The report you have before you, details key events and activities in Kosovo during the period 16 July to 15 October 2012. While the period in question was mainly calm, most significant developments have taken place since the end of this reporting period, and it is upon these that I shall focus today.
The last time the Security Council met on 21 August to discuss Kosovo, I spoke of the urgent need for a renewed political process, not only to safeguard the substantial international investments in Kosovo, but also to encourage the parties to move more swiftly to resolve issues hampering progress on each side. The fact that Belgrade and Pristina were represented at the leadership level in that session already signaled the potential for an elevated engagement.
Subsequently, as new sessions of the EU-mediated dialogue got underway soon after the end of the reporting period, a far more fundamental milestone was reached on 19 October. That day, thanks in great measure to the personal leadership of EU High Representative Catherine Ashton, a new and more fundamental phase of the dialogue process was initiated in Brussels. Prime MinistersDačić and Thaci assumed direct leadership within this process, and met for the first time as leaders of their respective delegations.
This first meeting was swiftly followed by a second meeting on 7 November. During their second meeting, the two leaders demonstrated their seriousness, and were able to agree on concrete steps to move forward in the dialogue in a more profound and far-reaching manner. At the end of October, High Representative Ashton and the United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, paid joint visits Pristina and Belgrade, crucially demonstrating firm commitment and support to the dialogue process at a high level.
I am personally gratified by these developments, and wish to congratulate both sides -- in particular these two leaders -- for demonstrating the political will and courage to embark on the difficult, yet indispensable, process of working together to recast relations between Belgrade and Pristina. In so doing, they each showed that they are looking to the future rather than to the past.
Given the complexity of the issues which have continued to inhibit progress on both sides, it would be unreasonable to expect solutions to emerge easily. Nonetheless, this initiative to tackle the issues more forthrightly, in a higher level dialogue, is a development which I hope that all members of this Council will not simply commend, but also provide concrete support to. The international community should be well prepared to provide appropriate resources and political backing, to encourage and endorse sustainable agreements achieved through a genuine dialogue between the two parties.
As with any process striving to overcome the legacies of past conflict, leaders on each side will inevitably be confronted with obstacles, on many fronts. Each side must be able and empowered to overcome challenges and resistance, including from those among their respective constituencies who, for one reason or another, do not see political progress serving their own interests. Some may seek to influence the situation on the ground outside the context of peaceful negotiation. Others may seek to undermine the political position of those negotiating.
Indeed, in the few weeks since these higher level talks were launched, we have witnessed instances of increased tension in sensitive areas on the ground in Kosovo.Also, in just the last week and the last two days, public reactions to decisions of courts, involving high profile war crimes defendants, have shown the fragility and reactiveness of public sentiments on matters of reconciliation and justice.In order not to see such developments generate yet further obstacles, a united approach among the international presences engaged on the ground also remains essential.
I am pleased to be able to report in this respect that, today, there is great unity of purpose and commitment among the mandated international presences on the ground. UNMIK is fulfilling its mandate as part of a genuine team that encompasses KFOR, EULEX, OSCE, and the European Special Representative for Kosovo, who is leading the important political engagements within Kosovo. Most recently, close coordination of efforts on the ground has already helped to inhibit recent flare-ups from acquiring less manageable proportions.
Many issues are yet to be addressed through dialogue, and both sides face daunting challenges aside the process, including difficult economic circumstances, challenges to further development of Rule of Law institutions, and complicated internal political environments. The situation in the north of Kosovo remains fragile.The mission continues to put priority on working with our partners to maintain stability, and try to slowly increase confidence among populations living north and south of the Ibar River. It is vital that all who are able to influence that atmosphere continue to work together toward these ends, to promote an atmosphere conducive for progress during the political dialogue. During this reporting period, I have once again appealed to Kosovo Serbs in the North and to the Pristina leaders to encourage them to open further lines of communication. In talks with leaders in Belgrade and Pristina, I have also stressed the importance of providing these communities with full information, in order to be reassured that their legitimate interests are fully accounted for during the efforts to achieve political progress.
As detailed in the report, during the recent period, EULEX has continued to implement the reconfiguration of its structure in Kosovo, also providing new targeted expertise to the police and judicial institutions in Kosovo. A recent report by the European Court of Auditors, alongside recent reports from the Kosovo Ombudsperson and the OSCE, provided a sobering reminder of the current essential challenges in this area. UNMIK has continued to monitor the situation affecting minority communities in Kosovo, and wherever possible, is providing good offices for the solution of disputes and reduction of tension on the ground. I continue to be concerned about recurring incidents of vandalism, theft, and occasional violence against minority returnee communities and their property. At the same time, I am heartened by renewed efforts of the Kosovo Police, and other public institutions, to engage the communities affected and to tackle these problems. Increased participation in Municipal Community Safety Councils and Local Public Safety Committees during the reporting period was an encouraging sign of these efforts.
Among the many issues which continue to demand sustained and coordinated effort on the ground, it is worth particular mention that, during this period, the mission dedicated facilitation efforts to progress on the issue of Missing Persons. UNMIK and the Cyprus Committee on Missing Persons facilitated a joint visit to Cyprus by representatives of the Kosovo Albanian and Kosovo Serbian families of missing persons and further pressed all parties, local and international, to step up their work to help promote earlier resolution of this issue.
Albeit in its early phase, the elevation to a higher political level of the EU-mediated dialogue marks a new and vital step in the political process. Each side should be commended for assuming the leadership and political risks entailed in taking it. They should be able to depend upon political support, including from the members of this august Council, to underpin the process and the agreements that may be reached during its future course.
I would like to sincerely thank the members of the Security Council for their continued support to the work of UNMIK, and for their continued commitment and interest in promoting peace and security in Kosovo. I ask for your active support to the new phase of EU-mediated dialogue, and your active encouragement of both Belgrade and Pristina to fully seize the opportunity now presented, including through taking additional confidence-building measures within their own remit. Doing so,promises a real hope, not only to begin to overcome long-standing problems, but also to achieve fundamental progress toward meeting the aspirations of the people for a more secure and more prosperous future.