On visit, Ban notes importance of normalized relations between Kosovo and Serbia
24 July 2012 – Continuing his visit to South-East Europe, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today stressed the importance of dialogue and engagement across the region, highlighting the importance of the normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia.
“One overriding theme of my visit is the importance of dialogue and mutual respect across the region,” Mr. Ban told reporters upon his arrival in Kosovo’s capital, Pristina. “I have emphasized to all the leaders I am meeting the crucial importance of taking further steps for greater understanding.”
“I bring the same message to Kosovo’s leaders, and to the people of Kosovo, who I know have suffered from conflict and who yearn for a peaceful, prosperous future,” he added. “In particular, I expect strong efforts toward the normalization of relations with Belgrade, including through the same serious and sincere commitment to dialogue which I have asked from the Serbian leadership.”
Over the past week Mr. Ban has visited Croatia, Montenegro, Slovenia and Serbia, promoting the partnership between United Nations and the region, as well as discussing common challenges and future opportunities.
In his remarks to the media, Mr. Ban also said he was concerned about the situation in northern Kosovo – which remains a flashpoint amid continuing tensions between the Kosovo Albanian and Kosovo Serbian communities – and the escalation of tensions over the past year, adding that it is essential that sensitive issues such as this one be resolved through peaceful dialogue.
During his visit, the Secretary-General will meet with a range of local and international officials, as well as the UN Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK). Mr. Ban said UNMIK continues to play an important role in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 1244, which was adopted in 1999 following the end of fighting in Kosovo.
“Together with the Kosovo Team, much has been achieved in building democratic institutions, strengthening the rule of law, protecting minority rights, facilitating dialogue and promoting confidence between communities.” Mr. Ban said, reiterating the UN’s readiness to cooperate with all international partners.
Established in 1999, UNMIK is mandated to help ensure conditions for a peaceful and normal life for all inhabitants of Kosovo and advance regional stability in the western Balkans. It began its operations when North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces drove out Yugoslav troops amid bloody ethnic fighting between Serbs and Albanians, but it gave up its administrative role in 2008 when Kosovo Albanians declared independence. Serbia rejects Kosovo’s declaration of independence.
Over the past couple of days, Mr. Ban met with the President of Montenegro, Filip Vujanovic, and the President of Serbia, Tomislav Nikolic, as well as with other officials from both countries, with whom he discussed the need for dialogue and reconciliation among countries in the region.
Before leaving Serbia this morning, Mr. Ban also visited a cooperative that targets the Roma community and seeks to ensure they have access to healthcare, education and social services. While at the site, he said that the UN will do all it can to promote the rights of the Roma.
While in Kosovo, Mr. Ban also visited the Visoki Decani monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as the city of Prizren.
His next stop is the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, where he will meet with President Gjorge Ivanov and Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski. His final stop will be Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Photo: UNMIK DPI/O.Salgado
Secretary-General's press encounter on arrival in Pristina
Pristina, 24 July 2012
Miredita. Dobar dan.
I am pleased to be in Kosovo.
I am here as part of a larger visit to all of the former Yugoslavia. My trip to the region is focused on the future – on common challenges and opportunities as we look ahead.
The region is evolving – and so, too is the United Nations role in Kosovo.
I am here to meet with the United Nations Mission in Kosovo – UNMIK – led by my Special Representative, Mr. Farid Zarif and with the UN Kosovo Team.
UNMIK continues to play an important role in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1244.
Together with the Kosovo Team, much has been achieved in building democratic institutions, strengthening the rule of law, protecting minority rights, facilitating dialogue and promoting confidence between communities.
I am here to gain a fuller insight into the situation, in particular the status of community relations, minority rights and safeguarding cultural heritage.
I will meet with a range of local and international officials, as well as United Nations staff. I also look forward to visiting Prizren and Decani.
One overriding theme of my visit is the importance of dialogue and mutual respect across the region. I have emphasized to all the leaders I am meeting the crucial importance of taking further steps for greater understanding.
I bring the same message to Kosovo’s leaders, and to the people of Kosovo, who I know have suffered from conflict and who yearn for a peaceful, prosperous future.
In particular, I expect strong efforts toward the normalization of relations with Belgrade, including through the same serious and sincere commitment to dialogue which I have asked from the Serbian leadership.
I also call upon all parties to intensify their efforts to resolve the issue of missing persons. This is a fundamental human rights issue, key to reconciliation and mutual respect.
I remain concerned about the situation in northern Kosovo and the escalation of tensions during the past year.
It is essential that sensitive and complex issues related to northern Kosovo be resolved through peaceful dialogue.
The views of the communities most directly affected by tensions are paramount. Their voices must be heard. Their basic needs and rights must be democratically represented.
I also look forward to my discussions with our international partners, including KFOR, EULEX and the OSCE.
The European Union has taken the lead in international efforts in the region. The United Nations will continue to cooperate with all international partners in achieving our common goals for the people of Kosovo and the wider region.
Finally, I join with the people of Kosovo in mourning the sudden loss of Ali Podrimja, a great poet of Kosovo and an internationally recognized artist. Our thoughts and condolences are with you.
Once again, I am pleased to be in Kosovo at this important time. I look forward to a productive day.
Thank you very much.