I should like at the outset to thank Mr. Boris Tadić, President of the Republic of Serbia, and Mr. Skender Hyseni, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kosovo, for their presence. We listened very attentively to both of them. I should also like to commend the activities of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. Lamberto Zannier, and his team, who have effectively and pragmatically implemented the reconfiguration of the international presence decided upon by the Secretary-General with the support of the Security Council.
Last month, Kosovo celebrated the first anniversary of its declaration of independence. Today’s Security Council meeting is the occasion for a first assessment, which we regard as mostly positive. As we had hoped, independence has helped to ease tensions within Kosovo and in the Balkans, and Kosovo’s new authorities have displayed responsibility and honoured their commitments. The establishment of a constitution that conforms to European standards and values and the adoption of a law promoting the participation of minorities are both important steps towards a rule of law that serves all communities, with the support of, inter alia, the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX). The increasing number of States, including States of the region, that have recognized Kosovo are contributing to the new State’s emergence on the international scene and to the stability of the Balkans. This first anniversary attests to the path traversed by Kosovo and the region; it should also be an encouragement to continue. The building of the rule of law must continue.
The reorganization of the international presence is being carried out in favourable conditions. The European Union is providing essential support with the deployment of the EULEX mission, which is assisting in the establishment of institutions and the rule of law in Kosovo. EULEX is operating within the framework of resolution 1244 (1999) under overall United Nations authority. Through the deployment of EULEX and the appointment of a Special Representative, the European Union is seeking to contribute to the building of a democratic and multi-ethnic Kosovo. Protecting minorities’ rights is a priority for EULEX, which will endeavour to fully implement the agreements signed by Kosovar authorities in this area.
As EULEX has been deployed, the inhabitants of Kosovo progressively realized that, in spite of the negative propaganda of some extremist groups, the European Mission’s efforts were benefiting the entire population and every community. However, we have noted with concern the recent attacks against EULEX, which seem to be perpetrated by individuals with ties to criminal networks seeking to preserve the conditions that enable them to act with impunity.
The Secretary-General has decided to include the reconfiguration of the international presence in a dialogue involving all concerned parties. This dialogue is essential to ensuring the stability of Kosovo and the region. That is why, over recent months, the European Union has pursued and intensified the dialogue, addressing first of all, of course, the Kosovo authorities and communities, as well as neighbouring countries.
Serbia is an essential stakeholder among those countries, and its cooperation is indispensable to the success of EULEX. It is in this spirit that the EULEX Head of Mission, Mr. De Kermabon, has just arrived in Belgrade. We welcome the fact that he thus has an opportunity to seek out practical solutions to the concrete problems that arise, for example, in terms of customs and legal cooperation.
We have taken note of the positions expressed by President Tadić, and I would note above all his strong reaffirmation of the will of the Serbian Government to join the European Union, which would be an important factor in stabilizing the entire Balkan region. By supporting the initiatives of the European Union to contribute to the peace and stability of the region, the Serbian authorities are participating in the efforts to laying the groundwork for a shared European future for the western Balkans.
We also listened closely to Mr. Hyseni. The rule of law, the wish to build a multi-ethnic State that respects minorities, the desire to have friendly relations with Kosovo’s neighbours and the pro-European commitment of the Kosovo authorities are major commitments that we should welcome.
Beyond the persistent differences of opinion expressed by President Tadić and Minister Hyseni, we note with satisfaction their common wish to preserve stability in the region and safeguard the conditions necessary to a shared future within Europe. We therefore encourage Belgrade and Pristina to renew direct dialogue as soon as possible.
The European Union is fully conscious of its responsibilities in overcoming the obstacles on the path towards a stable and prosperous future for the western Balkans. It is in this spirit that we will strive for progress in the coming months on the path of a shared future for the Serb and Kosovar people in the European Union ./.