I thank the Secretary General’s Special Representative for Kosovo, Mr Farid Zarif for his briefing today, not least of all because it is very late for you now, and the Secretary General’s quarterly report. I am delighted to welcome to the Council Foreign Ministers Hoxhaj and Dacic.
The United Kingdom welcomes Kosovo’s continued progress both internally and on the international stage. 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 commends Kosovo on the peaceful conduct of its elections on 8 June and the fact that both Kosovo and Serbia encouraged voting in these polls. We hope that new leadership in Pristina will be decided soon, and in accordance with the law.
We welcome the new government of Serbia’s commitment to continuing the EU-facilitated high-level dialogue with Pristina. The normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia is integral to both countries’ European Union accession paths. Full implementation of the Dialogue agreement is necessary to unlock progress.
We encourage both sides to resume higher-level meetings on further agreements once the new government of Kosovo is in place, and urge continued progress at working level in this interim period. Both sides must work to implement existing agreements. This is a priority, especially for those elements that require further unilateral work, such as telecoms and adjustment of relevant legal frameworks.
We condemn the violence that arose during the demonstrations in south Mitrovica on 22 June. We join the Secretary-General in commending the professionalism shown by the Kosovo police, EULEX, and KFOR in responding to this violence. It is important for the continued progress of the dialogue that communities are consulted about decisions that affect them, to lay the ground for their peaceful and cooperative engagement with these changes.
The United Kingdom welcomes the extension of EULEX’s mandate for a further two years, especially its work continuing the strengthening of Kosovo’s rule of law and justice institutions.
We welcome the recent Kosovo Police operation on 11 August to arrest 40 individuals alleged to have been fighting in Syria and Iraq on charges of terrorism, and the 7 arrests that have been made since. We applaud the determination of the Kosovo authorities to tackle extremism and foreign fighters, and encourage more close cooperation between police and security services in the region - and more widely - to deal with these risks.
Like others, we have noted carefully the 29 July report issued by Special Investigative Task Force’s Chief Prosecutor Williamson following his team’s two year and half year investigation into the allegations contained in the Marty report. We welcome Kosovo’s renewed agreement to co-operate with establishing judicial proceedings for this investigation and the European Union’s agreement to support a court through EULEX.
Finally, given Kosovo’s continued progress and the improved relationship between Pristina and Belgrade, the United Kingdom agrees with Lithuania that we could meet less often in this format. We should not lose our focus but we should recognise progress when we see it.