I thank the Secretary General’s Special Representative for Kosovo, Mr Farid Zarif, for his briefing today. I am delighted to welcome to the Council His Excellency Mr Hashim Thaci, the Prime Minister of Kosovo, and His Excellency Mr Ivica Dacic, the Prime Minister of Serbia.
The normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia is integral to both countries’ European Union accession path. We welcome the EU-facilitated Dialogue, the success of which must be attributed to the hard work of Cathy Ashton and the two Prime Ministers here today.
From the perspective of sitting in the Security Council, all too often we are able to observe how issues remain blocked because of the absence of vision and commitment on the part of political leaders. The progress that has been made in the EU-facilitated Dialogue is a welcome reminder that the opposite is also the case: that vision, commitment and persistence can yield tangible and effective results; that flexibility from one side can generate flexibility on the other side and I offer sincere congratulations to Prime Minister Thaci and Prime Minister Dacic for the leadership and courage they have demonstrated in coming to an historic agreement that will aid the irrevocable progress of both countries towards the European Union. The momentum of the last two months must be sustained. Implementation is crucial to unlocking progress for both Kosovo and Serbia.
Belgrade must communicate the benefits of this agreement effectively to the local communities in northern Kosovo. And Pristina must demonstrate its support of the rights and culture of all its citizens and integrate Kosovo Serbs in the north.
The continued assistance of EULEX. KFOR and the OSCE in the implementation of Dialogue agreements will be indispensable. The OSCE will play a crucial role in facilitating municipal elections in the north. KFOR will help with maintaining security and stability. And EULEX will help integrate institutions in the north under Kosovo’s jurisdiction. The United Kingdom urges authorities in Pristina and Belgrade to cooperate fully with EULEX and ensure freedom of movement for all its personnel in the north.
I welcome Kosovo’s commitment to providing free, fair and democratic elections. All citizens of Kosovo must have the opportunity to take part in the elections and women must have an equitable role in competing for political office. The United Kingdom is keen to see necessary reform adopted without further delays.
The European Commission report of 22 April states that Kosovo has met the short-term conditionality set out at the December General Affairs Council for opening negotiations on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the European Union. The United Kingdom fully supports a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Kosovo .
Finally, I welcome the further progress made by Kosovo in securing wider international recognition. In recent weeks the governments of Guyana, Tanzania and Yemen have all decided to recognise Kosovo’s independence. After only five years of independence, Kosovo is now recognised by over half of the Member States of the United Nations. Kosovo’s independence is a reality; it is irreversible; and we welcome the steadily growing international recognition of that fact.