Reflection on progress and challenges in Kosovo

Statement by Stephen Hickey, Acting Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, at the Security Council Briefing on Kosovo.

Reflection on progress and challenges in Kosovo

Thank you Mr President

And thank you Special Representative Tanin for your briefing and the Secretary-General’s report.

Mr President, as Ambassador Çitaku reminded us, this month marks ten years since Kosovo became a sovereign state. Let us reflect on the progress that has been achieved in this time. The people of Kosovo have participated in three Parliamentary elections since declaring independence in 2008, as well as two country-wide mayoral and municipal elections. Kosovo has also shown solid economic growth, and is now among the top ten countries for starting a business according to the World Bank’s Doing Business 2018 report, jumping from 60th to 40th place in that same report’s ranking for ease of doing business. And recent action towards full integration of Kosovo’s judiciary within the EU-facilitated dialogue underscores a real commitment to progress and stability. This is not the same country it was 10 years ago when UNMIK was first established.

This is not to say Kosovo is without its challenges: building a democracy takes time. The genuinely competitive local elections in the majority of municipalities in Kosovo were a welcome sign of healthy democratic competition, but we continue to be concerned by allegations of intimidation in Kosovan-Serb municipalities.

Additionally, we welcome the public statement by President Hashim Thaçi on February 1st that the Kosovo Specialist Chambers “cannot and will not be abrogated”, and we hope to see the initiative in the Kosovo Assembly formally removed in the coming days, ensuring that the Chambers’ important work to maintain justice and the rule of law will continue.

We continue to urge Kosovo authorities to take all possible steps to swiftly resolve the murder of Oliver Ivanović, which has increased the local tensions in North Mitrovica.

However, these concerns should not diminish the progress that has been made by Kosovo. Kosovo can continue to build on its progress by transitioning UNMIK institutions to Kosovan institutions or other international organizations. While we appreciate UNMIK’s years of work in Kosovo, it is time for a leaner, more efficient Mission to focus on more tightly defined priorities that take into account all of the progress Kosovo has made in the last ten years.

Kosovo’s challenges are far less severe than those of the fledgling nation that UNMIK first arrived to. And thus, it does not require a UN Mission of this size. Moreover, yesterday in the open debate in this Council which you chaired, the UK called for a Security Council that focuses on present and future challenges; with all of the world’s pressing challenges, checking in on Kosovo’s good progress every three months with these meetings is simply not a good use of this Council’s time. In closing, let me reiterate the longstanding UK position that it is past time for this Council to meet less frequently on this issue.

Thank you.

Published 7 February 2018