Security Council: Statement by Ambassador Berger on Kosovo
(Security Council: Statement as delivered by Ambassador Berger in a Debate on Kosovo/UNMIK)
"Thank you, Mr. President !
Let me begin by welcoming His Excellency Enver Hoxhaj, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kosovo, as well as His Excellency Ivan Mrkić, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia, to the Council. I would also like to thank SRSG Farik Zarif for his briefing and comprehensive report which gives room for cautious optimism.
First and foremost, we welcome that the EU led dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo has finally resumed at the highest political level. This is an essential step forward, and we fully support High Representative Ashton in her efforts as facilitator. As pointed out by Ms. Ashton and Secretary Clinton during their recent visit to Belgrade and Prishtina, the common goal needs to be the normalization of relations between both countries.
Such a normalization, with good-neighbourly relations as a result, is paramount if both Serbia and Kosovo are to advance towards the European Union and ultimately become EU members, with full rights and obligations.
We commend the willingness of leaders on both sides to invest their political capital in this process. This capital will soon need to translate in concrete and tangible results on the ground – starting with the operation of the first border posts in the framework of the Integrated Border Management by December, as agreed by the two Prime Ministers at their last meeting on 7 November.
My country also welcomes steps taken on both sides to finally implement the agreement on the representation of Kosovo in regional organisations. We welcome the participation of Serbian and Kosovar delegations in numerous regional conferences over the past weeks. This dynamic needs to continue, with Kosovo’s effective representation in the Regional Cooperation Council being the next important step. We also support Kosovo’s further integration into the international community and therefore welcome the recent board decision by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to admit Kosovo as a member.
However, implementation of agreements concluded months ago will not be sufficient.
A crucial issue that would and should be addressed urgently as part of the dialogue is the continued existence of Serbian parallel State structures in Northern Kosovo in the areas of security, judiciary and municipal administration. They are a persistent violation of Resolution 1244 and a constant threat to stability.
A positive step would be the establishment of a multi-ethnic police unit by Prishtina with a clear mandate to improve the protection of Serbian Orthodox religious sites. Both sides should also seriously consider the proposed liaison arrangements in their respective capitals which could obviously facilitate future discussions and provide important practical support to citizens of the other country.
Any solution to these controversial issues will need to be understood and accepted by the people in Serbia and Kosovo. We therefore encourage political leaders in both countries to reach out to their respective constituencies in order to prepare them for difficult decisions and painful compromises ahead.This is particularly relevant with regard to Northern Kosovo. The newly established Mitrovica North Administrative Office can play a positive role in Prishtina’s outreach towards the Serb communities in this regard. We therefore condemn the reported cases of intimidation and threats against Mitrovica North Administrative Office staff.
Ultimately, both sides need to understand that further progress lies in their national interest: It will free resources currently bound by the ongoing conflict and allow both countries to advance on their path towards EU integration.
My second point is on the security situation in Kosovo which has remained calm, despite occasional security incidents in the North. We fully support your approach, Mr. Zarif, to urge the perpetrators of such acts to refrain from violence and to engage in a peaceful dialogue with all relevant stakeholders. We also join you in strongly condemning recurring attacks by Kosovo Serbian actors against international presences on the ground, including the reported attack of 7 September against EULEX and the Kosovo police.
The EU remains committed to further supporting Kosovo’s law enforcement authorities. The extension of EULEX’ mandate until June 2014 will allow the mission to continue its capacity building efforts in the Rule of Law sector and to support the Kosovo authorities in the prosecution of war crimes, organised crime, and corruption.
In this context, we specifically welcome progress made by EULEX’ “Special Investigative Task Force”, inter alia by ensuring Montenegro’s support and cooperation in the ongoing investigations. We call on all partners to respect the Task Force’s restraint in commenting publicly on its findings while investigations are still ongoing. We concur with the Secretary General’s analysis that publishing confidential testimonies would jeopardise further investigations and ultimately put the lives of witnesses at risk.
We also condemn all statements questioning the impartiality of the ICTY. Such statements only serve to undermine the mandate and authority of this institution. Judgements and decisions of an independent judiciary cannot be rated on their ability to please all parties involved.
To conclude, let me reiterate our strong support for the commitment of both parties to seriously engage in the EU led dialogue.
Progress in the dialogue process will serve as a catalyst for Serbia’s and Kosovo’s European aspirations - aspirations Germany unequivocally supports.
Thank you, Mr. President !"