Kosovo/Serbia: the normalization of relations depends on the dialogue [fr]
Statement by Ms Anne Guegen, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council - 7 February 2019
I join others in thanking Special Representative Zahir Tanin for his clear and precise briefing, and I also thank Mr. Dačić, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Serbia, and Ms. Çitaku, the Ambassador of Kosovo to the United States, for their statements. I would like to respectfully point out that, in accordance with the working methods of the Security Council, as stipulated in paragraph 22 of note 507 (S/2017/507), those statements should not exceed five minutes.
As the representative of the United Kingdom has eloquently made clear, while the issue under discussion is rooted in a past marked by traumatic violence, over the past decade Kosovo has made remarkable gains that must be consolidated. We must redouble our efforts today to leave behind the wounds of the past and the remaining problems. Given the situation described in the Special Representative’s briefing and the Secretary-General’s report (S/2019/102), as well as the visible tensions in the statements by the representatives of Serbia and Kosovo, I want to briefly emphasize the following three points.
The first concerns the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), whose consistent efforts to promote security, stability and respect for human rights in Kosovo and the region must be acknowledged. France especially welcomes UNMIK’s activities in bringing communities closer together and promoting the women and peace and security agenda in cooperation with UN-Women. Women’s presence and participation in the political arena and its institutions should receive greater attention in that regard, and the efforts to combat violence against women mentioned by the Special Representative should also be continued and encouraged.
Almost 20 years after the adoption of resolution 1244 (1999), we must continue to devote attention to the issue of refocusing UNMIK’s actions while considering the situation on the ground, the Mission’s performance and the initiatives of other regional and international actors, particularly the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX). The note by the President of the Security Council on the frequency of our meetings also supports this view.
My second point concerns the normalization of relations between Pristina and Belgrade, which depends on the dialogue conducted between the two parties under the auspices of the European Union. In that regard, we support the mediation efforts of Ms. Frederica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. I expressed our positions on the dialogue and the difficulties it has encountered at our meeting on 17 December (see S/PV.8427). They remain S/PV.8459 Kosovo 07/02/2019 14/23 19-03158 fully valid, and I want to reiterate today that France deplores the fact that several incidents and unilateral decisions mentioned in the Secretary-General’s report have obstructed the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina in recent months, particularly the Government of Kosovo’s decision to impose a 100 per cent tax on goods coming from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina comes to mind. We once again ask that it be repealed, if possible, or at the very least suspended. It is important to encourage two-way communication. We hope that the dialogue, which is currently at an impasse, will be resumed as soon as possible. We also want to ensure that security commitments are respected.
France calls on both parties to show a spirit of compromise and political will. We urge the political leaders of both States to create the conditions conducive to a comprehensive and final agreement, which would be a major step towards achieving lasting stability in the Western Balkans and making progress on the path to a European future. It is crucial to ensure that both parties refrain from any actions, statements or measures that could undermine normalization. For its part, France intends to continue providing support for regional cooperation efforts, particularly the French-German initiative on the control of small arms and light weapons.
My third and last point concerns the European future of Kosovo and Serbia. Given the values that are central to the European project, we underline the importance of the reforms needed to consolidate and strengthen the rule of law. In Kosovo, EULEX is contributing to that goal by focusing on the effectiveness, ethics and multi-community nature of the Kosovo judicial system.
In conclusion, I want to remind the Council that the primary responsibility for Serbia and Kosovo’s European visions lies first and foremost with their political leaders. Only the full normalization of relations between Pristina and Belgrade will make it possible to achieve that shared European future.