I thank the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Kosovo, Mr Farid Zarif, for his briefing today. I welcome to the Council Prime Ministers Thaci and Vucic.
The United Kingdom welcomes Kosovo’s continued progress on the international stage, including the recent statement by the International Olympic Committee that Kosovo should be able to participate in the next Olympic Games. Kosovo is now recognised by well over half of the Member States in the United Nations. We encourage those countries that have not yet recognised Kosovo to do so.
The United Kingdom remains committed to the progress of both Kosovo and Serbia towards membership of the European Union.
The normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia is integral to both countries’ European Union accession paths and, as we have said before, full implementation of the Dialogue agreement is necessary to unlock progress. I welcome the expressions of commitment to theDialogue which we have just heard from both Prime Ministers. We encourage both sides to implement existing agreements and to continue progress at working level. It is welcome that technical talks have continued to make some progress through working level meetings, including on the integrated management of crossing points and on telecommunications and energy.
But it is clear that there needs to be a resumption of high-level meetings once the new government of Kosovo is in place.
The formation of a new government in Kosovo can give renewed momentum to implementation of the Dialogue. We hope there will be decisive progress to this end at the constitutive session of the Kosovo Assembly, which we expect to take place on 8 December.
The United Kingdom notes with concern continuing inter-ethnic incidents, including an increased number of thefts, targeting the Kosovo Serb community in Western Kosovo and reports of violence against Serb returnees and their property. There can be no tolerance of such incidents or complacency about the need to tackle them vigorously and hold perpetrators accountable.
We commend efforts by the Kosovo authorities, in particular the Kosovo police, to address these incidents promptly. As the Secretary-General’s report notes, their timely intervention in Mitrovica on 14 October to disperse crowds following the suspension of the Serbia-Albania football match successfully averted an escalation and possible violence.
The United Kingdom continues to give strong support to the EULEX Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo. The allegations in the press about the EULEX mission need to be looked into. The High Representative has announced an external, independent investigation into EULEX, which we fully support.
The United Kingdom joins the Secretary-General in welcoming the shared determination of the Kosovo authorities and the leadership of the Islamic community in Kosovo to tackle the issues of extremism and foreign fighters. The multiple arrests carried out by Kosovo police on 11 August and 25 September underline their commitment to prevent Kosovars travelling overseas to participate in conflicts. We encourage the continued close cooperation of police and security services in the region to tackle these risks. The role played by the leadership of the Islamic Community of Kosovo, as well as other religious and secular leaders, to dissociate themselves and their communities from extremism has been a very positive one.
Finally, the United Kingdom reiterates its view that a reduction in the frequency of these debates is long overdue, given the progress in Kosovo over the last 15 years and the improved relations between Pristina and Belgrade. As the workload of the Security Council continues to expand, the Security Council needs to be focusing on situations and issues which constitute a genuine threat to international peace and security. Kosovo is not one of them. The current frequency of these Debates, during which we tend to hear largely familiar restatements of well-established positions by Council members, does not strike us as a sensible or productive use of Council time.
I also support the suggestion made by other representatives that the time has come to consider whether the configuration of the mandate of UNMIK requires downward adjustment to reflect current circumstances in Kosovo.
Thank you Mr President.