Says Pristina, Belgrade Stopped Short of Ensuring That Kosovo Is ‘Well and Truly Launched’ onto Path of Lasting Peace, Prosperity

SC/9623
Security Council
6097th Meeting (AM)

23 March 2009 – The last four months had been a very dynamic period for Kosovo and the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), rife with challenges and milestones, but the situation had remained substantially stable despite the potential for volatility, Lamberto Zannier told the Security Council this morning.

Briefing the Council on the latest developments, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo, said the European Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) had assumed full operational responsibility on 9 December 2008 under the overall authority and within the status-neutral framework of the United Nations. The deployment of EULEX police throughout Kosovo and the concomitant stand-down of UNMIK police had been completed smoothly and efficiently.

Several challenges remained, he said. The process of returns of internally displaced persons had seen a very sharp decline. The pace of identifications of missing persons had slowed considerably. The issue of electric power supply continued to plague the everyday lives of all residents, mainly due to non-payment by many consumers, including wholesale non-payment by the Kosovo Serb community, and the issue had been politicized. Also, over the past few weeks, several Belgrade officials had been denied entry into Kosovo by the Kosovo authorities.

He expressed satisfaction that UNMIK had managed to recalibrate its structure and profile in line with the new challenges. He was pleased by the progress that had been made towards advancing the European perspective of the Western Balkans with the deployment of EULEX. While the situation in Kosovo had remained relatively peaceful, Pristina and Belgrade had stopped short of ensuring that Kosovo was well and truly launched onto the path of lasting peace and prosperity. “That goal will only be reached if both Pristina and Belgrade look first of all to the interests of all of Kosovo’s communities and beyond their own legitimate larger political considerations,” he said.

Serbia’s President Boris Tadić said Serbia was a modern European democracy that threatened no one. The country would remain dedicated to resolving outstanding problems exclusively through dialogue, peacefully and without resorting to arms. Pristina’s unilateral and illegal declaration of independence was an attempt to forcibly partition a United Nations Member State against its will and without the consent of the Security Council. Even today, the Serbs in Kosovo lacked security, freedom of movement, rule of law, electricity and water. He disagreed with the optimistic views expressed in the Secretary-General’s report on those issues, saying they could not be substantiated in light of the reality on the ground.

He said it was obvious to everyone that today, 13 months after the illegal unilateral declaration of independence, Kosovo was not a State. The protection of human rights was minimal. Serbia, like other European Union member countries, faced tremendous problems arising from the ethnic-Albanian “mafia” in Kosovo, which specialized in trafficking in narcotics, human beings and weapons. He sought a return to normalcy in Serbia’s southern province and a restoration of peace and security for all residents. Albanians and Serbs could live side by side in peace and without fear and violence. That was why the United Nations and EULEX had to work hard to fully discharge their mandates.

Skender Hyseni of Kosovo, noting that, on 17 February, Kosovars had celebrated peacefully the first year of independence, said Kosovo had welcomed the EULEX deployment, and he requested the conclusion of UNMIK. State institution-building, based on European standards, had continued with the launching of the Kosovo Security Force. The Government had been working around the clock to address the many issues of economy, justice and security, as well as the fight against crime, including cross-border crime, and corruption.

 

He said the Government had also sought ways to improve the situation in minority areas, but Serbia supported illegal parallel structures that exploited Kosovo Serbian citizens but did not offer solutions. Lawlessness had turned the north of Kosovo into a safe haven for criminal activities and illegal economic activities. The Republic had prioritized cooperation with neighbours, but Serbia tried to block cooperation with regional organizations, as well as block exports. He hoped that Serbia would appreciate the need to cooperate with other nations and he stood ready to engage in talks with Serbia as two independent and sovereign States. There was no room for hatred and violence.

 

The representative of the Russian Federation, sharing Serbia’s assessments, said Security Council’s resolution 1244 (1999) remained fully in force. The Secretary-General’s Special Representative and UNMIK should, therefore, continue to implement their mandate, including guaranteeing minority rights and achieving democratic standards. Consultations with EULEX were acceptable, but the nature of its activities was far from “status neutral”.

 

He said that, because of the violence against Serbs in Kosovo five years ago, thousands of Serbs had become refugees, and monasteries had been destroyed. The unilateral declaration of independence, accepted by several States, had been a reward of terrorism. Problems in Kosovo, since its declaration of Statehood, had been exacerbated with a flourishing criminality and extremism raising its head again.

The representative of the United Kingdom said EULEX was fulfilling its task of monitoring and mentoring the Kosovo police and helping to maintain law and order, as well as establishing a multi-ethnic police unit in northern Mitrovica. He urged the Governments of Serbia and Kosovo to cooperate with it. In order for the European perspective to be advanced, greater acceleration on the part of Kosovo authorities was needed in rule of law, crime, and cultural heritage. It must be demonstrated that all citizens of Kosovo were treated equally.

She stressed that Kosovo’s independence was an irreversible fact. Both Kosovo and Serbia should enter the European Union as neighbours on good terms. Joining the Union was Serbia’s strategic goal. The road to Europe lay in reconciliation and not in retribution, she said.

The representatives of France, Austria, Japan, Uganda, Croatia, Mexico, Turkey, Burkina Faso, Costa Rica, China, Viet Nam, United States and Libya also spoke.

After Council members spoke, Messrs. Tadić and Hyseni had a subsequent exchange of views.

Source: United Nations Security Council

The full report is available here.