I thank the President of the Security Council for the opportunity today to introduce the report of the Secretary-General on the activities of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) (S/2012/603), and to brief the Council on current developments and issues that the international community is confronting in Kosovo.
In particular, I wish today to highlight, once more, the risks of the sometimes quiet, yet hazardous, tendency towards complacency. From the perspective of those of us on the ground, opportunities to reinvigorate a political process are fleeting, while the cost of missing such opportunities can be very high. My assessment is that more active and deliberate political international engagement with the parties is urgently needed. The elevation of the level of representation of the parties at the table today attests to such an assessment.During the current reporting period, sessions of the European Union-led Belgrade-Pristina dialogue remained suspended owing to the May general elections in Serbia and the political process leading to the formation of a new Government on 27 July.
I had the opportunity, some two weeks ago, to meet with the new leadership in Belgrade, including President Tomislav Nikolić and Prime Minister Ivica Dačić. I wish to take this opportunity to congratulate His Excellency Mr. Ivan Mrkić on his appointment as the new Minister for Foreign Affairs of Serbia. During my meetings with the Serbian leadership, I welcomed their early and clear assurances of their commitment to the full implementation of agreements previously reached in the dialogue, and also to the early resumption of dialogue.
A clear demonstration of a full faith commitment to the dialogue, including through the expeditious implementation of the agreements reached, is now very important from both sides. As highlighted in the Secretary-General’s report, delays in carrying out commitments or in settling subsequent discrepancies in interpretation should not be an excuse to prolong the pause in the process. I trust that, with the new Government now in place in Belgrade, the European Union-facilitated dialogue will soon resume. I further hope that those involved in the process will have used the period of the recent hiatus to focus on further enhancements to the process, including dedicating increased attention to the implementation stage.
The first official visit of the Secretary-General to the region, in late July, just after the end of the period covered by his report, contributed to raising the level of the discussions on a number of essential issues. I believe it also contributed to setting the stage for what we all have hoped to witness, namely, an energized approach to tackling key issues in the very near future. Important as it is to ensure the parties’ renewed commitment to dialogue, the international community should also strive to renew its engagement during the next critical period.
On the ground, considerable progress has been made towards increased cohesion and efficiency among the internationally mandated presences. Increased exchanges among UNMIK, the European Union Office in Kosovo, the Kosovo Force (KFOR), the European Union Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe have resulted in improved coherence of efforts on many issues of common interest. Such coordination also brings into clearer view those issues that can be addressed through improved joint effort, as well as those that have been held up by the lack of political progress.
The European Union Office in Kosovo has continued stepping up its operations, under the leadership of European Union Special Representative Žbogar. During the current reporting period, EULEX carried out a substantial internal restructuring aimed at streamlining its operation, while also increasing conceptual clarity and efficiency. Alongside that conceptual redesign, it remains essential, in our view, that great care be taken to ensure capability and readiness for effective interventions, especially in areas where the development of rule-of-law institutions remains insufficient and where they are at times subjected to political currents.
Although UNMIK’s operational activities are limited, we have nonetheless remained focused on increasing positive results from our engagement with the Kosovo authorities, in areas that contribute directly to improvements in the lives of the Kosovar people. I was gratified by the findings of a survey held in June that showed a healthy trend in the standing of the United Nations among the Kosovo population. The European Union-sponsored poll revealed that more than three-quarters of the Kosovo population had trust in the United Nations, an increase of some 15 per cent since the previous survey, in 2010.
In addition to our relations at the political level in Kosovo, the Mission’s work has been undergoing refinement, with the objective of enabling us to work more efficiently with the local communities, the institutions and our international partners in support of a much-needed progress in human rights protection, the return of internally displaced persons and refugees, and determining the fate of missing persons.
Our endeavours also include coordinated steps to improve constructive engagement at all levels in the northern part of Kosovo.
Concerning that area, far more effort will be needed to change the familiar posturing and rhetoric that emanates alternately from Pristina, Belgrade and northern Kosovo. As I have stressed in previous Council meetings, setting enabling conditions for a legitimate and genuine representation of the interests of the population in northern Kosovo should be a matter of priority. Achieving that goal will require demonstrated goodwill as well as political maturity from all sides. We hope that progress towards that goal will not continue to be hindered by the unconstructive patterns and political bluster that have become far too pervasive. That essential component of overall political progress will also depend upon positive engagement and support from the members of the Council.
It is my sincere hope that, during the forthcoming period, neither the parties nor the key international stakeholders will allow any opportunity to be missed for imparting vitality to the efforts aimed at addressing the root and core political problems in a deliberate and forthright manner. We must be mindful not to conflate short-term stability with genuine progress towards fundamental solutions.
Accordingly, I wish to appeal once again to the members of the Council to positively apply their authority and influence in order to assist and encourage the parties towards a more creative, bold and forward-looking approach to negotiations, based on compromise and mutual respect. I believe that only by pursuing that path can we expect any real progress, along with greater successes, eventually putting the unfortunate past to rest. A less active approach now will, in my view, amount to perpetuating the status quo, which is in the interest of no one.
I wish to add, on the occasion of the conclusion of their 12-month tenure in the coming days, a special word of appreciation to the outgoing KFOR Commander, Major General Drews of Germany, and his Deputy, Brigadier General Luif of Austria, for their exceptional professionalism and consistent engagement in maintaining a safe and secure environment during the past year. They have been instrumental in promoting the goal of synergy of effort among the mandate-holders on the ground.
Finally, I wish sincerely to thank the Council members for their continuing support for the work of UNMIK.