Kosovo/Serbia : the progress has been slow but real - 21 August 2015 [fr]
Kosovo - Statement by Mr. Tanguy Stehelin, Legal Counsellor of the Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations - Security Council - 21 August 2015
I, too, would like to thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for presenting the report (S/2015/579). I also thank the Foreign Ministers of Serbia and Kosovo, Mr. Dačić and Mr. Thaçi, respectively, for their statements. I would also like to express our deepest gratitude to Mr. Farid Zarif, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, whom we heard today for the last time in his current functions, for the work he accomplished during his term. Finally, on behalf of France, I would like to express our best wishes to his successor, Ambassador Tanin.
This year got off to a rocky start for Kosovo, but the new Government rose to the challenge. We welcome the adoption by the Parliament of Kosovo of constitutional amendments allowing for the establishment of a specialist court that will shed light on the allegations of war crimes set out in the Marty report that was presented to the Council of Europe in 2011 and that have been pursued by the Special Investigation Task Force. It is essential for that courageous decision by the Kosovo Parliament be followed up in all its dimensions. The resolution of this matter is crucial in order to demonstrate Kosovo’s commitment to the fight against impunity and constitutes an essential milestone in the process of normalizing its relations with Serbia, which is particularly vital in the context of its rapprochement with Europe.
Another symbolic matter on which significant progress is awaited concerns the establish of an association of Serb municipalities in Kosovo, which is essential for the future of the Serb population of Kosovo. The statutory unity of Kosovo will in no way be called into question by the setting up of such a structure. Such a measure must not be subject to further delay, given that two years have already elapsed since the agreement was signed on 19 April 2013. We expect the authorities in Pristina to redouble their efforts to bring about that essential element of reconciliation with Belgrade. Those two processes are inseparable in order to strengthen the trust of the entire population in the institutional framework of Kosovo.
Political dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, initiated under the auspices of the European Union, regularly takes place at the highest level. We congratulate both parties for their unrelenting pursuit of dialogue, which confirms the hopes of their own peoples as well as of the international community. The progress so far has been slow but real. We would like in that regard to call on both parties to continue their exchange with a view to the future. It is not merely a question of working towards a formal normalization of relations, but also of building authentic long-term, mutually profitable relations as good neighbours.
In that regard, Kosovo’s future also requires the consolidation of the rule of law. We would like to take this opportunity to reiterate our unwavering support for the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX), which works on a daily basis to support the rule of law and security in Kosovo. We call on Serbia to fully engage in the mechanism of mutual legal assistance established by EULEX, in a spirit of active cooperation. We also call on the Kosovar authorities, which aspire to UNESCO membership, to guarantee the protection of religious sites, in particular the monastery of Visoki Dečani. That is an absolutely fundamental requirement.
It would be remiss of me to conclude without invoking the European perspective, which recognizes the integrity of the Balkan countries as a whole. Over the course of the past several years, Serbia has made significant efforts to draw closer to the European Union, whether through internal reforms or by improving its relations with its neighbours. We congratulate them once again for those efforts, encourage them to pursue the full implementation of their existing agreements with Pristina and reiterate our wish to see them join the European Union as soon as possible, once the necessary conditions have been met. In that regard, we hope that a first chapter in that negotiation process will be written this year.
We are aware of and support Kosovo’s wish to follow the same path, which is equally necessary for the future of that country. We know that the Kosovar authorities are fully aware of the challenges. We reiterate our trust in them and our full support for their efforts, proof of which is the stabilization and association agreement due to be signed in the very near future.
Finally, along with other delegations, in the light of the progress made so far, which we tirelessly applaud every three months, we hope that the Council will at last reconsider the frequency with which it takes up this matter as a prelude to a comprehensive review of the entire set of international measures concerning Kosovo.