Security Council

Kosovo - Security Council, 9019th Meeting

Kosovo - Security Council, 9019th Meeting
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Briefing Security Council on Serbia, Kosovo, top United Nations official, speakers urge restraint, continued dialogue amidst violence, rising tensions, accusations.
As senior officials from Serbia and Kosovo asserted discordant opinions regarding where the blame for regional insecurity should lie, the United Nations top official in Pristina, along with Security Council members, urged restraint amidst recent violence and called for continued dialogue, even as some questioned whether the Organization's continued presence in Kosovo was warranted. Caroline Ziadeh, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), told the Security Council that, although the final results of elections held on 3 April are pending, the current majority party in Serbia retained a secure public mandate.  While eligible Kosovar voters' participation was not secured — and public opinion was sharply divided along ethnic lines — more than 19,000 voters from Kosovo cast their votes at special polling stations established in Serbia.  "The resilience of democratic institutions throughout the Balkans region is a crucial factor in the maintenance of a secure and democratic Europe", she emphasized. However, a comprehensive normalization of relations remains elusive, she said, urging both sides to seek permanent solutions to outstanding issues, such as vehicle registration plates and freedom of movement.  She also stressed that her responsibility as the Head of UNMIK is to offer objective information to the Secretary-General and the Security Council.  The Mission's role is not to be a determinant factor — nor the voice of any particular view — regarding a just and lasting settlement between the parties.  Thus, the Mission will continue working towards common objectives held by authorities, communities and institutions in Kosovo. Nikola Selaković, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Serbia, pointed out that Pristina's goal is to force Serbs and other non-Albanians to leave and to terminate any form of cultural or national diversity.  Further, its actions made it impossible to organize Serbian presidential and parliamentary elections in Kosovo and Metohija on 3 April, which marked the first time since 1999 that citizens there were prevented from participating in Serbian elections.  Pristina's disregard for the political representatives of Serbs in its institutions, among other things, creates an atmosphere of complete insecurity, he stressed.  Against that backdrop, he called for clear political will and accompanying measures to demonstrate that discrimination on national grounds is not a desirable social value. Donika Gërvalla-Schwarz, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kosovo, detailing her country's strong performance in democratic, political and economic terms, stated:  "We are part of the West, while Serbia remains Russia's satellite".  Recalling war crimes and massacres of her people perpetrated by Serbia, she underscored that Belgrade is the biggest threat to normalization and peace in the region.  Kosovo is eager, willing and ready for dialogue, she said.  However, Serbia is in the midst of an unprecedented military build-up with donations of warplanes from the Russian Federation and Belarus.  "If we do not close the Pandora's box opened by Putin, Vučić and Dodik, the Balkans might become a dark place again," she warned the Council.   In the ensuing debate, Council members urged continued, constructive dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade within the framework of the dialogue facilitated by the European Union.  Many also expressed concern over recent attacks against police in Kosovo and spotlighted the need to ensure the rule of law.  Others pointed to Pristina's decision to not allow participation in Serbian elections, emphasizing the need to protect the rights of Kosovo Serbs and avoid unilateral actions that serve to exacerbate tensions. On that point, the representative of Brazil pointed out that Serbs and other minorities within Kosovo feel discriminated against and persecuted.  Further, the persistent discussion on the recognition of Kosovo as an independent State has been detrimental to the wider political process and has undermined prospects for meaningful regional cooperation.  UNMIK's main objective remains unfulfilled, he added. The representative of the Russian Federation, similarly, noted recent, increased violence against Kosovo Serbs, urging other Council members not to be complicit in the creation of an ethnically cleansed Kosovo.  She also condemned Pristina's actions against UNMIK — including the beating of an officer and a declaration of persona non grata — and stressed that the United Nations must ensure the inviolability of its presence in Kosovo. That presence, Ghana/s representative pointed out, has helped to build trust and social cohesion among various communities, ethnic groups and institutions, which remains key in promoting unity and forging peaceful relations among people.  He also underlined the need to address tensions arising from the recent elections, related issues of free movement and incidents affecting religious and cultural sites. The United States' delegate, pointing out that this was the first time the Council met on this issue since the Russian Federation's war on Ukraine, stressed the importance of preserving stability in the Western Balkans.  Urging both Kosovo and Serbia to engage in all aspects of the dialogue facilitated by the European Union, he also said that UNMIK has fulfilled its purpose and that a peacekeeping mission was no longer necessary.  Albania's representative echoed those points, noting that "speaking of peacekeeping now in Kosovo is meaningless" and that UNMIK's responsibilities have been transferred to the Kosovo authorities.  He urged Serbia and Kosovo to engage seriously in the European Union-facilitated dialogue and, by closing the dark chapters of the past, design their future.  The youth of the Balkans region all have the same goal:  a better life, freedom, opportunities and joining the European Union, he stressed, adding that nothing good comes from harming your neighbour. Also speaking were representatives of India, Ireland, Mexico, China, Gabon, Norway, United Arab Emirates, Kenya, France and the United Kingdom. The representatives of the Russian Federation, Serbia, Albania and Kosovo took the floor a second time. The representatives of Serbia and Kosovo also took the floor a third time. The meeting began at 3:03 p.m. and ended at 5:47 p.m.