Europe

Kosovo - Security Council, 8880th Meeting

15 October 2021

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Kosovo - Security Council, 8880th Meeting

Production Date: 
15 Oct 2021

Video Length

05:12:32

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Summary: 
Flare-up over license plates threatens progress between Serbia, Kosovo, Special Representative tells Security Council amid debate on future of interim mission.
Description: 
Officials from Pristina, Belgrade Trade Barbs over Tariffs, Efforts to Implement 2013 Brussels Accord on Normalizing Relations Senior officials from Kosovo and Serbia traded accusations of each other’s non-compliance of agreements today as the Security Council considered the recent escalation of tensions between the two sides, trust-building measures and whether the presence of the United Nations special political mission in Kosovo is still necessary. “Trust continues to be the element in shortest supply”, said Zahir Tanin, Special Representative of the Secretary‑General and Head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) as he presented the latest report on the Mission’s work (document S/2021/861). Noting that the enforcement of a new licence plate validity regime in northern Kosovo had sparked the flare‑up, he warned: “History in the region has tragically and repeatedly shown that ostensibly small incidents, misreading of intentions and outright mistakes can trigger an unstable security escalation that puts lives at risk and benefits no one”. He said dealing maturely and responsibly with the past is a precondition for stability, and he cautioned against engaging in divisive ethno‑nationalist themes for political advantage. For its part, UNMIK continues to engage on the ground, across multiple sectors and areas of work, anchored by an agenda that promotes trust-building among Kosovo’s diverse communities. Nikola Selaković, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Serbia, expressed deep regret that the security situation in Kosovo and Metohija has been increasingly marked by ethnically motivated attacks and incidents targeting Serbs, persistent institutional discrimination against Serbs and attacks on the Serbian Orthodox Church. Moreover, the provisional institutions of self-government in Pristina refuse to implement the Brussels Agreement, reached in 2013, on the principles governing the normalization of relations. Noting that Pristina’s imposition of duties on products from central Serbia in November 2018 resulted in a trade blockade and stalled dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, he said that Serbia, by contrast, is working to liberalize the flow of people, goods, services and capital, as part of its “Open Balkan” initiative. Against all this backdrop, it is evident that the international presence in Kosovo and Metohija set out by Security Council resolution 244 (1999) is still necessary, he said. Vjosa Osmani‑Sadriu, of Kosovo, recalled that 22 years ago she was listening to United Nations meetings on the fate of her nation while seeking refuge in the mountains to avoid the shelling and grenades of the Serbian Army. “Today, 22 years later, as the newly elected President of the Republic of Kosovo, I have the privilege of representing my people, all the people of Kosovo,” she said. On the Brussels Agreement, she noted that Kosovo has implemented over 90 per cent of all its provisions. By “significant contrast”, she stressed, “Serbia has not implemented two‑thirds” of them. UNMIK was established “under extremely different circumstances” 22 years ago, when the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) intervened to halt war crimes and the Council authorized an international civilian presence to provide an interim administration. Today, Kosovo’s independence and prosperity provide “sufficient evidence” that UNMIK has “overstayed” its mandate, she stated. In the ensuing discussion, Council members welcomed the 30 September agreement to end the dispute, following frictions over Pristina’s policy banning the entry of vehicles with Serbian license plates. Delegates agreed that dialogue offers the only possibility for resolving outstanding issues and normalizing relations, with Estonia’s representative urging both sides to fully respect all agreements reached in the European Union‑facilitated process. On that point, France’s representative said Serbia and Kosovo have a shared European future. Normalization of their relations is vital for achieving stability in the Western Balkans and for realizing a European rapprochement between the two countries. Ireland’s delegate said now that the people of Kosovo have voted for change, the new Government must deliver on the European Union reform agenda, including the rule of law. Authorities in Kosovo also must adhere to their commitments to the Kosovo Specialist Chambers, she said, emphasizing that countering impunity for past crimes is essential to prevent violations. Some Council members, however, differed on the role of UNMIK, with the representative of the United States pointing out that the Mission did not play a critical role in resolving tensions over the license plate issue. The temporary support provided by the NATO‑led Kosovo Force is proof that other organizations serve this role to better effect. UNMIK has fulfilled its purpose and should move towards closure, he stressed, urging the Council to redirect resources where they are needed most. His counterpart from the Russian Federation argued that UNMIK is in great demand, and therefore Moscow favours maintaining the Mission’s budget and personnel at the current levels, as well as the agreed frequency and format for open Council briefings on the situation in Kosovo. He also objected to the admission of Kosovo to international organizations. Also speaking today were representatives of Niger, India, the United Kingdom, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, China, Viet Nam, Norway, Mexico, Tunisia and Kenya. The meeting began at 10:10 a.m. and ended at 12:55 p.m.
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