27 November 2012Statement by Ambassador Michael Tatham, of the UK Mission to the UN, to the Security Council briefing on Kosovo
I thank the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Kosovo, Mr Farid Zarif, for his briefing today. I welcome also to the Council His Excellency Mr Enver Hoxhaj, the Foreign Minister of Kosovo, and His Excellency Mr Ivan Mrkic, the Foreign Minister of Serbia.
The United Kingdom is grateful for the Secretary-General’s comprehensive report and indeed for his own close engagement on this issue, reflected in his visit to Kosovo in July. Kosovo continues to make progress both internally and on the international stage. Internally, the International Steering Group declared in September the end of Kosovo’s supervised independence. This is a measure of substantial internal progress although obviously efforts to consolidate a multi-ethnic and democratic society must continue. Internationally, since our last meeting in August, four more UN members states have recognised Kosovo. We encourage those countries that have not yet recognised Kosovo to do so.
The United Kingdom welcomed the conclusions of the European Commission’s Feasibility Study on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Kosovo. The conclusions underline that Kosovo is no longer a special case. It is moving down the same EU accession path as the other countries in the Western Balkans. It follows that it will be expected to deliver the same requirements in terms of the reforms necessary to meet the EU accession criteria. We wish the Kosovo Government well in this respect. The United Kingdom remains a firm supporter of Kosovo’s EU accession path.
Good neighbourly relations are a crucial aspect of the EU accession process. We therefore welcome the recent reinvigoration of the EU-facilitated Dialogue reflected in the recent high-level meetings, meetings which post-date the issuing of the Secretary-General’s report. I readily join SRSG Zarif and other Council members in welcoming this vital step. We look forward to seeing tangible progress in resolving issues at the political level, to reinforce the encouraging progress already made in taking forward technical agreements such as those on regional cooperation and cadastral records. We are particularly encouraged to note the progress made on Integrated Border Management. Going forward it will be important to engage the local community in northern Kosovo to ensure success.
The situation in northern Kosovo continues to be a potentially destabilising factor. We urge Belgrade to take the necessary steps to remove illegal parallel security structures in Northern Kosovo. While the Dialogue remains the key vehicle for addressing the overarching political issues, it remains important for the authorities in Pristina to engage their citizens in the north. The authorities in Pristina need to demonstrate in both word and deed their resolve to protect the community in northern Kosovo and to work towards their social and economic well-being.
We are concerned about the recent unrest in the ethnically mixed area of Kroi I Vitakut/Brdjani. The United Kingdom reiterates its support for the right of return of all Kosovo’s communities, providing this is done in a transparent and consultative fashion, and with the correct documentation. We call for calm and encourage all those involved to enter into dialogue to find a secure and sustainable solution, allowing all citizens the right to return to their place of origin.
The United Kingdom continues to be grateful for the professional way in which both KFOR and EULEX are carrying out their mandates. We particularly welcome efforts by EULEX to increase its presence in Zubin Potok. We condemn the incident on 7 September against EULEX and Kosovo Police personnel which led to injuries to a Kosovo police officer. The perpetrators must be brought to justice.
With regard to the protection of minorities and cultural heritage, we welcome efforts by Kosovo Police to enhance community policing and the engagement of the OSCE in this process. It is important that the planned recruitment drive for the Kosovo Police gives special attention to recruiting officers from the Kosovo Serb and other minority communities. We also note the outreach by Municipal Offices to returnees. It is important for Kosovo to continue visible measures to prevent inter-ethnic incidents and to investigate fully when such incidents do occur. We welcome recognition in the report of the importance of socioeconomic factors in establishing sustainable returns and the United Kingdom remains committed to the returns process through political engagement and bilateral projects.
The United Kingdom continues to support the important work being carried out by the EULEX Special Investigative Task Force looking into the allegations relating to organ trafficking made in the Marty report. We are confident in its capacity and its determination to take forward this important investigation. Let me also take this opportunity to reiterate the simple but important point, that the United Kingdom respects the verdicts of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
I would also like to welcome the important work, referred to in the Secretary-General’s report, that has been taken forward by the UN Kosovo Team and UNMIK, together with the EU and civil society, addressing the theme of the “Status of survivors of Conflict-Related sexual violence”. This is a hugely important issue, particularly in post-conflict societies such as Kosovo. The British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, has recently launched an initiative on Preventing Sexual Violence which aims to strengthen international efforts and coordination to prevent and respond to sexual violence. We will give strong support to efforts to address the challenge posed by this tragic legacy of past conflict in Kosovo.
The United Kingdom remains committed to the irreversible progress of both Kosovo and Serbia towards EU membership. We hope the positive conclusions of the Feasibility Study will be welcomed by the EU General Affairs Council in December with a view to negotiations on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Kosovo being opened in 2013 once the conditions have been met. We hope that both Belgrade and Pristina will continue to engage constructively in the Dialogue and we look forward to further tangible results.