8 February 2012 - Security Council - Kosovo
Statement by Mr Martin Briens, Chargé d’affaires a.i. of France to the United Nations
I should like at the outset to thank the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Mr. Edmond Mulet, for his briefing, and Special Representative of the Secretary-General Farid Zarif for participating in this debate by videoconference, which is a welcome practice at this time of budgetary constraints. I also welcome the presence here in the Chamber of the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Serbia and Kosovo.
We begin this year in the hope that a dynamic of commitment will follow in the wake of the recent period of increased tensions. We have reason to be optimistic. The dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, launched about a year ago and facilitated by the European Union, has yielded positive results. The authorities of Serbia and Kosovo have established a regular channel for communication; and they have concluded several agreements, aimed at improving the daily lives of the population, whose effects are beginning to be felt. Nonetheless, much remains to be done.
These first efforts towards the normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo are steps in the right direction. We encourage Belgrade and Pristina to constructively and pragmatically continue the dialogue by reaching agreement on pending issues. We are convinced in particular that agreement is possible on the participation of Kosovo in regional forums.
Political courage will definitely be required on the part of both sides. The parties must not succumb to the temptation to turn inward that can arise in a difficult economic and social context. They must continue to work towards the compromises required for the two countries to achieve regional reconciliation and European rapprochement. The stability of the Balkans as a whole is at stake.
The Secretary-General rightly highlights in his report (S/2012/72) the positive rhetoric used by leaders in Pristina and Belgrade, which we welcome. In that context, it is important for Prime Minister Thaçi to convince the Kosovo Serbs that Serbians and Albanians have a shared future and common interests in northern Kosovo. We call on the Kosovo government to act in order to ensure the peaceful integration of northern Kosovo by inviting its authorities to come to the table to discuss the issue. The autonomy of northern Kosovo within the legal framework of Kosovo is in the interests of Kosovo, its stability and its regional and European integration, because the primary goal of the two countries is to rejoin their European family. Those who continue to use ethnic nationalism as a political platform are in the wrong century.
We have also noted the recent statements made by President Tadić. We welcome with interest his four point proposal calling for the implementation of decentralization, guarantees for the Kosovo Serbs, status for the Serbian Orthodox Church and its holy sites, and the settlement of property issues. Those proposals will open the way to a lasting reconciliation between Kosovo Serbs and Albanians without bringing into question the independence and territorial integrity of Kosovo. The Ahtisaari Plan offers a solid basis on which the parties can build to establish broad autonomy for Serbs in the north, consolidate the rights of minorities and protect their religious heritage.
Let me turn now to the situation on the ground in northern Kosovo. We hope that the agreements reached in Brussels will make it possible, if not to reduce tensions, at least to ease the daily lives of its inhabitants, who are the primary victims of those on both sides who have an interest in triggering incidents and allowing for the emergence of a lawless zone conducive to all types of trafficking.
Our substantive position remains unchanged. The police officers and soldiers deployed in the framework of NATO and the European Union cannot be seen as parties to the conflict. Any attack on them is unacceptable, as is any obstacle to their freedom of movement. The international community is present in Kosovo to maintain security and stability on the ground, including by ensuring respect for freedom of movement and enhancing the rule of law, in accordance with the resolutions of the Security Council.
We welcomed the call made by the President of Serbia to lift the barricades in northern Kosovo. Once again, we call on Belgrade to bring to bear all of its influence to re-establish freedom of movement there and to fully implement all of the agreements already reached, in particular the agreement on the integrated management of crossing points. We also call on the Serbian authorities to cooperate fully with the European Union Rule of Law Mission. Our requests and expectations are, of course, the same with respect to Pristina.
I should like to say one last word on the current investigation into the allegations of organ trafficking contained in the Marty report. In the light of the seriousness of those allegations, France would like the truth to be known, and, if the allegations are found to be true, for those responsible to be brought to justice. That is why we supported the creation of the 19-member Special Investigative Task Force of the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) and the appointment of a very experienced individual, Clint Williamson, as its Lead Prosecutor. His actions throughout his career are well known in this Chamber. His impartiality is unquestionable. We expect the Task Force to conduct its investigation in Kosovo and beyond its borders, which it can do in cases involving crimes committed by citizens of Kosovo. I note that the States of the region have expressed their confidence in Mr. Williamson and assured him of their full cooperation on the political and legal levels.
We are particularly encouraged by the commitments made in that regard by the Prime
Minister of Albania, as confirmed in the letter from the Albanian authorities addressed to the President of the Security Council on 6 February. I am also pleased to note that the Lead Prosecutor will rely in part on the work already carried out by some institutions, in particular the Council of Europe. Finally, I should like to emphasize that, as indicated in the report of the Secretary-General, Mr. Williamson will also investigate allegations of mistreatment, detentions, abductions and killings during the reporting period.
In our view, EULEX has the resources, the will and the ability to complete this complex investigation in an impartial and independent manner, provided that it can work without political interference and in respect for the basic rules of confidentiality applicable to such matters. Naturally, EULEX must be able to guarantee witness protection. In that regard, we also expect it to provide the Security Council with periodic updates containing the most accurate possible information on the steps taken to pursue the investigation. Those updates can be included in the quarterly reports of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo.