Kosovo : to advance towards a comprehensive agreement [fr]
Statement by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council – 17 December 2018
I thank Mr. Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, for his very informative presentation, and I especially want to welcome President Vučić and President Thaçi to our meeting.
This meeting comes in the wake of recent decisions by Kosovo’s Parliament on the evolution of the Kosovo Security Force over the next 10 years. In the light of the issues that Mr. Lacroix has just outlined for us, France has taken note of those decisions but, as the Secretary-General has done, wishes to express its concern about the possibility that the situation could deteriorate. We deplore the fact that since the beginning of the year, and particularly in the past few weeks, several incidents and unilateral decisions have affected the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. I am referring specifically to the Kosovo Government’s decision to impose a 100 per cent tax on products from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, which, like the European Union, we call on the Kosovo authorities to rescind. More generally, and like the Secretary-General, we ask both sides to exercise the greatest possible restraint and urge them to do all they can to resolve their disputes through dialogue in order to limit the risk of escalation.
Two principles must guide our views on this subject — respect for Kosovo’s sovereignty, which is the basis for the decision to initiate the transition of the Kosovo Security Force, and strict respect for the remit of the Kosovo Force (KFOR), as established by resolution 1244 (1999). While it seems legitimate to us that Kosovo, which we recognize as a State, should be able to acquire an armed force, this is not a good time to enact such laws, because it is likely to damage the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina at a moment when it is more necessary than ever. We also deplore the fact that the laws were not enacted in concert with NATO and did not go through the constitutional process. Finally, we hope that the Kosovo Security Force’s deployment to the north of the country follows the current arrangements, which stipulate that such deployment can take place only with the prior agreement of KFOR.
The implications for the stability of the region of a comprehensive and definitive settlement of the dispute between Serbia and Kosovo are huge. The goal of advancing towards a comprehensive and legally binding agreement normalizing their relations, endorsed by both sides at the highest level, must remain an absolute priority. It is therefore crucial to sustain and promote efforts to that end and ensure a sustainable environment that fosters progress in that direction. In that regard, we encourage the leaders of both countries to resume the demanding path of dialogue as soon as possible and to demonstrate the essential spirit of responsibility and political will. Each party must refrain from any action, statement or measure likely to exacerbate tensions and undermine the spirit of normalization.
Beyond the urgent need for regional stabilization and reconciliation for current generations, everyone must look decisively to the future with a view to overcoming the difficulties of today. High Representative Federica Mogherini, whose mediation efforts France supports, reminded both parties of that on 8 November. Our authorities at the highest level fully support the efforts to make progress in the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. Only by fully normalizing their relations will they be able to realize their European prospects, and that is the shared compass that should guide and unite them. That is where their future lies, and it is a shared future.