the ground, and he hoped the Mission would continue its work.

STEPHEN HICKEY (United Kingdom) welcomed the withdrawal of the proposal to transform the Kosovo Security Force into an army.  Despite current stability, he was concerned that both parties had only made slow progress in the European Union-supported dialogue.  They should reengage and commit to the talks following the upcoming elections in Kosovo.  He looked forward to free and fair elections and to a Government that reflected the will of the people.  It was important to recognize the international progress made by Kosovo, including its diplomatic work.  That was progress rarely heard about in the Council, and the current sessions reflected Kosovo as it was in the past, not as it was in the present day.  As a result, the Council should decrease the frequency of its sessions on Kosovo.  UNMIK should also adapt, and take a step back, particularly given pressures on the United Nations peacekeeping budget.

YURIY VITRENKO (Ukraine) expressed regret that Kosovo institutions had attempted to transform the Kosovo Security Force into an armed force, which his country considered irresponsible, as it could heighten regional tensions.  A conversion, coupled with rising ethno-nationalist sentiments, could be an explosive cocktail.  “This does not contribute to confidence-building both among communities inside Kosovo and between Belgrade and Pristina”, he said, commending the quick reaction by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the United States in that regard.  Disturbing developments on property issues, hate speech with threat of ethnic cleansing, incidents involving travellers from Kosovo and resistance to the peaceful return process had also been noted.  In 2000, during the Council’s first visit, Istok had been presented as a prospective area for Serb returns; however, 17 years later, nothing had changed and those obstructing the process used the same arguments as in the past.  He called on political leaders in Belgrade and Pristina to avoid provocations and emphasized the importance of implementing commitments.

PEDRO LUIS INCHAUSTE JORDÁN (Bolivia) urged compliance with resolution 1244 (1999) including full respect for Serbia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.  The attempt to establish a Kosovo army contravened that text and threatened progress between the parties.  Any such action was not conducive to finding a peaceful solution and must be avoided.  Rather, conditions must be created to foster peace and stability and he welcomed the dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade under European Union auspices.  Parties must also refrain from bellicose statements and he encouraged them to continue working towards the establishment of Serbian municipalities, which would see further respect for Serbians’ human rights in Mitrovica.  He objected to obstacles to the return of internally displaced persons in some regions of Kosovo, calling for their safe return.  He called for peaceful conflict resolution through dialogue in line with international law.  He encouraged UNMIK, EULEX and OSCE to continue working on confidence-building measures.

MARIE AUDOUARD (France) urged the Council to evaluate the frequency with which it reviewed the situation in Kosovo, stressing that the issue was not comparable to crises on which intense Council engagement was essential.  Progress justified a refocusing of UNMIK and its coordination with other international actors, and she requested the Secretary-General to provide recommendations in that regard.  The Council must ensure that the means deployed by the United Nations was aligned with the ground situation.  That was not the case in Kosovo.  Urging parties to the political dialogue to show commitment at the highest levels, she said France expected all agreements to be implemented, especially concerning the association of Serbian majority municipalities, and called for intensified efforts to produce results in the coming months.  Normalizing relations was a condition for moving down the road of European rapprochement and she expected parties to show restraint, as nationalist rhetoric could be dangerous for the region.  The recent agreement to bring down the Mitrovica wall had demonstrated that solutions could be found to promote coexistence.  Mr. Thaçi favoured an inclusive approach to transform the status of the Kosovo Security Force, which helped to reduce tensions.

ELBIO ROSSELLI (Uruguay), Council President for May, spoke in his national capacity, saying that respect for the sovereignty of States was fundamental.  Speaking on the dialogue facilitated by the European Union, he noted that delay in the implementation of agreements was a source of tension in the region.  Because of the political situation in Kosovo, the prompt resumption of dialogue was needed.  Progress should also be made in the case of disappeared persons, he said, noting the increase in the number of disappeared persons after the reopening of four cases.  The families of the disappeared should have access to information on the fate of their loved ones.  The attitude of local officials who could create obstacles to that process was of concern.

For information media. Not an official record.