8100th Security Council Meeting: Report of the Secretary-General on UNMIK

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SIX OFFICIAL 14-Nov-2017 02:04:23
Secretary General’s Special Representative hails Kosovo local election turnout while citing intimidation, in briefing to Security Council at 8100st meeting.
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Russian Federation Says Pristina Could Stoke Ethno Religious Conflict, as United States Declares UNMIK Mandate Fulfilled.

Kosovo’s peaceful and orderly municipal elections on 19 October had seen a significant increase in participation by ethnic Serbs in areas where they formed the majority, the Secretary General’s Special Representative and Head of the United Nations mission there told the Security Council today.

Briefing the Council as he presented the Secretary General’s latest quarterly report on the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (document S/2017/911), Zahir Tanin said more than 7,000 candidates had competed across Kosovo. However, campaigns had been affected by restricted competition and intimidation in Serb majority municipalities.

Recalling that 40 new judges and 13 new state prosecutors from the Serb community had been sworn into office on 24 October, he said they would work as part of a unitary Kosovo justice system. The parties were to be commended for moving that initiative forward because the judicial sector’s implementation measures lagged behind others, such as police integration and technical steps in the telecommunications and utilities spheres.

The European Union facilitated Belgrade Pristina dialogue in Brussels remained crucial, he continued, adding that informal consultations with the regional bloc’s facilitators had taken place over several months. In accordance with its mandate, the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) continued to support implementation of the Central European Free Trade Agreement. However, some actors sought to re politicize the issue through public rhetoric, he said. Much work was needed to address pressing issues including the need for economic and employment opportunities, as well as countering public corruption and fighting organized criminality.

Mr. Tanin said the new government was already taking steps to work in a multi ethnic partnership, adding that region wide initiatives were in place to remove political interference in the delivery of justice and the rule of law. There were also initiatives to engage women in the political process, promote the role of young people in peace and security, and resolve the many cases of persons still missing from the war. He also recognized the immense challenges of ensuring freedom of cultural and religious identity, and struggling against extreme and closed minded views, saying they threatened not just the region, but the world.

Ivici Dačić, Serbia’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, said the fact that 200,000 internally displaced persons forced to flee Kosovo and Metohija still lived in Serbia after 18 years was a powerful argument that UNMIK’s scope must not be changed. The report should have given due attention, in a separate section, to violations of human rights and freedoms among returnees to the south of Kosovo and Metohija, he said, adding that UNMIK must create optimal conditions for returnees, including the restitution of property rights. Emphasizing the importance of preserving Serb cultural, historical and religious heritage in Kosovo and Metohija, he said the rule of law must be protected, arguing that, with legal frameworks now in place, he expected that those who had committed crimes against Serbs would be indicted and tried.

Serbia was firmly committed to dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, facilitated by the European Union, he said, adding that his country had demonstrated great resolve to find compromise solutions. Regrettably, the other side had not reciprocated Serbia’s efforts. Underlining that his Government disapproved of Kosovo’s move to establish the Kosovo armed force, as did the international community, he said that initiative risked destabilizing the regional security situation. He pointed out that a large number of countries, including some that had recognized Pristina’s unilateral declaration of independence, had denounced its efforts to apply for membership in international organizations. Serbia thanked those States that did not recognize Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence, he added.

Vlora Çitaku of Kosovo noted that every three months, the Council’s valuable time was taken up by theatre staged purely for domestic consumption, suggesting that Kosovo’s status somehow had not been settled. Kosovo was free and independent, she asserted, adding that it was fair to ask for redefinition of UNMIK’s mandate to match reality on the ground. The Council maintained a mission that reinvented its mandate without any real need, she said, emphasizing that what should be discussed was the Mission’s downsizing and withdrawal.

She went on to say that quite soon, Kosovo, in coordination with its partners, would gain its place in all relevant international bodies. The Kosovo army was a modern, defensive force reflecting Kosovo’s desire to join the Euro Atlantic family. She reaffirmed that Kosovo remained strongly committed to dialogue with Serbia, and that, in accordance with its constitution, it would implement all agreements reached in Brussels.

In the ensuing discussion, the Russian Federation’s representative said that persistent problems in Kosovo required oversight by the international community. Disagreeing with the optimistic assessments advanced by Ms. Çitaku, he noted that the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo had ceased to function, work on substantive issues was not under way and the prospects for reviving dialogue were not within sight. The establishment of a “government in Kosovo” illustrated the degree to which the situation had deteriorated and the extent to which radicalization had taken hold. That only confirmed that Kosovo was not a fully fledged State, he said, cautioning that instead, it served to stoke tensions that might cause ethno-religious conflict in the Balkans.

The representative of the United States congratulated Kosovo on having formed a new government following a democratic process in June, and on its local elections in October. She said UNMIK had fulfilled its mandate and had no doubt helped Kosovo to build multi ethnic democratic institutions that would uphold the rule of law. It was now time to transition the Mission and direct United Nations resources to more critical issues, she said. The reporting and briefing period should change from three to six months or even longer, she added, emphasizing that the United States continued to support full international recognition of Kosovo and its membership in all relevant international organizations, including the United Nations and INTERPOL.

Representatives of Japan, France, Sweden, Uruguay, Senegal, United Kingdom, Ethiopia, China, Bolivia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Egypt and Italy also delivered statements.

The meeting began at 11:14 a.m. and ended at 1:19 p.m.
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