25 October 2005
Security Council Presidential Statement Offers Full Support for Start of Political Process to Determine Kosovo's Future Status
Says Standards Implementation Must Continue with Stronger Commitment; Special Envoy, Head of Mission, Serbia's Prime Minister Address Council
NEW YORK, 24 October (UN Headquarters) -- Despite prodigious remaining challenges, the time had come to start the political process for determining Kosovo's future status, the Security Council declared today after considering the comprehensive review of progress in that province and hearing from the Prime Minister of Serbia and Montenegro.
Through a statement read out by its President, Mihnea Ioan Motoc of Romania (document S/PRST/2005/51), the Council stressed that for the process to move forward, however, "the implementation of standards in Kosovo must continue with undiminished energy and a stronger sense of commitment".
Among those standards -- targets meant to foster democracy and trust between ethnic Serbs and Albanians -- particular attention should be given to protecting minorities, advancing the process of decentralization, creating the necessary conditions to allow sustainable returns, preserving cultural and religious heritage sites, and promoting reconciliation, the Council urged.
The Council also urged the authorities in Belgrade to do their utmost to facilitate that process and to engage constructively with the other parties. It called upon interested regional and international organizations to cooperate closely in the future status process.
In a separate meeting just prior to the issuance of the statement, Kai Eide, the former Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the comprehensive review of the situation in Kosovo, introduced the results of his work, saying that he had emphasized that there would never be a good moment for addressing Kosovo's future status as both parties remained diametrically opposed on the issue, prospects for reconciliation remained modest, and the situation of inter-ethnic relations was grim.
He supported the commencement of the status process now because it was important to keep the political process from stagnating, he said. Furthermore, all would benefit from clarity on the status issue and the commencement of the process would give enhanced leverage for the further implementation of standards. He urged the international community to make full use of that leverage. Insufficient standards implementation entailed the risk of turning a future status into a failed status.
The status process itself would be different from other such processes in the former Yugoslavia because Kosovo was still part of a sovereign State, among other factors. Every effort should be made to bring all the parties together, and the process should be clear and should be concluded within a reasonable time frame without rushing. In addition, a significant international presence on the ground would be required for some time to come.
Søren Jessen-Petersen, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), said the start of the status process would be a galvanizing moment in Kosovo. The resolution of Kosovo's status could have only a positive effect on the wider region in terms of political stability and economic growth. In any case, continuing the status quo was not a viable option.
However, there was much work to be done outside the status talks as they proceeded, he stressed. With that in mind, UNMIK had identified freedom of movement and returns as priority areas for its work. On returns, it was necessary to continue to reassure resident Kosovo Serbs and improve their living conditions, while promoting the sustainable return of those still displaced. In that regard, the constructive engagement of Belgrade and the direct engagement of Kosovo Serbs were needed.
Other priorities he described included capacity-building, as well as a comprehensive review of local government structures and continuation of the comprehensive security agenda. The transfer of justice and police functions to local authorities must also be accomplished -- in a gradual, phased and non-political manner.
Vojislav Kostunica, Prime Minister of Serbia, emphasized that his country was fully prepared to assume its share of responsibility in the process of resolving the issue of Kosovo and Metohija in accordance with the fundamental principles of international law and the democratic values of the contemporary world.
Within that general framework, his country was committed to a compromise solution and willing to ensure substantial autonomy for Kosovo and Metohija as part of the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro. The future of his country, and, to a certain extent, Europe itself, would depend on a just and viable solution to the Kosovo issue.
The general situation in Serbia and Montenegro, as well as in Kosovo and Metohija, differed greatly from that of June 1999, he said, noting that his country was affirming itself as a bulwark of basic democratic values, both within its territory and in the region.
"I am convinced that the international community, embodied in the United Nations, would not succumb to threats of violence and permit the dismemberment of a democratic State and the undermining of the most basic principles of international order", Mr. Kostunica concluded. "No democratic and free State could accept that under any circumstances."
The meeting in which the review of Kosovo was considered began at 10:15 a.m. and ended at 11:15 a.m. The President's statement was read out in a meeting that commenced at 1:18 p.m. and concluded at 1:25 p.m.
The full text of presidential statement S/PRST/2005/51 reads, as follows:
"The Security Council welcomes the report prepared by the United Nations Secretary-General's Standards Review envoy, Ambassador Kai Eide, on the Comprehensive Review of the implementation of Standards, as well as of the overall situation in and relating to Kosovo (Serbia and Montenegro), forwarded by the Secretary-General on 7 October 2005 (S/2005/635). The Council pays tribute to Ambassador Eide's work in compiling his important report.
"The Security Council recalls the Secretary-General's report of 23 May 2005 (S/2005/335) in which he initiated the Comprehensive Review conducted by Ambassador Eide. In light of the findings in Ambassador Eide's report, the Council stresses that further, more sustained progress is required, and that the implementation of Standards in Kosovo must continue with undiminished energy and a stronger sense of commitment, as underlined by the Secretary-General in his letter. It urges Kosovo's leaders to increase their efforts to ensure the implementation of standards at all levels, allowing tangible results to be delivered to all Kosovo's citizens. Particular and time-conscious attention should be given to protecting minorities, developing further the process of decentralization, creating the necessary conditions to allow sustainable returns, preservation of cultural and religious heritage in Kosovo, and promoting reconciliation. The Council also urges the authorities in Belgrade to do their utmost to facilitate this process, and to engage constructively. The Council reaffirms its full support for the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr Søren Jessen-Petersen, and UNMIK in their continuing work to support the implementation of Standards, which must continue during the Future Status process and will be an important factor in determining the degree of progress.
"The Security Council agrees with Ambassador Eide's overall assessment that, notwithstanding the challenges still facing Kosovo and the wider region, the time has come to move to the next phase of the political process. The Council therefore supports the United Nations Secretary-General's intention to start a political process to determine Kosovo's Future Status, as foreseen in Security Council resolution 1244 (1999). The Council reaffirms the framework of the resolution, and welcomes the Secretary-General's readiness to appoint a Special Envoy to lead the Future Status process. It looks forward to an early appointment. The Council offers its full support to this political process, which would determine Kosovo's future status, and further reaffirms its commitment to the objective of a multi-ethnic and democratic Kosovo, which must reinforce regional stability.
"The Security Council welcomes the intention of the Contact Group (France, Germany, Italy, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States of America) to remain closely engaged in the political process that will be led by the United Nations, and to support the Secretary-General's Future Status Envoy. The Council calls upon interested regional and international organisations to cooperate closely in the process to determine Kosovo's future status. The Council also supports the meaningful involvement and cooperation of countries in the region.
"The Security Council requests that the Secretary-General provide regular updates on progress in determining Kosovo's Future Status, as defined by Security Council resolution 1244 (1999), and will remain actively seized of the matter."
This morning, the Security Council had before it a comprehensive review of the situation in Kosovo annexed to a letter dated 7 October 2003 from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the Security Council (document S/2005/635), in which the Secretary-General says that he accepts the conclusion of his Special Envoy Kai Eide, author of the review, that the time has come to move to the next phase of the political process in that province, even if the implementation of so-called standards have been uneven.
[The standards to be met, in a province where ethnic Albanians outnumber Serbs roughly nine to one, concern eight targets meant to foster trust between the two groups in areas, such as building democratic institutions, enforcing minority rights, creating a functioning economy, and establishing an impartial legal system.]
The Secretary-General says that, following the report and after further consultations, he intends to initiate preparations for the possible appointment of a special envoy to lead the future status process for Kosovo.
"I would emphasize that, at the same time, standards implementation must continue with greater commitment and results", the Secretary-General says. "Progress in this regard is essential for the success and sustainability of any future status process."
According to Mr. Eide's review, Kosovo has entered a new period of dynamic political development, following a period of political stagnation and widespread frustration. Notable progress has been made in the development of a new institutional framework, including executive, legislative and judicial bodies at the central and local level, as well as a civil service.
The review goes on to say, however, that the Kosovo Serbs have chosen to stay outside the central political institutions and maintain parallel structures for health and educational services, fearing that they will become a "decoration" to any central-level political institution. The Kosovo Albanians, it says, have done little to dispel this fear.
In any case, it says the interests of the Serbs would be better served if their representatives returned to the assembly. Albanians should stimulate that process and Belgrade should abandon its negative position on Serb participation.
In other areas, as well, progress is mixed, according to the review. Economic structures and laws have been established, but the current economic situation remains bleak. Similarly, the rule of law is hampered by a lack of ability and readiness to enforce legislation at all levels. Organized crime and corruption continue to be great threats to stability, and the outlook for a multi-ethnic society is grim.
In addition, the overall return process has virtually come to a halt, and the continued existence of Roma camps and others inside Kosovo is a disgrace, according to the review. To achieve viable minority communities, a wider decentralization process will be required.
Despite those problems, the review maintains that there will not be any better moment for addressing Kosovo's future status. The political process must not be allowed to stagnate again, and it was unlikely that postponing consideration of future status would lead to better results in achieving standards. However, the international community must not let the future status process overshadow the achievement of those standards.
Among international and regional organizations, the European Union at present has the most leverage in obtaining the desired progress, the report adds, saying that the Union should, in the near term, consider stepping up its presence on the ground. In addition, it would be expected to play a more prominent role when status has been determined.
"The international community must do the utmost to ensure that, whatever the eventual status, it does not become a failed status", the review concludes. "Entering the future status process does not mean entering the last stage, but the next stage of the international presence."
KAI EIDE, former Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Comprehensive Review of Kosovo, introduced that document (S/205/635), saying that he had emphasized in previous reports that there would never be a good moment for addressing Kosovo's future status. That impression was confirmed during his recent work. Both parties remained diametrically opposed with very little common ground, and prospects for reconciliation remained modest.
Summarizing the report, he said that the picture on the ground was mixed. There had been significant progress on institutional structures, though there was a lack of ability and readiness to enforce legislation. The situation with regard to inter-ethnic relations, however, was grim, with frequent incidents of violence, unresolved property cases, and a halt in the return process. To reverse those negative trends, he urged greater emphasis on decentralization and on protecting the abilities of all communities to determine their own future.
He said that, despite the problems that remained, he supported the commencement of a process to determine future status, because it was unlikely that postponing that process would lead to significant progress in the implementation of standards, and it was important to keep the political process from stagnating. There was also a shared expectation in Pristina and Belgrade the process would start now. Furthermore, all would benefit from clarity on the status issue. People would be able to make informed decisions about their own future.
With regard to standards, he said that the commencement of the status process would give enhanced leverage for their implementation. He urged the international community to make full use of that leverage. Insufficient standards implementation entailed the risk of turning a future status into a failed status.
The status process itself would be different from other such processes in the former Yugoslavia, because Kosovo was still part of a sovereign State, though it was administered by the United Nations through provisional self-governing institutions. Every effort should be made to bring all the parties together, and the process should be clear and concluded within a reasonable time frame without rushing.
In conclusion, he said that, while a reconfiguration of the international presence in Kosovo was required, Kosovo would continue to depend on a significant international presence on the ground, both military and civilian. Entering the future status process did not mean entering the last stage, but the next stage of the international presence.
SØREN JESSEN-PETERSEN, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), noted that, while the Council had for the past 12 months noted positive developments in Kosovo, it had also underlined the need for further progress. A fortnight ago, the Secretary-General had recommended that the process of settling Kosovo's future status should soon begin. The start of the status process would be a galvanizing moment in Kosovo. The resolution of Kosovo's status could have only a positive effect on the wider region, including in terms of political stability and economic growth. While the way ahead would be difficult, continuing with the status quo was not a viable option.
Political life in Kosovo, he added, could not be consumed, however, primarily by the status talks. Forward movement was needed as much outside the status process as within it. There was much work to be done as the talks proceeded. With that in mind, UNMIK had identified six priority areas for its work in the coming months. The first was to continue with the implementation of the standards. Freedom of movement and returns were two key areas. On returns, it was necessary to continue working hard to reassure and improve the living conditions of Kosovo Serbs living in Kosovo, while promoting the conditions for sustainable returns for those still displaced. In that regard, the constructive engagement of Belgrade and the direct engagement of Kosovo Serbs were needed.
One of the key standards, he continued, related to the economy. Privatization, modernization and development of a market-oriented regime would lay the groundwork for the economy's eventual growth. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) was currently in Pristina working with the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government and UNMIK to create a basis for a major donor support conference to be held in December. Without clarity on status, however, progress would be limited, as foreign direct investment (FDI) and access to loans would remain problematic. Economic opportunities for all could act as a key source of reconciliation.
Another priority was to support the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government in pursuing a comprehensive review of local government structures, he said. Comprehensive reform for the benefit of all communities was now on the agenda. The UNMIK would also continue to pursue a comprehensive security agenda. The rule of law with effective delivery of justice was a key requirement for any viable society. Transfers in the areas of justice and the police were crucial to prepare for status talks. In that regard, the Mission had made it clear that transfers would be gradual, phased and non-political at each stage.
Continuing, he said the Provisional Institutions and UNMIK must strengthen efforts in the field of capacity-building, to ensure that Kosovo's institutions were fully capable of taking on the responsibilities that would flow to them. Much progress had been made in the past year, and the Provisional Institutions had committed to establishing an action plan that would allow for strategic planning on the part of the Government. The UNMIK would also continue to be restructured in the coming period, with a view to establishing the optimum set-up throughout the status process. In that regard, it was cooperating with its international partners to develop a phased transition to eventual future arrangements following, but without prejudice, to the status of future talks. The UNMIK would continue to ensure the maintenance of a safe security environment for everyone in Kosovo. Isolated recent incidents were a reminder that, with the difficult status process about to begin, there was no room for complacency.
While the future status process would provide risks and confront leaders with difficult choices, it also represented a huge opportunity for Kosovo, he concluded. In the status process, the voices of civil society and all the people of Kosovo must be heard. Kosovo's other communities, including Turks, Bosniacs, Roma and Egyptians, had as much a claim to Kosovo's future as Serbs and Albanians. Indeed, Kosovo's diversity was its treasure. After more than six years of United Nations involvement, the international community had both the chance and the challenge to support the people of Kosovo, as they left behind a painful past and built a peaceful future. He knew that he could count on the Council's engagement in the next decisive phase in implementing resolution 1244.
VOJISLAV KOSTUNICA, Prime Minister of Serbia, emphasized that Serbia and Montenegro was fully prepared to assume its share of responsibility in the process of resolving the Kosovo and Metohija issue, in accordance with the fundamental principles of international law and the democratic values of the contemporary world. Within that general framework, his country was committed to a compromise solution and willing to ensure substantial autonomy for Kosovo and Metohija as part of the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro. The future of his country and, to a certain extent, Europe itself, would depend on a just and viable solution to the Kosovo issue.
The Council faced a daunting task today, he said, namely, the decision whether to move to the next stage in resolving the Kosovo and Metohija issue, although the tasks of the previous stage remain uncompleted. His delegation had repeatedly provided convincing information not only on the absence of multi-ethnicity in Kosovo and Metohija, but also on grave violations of fundamental rights and freedoms. In his comprehensive review, Ambassador Eide presented many important facts, particularly with regard to the difficult position of the Serbian and other non-Albanian communities in Kosovo and Metohija.
Today, more than 60 per cent of Kosovo Serbs were internally displaced persons in central Serbia, he said. The Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija were now reduced to a dwindling rural population, living in fear and often deprived of their most basic rights. Since June 1999, Orthodox Christianity had been exposed to deliberate and brutal persecution. Some 150 Orthodox churches and monasteries had been destroyed or irreparably damaged, Orthodox cemeteries desecrated and destroyed, and Orthodox Christians had been denied the basic right to profess and practice their faith. The report attributed the massive human and minority rights violations not only to ethnically motivated violence against minorities, but also to the fragility of institutions, particularly the police and judiciary.
In spite of those facts, however, Ambassador Eide recommended moving to the next stage of the process, namely, the future status talks, he said. The critical question remained whether the future status talks could succeed if the crucial standards with regard to human rights and basic freedoms in Kosovo and Metohija were neither fulfilled nor anywhere near fulfilment. It was only through a completely realistic assessment of the situation in Kosovo and Metohija that a democratic and multi-ethnic Kosovo and Metohija could be attained.
In the forthcoming talks, Serbia and Montenegro would be fully guided by the general principle and norms of international law and universally accepted democratic values, he said. He believed that the Council would act upon the principle of sovereignty and territorial integrity and define the framework and mandate of future status talks as talks on the future status of a province within the internationally recognized State of Serbia and Montenegro. Any solution must respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Serbia and Montenegro as an internationally recognized State, a Member of the United Nations and member of other international organizations.
The future status talks should also take into account the fact that Serbia and Montenegro was a democratic State, he said. Any attempt at imposing a solution through de facto legalization of a partition of Serbia, including through forcible secession of a part of its territory, would be tantamount not only to legal violence against a democratic State, but also against international law itself. His country's political efforts would be directed to defining a specific and viable form of substantial autonomy for Kosovo and Metohija, whereby the legitimate interests of Kosovo Albanians would be fully acknowledged.
A peaceful, negotiated solution to Kosovo and Metohija's future status talks within the State of Serbia and Montenegro would be a decisive step towards European integration, not only for his country, but also for the region as a whole, he said. A negotiated solution implied a compromise that would make it impossible for Serbs and Albanians alike to attain all their goals and aspirations. Those fundamental commitments constituted a framework within which his country was embarking upon the process of defining the future status of Kosovo and Metohija. The future status process would have the best likelihood of success if it took the form of direct talks between representatives of the two sides, he added.
The general situation in Serbia and Montenegro, as well as in Kosovo and Metohija, differed greatly from that of June 1999, he said, noting that Serbia and Montenegro was increasingly affirming itself as a bulwark of basic democratic values, both within its territory and in the region. His country was committed to making every effort to reach a negotiated solution based on compromise, together with the Council, and in a way compatible with the norms of international law. He was convinced that the international community would not succumb to threats of violence and permit the dismemberment of a democratic State and the undermining of the most basic principles of international order. Indeed, no democratic and free State could accept that under any circumstances.
* *** *