Statement by Ambassador Wittig on UNMIK (United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo) in the Security Council
Let me join colleagues in congratulating Mr Zarif, on your recent appointment as Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Kosovo and ensure you of our full support.
I also wish to welcome His Excellency Mr Enver Hoxhai, Foreign Minister of Kosovo, and His Excellency Mr Vuk Jeremic, Foreign Minister of Serbia.
We view the situation in the northern part of Kosovo with great concern. The last months have seen a significant deterioration of the security situation due to provocative action by Kosovo-Serb demonstrators.
Only yesterday, we have witnessed a new level of violence perpetrated by Kosovo-Serb demonstrators against KFOR-soldiers. While implementing their mandate to ensure freedom of movement, KFOR troops were attacked with stones, fireworks, and Molotow-cocktails. 30 KFOR-Soldiers from Germany and Austria were wounded. Among those, two German soldiers sustained gunshot wounds from small arms fired from the side of the demonstrators.
Let me make this point in no uncertain terms: Any use of violence against KFOR or the other international presences is unacceptable. It must be condemned in the strongest terms.
Both, KFOR and EULEX, are fulfilling their mandate to assure and maintain a safe and secure environment, including freedom of movement, and to establish the rule of law. They act in full compliance with relevant resolutions of the Security Council.
Attacks against KFOR are thus attacks against the integrity and authority of the Security Council.
We call upon all citizens in Kosovo, including in northern Kosovo, to refrain from any violence. We also call upon the Serbian authorities to exert their influence upon those responsible for inciting and resorting to violence.
We have full confidence in the work of KFOR and EULEX. All parties concerned have to fully cooperate with the international presences. Erecting barricades to restrict the freedom of movement in this part of Kosovo is unacceptable. In this context, we welcome the call by President Tadic this morning on the people in northern Kosovo to dismantle the roadblocks and to refrain from violence.
Our objective is peace and stability in the region, with a clear European perspective. As also pointed out in the report of the Secretary-General, the outstanding issues can only be resolved through peaceful means.
The EU-mediated dialogue is at the core of the process that leads to peace and stability in the region. Germany actively supports the process of dialogue under the auspices of Ms. Ashton. This open and constructive dialogue is designed to improve the daily lives of the citizens of both countries, to promote the normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo, and to pave the way of both countries into a secure European future.
We thus welcome the new round of bilateral talks took place on 21 / 22 November which produced the agreement of both parties on mutual recognition of school and university diplomas. We call on both sides to build on the positive momentum and reach further tangible results at the meeting on 30 November and to ensure swift implementation of the agreements already reached.
We deplore the increase of incidents of crime, including incidents affecting minority communities, as described in the report by the Secretary-General. Wide-spread organized crime remains a serious issue in Kosovo.
Nonetheless, we welcome the efforts made by the Kosovo authorities to address this issue. We share the observation in the report of the Secretary-General on the overall positive developments with regard to the rule of law in Kosovo and the positive impact on the everyday life of the citizens of Kosovo and the region.
We also appreciate the facilitating role played by UNMIK, be it with respect to cooperation between Kosovo authorities and INTERPOL or between the Serbian and the Kosovo ministries of justice.
Further progress has been achieved in recent months by EULEX in its full investigation of the allegations of despicable crimes committed against Serbian nationals during and after the end of the armed conflict in Kosovo. With the appointment of Mr Clint Williamson as lead prosecutor for the Special Investigative Taskforce (SITF), a distinguished and capable prosecutor has been tasked to lead the investigations, a developmnet also welcomed by Foreign Minister Jeremic.
In particular, I welcome that Mr Williamson has received full support from Kosovo, Serbia and Albania.
We have already stated before that in our view, there is no doubt that the EU Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo – “EULEX” – has the capacities, the competence and the jurisdiction to carry out these investigations. EULEX has Germany’s full support and confidence.
EULEX has opened a preliminary investigation and EULEX prosecutors have met with Senator Marty to discuss his findings. The Government of Kosovo is ready for full cooperation. EULEX has established good cooperation with the authorities in Belgrade and Tirana. EULEX prosecutors have already met twice with the general prosecutor of Albania on the matter.
We therefore do not believe it necessary to set-up an additional mechanism for investigation in the light of the EULEX mandate.
In conclusion, let me underline once more that Germany will continue to closely monitor the developments in Kosovo. We remain committed to the European perspective of the whole region.
We appreciate the contribution made by UNMIK to peace and stability and commend the dedication and service of its staff.
Thank you, Mr. President.