The consolidation of the rule of law in Kosovo, a priority - 19 November 2015 [fr]
Security Council - Situation in Kosovo - Statement by Mr. Philippe Bertoux - First councellor of France to the United Nations - 19 november 2015
I thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for his briefing and assure him of my country’s full support in his new role and wish him every success. I also thank the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Serbia and the Ambassador of Kosovo for their statements. I take this opportunity to express to them France’s gratitude for the messages of solidarity of the Kosovar and Serbian authorities following the heinous attacks on our country on 13 November.
France welcomes and supports the political dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo under the auspices of the European Union. As the Special Representative noted, the signing, on 25 August in Brussels, of four bilateral agreements is a significant step forward. We are pleased that the first concrete steps have already been taken, such as the launching of the construction work on the Mitrovica bridge.
However, it is crucial that the parties continue to mobilize without reserve their efforts to fully implement the agreement. We will, in that regard, be attentive to the developments following the decision of the Kosovo Constitutional Court to postpone until next January the possibility of adopting the agreement on the association of Serb-majority municipalities. In our view, that agreement is a key mechanism that enables the Serb population to fully embrace their Kosovar citizenship and to stop viewing themselves, wrongly, as foreigners. Its creation will not call into question the unitary status of the country. Kosovo’s authorities must pursue their efforts to reconcile with Serbia on this score, all the while stepping up outreach to the population.
The efforts to consolidate the rule of law in Kosovo must remain more than ever a priority. That entails, first and foremost, unconditional respect for the functioning of its institutions. Recent months have been marked by a series of particularly serious incidents in the form of attacks against members of the Government or even physical attempts to impede the work of the Parliament, as we saw yesterday. Such acts of violence are quite simply unacceptable. They endanger the advances so patiently built up by Kosovo for more than 10 years on its path to constructing an independent, modern and democratic State. We therefore call on all Kosovar political actors to abstain from all forms of violence. The consolidation of the rule of law also entails the fight against impunity. After the Kosovo Assembly’s adoption in August of a series of constitutional amendments that authorized the establishment of the specialist court to follow up allegations of war crimes contained in the Marty report, it is important that the specialist court be put in place as soon as possible.
The consolidation of the rule of law also ultimately requires the fight against radicalization in all its forms. France commends the actions taken by the Kosovar authorities in support of the fight against violent extremism. Their mobilization on that front is critically important in our collective fight to combat terrorism. We intend to pursue our bilateral coordination efforts in that realm. I would also like to take this opportunity to reiterate our support for the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo, which is working day by day to support the rule of law and security in Kosovo.
I should also like to recall the European position, which recognizes all the Balkan States as a whole. The signing on 27 October, in Strasbourg, of the Stabilization and Association Agreement between the European Union and Kosovo signals an important step that confirms the European Union’s full commitment to supporting Kosovo in its implementation of the reforms that are an indispensable part of its pursuit of rapprochement with Europe. The Agreement will be an essential tool for strengthening our cooperation in a great number of domains, particularly in the economic, commercial and political spheres. The measures for their implementation should be put in place at once. Matters relating to the rule of law, justice and internal affairs will be under particular scrutiny within that framework.
In recent years, Serbia, for its part, has undertaken important efforts to draw closer to Europe, whether through internal reforms or by improving relations with its neighbours. We encourage it to continue the full implementation of agreements already concluded with Pristina, and reiterate our willingness to see it accede to the European Union as soon as possible, when the conditions have been met.
I would like to conclude by emphasizing the importance of both the Serbian and Kosovar authorities taking the high road in sorting out their differences and concentrating on efforts to normalize their relations, which represents a fundamental requirement for the stability of the region as well as the strong demand of their respective peoples.