Peacekeeping Chief Urges Serbia, Kosovo to Avoid Exacerbating Tensions after Decision to Transform Security Force into National Armed Forces

SC/13626
17 December 2018
8427th Meeting (PM)

Peacekeeping Chief Urges Serbia, Kosovo to Avoid Exacerbating Tensions after Decision to Transform Security Force into National Armed Forces

Move in Violation of Resolution 1244 (1999), Says President, as Pristina Leader Stresses Army Poses No Threat to Anybody

Serbia and Kosovo must avoid steps that could further exacerbate tensions and set back dialogue towards normalizing relations, the head of United Nations peacekeeping told the Security Council today.

Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, expressed concern over tensions in northern Kosovo in particular, as he briefed the Council on developments unfolding since members heard a briefing by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) on 14 November.

Since then, he said, Kosovo increased tariffs on goods imported from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina from 10 per cent to 100 per cent.  In response, the mayors of the four ethnic Serb-majority municipalities in northern Kosovo announced their resignations and the decision by their respective municipal assemblies to cease all official communications with the authorities in Pristina, he added.

On 14 December, the Assembly of Kosovo adopted three laws providing for substantial changes to the mandate, role and strength of the Kosovo Security Force, he continued, recalling that the Serbian authorities condemned that action as an act of political aggression and a violation of Council resolution 1244 (1999).  He went on to note the Secretary-General’s concern over the Kosovo Assembly’s adoption of the laws, and his affirmation of the standing of Council resolution 1244 (1999) as the sole legal framework for the international security presence, the Kosovo multinational security force (KFOR).

He went on to emphasize the crucial need for Serbia and Kosovo to avoid any steps that could worsen the situation, and instead to find ways to re-engage in dialogue to normalize relations.  In accordance with Council resolution 1244 (1999), UNMIK is committed to working closely with KFOR, and will continue to focus on building trust, which is essential for the long-term normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo, he added.

President Aleksandar Vučić of Serbia expressed worry and fear over his country’s future and that of the entire region.  He said Serbia entreated Kosovo not to bid for full-fledged membership of international bodies, such as the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), he noted, recalling that after it failed to win membership, Pristina blamed Belgrade and imposed tariffs against Serbia, as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina.  Noting that UNMIK and KFOR both derive authority from Security Council resolution 1244 (1999), he said the text clearly envisages the demilitarization of the Kosovo Liberation Army and all other armed Kosovo-Albanian groups.

Hashim Thaçi of Kosovo, asserting that “nothing extraordinary” transpired, said that as a sovereign and independent State, Kosovo has taken a natural step in establishing its army.  Nothing whatsoever contradicts resolution 1244 (1999), the package proposed by former Special Representative Marrti Ahtisari, the constitution of Kosovo, or international law.  He gave assurances that Kosovo will respect every existing international agreement and continue to cooperate closely with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), stressing that under no circumstances should the establishment of Kosovo’s army be perceived as an attempt to duplicate that alliance’s mission.

Voicing support for Kosovo, the representative of the United States reaffirmed the need for the Kosovo Security Force to have a gradual, transparent transition to a professional, multi-ethnic, NATO-interoperable force that serves and reflects all of Kosovo’s communities.  The relevant legislation is fully in accordance with resolution 1244 (1999), he said, adding that it is Kosovo’s sovereign right to establish and maintain an armed force.  In that vein, he called upon Kosovo to continue its close coordination with NATO allies and partners and to engage in outreach to minority communities now and throughout the years-long process ahead.

The Russian Federation’s delegate said he shares Serbia’s serious concerns about the situation in Kosovo.  Pristina’s decision constitutes a gross violation of Security Council resolution 1244 (1999), which contains a clear demand for the demilitarization of any armed groups of Kosovo-Albanians.  Describing the European Union’s reaction as “toothless”, he stressed that the emergence of the Kosovar army represents an existential threat.  Nevertheless, he expressed hope that the European Union will use its presence in Kosovo, as well as the Stabilization and Association Agreement, to prevent a further deterioration of the situation and to reverse Pristina’s tariffs.

Also speaking today were representatives of the Netherlands, France, United Kingdom, Kazakhstan, China, Sweden, Peru, Poland, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Bolivia, Kuwait and Côte d’Ivoire.

The meeting began at 3:05 p.m. and ended at 5:14 p.m.

Briefing

JEAN-PIERRE LACROIX, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said a number of developments have heightened tensions between Serbia and Kosovo since the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) briefed the Security Council on 14 November.  On 21 November, the government of Kosovo announced an increase, from 10 to 100 per cent, in tariffs on goods imported from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.  In response, the mayors of the four Kosovo Serb-majority municipalities of northern Kosovo announced their resignations and the decision by their respective municipal assemblies to cease all official communications with the authorities in Pristina.  Moreover, the main Kosovo Serb political party has organized daily protests that have drawn up to 5,000 people, he said.  For its part, Serbia stated that Kosovo violated the Central European Free Trade Agreement, stressing that it will only resume its involvement in European Union-facilitated dialogue once Kosovo revokes the import tax.

Amid a tense atmosphere on 14 December, he continued, the Assembly of Kosovo adopted three laws that provide for substantial changes, to be implemented over time, to the mandate, role and strength of the Kosovo security force.  In Belgrade, Serbian authorities condemned the adoption of the laws as an act of political aggression against Serbia and a violation of Council resolution 1244 (1999).  They also called upon the Kosovo multinational security force (KFOR) not to allow the operation of any “Kosovo Army” on Kosovo’s territory.  The Secretary-General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) declared that the transition of the Kosovo security force is, in principle, a matter for Kosovo to decide.  Nevertheless, he expressed regret at the decision, which he characterized as “ill‑timed”.  Meanwhile, the European External Action Service said the mandate of the Kosovo security force should only be changed through an inclusive and gradual process, in accordance with Kosovo’s constitution.

He went on to note the Secretary-General’s concern over the Assembly of Kosovo’s adoption of the laws, saying he underscores the role of Council resolution 1244 (1999) as the sole legal framework for the international security presence, KFOR.  The Secretary-General calls upon all parties to exercise restraint while refraining from actions that could raise tensions and cause a further setback in the European Union-facilitated dialogue for the normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo, he said.  Mr. Lacroix went on to state that the recent developments have further exacerbated relations between Serbia and Kosovo, which have been strained for some time, with no progress on the European Union-facilitated dialogue.  Expressing concern at the rise of tensions on the ground, particularly in northern Kosovo, he said it is crucial that Belgrade and Pristina avoid any steps that could worsen the situation, and instead find ways to re-engage in dialogue to normalize relations.  In accordance with Council resolution 1244 (1999) and its neutral approach, UNMIK is committed to working closely with KFOR, as with other international actors, he said, adding that the Mission will continue to focus its activities in building inter-community trust, which is essential for the long-term normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo.

Statements

ALEKSANDAR VUČIĆ, President of Serbia, expressed worry and fear over his country’s future and that of the entire region.  “We did everything we could, refraining ourselves from responding to provocations from Pristina,” he said.  Recalling the first agreement reached between Serbia and Kosovo in 2013, he said it was difficult for his country’s people to accept it, but his Government signed and fulfilled the accord.  The only obligation for Kosovo in that regard was formation of the Serb Association, a requirement upon which it still has not delivered, he observed.  For its part, Serbia fulfilled all its requirements in terms of making arrangements for police, the justice system, telecommunications, participation in municipal elections, and other matters.  “But it was not enough,” he observed.  As the only sovereign and independent State concerned, as stated in Security Council resolution 1244 (1999), Serbia entreated Kosovo not to bid for full-fledged membership of international bodies, such as the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), he recalled, noting that after failing to win membership, Pristina blamed Belgrade and imposed tariffs against Serbia, as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina.

He went on to note that UNMIK and KFOR both derive authority from Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).  Detailing the text’s provisions, he said it clearly envisages the demilitarization of the Kosovo Liberation Army and all other armed Kosovo-Albanian groups.  How did Kosovo derive the right to form its own military? he asked.  “Who cares about the law, who cares about the facts?  They made a decision and they formed the so-called Kosovo Armed Forces.”  Pointing out that Kosovo and Metohija has the lowest rate of returnees of any territory, he cited the example of an expelled ethnic Serb who was arrested and treated viciously when he attempted to visit.  “Pristina was angry with us because of the INTERPOL issue,” he explained.  Emphasizing that Serbia is defending itself in accordance with the United Nations Charter, he said that his country has always done everything to maintain peace and stability in the region, and will continue to do so.  “We don’t have more kids to spend in different types of wars, hostilities and clashes,” he said, adding:  “Someone has to curb and tame these people.”  Serbia is always ready to resume dialogue, he added, calling upon the United Nations to play a bigger role in the future.

HASHIM THAÇI of Kosovo asserted that nothing extraordinary happened last week.  In fact, what occurred was a normal decision that is just in mission and in purpose.  If Kosovo made a mistake, it was in unnecessarily waiting for five years to establish its army, he said, adding that while the decision may have been belated, it was in no way a wrong one.  As a sovereign and independent State, Kosovo has taken a natural step in establishing its army, he said, emphasizing that nothing whatsoever contradicts resolution 1244 (1999), the package proposed by former Special Representative and Finnish President Marrti Ahtisari, the constitution of Kosovo, or international law.  First and foremost, resolution 1244 (1999) refers only to the demilitarization of the Kosovo Liberation Army, a process that was completed in record time and without incident, he said.  Secondly, President Ahtisari’s comprehensive package clearly underscores Kosovo’s right to have an army.  Moreover, the Strategic Review of the Security Sector, undertaken in close cooperation with NATO, clearly emphasizes Kosovo’s right to transform its security force into its armed forces.  Finally, and most importantly, the decision of the International Court of Justice states in crystal-clear terms that Kosovo did not violate any international laws when it declared independence.  As such, it is Kosovo’s indisputable right to have an army, the establishment of which represents the will of the people, he said, affirming that Kosovo’s armed forces will never be a threat to anyone.  Indeed, it will remain a professional and multi-ethnic force that will protect every citizen of Kosovo, regardless of the language they speak at home.

He went on to provide assurances that Kosovo will respect every existing international agreement and will continue to cooperate closely with NATO, stressing that under no circumstances should the establishment of Kosovo’s army be perceived as an attempt to duplicate the alliance’s mission.  On the contrary, the decision will make Kosovo better able to contribute to local security and beyond.  More broadly, the aim is to shift Kosovo from being a consumer of security to a contributor to peace and stability.  He stressed that his northern neighbour’s problem is not Kosovo’s army, but rather Kosovo’s very existence as an independent and sovereign State.  Without dialogue and a final agreement, Kosovo and Serbia will become “countries that produce endless and unnecessary drama for domestic consumption” to the detriment of both of their futures, he said.  Recalling the “abhorrent” campaign that Serbia led against Kosovo’s bid for INTERPOL membership, he said organized crime and terrorism stand to benefit from Kosovo’s absence from the membership.  Underlining that Kosovo did not provoke the current situation, described Pristina’s decision as a reaction to Serbia’s aggressive actions.  Nevertheless, Kosovo remains committed to peace and dialogue, he said, noting that the Assembly of Kosovo recently approved a resolution to that end.  While peacebuilding is much more challenging than war, peace is a duty to future generations, he said, adding that, Kosovo, for its part, is ready for dialogue and tough decisions, and if the historic moment is not seized, all parties will suffer the consequences.

VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said his delegation shares Serbia’s serious concerns about the situation in Kosovo and the lawlessness of its decision regarding its armed forces.  That decision constitutes a gross violation of Security Council resolution 1244 (1999), which contains a clear demand for the demilitarization of any armed groups of Kosovo-Albanians, he noted.  The emergence of the Kosovo armed forces represents a threat to peace and security in the region and could lead to armed conflict, he warned, recalling that KFOR is very selective in implementing its mandate.  While KFOR carried out large-scale exercises recently, such exercises have never been held in the ethnic Albanian region, he observed, citing freedom of movement violations against ethnic Serbs there and the lack of an appropriate KFOR response.  In that regard, the European Union’s reaction can only be called toothless, he said, stressing:  “The emergence of the Kosovar army represents an existential threat.”  The force comprises former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army who have committed war crimes, he said, warning that armed Kosovo-Albanian incursions into the northern regions could lead to bloodshed and return the Balkans to turmoil.  It is essential to take the Serbian leadership’s message seriously because if attempts are made to conduct pogroms against ethnic Serbs, Belgrade will protect them, he stressed, expressing hope that the European Union will use its presence in Kosovo, as well as the Stabilization and Association Agreement, to prevent further deterioration of the situation and to reverse the tariffs that Pristina recently imposed.

KAREL J.G. VAN OOSTEROM (Netherlands), expressing full support for Kosovo’s independence and sovereignty, said the latter should have the right to create its own institutions.  That said, the transformation of the Kosovo security forces should be an inclusive and transparent process in line with the Kosovo constitution.  Encouraging Kosovo to work on its transformation in consultation with NATO and other relevant international actors, he stressed the need to ensure that normalization remains an orderly process in which Council resolutions and decisions are respected and fully implemented by all actors on the ground.  Warning that the decision by Kosovo’s authorities to begin the transformation of their security force comes at sensitive time, he said both sides should resume the European Union-facilitated dialogue as soon as possible and without preconditions.  Calling on both parties to avoid unilateral actions which might undermine mutual trust, he expressed regret over the insistence of some Council members to hold an open meeting today rather than a confidential conversation.  “This is a missed opportunity to resume real engagement between Belgrade and Pristina,” he said.

FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France) expressed concern about the risks of the current situation, and regret that several recent incidents and unilateral decisions have impacted the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo.  Condemning, in particular, Kosovo’s decision to introduce tariffs on products from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, he called for their cancellation.  More broadly, he called upon both sides to exercise restraint and to do everything possible to resolve their differences through dialogue.  As a guiding principle, France respects Kosovo’s sovereignty, but also believes in respect for the prerogatives of KFOR, as established by resolution 1244 (1999).  While the Government of France recognizes Kosovo as a State, its adoption of the new laws does not come at a good time and threatens to undermine dialogue, he warned.  Furthermore, regarding deployment of forces in the north, France prefers retaining the current arrangements, he said, emphasizing that in terms of the stability of the broader region, much is at stake when it comes to permanent settlement of the dispute.  Indeed, the aim of a comprehensive agreement to normalize relations must remain an absolute priority, he said, calling for the preservation of efforts to produce an environment suitable to that end.  In that context, he called upon both leaders to resume dialogue and demonstrate a spirit of political will, while refraining from actions that could exacerbate tensions and undermine normalization efforts.  Looking to the future, France fully supports efforts towards full normalization, which will allow both sides to fully realize their European prospects, he said.

KAREN PIERCE (United Kingdom) said the development of Kosovo’s own armed forces is within its sovereign rights, calling for Pristina to do so in close consultation with NATO.  Since the adoption of Security Council resolution 1244 (1999), Kosovo has become a self-governing State recognized by more than 100 Member States, she said, noting that its decision to extend its armed forces should be viewed in that context.  The resolution does not preclude the transformation of the armed forces, she observed, noting that the recent decision builds on the constitution.  Nevertheless, she urged Kosovo to act responsibly, transparently and in consultation with NATO allies.  Noting the fears expressed that the transition of the armed forces may constitute a threat to the Kosovo-Serb community, she said such fears have not been borne out due to Kosovo’s multi-ethnic efforts.  She called upon Kosovo to continue its outreach to the ethnic Serb community in order to allay any concerns in that regard.  Describing statements by senior politicians on the use of force as irresponsible, she warned that the risk of a return to turmoil is caused by those outside Kosovo who seek to exploit the situation for their own ends.  Every attempt to settle the issue has met with blockage, she said, adding:  “I am sorry to say that it has come from Belgrade.”

RODNEY M. HUNTER (United States) reaffirmed his country’s support for a gradual, transparent transition to a professional, multi-ethnic, NATO-interoperable force that serves and reflects all of Kosovo’s communities.  The relevant legislation is fully in accordance with resolution 1244 (1999) and it is Kosovo’s sovereign right to establish and maintain an armed force, he said, adding that the vote brings no immediate change to the structure, mission, or operations of the force.  Rather, it constitutes a first step, representing the beginning of the practical, ongoing work of building a multi-ethnic force in accordance with Kosovo’s 10-year transition plan.  In that vein, he called upon Kosovo to continue its close coordination with NATO allies and partners and to engage in outreach to minority communities now and throughout the years-long process ahead.  He also called for its adherence to all existing arrangements and commitments regarding troop movements and the operations of forces inside Kosovo, particularly the 2013 commitment to NATO that any operations in northern Kosovo require consultation with the Commander of KFOR.  He went on to encourage both Kosovo and Serbia to take immediate steps to lower tensions and create the conditions for rapid progress on the normalization dialogue.

KAIRAT UMAROV (Kazakhstan) echoed calls upon the parties to exercise restraint and refrain from actions that could lead to further setbacks in the normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina.  Underlining such priority activities as the promotion of dialogue and the development of confidence-building measures, he voiced support for calls issued by European Union High Commissioner for Foreign Policy Federica Mogherini to Pristina, asking it to remove taxes on products imported from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.  Noting that such measures hinder the dialogue process, he said talks should fall under the auspices of the European Union with the involvement of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and other relevant regional and subregional organizations.  The parties should adhere to previously reached agreements, he added, reiterating his delegation’s regret that the region decided to go ahead with the formation of the Kosovar army.  “Any unilateral step outside the existing international negotiating mechanisms could raise tensions, constitute a serious threat to peace and jeopardize overall stability in the region,” he cautioned.

MA ZHAOXU (China) said Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) represents an important legal basis for settling the status of Kosovo.  As such, he called upon the parties involved to reach a mutually acceptable solution through dialogue.  Those parties should also refrain from any rhetoric or action that may complicate or escalate the situation, instead creating the conditions to enable a lasting solution there.  China respects Serbia’s legitimate concerns over the issue, he said, commending Belgrade for finding a political solution to the matter.  Expressing hope that the concerned parties will stay firmly committed to a political solution, he called for a gradual enhancing of mutual trust and continued consensus-building.  The Council should remain seized of the issue, he said, encouraging the concerned parties to engage in dialogue and urging the 15-member organ to continue playing a constructive role in the search for a solution.

OLOF SKOOG (Sweden) said that the focus of the international community must be to offer support to both parties in reaching a comprehensive and legally binding agreement contributing to regional stability.  This is important to enable Serbia to recognize Kosovo and for Kosovo to become a Member of the United Nations.  The recent legislation passed by the Kosovo Assembly on a security force is a matter for the “sovereign State of Kosovo”.  However, Sweden strongly encourages Pristina to ensure that the transformation of its security force over the next 10 years takes place through a transparent and inclusive process, in line with the constitution and in close coordination with NATO and its partners.  Over the last weeks and months, the steps taken by Belgrade and Pristina have not contributed to good-neighbourly relations and a climate conducive to normalization of relations, he said, urging them to refrain from actions and statements that might increase tensions.  At the same time, Sweden noted a renewed commitment from both sides to engage in the European Union-facilitated normalization dialogue, which must continue without preconditions.

GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru) expressed support for the process of building peace in Kosovo and normalizing relations between Pristina and Belgrade.  Both parties must be committed to the implementation of resolution 1244 (1999) and the Brussels Agreement.  He underscored the role of KFOR and the impact of the decision on the dialogue between both Serbia and Kosovo.  The three laws are not in compliance with the resolution or the Brussels Agreement, he said.  He called on all parties to act with moderation to ease tensions and promote a constructive dialogue in line with the peaceful resolution of disputes.

JOANNA WRONECKA (Poland) said the transition of the Kosovo security force is, in principle, a matter for Pristina to decide.  However, it is of utmost importance that its future armed forces are formed in an inclusive, gradual process respecting relevant constitutional provisions.  “Then, and only then, can they serve in the security interests of all communities,” she stressed, adding that the recent developments — in and of themselves — do not constitute a threat to international peace.  All actors in the region should act responsibly and refrain from statements or actions that might lead to escalation, she added, welcoming the restraint demonstrated so far.

TAYE ATSKESELASSIE AMDE (Ethiopia) said that he supported the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Serbia, as well as the peaceful and amicable resolution of all outstanding issues between Belgrade and Pristina, in accordance with the Brussels Agreement.  Regarding the latest developments, he took note of the statement issued by the Secretary-General expressing his concern over the adoption by the Assembly of Kosovo of three draft laws aimed at strengthening the role and capacity of the Kosovo security force.  As Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) provides the sole legal framework for the international security presence, the Force is entrusted with the responsibility to ensure a safe and secure environment in Kosovo.  Any action that is taken that is contrary to the resolution would only undermine efforts to find a solution to the Kosovo issue, he said.

PROTASIO EDU EDJANG NNAGA (Equatorial Guinea) said his country is a strong advocate for the use of dialogue and negotiations in the settling of disputes.  In that vein, he deplores the unilateral decision by Pristina to transform its security forces into armed forces.  He encouraged Pristina to refrain from actions that damage confidence between various communities and impede a resolution to the Kosovo crisis.  At the same time, he called on the international community to do their utmost to bring both parties back to negotiating table.  He expressed support for the work of UNMIK and OSCE on the issue.

VERÓNICA CORDOVA SORIA (Bolivia) called for compliance with resolution 1244 (1999), which remains fully valid and represents the sole legal framework for the international security presence through KFOR.  Any obstacle that prevents the fulfilment of the duties of the multinational Force would be inconsistent with the resolution.  She reiterated any attempt to transform Kosovo’s security forces into an armed force, which is contrary to the resolution and international law.  She urged all parties to refrain from actions that could lead to tensions and set back the European-Union facilitated dialogue.  In particular, the increase in import tariffs by Kosovo is a provocation that undermines that dialogue.  She expressed support for the efforts by the European Union and its High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to implement existing agreements.  Lastly, she urged Kosovo and Serbia to engage in dialogue and use peaceful means to find consensus-based solutions.

MANSOUR AYYAD SH. A. ALOTAIBI (Kuwait) said Kosovo has a sovereign right to form national institutions according to its constitution.  However, such decisions could represent a source of concern for Serbia, he observed, expressing hope that recent developments do not cast a shadow over the negotiations sponsored by the United Nations.  As such, he expressed thanks for Mr. Thaçi’s assurances that the decision does not threaten minorities or neighbouring States and called upon both sides to exhibit the political will to guarantee the normalization of relations.  High-level dialogue remains the appropriate framework for settling outstanding issues, he emphasized, reiterating Kuwait’s full support for UNMIK and calling upon both sides to abide by the relevant Security Council resolutions.

KACOU HOUADJA LÉON ADOM (Côte d’Ivoire), Council President for December, spoke in his national capacity, saying that the 14 December vote intended to transform the Kosovo security force into a true national army could have implications for the mandates of UNMIK and KFOR.  As such, the decision could prove incompatible with the provisions of Security Council resolution 1244 (1999), he cautioned.  In order to normalize relations between Serbia and Kosovo, all parties must exercise restraint, he said, urging them to avoid unilateral actions that could exacerbate existing tensions.  He also called upon the parties to return to the negotiating table, underlining that the resumption of dialogue under the aegis of the European Union is the only viable way towards peace.

President VUČIĆ of Serbia took the floor a second time to emphasize that there is no rule or article from which Kosovo can derive the right to form its own army.  Citing Pristina’s argument that Serbian forces committed terrible ethnic cleansing, he noted that 1.4 million ethnic Albanians used to live in Serbia’s southern provinces, and now there are 1.7 million, whereas 220,000 ethnic Serbs used to live there and now only 105,000 remain.  “Who committed that ethnic cleansing?” he demanded.  Citing references made during the meeting to the use of force, he stressed that Serbia has never committed such actions, while the other side has used force against the chief negotiator.  Some countries blame Serbia for everything, he added.  He went on to point out that all the mayors from the 10 Serb-inhabited municipalities in Kosovo stated their opposition to the formation of the Kosovo armed forces, adding:  “They see the formation of the Kosovo armed forces as a grave jeopardy for their survival.”  Serbia will do its best to keep the peace, he pledged, underlining that his Government will resume dialogue as soon as Kosovo withdraws its irresponsible tariffs decision.

Mr. THAÇI of Kosovo also took the floor a second time, saying that that when referring to history, it must be clear who was the victim and who was the aggressor.  Emphasizing that there will be no re-writing of history, he said the war happened in the twentieth century and reality must be accepted without any drama.  During the conflict, Serbian forces killed 1,350 Albanian civilians, raped about 20,000 ethnic Albanian women and forcibly expelled 1 million Albanians from Kosovo, he recalled.  Meanwhile, 400 massacres against ethnic Albanians took place, but not a single Serbian was indicted.  Noting that Kosovo is taking responsibility, in partnership with the international community, he said a number of Albanians have been convicted of war crimes, but no Serbians have been convicted of the ethnic cleansing they committed in Kosovo.

For information media. Not an official record.