Speech

"The people of Kosovo and Serbia no longer live in the world we hear about in this chamber."

Statement by Stephen Hickey, Counsellor at the UK Mission to the United Nations, on the situation in Kosovo

Kosovo

Thank you Mr President and thank you Special Representative Tanin for your briefing just now.

I welcome Ambassador Citaku and Deputy Prime Minister Dacic back to the Council again and I thank you both for your statements.

Mr President,

It has been less than three months since the last briefing on the work of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo. In that time, a great deal has happened in the world, the UN chose a new Secretary-General, the United States chose a new President, but in truth, very little has happened in Kosovo that warrants this Council spending another afternoon discussing UNMIK (United Nations Mission in Kosovo). In the last 11 weeks, we have spent more time debating Kosovo in this chamber than we have spent discussing North Korea and its missile tests.

As New Zealand and France has already said, this is clearly unnecessary. As the UK’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson saw during his visit to Pristina and Belgrade last week, the people of Kosovo and Serbia no longer live in the world we hear about in this chamber.

Instead, they live in a world where their prospects for the future matter more than the divisions of the past. It’s a future that the leaders of Serbia and Kosovo both want, as they made clear to my Foreign Secretary. And it’s a future that this Council has a responsibility to help realise.

It was in that positive, forward looking spirit that London played host to the UK / US Kosovo Investment Forum this month. Over 150 companies heard about the great potential of Kosovo, the potential of rich natural resources, the potential of unexplored reserves of lead, silver and chrome, and of course, the great potential of the dynamic, talented young men and women of Kosovo.

It’s a potential clearly seen in the Trepca mine which could bring economic prosperity for all of Kosovo. It’s vital that the government continues to consult transparently on the future of this important economic asset. And it is this spirit of consultation, of dialogue, Mr President, that is so necessary to realise the potential of Kosovo. This is most clearly seen in the EU facilitated dialogue. I’d like to welcome the commitment to the Dialogue shown by both sides. But as the Special Representative has made clear, implementation of those commitments has slowed. This will only hold both countries back on their EU paths. Normalisation of relations is in the interests of the people of Kosovo, Serbia and the region, so let us call on all sides to redouble their efforts to deliver on their commitments.

But ‘dialogue’ shouldn’t just be limited to meetings in Brussels. Dialogue is also needed between Kosovo’s politicians in the Assembly. Disruption and violence have no place in political discourse and I call on the opposition and the government to work through their disagreements in a spirit of dialogue, not confrontation.

But away from the disruption in the Assembly, the latest UNMIK report also makes clear that dialogue is ongoing elsewhere. I want to pay tribute to President Thaci and welcome his efforts to reach out to Kosovan Serbs on issues like missing persons. I urge all parties to engage in that spirit, so that together they can deal with issues of the past.

But, Mr President, dealing with the past also requires accountability. As the Special Representative’s report sets out, a number of senior political figures involved in corruption or war crimes have been brought to justice in the past few months. This is a vital reaffirmation that the rule of law applies consistently to all people in Kosovo, no matter their position, and that there will be no impunity. This pursuit of accountability must continue, including through the Special Court. Coming to terms with the past is a vital part of building a future for all in Kosovo.

I’d like to close with a final reflection on dialogue. If there is perhaps too little dialogue at the moment in Kosovo, there is certainly too much dialogue about Kosovo here in New York. So I call again for a reduction in the number of these sessions and a reduction in the number of these reports. This would more accurately reflect the realities on the ground in Kosovo.

In that spirit, we echo calls for increased efficiencies to be found in UNMIK and for further downscaling of the mission in line with its mandate. We also support calls for the Secretariat to present proposals for restructuring the mission in the next report.

Thank you, Mr President.

Published 17 November 2016