Kosovo: The priority must be the normalization of relations between Pristina and Belgrade [fr]
Statement by Mr Wadid Benaabou, Political Coordinator at the Permanent Representation of France to the United Nations
Security Council –24 April 2020
I would like to thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General Mr. Zahir Tanin for his briefing. I also welcome the participation in this videoconference of the first deputy prime minister and minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia and of the minister of Foreign Affairs of Kosovo.
When it comes to Kosovo, one of the utmost priorities for France is the normalization of relations between Pristina and Belgrade, within the framework of the dialogue conducted under the leadership of the European Union. This objective is our compass and I would like to make two remarks in this respect.
First, France welcomes the appointment on April 3rd of Miroslav Lajcak as the European Union Special Representative for the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. We fully support the mediation of the European Union, this dispute being a European security issue. We call on the leaders of Kosovo and Serbia to engage with Mr. Lajcak.
Secondly, we welcome the announcement, on April 1st, by the caretaker Government of Kosovo of the full suspension of the 100% tariffs on goods from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is an important step in the right direction. The flow of goods between Serbia and Kosovo has restarted, which is an important development. We encourage both sides to take further steps to enable the resumption of the EU-led dialogue.
We are aware that the pursuit of this objective is taking place in a difficult context, due to the mobilization of all resources in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 crisis nevertheless shows that cooperation is the best way to fight against common challenges, and I welcome in that respect the cooperation between Belgrade and Pristina on the ground to fight the pandemic, which, we hope, will help to rebuild trust between the parties. In addition, having in mind the political situation in Kosovo, we call on all stakeholders to leave aside their political differences and prioritize the fight against COVID-19.
I also reiterate France’s support for the work of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), which works tirelessly to promote security, stability and respect for human rights in Kosovo and the region. Its work in bringing communities closer together and promoting the women, peace and security agenda is essential and must be commended. These efforts must continue, in conjunction with the initiatives of other regional and international actors, in particular the European Union Rule of Law Mission, EULEX Kosovo.
France is convinced that Serbia and Kosovo have a shared European future. In order to build this future, we will continue to support the reforms needed to consolidate the rule of law and socio-economic development. In support of the EU-led mediation, we will ramp up our efforts to facilitate the conclusion of a comprehensive, final and legally binding agreement between the two parties, which will contribute to the lasting stabilization of the Western Balkans. I thank you.