Kosovo - The hopes that were raised continue to be fulfilled by the facts (12/04/2014)
Statement by Mr Philippe Bertoux, Political Counsellor of the Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations – Security Council – 4 December 2014
I want to thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. Farid Zarif, for his briefing and the Prime Minister of Serbia, Mr. Vučić, and the Prime Minister of Kosovo, Mr. Thaçi, for their statements.
Today we are reviewing the events of 2014, the year of the implementation of the historic Agreement of 19 April 2013 reached between Serbia and Kosovo and facilitated by the European Union. As it happens, there have been fewer major advances in the past year, but the dialogue between the two countries has continued, enabling technical enhancements necessary for the normalization of their relations. We would like to congratulate and encourage the parties to continue their discussions despite the slowdown caused by the electoral context in both countries. The hopes that were raised continue to be fulfilled by the facts.
The report of the Secretary-General (S/2014/773) covers the period after the elections of 8 June in Kosovo, which took place, we would recall, calmly and in a transparent matter. Three months ago in this very Chamber (see S/PV.7257) we were expressing the hope that a compromise could be found for the rapid formation of a Government. It seems that today the Kosovo parties are finally about to achieve it. An agreement was reached in principle among the main political parties for a formal Government agreement, and we look forward to the appointment of a Cabinet, if possible as soon as 8 December.
That process took time, therefore requiring increasing attention by the Council, but it took place in line with democratic procedures. Today it seems that the political crisis has been avoided, and we see in this a new sign of the Kosovar parties’ maturity. While continuing to carefully observe their work to come in Pristina, we reiterate our trust in them.
Kosovo needs a stable Government. Having one is in the interest of Kosovars, given the pressing economic challenges facing the country and the expectations that the entire population, including the north, has expressed through its appropriate participation in the national elections. It is also an expectation that the Council has.
We will remain particularly attentive to issues beyond internal reforms, such as the rapid resumption of political dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. Technical progress certainly continues to be made, but it is essential that the Governments of both countries restore political momentum towards a normalization process, as such a process will not drive itself. This also involves the pursuit of their European rapprochement, a subject to which I will return.
Kosovo will not be able to calmly face the future without light being shed on its past. It is now up to Kosovo to take responsibility and facilitate the establishment of a tribunal to follow-up on the work of the Special Investigative Task Force. Again, given the gravity of the alleged crimes, the expected formation of a Government and the resumption of the work of the Parliament in Pristina are necessary developments for a situation that should not, in any case, be neglected.
We have no doubt about the willingness of Kosovars to engage in a legal process that will address all the aspects of the difficult times experienced by Kosovo in the late 1990s. We again count on the political parties in Pristina, who must show their maturity and their determination as they have done in the past.
I will not go over the incidents that occurred at the end of August or the police operations in the country against possible support to the terrorist group Daesh, but would simply like to acknowledge how responsible the Kosovo security forces were in their effective and measured response. For us, the security situation in Kosovo remains stable.
We note with satisfaction the progress made in the integration of former Serb policemen into the Kosovo police, which is a sign of the effective implementation of the Agreement of 19 April 2013. The establishment of a common Serbian community with real authority was another sign of progress, which the Special Representative of the Secretary-General urged us to consider early this year. Those two processes are inseparable and will serve to strengthen the confidence of the local population in Kosovo’s institutional framework. We hope to quickly see progress on that front as well.
Finally, we encourage the parties to ensure respect for the rights of persons belonging to minorities. The low numbers of refugees returning to Kosovo remains a concern. The restoration of mutual confidence between communities remains the only way to allow Kosovo and Serbia to open a new chapter in their history.
I will conclude by commending the joint progress by Kosovo and Serbia towards the European Union. Important steps have been taken. Serbia has made substantial institutional changes, and we welcome the efforts already made. The technical process of negotiations for accession to the European Union, formally launched on 21 January, continues. We now hope that the efforts by Serbia will be recognized and a first round of negotiations can soon begin.
The European Commission has in turn welcomed the commitment of Pristina to the conclusion of a stabilization and association agreement, which we hope will be finalized soon. It is important that the progress by each of the two sides be made in step, so as to avoid any delay of one slowing the progress of the other.