Promote security in Kosovo [fr]
Statement by Mrs Anne Gueguen, Deputy Permanent of France to the United Nations
Security Council – 10 June 2019
I too thank Mr. Zahir Tanin, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, and Mr. Miguel de Serpa Soares, United Nations Legal Counsel, for their briefings. I would also like to thank Mr. Dačić, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Serbia, and Ms. Çitaku, Ambassador of Kosovo to the United States, for their statements.
With regard to working methods, and this goes for all Council meetings, I would note the request, repeated on many occasions, for briefers to limit their presentations to 15 minutes.
Twenty years after the end of the conflict in Kosovo and the deployment of NATO’s military force, the Kosovo Force, Kosovo is living in peace. In the light of the many ongoing intercommunal tensions, that peace is, admittedly, fragile, but it should spur us to redouble our efforts to meet the aspirations of the people there.
In the spirit of that objective, I would like to briefly highlight three points.
First of all, I commend the role of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) in continuing to successfully promote security, stability and human rights in Kosovo.
In recognition of the continuing stability challenges in the Western Balkans, France recently adopted a national strategy to increase its support for the sustainable stabilization of the region, its economic and social development and the strengthening of the rule of law. The strategy sets out concrete measures for economic and social development, with the participation of the French Development Agency. It contemplates several actions in the field of security, including a Franco-German initiative to combat trafficking in small arms and light weapons; and, in the fields of justice and defence, it calls for enhanced cooperation.
However, while we must support the stabilization of the Western Balkans, the main responsibility lies first and foremost with the countries of the region — as Northern Macedonia and Greece demonstrated with the historic Prespa agreement, which I welcome once again.
I now come to my second point — the regrettable lack of dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina since November and the high level of tension between the two parties, which is unsustainable.
This stalemate explains the approach of the President of the Republic Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to invite Kosovo, Serbia, the countries of the region and the European Union to a summit in Berlin on 29 April, as the German representative has just mentioned. The challenge was to convince both sides to resume dialogue. Efforts to achieve that objective are ongoing.
In order to achieve the resumption of genuine dialogue, it is essential that each party refrain from actions, declarations or measures that could exacerbate tensions, as Mr. Schulz just explained. In that regard, I reiterate our request that the 100 per cent tariff imposed by the Kosovo Government on products from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina be lifted or, at the very least, suspended.
The Kosovo police operation on 28 May has been mentioned by several speakers, and I, too, will touch upon it brief ly. France, naturally, supports the fight against organized crime and corruption in Kosovo, in full respect of the rule of law, which we wish to see consolidated. Given the local context, particularly in the north of the country, it is nevertheless essential that such operations be proportionate. Furthermore, as the Legal Counsel pointed out, we highlight the importance of respect for the privileges and immunities of all United Nations personnel, including those of UNMIK, as defined in the 1946 Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations. We will carefully review the results of UNMIK’s internal investigation.
Finally, I should like to highlight the role of the European Union in the Western Balkans region.
In our view, the stability of the region is first and foremost a European matter. The European Union is thus leading a mediation process that will resume once both parties are ready to relaunch the dialogue. Some progress has already been made, for example the conclusion of many technical agreements between Serbia and Kosovo in the early 2010s, facilitated by the European Union. The challenge now is to reach a comprehensive and legally binding agreement between the two parties.
The European future of Serbia and Kosovo depends largely on the conclusion of such an agreement. In addition, there are many reforms to strengthen the rule of law, which is at the heart of the European project. The primary responsibility for the European prospects of Serbia and Kosovo lies primarily with the political leaders of those countries. Only the full normalization of relations between Pristina and Belgrade will make it possible to achieve that European future, which is a shared future. We encourage First Deputy Prime Minister Dačić and Ambassador Çitaku to redouble their efforts to that end. They can always count on the fraternal support of France.