21 June 2006
In Briefing to Security Council, Special Representative Expresses Hope for Lasting Peace in Kosovo Resulting from Coming Status Agreement
Says Conclusion of Status Process Vital for Economic, Social Progress
NEW YORK, 20 June (UN Headquarters) -- After seven years of interim administration, Kosovo society was ready -- indeed impatient -- to move on, and it would be a far greater risk to keep Kosovo "in limbo" for much longer, the Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), Søren Jessen-Petersen, told the Security Council today, briefing it on the latest developments there.
He said that, with the settlement process gaining momentum, it was clear that things were moving towards the end of the mandate of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). He had seen too much suffering in the Western Balkans over the last 15 years, and is biggest hope, as he left his post, was that the coming agreement on Kosovo's status would finally allow the victims of the conflict, on all sides, to become the beneficiaries of a peaceful and lasting settlement, leading to a better future that they so thoroughly deserved.
This year had been an extraordinary year for Kosovo, and it was vital for stability and economic and social progress there and in the region that the status process was brought to an early and successful conclusion, he said. Some voices said that everything was happening too quickly, but he held the opposite view. There was a feeling in Kosovo that progress was being made under a new, dynamic leadership. That dynamism was based on a vision of a transformed future and on the notion that there could be no return of Kosovo to the pre-1999 situation, no partition of Kosovo, no union of Kosovo with any country or part of another country, and that the status outcome should be acceptable to the majority.
The President of the Coordination Centre of the Republic of Serbia for Kosovo and Metohija, Sanda Rašković-Ivić, said that Serbia was totally opposed to the re-charting of the borders and considered that any "either-or" solution -- which made one side a winner and the other a loser -- was not good. Her country's negotiating team believed deeply that a solution must be found through dialogue and must not be imposed from the outside. Indeed, both sides must engage more whole-heartedly and be prepared for alternative solutions.
The Secretary-General's report on the province and UNMIK's activity had been unclear, mainly because it "proceeds more from unrealistic expectations rather than the facts", she said. Neither had it reflected the accurate situation regarding the implementation of standards. It was worrisome that, since the Council's last meeting on Kosovo, there had been no tangible progress in the implementation of the Standards -- the United Nations-backed eight targets that include building democratic institutions, enforcing minority rights, creating a functioning economy and setting up an impartial legal system.
In six rounds of talks, the Serbian team's flexibility had been met with resistance from the Albanian side, which had embraced a "firm and single-minded position", she said. That only raised tensions among the majority Albanian population in Kosovo and Metohija, rather than helping to find solutions to the Province's serious problems. Those tensions had also been heightened by certain international community representatives, and even UNMIK, among others, who claimed that Kosovo's independence was the only possible outcome, even a fait accompli.
Urging the Serbs and all other minorities to leave the past behind, Albania's speaker encouraged all those not participating in the Provisional Institutions of the Kosovo Government, particularly the Kosovo Serbs, to respect, cooperate with and participate in the political processes and institutions, to ensure that the needs of all parties were met. Albania believed that the status process should proceed steadily and swiftly, with a decisive solution within a year. The conclusion of the process within a year, along with the definition of Kosovo's status, would serve stability and security in the province and the region as a whole, while delay and uncertainty would serve no one's interest, he said.
Austria's representative, on behalf of the European Union, said that the main task now was to continue the work begun by the Special Representative, while preparing the transition from the current United Nations administration to an international presence, following a determination of Kosovo's future status. The Union had been "steadfastly at the side of Kosovo" throughout the post-conflict period. Kosovo would require an international presence to supervise compliance with the status settlement and to ensure security throughout Kosovo, protect minorities, and support the continued implementation of the Standards. The Union was ready to enhance its role, following a status determination, and, on 10 April, it had established a planning team for a possible crisis management operation in Kosovo to help ensure a smooth transition between the UNMIK and a possible European Union operation.
Other speakers in today's debate were the representatives of the United Republic of Tanzania, Qatar, China, Greece, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Peru, France, United Kingdom, United States, Congo, Japan, Ghana, Argentina Denmark and Albania.
The meeting began at 10:25 a.m. and ended at 1:02 p.m.
The Security Council met this morning to consider the Secretary-General's latest report on the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) (document S/2006/361), which concludes that, despite some progress in talks to decide the final status of the province, the parties remain far apart and compromise is crucial.
The report echoes the Secretary-General's calls made for both sides to demonstrate flexibility, generosity and a spirit of compromise in the talks, referring to the dialogue between Kosovo Albanians and Serbs that began in Vienna in February under the auspices of United Nations Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari, and which have been held about twice monthly since.
Though initial positions will naturally differ, mutually beneficial arrangements can be found, if both sides pursue negotiations in this manner. Without such an approach, progress will be difficult, and neither side will benefit, the report adds.
Independence and autonomy are among options that have been mentioned for the province, where Albanians outnumber Serbs and others by 9 to 1. Serbia rejects independence, and Kosovo's Serbs have been boycotting the province's local Government, the Provisional Institutions, the report states.
It is equally essential that the Kosovo Serbs rejoin the Provisional Institutions at all levels and actively engage in them, the report says, adding that remaining outside the Institutions will not bring their communities any benefit, and, in fact, negatively affects their ability to bring meaningful improvements into the lives of their communities. It also voices concern at reports of pressure on Kosovo Serbs to withdraw from the Institutions and calls on Serbia to facilitate, not hamper, their participation.
As in previous reports, the Secretary-General stresses the need for implementation of the so-called Standards, eight targets that include building democratic institutions, enforcing minority rights, creating a functioning economy and setting up an impartial legal system.
He also welcomes efforts by Kosovo's new Prime Minister Agim Çeku to accelerate the process, calls on the Kosovo Government to tackle the challenges in implementation without delay, and cites the Serbs' unwillingness to participate in the Institutions as "an increasing obstacle".
Real progress in this regard (the Standards) remains an essential factor in determining progress in the political process to determine Kosovo's future status, the report says. It also stresses that reconciliation remains essential and, although all communities have a role to play in that effort, the principal responsibility rests with the majority. It welcomes the increased outreach to minorities, particularly the Serbs, and voices disappointment that so few of those who fled in the aftermath of the ouster of Yugoslav troops, have so far returned.
The Security Council President for June, ELLEN MARGRETHE LØJ (Denmark) paid tribute to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), Søren Jessen-Petersen, who would soon be leaving his post as Head of the Mission in Kosovo. The Special Representative had done a remarkable job with great skill under very difficult circumstances. She thanked the Special Representative for his outstanding and tireless efforts over the last two years.
SØREN JESSEN-PETERSEN, Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), said that Kosovo today presented a picture of a society making steady progress. He particularly acknowledged the great determination and energy of Prime Minister Çeku, who had been appointed on 10 March. In the Special Representative's last report to the Council, covering events up to 20 December 2005, he had expressed regret that the pace of Standards implementation had slowed in the second half of 2005. By February, he had been able to report that the Kosovo Government had begun to respond to those criticisms and that the progress was getting back on track.
He said that his latest technical review, reflecting events up to 30 April 2006, showed an across-the-board revitalization of the process. The Secretary-General's report echoed those judgements and reinforced the Special Representative's observation that the performance of the Kosovo authorities had become dynamic and had progressed as never before. Of course, there was a need for further progress, but, if the current momentum continued, and he was confident that it would, further concrete achievements could be expected over the coming months.
The pace of policy implementation had been matched by a far greater willingness on the part of Kosovo's new leadership to take the lead in reaching out to minority communities, particularly to the Kosovo Serbs, he said. The most recent example of that had been the Prime Minister's initiative to establish a Communities Security Council, which had met for the first time last Friday. That Council brought together the Government of Kosovo, UNMIK, the Kosovo multinational Security force (KFOR) and other key players, in an effort to promote improvements in the living conditions of Kosovo's most vulnerable communities at the moment, notably the Kosovo Serbs.
Despite those efforts, however, he said that the situation for many Kosovo Serbs remained very difficult. Many of them felt confused, exposed and isolated, and did not know what to think about the future. In the final analysis, Kosovo Serb communities were concerned about the status process. Although he had detected in many contacts with them a willingness to start considering what life might be like after final status -- including under outcomes they might not welcome -- all too often the only message reaching Kosovo Serbs told them not to engage with the majority. That was not healthy for a more open and integrated society.
As an example, whenever there was a crime in which the victim was a Kosovo Serb, an ethnic motive was often proclaimed, and usually without evidence, he said. That was unfair to Kosovo as a society -- one in which violent crime had been decreasing overall -- and perpetuated a climate of insecurity among Kosovo Serb communities. Of course, violent crimes should be solved and prosecuted if citizens were to have faith in the justice system, but it was no service to the Kosovo Serbs to be presented only as targets and victims. Despite isolated incidents -- and those really were isolated -- the picture as it was painted did not correspond to the present reality of Kosovo. He, therefore, called again on the Serbian authorities to work with the international community and the Kosovo Government to provide factual information about current events and not to promote a climate fear and further isolation. He welcomed the Contact Group's recent letter to the Government in Belgrade, which made similar points.
He said that, at the present time of flux, as the new Kosovo was being built, a growing number of Kosovo Serbs would like to have a voice in the political process and in Kosovo's governmental and parliamentary institutions, but they felt they could not do so until Belgrade gave its consent. That had been the case for more than two years now. He did not see any merit in Belgrade's "isolationist policy" from the point of view of Kosovo's Serbs. Nor did he see how they could make informed choices and decisions about their own future within Kosovo, if they were not even permitted to take part in the democratic processes there, whether centrally or locally.
At the grass-roots level, the Serbian Government's direction, which had obliged Kosovo Serbs working for certain Kosovo institutions to choose between their Belgrade and Pristina salaries, was divisive and did a disservice to Kosovo's Serbs at the present sensitive time, he went on. Needless to say, in presenting those points to the Council, he called on Belgrade to withdraw that damaging directive and to give its consent to those political actors in the Kosovo Serb communities who wanted to work in the interests of their community in partnership with the institutions and Government of Kosovo.
Amid those difficult issues, there had been some positive moves, he noted. In particular, he welcomed the signature on 6 June of a Returns Protocol between UNMIK, Belgrade and Pristina. That should enable returns to take place on an agreed basis. Numbers of returns were steady, although still very low. There were currently more people wanting to return than there was available funding. There needed to be a significant increase in both numbers of returns and resources to support those, in order to be sustainable.
He stressed that the status process was of the highest importance in Kosovo political life, and everything done today was done against a background of managing expectations about, and preparing for, a settlement. It was the status process above all that was behind the reinvigoration of the Kosovo political process. He praised the spirit of cooperation, which had characterized the Kosovo negotiators in the "Unity Team" and Political Group. For that, credit was due, not only to President Sejdiu's leadership, but also to Prime Minister Çeku and Assembly President Berisha, and equally to the opposition leaders, Hashim Thaci and Veton Surroi.
UNMIK was not a player in the status process, he explained. Its job was to fulfil its mandate under Council resolution 1244. But, from the start, it had been important to him that the Mission's activities should be consistent with, and supportive of, the status process in Vienna. With that process gaining momentum, it was clear that things were moving towards the end of the UNMIK mandate. Much work had already been done on what would follow. That could not prejudge what the Council might decide, but useful preparations had been made and work could continue with the partner organizations. That should allow UNMIK to achieve an orderly exit when the time came, and Kosovo to experience an orderly transition.
Naturally, he said, the status process carried with it both risks and opportunities. Tensions might well rise as the process moved towards its conclusion, and he was deeply concerned to see how violent crimes could quickly become politicized and used to provoke tensions and divisions, particularly in the northern part of Kosovo. In that context, it was important at the present crucial moment that no measures were taken by any political actors in the region that could foment instability. It would never be possible to entirely eliminate the risk of security incidents in such a volatile environment as Kosovo, but everyone could be alert to the dangers. The Mission had been working closely with the Kosovo multinational security force (KFOR) -- whose Commander and members he wished to salute -- on strategies to respond to any eventuality and to keep the risks of incidents from escalating into something worse.
He said that the rule of law remained an issue of paramount importance. In some areas, much had been achieved. For example, he was proud of the development and performance of the Kosovo Police Service and the progress it had made since its establishment under UNMIK's aegis. But, there were areas still requiring improvement, and more needed to be done in the field of justice. He welcomed the recent establishment in Pristina of a European Union planning team. That team would work with UNMIK to ensure that rule of law sectors continued to receive the attention they needed, up to and beyond the end of the Mission's mandate. The future of Kosovo must be built on the solid foundation of the rule of law.
This year was an extraordinary year for Kosovo, and it was vital for stability and economic and social progress there and in the region that the status process was brought to an early and successful conclusion, he said. Some voices said that everything was happening too quickly, thus introducing unnecessary risks. He held the opposite view. After seven years of interim administration, Kosovo society was ready -- indeed impatient -- to move on. It would be a far greater risk to keep Kosovo "in limbo" for much longer. At the moment, there was a feeling in Kosovo that progress was being made under a new, dynamic leadership. That dynamism was based on a vision of a transformed future -- a future based on the Contact Group's guiding principles that there could be no return of Kosovo to the pre-1999 situation, no partition of Kosovo, no union of Kosovo with any country or part of another country, and that the status outcome should be acceptable to the majority in Kosovo, with respect for minorities' rights.
He said that administration by UNMIK had extraordinary achievements to its credit, and would respect its mandate until the end. But, there were now diminishing returns from that mandate, and that limited what could be achieved by an international administration in the absence of clarity on status. The interim administration had been in place for seven years, without a clearly defined end point. It was time for the international community, time for Kosovo and the region to move on. He was confident that the Council would, when the time came, take a decision that would allow Kosovo to build the democratic, multi-ethnic society it envisioned. He was proud to say that the United Nations had helped lay the foundations.
He said that, in his United Nations career in the humanitarian field, he had seen too much suffering in the Western Balkans over the last 15 years. His biggest hope, as he left his post, was that the coming status agreement would finally allow the victims of the conflict, on all sides, to become the beneficiaries of a peaceful and lasting settlement, leading to a better future that they so thoroughly deserved.
SANDA RAŠKOVIĆ-IVIĆ (Serbia), President of the Coordination Centre of the Republic of Serbia for Kosovo and Metohija, said that she hoped the Council's debate would further encourage the dialogue on Kosovo and Metohija, adding that, for Serbia, the status was substantial autonomy within internationally recognized borders. She emphasized that the Secretary-General's report on the province and UNMIK's activity was unclear, mainly because it "proceeds more from unrealistic expectations rather than the facts". Neither did the report reflect the accurate situation regarding the implementation of Standards.
It was worrisome that, since the Council's last meeting on Kosovo, no tangible progress had been made in the implementation of Standards, particularly since there had been six rounds of negotiations. Unfortunately, the Serbian team's flexibility in the negotiations had been met with resistance from the Albanian side, which had embraced a "firm and single-minded position". Such a position only served to raise tensions among the majority Albanian population in Kosovo and Metohija, rather than to help find solutions to the province's serious problems. Those tensions had also been heightened by certain representatives of the international community, and even UNMIK, among others, claiming that Kosovo's independence was the only possible outcome, even a fait accompli.
Martti Ahtisaari had "narrow manoeuvring space", but there was room for compromise, she said. That room was somewhere between the situation in Kosovo and Metohija before 1999 and independence. That position was not a compromise, she said, stressing that, indeed, independence "means just succumbing to one of the two positions". Serbia was totally opposed to the re-charting of the borders and considered that any "either-or" solution -- which made one side a winner and the other a loser -- was not good. Her country's negotiating team believed deeply that a solution must be found through dialogue, and must not be imposed from the outside. Indeed, both sides must engage more whole-heartedly and be prepared for alternative solutions.
She said that, in his comprehensive review of the situation in Kosovo, Ambassador Kai Eide had rightly indicated that the only way to progress was the process of establishment of the future status and continuation of the implementation of Standards. Ambassador Eide had also noted the prevailing risk arising from the lack of readiness of local leaders for a peace process. She said that, so far, little progress had been made to resolve property rights; returns had almost been almost frozen for nearly a year now; and instruments for the protection of human rights and the rule of law were dead letters.
The Serbian Government had launched two initiatives aimed at providing new impetus to the negotiations, including proposing that direct negotiations be started on the future of Kosovo and Metohija, which also addressed decentralization. The second proposal presented a concrete initiative on the future status, which was a compromise between the two extremes -- the status of Kosovo and Metohija prior to 1999 and independence, which offered "more than standard autonomy known and practiced in European countries" and also called for the conclusion of an international agreement, signed and guaranteed by Serbia and the United Nations, that would come as a result of the status negotiations and include basic principles and concrete provisions of the future status of Kosovo and Metohija.
She went on to recount myriad human rights violations being committed in Kosovo and Metohija, saying that the very survival of Serbs and non-Albanians, a definite minority in the province. Every week and, at times, even every day, Serbia and UNMIK had witnessed various forms of violence perpetrated against the non-Albanian population, and it was well worth stressing that some two thirds of that population had been expelled from the province. She agreed with the report that the implementation of Standards was the proper yardstick of the commitment of Kosovo's political leaders and the Provisional Institutions to creating a society in which everyone felt safe. She also agreed that it fell largely to the province's majority population to promote reconciliation and the improvement of living conditions.
On other priority matters, she stressed that it was of utmost importance for the Kosovo Serbs to participate and play an active role in the political life of Kosovo and Metohija, but only under the condition that their participation was meaningful, that was to say, not "merely political decorum and that the outvoting of Serbs is prevented". She recalled that, two years ago, her Government had steadfastly insisted on decentralization of the province as the best approach to the resolution of the problems. Indeed, such decentralization was of substantial importance to the Serb community and was not only about establishing closer links between citizens and the authorities, she said, stressing that, for Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija, decentralization was literally a vital condition for survival, security and returns.
That was why the Serb negotiating team had proposed strengthening self-government of Serb-majority municipalities, horizontal ties between the municipalities and direct, issue-oriented and transparent ties with Belgrade. That decision had nothing to do with the idea of dividing Kosovo and Metohija, as claimed by Albanian representatives, it was only a concrete and institutional response to the existing situation in which the survival of the Serb community had been ultimately threatened, and thereby, the multi-ethnic character of Kosovo and Metohija.
Finally, she stressed that her delegation could not agree with the report's assessment that the security situation in Kosovo and Metohija was "stable". Indeed, it was extremely precarious, and her delegation was extremely concerned by a new wave of attacks against Serbian representatives, aimed at further intimidating the Serbian population, right before the start of status negotiations. Overall, she said that Serbia was unequivocally ready, along with the Security Council and in line with international norms, to invest all efforts to reach a compromise solution to Kosovo and Metohija. Serbia also trusted that the United Nations and the wider international community would not succumb to threats of violence and pressures to break up a democratic State, which would "severely undermine" international order. " Serbia is resolutely opposed to any attempt of an imposed solution to Kosovo and Metohjia, since it would imply the division of the country and taking away part of its territory," she declared.
AUGUSTINE P. MAHIGA (United Republic of Tanzania) said that, when the Council had discussed Kosovo this past February, it had noted progress in the preparations for the talks on the province's final status. Since that time, four rounds of talks had taken place. Nevertheless, his delegation regretted to note the "highly conspicuous" absence of Kosovo Serbs in those talks, and believed that, in order for Kosovo to be a truly multi-ethnic and democratic society, all ethnic groups must be represented in all spheres of political life, including the in the future status talks. He, therefore, urged the Kosovo Serbs to fully cooperate and participate not only in those talks, but in Provisional Institutions.
His delegation shared the Secretary-General's view that Kosovo's leadership should also increase its outreach efforts to minority groups to promote confidence across ethnic lines, towards the promotion of engagement in reconciliation. He went on to say that the low numbers of returns was also a matter of concern. He called for the creation of a climate that would be conducive to, and encourage, the safe and secure return of refugees and internally displaced persons to Kosovo.
Similarly, efforts should be geared towards improving the living conditions and opportunities for Kosovo's Serb community. Finally, his delegation was encouraged to note that regional integration had improved and that progress had been registered in the decentralization process, despite the lack of participation by Kosovo Serbs. He was also pleased to note that the security situation had remained stable, albeit fragile.
JAMAL NASSER AL-BADER (Qatar) said that all sides had to participate in the dialogue, in order for it to be successful and sustainable. The Kosovo of the future would only be stable and prosperous, if it was based on recognition of its multi-ethnicity. For that reason, the national agreement and participation of all the parties in the process was crucial. Thus, the participation of non-Albanian minorities in all workings of the State and society remained fundamental. The Government should continue its efforts to include minorities' participation, and Belgrade should facilitate its work in those institutions. That would reassure the residents of Kosovo, as well as the returning refugees and internally displaced persons.
He said that, while the Special Representative had highlighted the slow pace of applying the Standards in his past briefings, his current assessment had been more positive, and he had noted the great deal of progress in the Standards' recent application. He hoped that the interim institutions would sustain their current commitment, thereby making it possible to do even more in the coming months. There was no doubt that the total commitment of the new Government and its Prime Minister towards implementing the Standards was a priority, which would make it possible to make further progress. He also welcomed the role being played by UNMIK in supporting the interim institutions, in combating crime and in adapting those structures towards greater competency, leading to the preparation of a political settlement.
WANG GUANGYA (China) said that he regretted the upcoming resignation of Mr. Jessen-Petersen, who, over the past two years, had made an outstanding contribution to UNMIK's work. He hoped the situation in Kosovo would remain stable and that new uncertainties would not emerge in the Balkan region. Thanks to UNMIK's concerted efforts and the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government in Kosovo, implementation of the Standards had progressed considerably. Many challenges remained, however, in such areas as economic and social development, refugee returns and cultural cohesion. Progress in the Standards implementation was the basis for progress in Kosovo's future status and a precondition for building a harmonious and multi-ethnic society. He welcomed the will of the Provisional Institutions and their leadership to implement the Standards, and he hoped that detailed work would be carried out and continued progress made. All ethnic groups should shoulder the major responsibility for creating a smooth climate.
He said that the progress in the status process initiated last year had proceeded. With the good offices and coordination of the Secretary-General's Special Envoy, the authorities of Serbia and Kosovo had conducted many rounds of negotiations, and some consensus had been reached. He welcomed the continuation of such dialogue towards seeking common ground and moving the question of Kosovo onto a healthy track. He supported all efforts towards a sustainable solution for both parties. The Kosovo question was extremely complex, and thus, the international community should demonstrate determination and patience towards finding a solution. China had always respected the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Balkan countries, and believed that a comprehensive and proper solution to the Kosovo question should be based on all relevant Security Council resolutions. Both parties should be assisted in arriving at compromises, and all parties should promote the political process in Kosovo. Only through the achievement of economic development, social stability and ethnic harmony would the question of Kosovo be satisfactorily concluded.
ADAMANTIOS VASSILAKIS (Greece) said that, despite progress in strengthening democratic institutions, creating civil service structures and transferring competencies in the rule of law in Kosovo, important legislative and other measures had yet to be adopted. They were reflected in the 13 priorities identified by the Contact Group and sent to the Provisional Institutions, among them the adoption of laws on language, cultural heritage and religious freedom; complete reconstruction of property damaged during the 2004 riots; adoption of a public transportation strategy for minorities; and setting up an independent media commission. The recent adoption of the Protocol on Returns and progress reported in preserving cultural and religious heritage, specifically the reconstruction of church property damaged during the March 2004 riots, were positive developments.
It was important for the Kosovo Serbs to rejoin the Provisional Institutions, in order for the democratic system to function, he continued. Progress in reconciliation and promoting a democratic, multi-ethnic Kosovo would be impossible in the prevailing atmosphere of insecurity and severe restraint of movement for minorities. The increase in violent incidents in the last month, particularly in the north and against Serb minorities, should not be downplayed. People must be reassured that their concerns and fears were taken seriously. While progress on reaching an agreement between the Kosovo Albanians and the Serbs had been limited, it was positive that the two parties had identified clear and common concerns or points. The Contact Group Guiding Principles adopted by the Security Council in November must be respected by both sides.
VITALY CHURKIN (Russian Federation) said the Secretary-General's last report noted that, despite some positive trends, Standards implementation in Kosovo was still not a reality. It was necessary to establish the basis of a multi-ethnic society, in which all groups could live in safety and security. He called for close monitoring by the Contact Group on implementation of status-related initiatives by local leaders. He also called on UNMIK and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) leadership, among others, to closely monitor the situation, regarding restoration and protection of Kosovo's cultural and religious heritage.
On the security situation, he noted attacks on minorities, the torching of homes and buildings, the desecration of graves and myriad other troubling flagrant crimes against the national minority. Many crimes committed against the minority population were not fully or effectively investigated, even though it was clear that such crimes had an ethnic dimension. It was time for the international community to increase its involvement in getting to the bottom of such incidents, as well as the other "sorry state of affairs", regarding freedom of movement and returns.
He called for political statements from all sides that would restore confidence, but also efforts to curb vandalism and harassment. Efforts should be aimed at easing fears, tensions and misgivings that the non-Albanian populations' participation in all spheres of life in the Province was just "decorative". He called on the Province's leadership to promote real movement on the implementation of the status agreements and to address the real concerns of national minorities. He stressed that a negotiating compromise between Belgrade and Pristina should be sought. Quite some time would be required for outcomes, at any rate, he said, encouraging the parties to come up with a negotiating decision that satisfied them both, rather than bowing to artificial deadlines recommended by outside parties. A decision on the future status should be "universal", not unilateral, one-sided or imposed.
DUŠAN MATULAY (Slovakia) said that, at this critical stage of international presence in Kosovo, he hoped for a new appointment at the helm of UNMIK soon. The Western Balkan region remained a natural priority of his country's foreign policy for many reasons. Its involvement there was based on the principles of transparency and impartiality, and aimed at strengthening regional stability in support of the processes of democratization and integration. He continued to believe that UNMIK's role, in consequence of the Council's decision to launch negotiations on Kosovo's future status, was even more vital and instrumental for peace, stability and prosperity in the region, and for the lasting settlement of Kosovo's future status. Neither the structure nor contents of UNMIK's report fully reflected the context in which it had been presented. his country had hoped for certain elaborations in the report.
He said he sincerely regretted that the report had not addressed the following points: the ability of Kosovo's institutions to meet the challenges of democratization and the rule of law, with an emphasis on international organized crime; a perspective on Kosovo's economic and political sustainability; the preparedness for multi-ethnic co-existence, which was directly proportional to such issues as the return of refugees and internally displaces persons; and whether Kosovo, after final status, would be able to contribute to regional stability. Those critical issues, in terms of the future status determination, should be taken into account, and he looked forward to receipt of the upcoming report of the Secretary-General's Special Envoy, Mr. Ahtisaari.
Part of the Secretary-General's report had positively elaborated on general trends concerning the new Kosovo leadership in the ongoing effort to implement the Standards, he noted with satisfaction. He also commended the personal role and dedication of Prime Minister Çeku in that regard. In the context of future status talks, however, it was critical to objectively evaluate whether the overall results were satisfactory. Basing his judgment on the report, he was not convinced that Kosovo was prepared to move forward. Lack of directness of the report in that regard, as well as the fact that the Contact Group had decided to redefine and narrow key Standards, were indicators that the situation was not as positive as presented. He believed, therefore, that the Contact Group's 13 priorities of Standards' implementation deserved special support and thorough overview by the Security Council.
He said that the participation of the Kosovo Serbs in the future status process, as well as their engagement in Kosovo's political life, was critical. He, therefore, called on Belgrade to encourage Kosovo Serbs to participate in the process and in Kosovo's political life, in order to influence the processes that would be decisive for their future. He also called on Belgrade and Pristina to allow Kosovo Serbs to exercise their rights in a way that would contribute to the positive atmosphere surrounding the negotiations, as well as to regional stability.
He said he did not share the view in the report that 16.6 per cent minority participation at the central level was in the best interest of the international community in Kosovo, based on Security Council resolution 1244. The proportional key was not a mobilization component for minority participation in the central Government. The continuing existence of parallel structures was proof that minorities still did not trust the centrality of the Provisional Institutions. "It is very significant that persons belonging to the Serbian national minority are disposed to withdraw from the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government's payroll, in exchange for salaries from the State". That was not an explicitly politically motivated obstruction, but rather "a signal for us to take a serious think".
Status determination in Kosovo was extremely sensitive, he went on. It was almost inevitable that its consequences would exceed borders in the region. Starting points of the Kosovo issue were linked with the post-Second World War setup and mixed with centuries-old ethnic and religious connotations in the region. Those were the grounds that made Kosovo an extraordinary case. If it was problematic today to embed a desired solution into the existing international framework of conflict settlement, there were still many alternatives that could be explored. The potential for failure should recall the existing tools for conflict settlement. He supported the need to find a lasting and balanced settlement of the future status, but settlement of the Kosovo issue must be fully compatible with international standards of human rights, democracy and international law, and contribute to regional security, as the Contact Group had emphasized.
OSWALDO DE RIVERO (Peru) said the political process designed to determine Kosovo's future status had made some progress in the past few months, and Peru had been pleased with the initial participation of the parties towards a negotiated solution. But, it was important, nevertheless, to continue concurrently on the Standards implementation track, because, whatever territorial entity emerged from the talks, the aim should be a Kosovo that was democratic in all spheres -- political, social and religious. It was also important to consider the province's European vision.
While Peru was hopeful for the short-term results, it also called for the active participation of all parties in building a consensus for a lasting solution to the question of Kosovo, which included full respect for diversity and stepped up efforts to ensure the return of refugees and internally displaced persons. The high-level talks already under way on their return should be further encouraged by the international community. All stakeholders should also work to ensure, beyond stabilization of the security situation, the creation of a viable economy.
JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIÈRE (France) stressed the fresh impetus among the parties in Kosovo, including that provided by the new Prime Minister, to implement the Standards concretely and swiftly. Tangible progress had been made in accordance with the Security Council's demands, and the dialogue begun with the Serb minority had been encouraging. The Kosovo authorities must continue to progress along those lines, and concrete measures must still be adopted quickly, specifically with respect to the 13 priorities identified by UNMIK and the Contact Group regarding minority protection and the rule of law. That was an essential basis, on which final status would be determined. No lasting stability would be possible, however, without reconciliation among the communities. Yet, the Secretary-General's report deemed that to still be elusive.
He said that competencies in the field of justice and police must lead to the creation of an impartial administration capable of combating the persistent violence. Reconciliation required that the Serbs accept the provisional Institutions and agree to participate in them, as the Kosovo authorities had urged them to do. Pressure to dissuade Serb participation should be avoided, and the Belgrade authorities must also encourage Serb participation and integration. The evolution of the situation on the ground was linked to the political process on the future status. Direct dialogue had intensified, owing to the active participation of both parties. The negotiating team in Kosovo had made constructive proposals and, despite divergent positions, it seemed possible to find common ground leading to results. The parties must display flexibility and a spirit of compromise. The international community must remain present, in one way or another, to ensure both the future status and guarantee regional stability. That presence would no longer be through UNMIK, once the status had been defined. The European Union, however, had a continued role to play in terms of the police, and France was ready to contribute in that respect.
KAREN PIERCE (United Kingdom) said the Secretary-General's report had noted progress in standards implementation and in areas related to promoting minority rights. Those efforts must be sustained and monitored by the international community and the Security Council. The Kosovo Serbs must be encouraged to participate in the status process to ensure a broadly representative province, and Belgrade must not to make such participation a condition of decentralization.
The solution of status must be suitable to the people of Kosovo, she went on to say, adding that, while the province's situation was indeed complex, the resolution of status would enhance stability in the region, not detract from it. There was also a need to maintain a focus on the European vision, not only for Kosovo, but for Serbia as well. The international community could not, and should not, allow the future status process to be delayed.
WILLIAM J. BRENCICK (United States) welcomed the progress documented in the Secretary-General's report, particularly the efforts to improve the lives and livelihoods of Kosovo's minority communities. But, while symbolic gestures were important, the international community must see concrete improvements on the ground. The Government must show its resolute determination to ensure broad ethnic diversity and participation in all spheres of life, while also moving swiftly to end ethnically motivated violence and criminal acts.
He called on both sides to negotiate constructively with Ambassador Ahtisaari, on priority issues such as the promotion of minority rights and the implementation of Standards. There would be no return to Kosovo's pre-1999 status and no union of Kosovo with another territory. The solution must, ultimately, be suitable for the people of Kosovo.
PASCAL GAYAMA (Congo) said that today's detailed briefing had made it possible to have a clear picture of the situation, and recent events had been disturbing, particularly certain unilateral declarations and initiatives that were likely destabilize the situation on the ground. In particular, the demonstrations against UNMIK had been worrying, especially at a time when the international community was calling for calm, in order to give the nascent political process every chance of determining Kosovo's future status. During Mr. Jessen-Petersen's term, actions to combat crime had been consolidated, as had efforts towards economic recovery and the building of a multi-ethnic society. There had been a favourable evolution in recent months, and several initiatives had begun to allow the Serb community and other minorities to feel that they were living at home in peace and security. Those results must be built upon to become durable.
He said that, during the coverage period, UNMIK had satisfactorily transferred competencies to the Provisional Institutions in various areas, such as respect for the rule of law and a strengthening of the police and justice sectors. That had made it possible for Pristina to ensure the daily administration of its own affairs. Recent political changes had not altered that cooperation, which had been expressed at all levels, including locally. The commitment of the new authorities to continued reconciliation was a good sign for affirming justice and combating impunity. However, those developments were still very limited and should be consolidated. The Secretary-General had noted certain areas of progress in his report, but much remained to be done in terms of deepening democracy, building the rule of law, and ensuring respect for minorities.
Noting several outstanding sources of concern, he stressed that implementation of the Standards was an essential precondition for Kosovo's future development. Too few results had been achieved in integrating the Serbs into the political process and the Provisional Institutions, achieving economic development and strengthened security, and encouraging the return of refugees and internally displaced persons. That insufficient progress might compromise the attainment of the Contact Group's goal to conclude the political negotiations in 2006. Only reconciliation and confidence-building among the various communities would achieve what must remain the international community's objective, namely the building of a modern, multi-ethnic and democratic Kosovo, in accordance with the standards established by UNMIK in everyone's interest.
KENZO OSHIMA (Japan) said that Standards implementation negotiations and status talks needed to be closely monitored by the Council. A Japanese assessment mission that had visited Kosovo had returned with promising news of progress in priority areas, particularly regarding the Provisional Institutions' minority outreach efforts. Japan was still concerned about the lack of progress in including Kosovo Serbs in the political process, as well as the slow return of refugees and internally displaced persons. Excluding Kosovo Serbs from the process, as well as encouraging their non-participation was not conducive to finding an overall solution to the province's myriad challenges.
L.K. CHRISTIAN (Ghana) said his delegation was encouraged that authorities in both Pristina and Belgrade were engaged in direct and sustained negotiations on a broad range of issues, including power structures, cultural and religious heritage, and the economy. Ghana remained convinced that the path to social harmony and lasting peace must be carved from a deliberate policy of inclusion and respect for the rights of all ethnic minorities. The importance of the principles embodied in the standards must not be overlooked, as they constituted the bedrock of a democratic, stable and prosperous Kosovo.
He went on to call on the Kosovo Serbs and other ethnic minorities to take full advantage of the guarantees enshrined in the Standards to secure a meaningful role and greater well-being in the future Kosovo. While the wounds of war would take time to heal, no ethnic group should be blinded to the realities of the common destiny with people who they shared long-standing historical ties. It was only by participating fully and meaningfully in the ongoing dialogue that each group could make its fears, interests and aspirations heard and understood by their counterparts, he said.
CÉSAR MAYORAL (Argentina) said there were two parallel processes under way in Kosovo. On the one hand, the process of determining its future status was moving forward. Direct conversations between the parties demonstrated convergence on some concrete issues, even if substantial differences remained. It was essential that any outcome be the result of a negotiation between the parties and not be imposed from outside. The Government of Kosovo was urged to work vigorously in the key areas identified in the report, including by having Kosovo Serbs rejoin the Provisional Institutions, promoting reconciliation and confidence, and paying attention to the security situation and the rule of law.
He said there would be no prosperous and pacific future for Kosovo without full respect for the diversity of its people. It was necessary and possible to reach a sustainable solution that fully respected the principle of territorial integrity. That process must be fostered by effective progress in implementing the eight Standards, which must continue to be the core of efforts made during and after the determination of status. Argentina urged the Provisional Institutions to persist in their vigorous implementation of the standards, in order to build a multi-ethnic and democratic society in Kosovo.
Ms. LØJ (Denmark), speaking in her national capacity, welcomed the alertness and political willingness to move forward on Standards implementation by the new administration in Pristina. However, concrete steps taken by the Provisional Institutions did not automatically alter the situation on the ground, she said. The leadership of those Institutions needed to ensure that the political decisions trickled down. Real reconciliation depended on the prevailing mindset of the majority populations. All efforts had to be made to create confidence amongst Kosovo's groups. The fact that such confidence was "sorely" missing was the main challenge ahead for the political leaders of Kosovo.
She said reports about Kosovo Serb representatives cutting off cooperation with the Provisional Institutions and urging public servants to withdraw were of some concern. She hoped Belgrade would encourage Kosovo Serb leaders to participate constructively in the Provisional Institutions. A sustainable solution to Kosovo's future would not be brought about by a spirit of non-cooperation and isolation. Kosovo was a key regional issue. A peaceful and prosperous future for the Western Balkans would entail close regional cooperation between former foes towards the common integration of "these truly European countries" into the Euro-Atlantic institutions. The Euro-Atlantic perspectives, however, depended on implementation of standards and a sustainable solution to Kosovo's future status.
On behalf of the European Union, GERHARD PFANZELTER (Austria) said that Mr. Jessen-Petersen had made a decisive contribution to Kosovo's stabilization and development. The main task of his successor would be to continue that work, while preparing the transition from the current United Nations administration to an international presence, following a determination of Kosovo's future status. The sustainable implementation of all standards by the Kosovo Institutions would be of crucial importance for the European future of Kosovo. At the Council's last meeting on the situation, he had urged Kosovo's Institutions to renew their efforts to ensure substantive, accelerated and sustainable progress in implementing the Standards, especially in such key areas as returns, equal access to justice, and the preservation of cultural heritage. The Union welcomed the renewed vigour in the Standards implementation and expected that concrete and demonstrable results would follow.
Nevertheless, he said, the Union remained disappointed with the low number of returns. To ensure tangible improvements in the conditions on the ground, not only political, but also financial, commitment at all levels was required. In that regard, both Pristina and Belgrade had a role to play, and he welcomed the recent signature of the Protocol on Returns, on 6 June. Real progress on Standards implementation was also important in tracking advances in the political process. The Union welcomed the renewed vigour in implementing the Standards, as real progress in that regard was essential to determining progress on the political front. At the same time, accelerated implementation of Standards should not be viewed as a goal in itself or only as a way to decide Kosovo's future status. Effective Standards implementation, including dialogue with and outreach to Kosovo's minority communities, leading to a sustainable democratic and multi-ethnic society, was also a prerequisite for fulfilling Kosovo's European perspective.
The process of outreach to all of Kosovo's communities should go hand in hand with a change in attitudes within Kosovo, he continued. Indeed, everyone in Kosovo had a role to play in implementing the Standards. He, therefore, called on the leaders and the population, as well as on Belgrade, to step up efforts to engage in reconciliation and the promotion of confidence across communities. In doing so, they must not tolerate any violence, and those responsible for committing such acts must be brought to justice. Equally important was that Kosovo Serbs rejoin the Provisional Institutions at all levels and actively engage in them. He shared the Secretary-General's concerns about reports of pressure on Kosovo Serbs to withdraw from the Institutions, and he called on the Belgrade authorities to encourage, rather than discourage, Kosovo Serb participation.
He said the Union had also consistently attached importance to the establishment of a substantial dialogue between all Kosovo communities, as well as between Belgrade and Pristina. It strongly urged both Belgrade and Pristina to work towards a lasting status agreement that promoted a multi-ethnic and democratic society and regional stability. The Union had been "steadfastly at the side of Kosovo" throughout the post-conflict period, and had provided major aid, economic access, political support and reform advice. Clearly, Kosovo would require an international presence to supervise compliance with the status settlement to, among other things, ensure security throughout Kosovo, minorities' protection and to support the continued implementation of the Standards. The Union was ready to assume its responsibilities and to enhance its role, following a status determination, especially in the areas of police, rule of law and the economy. On 10 April, it had established a planning team for a possible crisis management operation in Kosovo, to help ensure a smooth transition between UNMIK and a possible European Union operation.
ADRIAN NERITANI (Albania) said his delegation was pleased with the report's assessment that significant progress and tangible achievements had been achieved in Kosovo. He was also pleased to note the improved and stable political and security situations, and said that the democratic election of the Province's current leadership was a sign of the increased capacity and maturity of Kosovo's institutions, all of which boded well for the future. Welcoming the renewed vigour and fresh achievements in the implementation of the Standards, Albania would encourage the Kosovo Government and political leaders to continue to energetically tackle all aspects of that exercise, particularly focusing on the priority areas highlighted by the Contact Group.
"The systematic and accelerated implementation of these Standards should continue to remain an essential part of building a sustainable democratic and multi-ethnic society and state firmly rooted in the 'European architecture', he said. In building that democratic society, it was essential that all communities fully participated in Kosovo Institutions with the spirit of cooperation, and with recognition of their legitimacy. Albania also encouraged all minorities not participating in the Institutions, particularly Kosovo Serbs, to respect, cooperate with and participate in the political processes and institutions to ensure that the needs of all parties were met. Indeed. Albanians, Serbs and other minorities should look forward to their common future, strengthen heir cooperation and leave the past behind.
He said that Albania would continue to play an active and constructive role in ensuring closer cooperation with the international community and relevant global institutions. Albania continued to believe that the status process should proceed steadily and swiftly, with a decisive solution within a year. The conclusion of the process within a year, along with the definition of Kosovo's status would serve stability and security in the province, as well as in the region as a whole. "Delay and uncertainty will serve no one's interest," he said, stressing that the most realistic, pragmatic and just solution of that status was independence, with the continuation of a civilian and security presence provided by the international community for a certain period.
Mr. JESSEN-PETERSEN thanked the Council and the Secretary-General for their constant support. Having listened carefully to the many observations made today, he welcomed the support, and clearly agreed that there was a need for further action and results. The Prime Minister had taken the Contact Group's 13 points very seriously, and action was already under way. He expected to see results before the end of next month. That did not detract from the importance of focusing on all priority Standards, and that work would continue.
Turning to the statement made by the Serbian representative, he said that, having lived in Kosovo for two years with both his ears and eyes open, he had not recognized all that he had just heard. He agreed that the situation remained very difficult for many of the minorities, and for Kosovo Serbs in particular. And, there was a need to focus on more progress to update their living conditions. Many speakers here had urged Belgrade to allow Kosovo Serbs to participate in that process. He had also heard that little progress had been registered in the area of property issues, but 98 per cent of all property cases had been resolved; 10 per cent of those were still pending, however, in terms of enforcement. A couple of months ago, the Kosovo Property Agency had been established, and would focus on the very important work of agriculture and commercial lands, of particular importance to Kosovo Serbs, including the returnees. In that regard, it would be extremely helpful if Belgrade would return the records.
Regarding a reference to a report about some 187 incidents, he said that the UNMIK directorate of crime analysis had examined that, and had found that some of the 187 cases had been wrongly reported. The number of cases in the document was actually 101, and only 9 of those could be categorized as interethnic. Forty-two of the cases were never reported, either to the police or the judicial authorities, and 35 had been categorized with an unknown motive. Ten cases were seen as crimes for personal gains, and five had been deemed to be due to anger.
In references to recent incidents in the north, he said he regretted each and every security incident, as those led to fear by the Kosovo Serbs. Of the four most recent, one had been an attack on a petrol station, and all indications were that that had involved Serbs-on-Serbs. He provided the details of three more examples, underlining the need not to jump to conclusions.
He welcomed the statement by the Serbian representative that it was of utmost important for the Kosovo Serbs to participate in governance, and she had rightly stated that their participation must be meaningful. They should decide for themselves whether their participation was meaningful. Several posts designated to be filled by Serbs were still vacant. "Let's give them a chance and let them decide whether it is meaningful".
Concerning the several references to returns, he regretted that there had been so few. Personally, that had been one of his most serious regrets over the last two years. He thought he could have made an impact in that regard, but he had had to accept that the numbers remained "very, very low". However, the conditions were in place for more returns, and he welcomed the constructive participation of Belgrade in that regard. The fact that an action plan was now being developed with the direct involvement of the internally displaced could lead to greater returns.
The notion that a certain bus line would cease to operate was incorrect, he said. The Provisional Institutions would take over the operation run by UNMIK for the past seven years, and both the Kosovo multinational security force (KFOR) and UNMIK would be there in total support of the bus lines, to ensure that there were no incidents. As for some references to the repeated stoning of buses in the last five months, there had been some 1,400 incidents, and stoning had been involved in six of them. Five arrests had been made. He regretted the six incidents, as there should not be a single one. It must be ensured that that did not happen again. In terms of corruption at the airport, that had come from a report by the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), and was based on shortcomings up to 2003. In other words, that report was 3 years old. Since then, considerable measures had been taken, and the airport was now actually a success story; it had just been awarded the best airport under 1 million passengers for 2006, by a European council.
As this was his sixth and last report to the Security Council, he said "we have come a long way together, but there is still a considerable way to travel before we get to the kind of society we all want to see in Kosovo". He was grateful for the Council's role in moving the process forward, in launching the status process and so forth, and he counted on the Council to see the process through, to an early and successful conclusion.
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