UN: EU Statement on UNMIK

UN Security Council; Open Debate on UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK)

Statement by H.E. Ms. Kirsti Lintonen, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Finland to the UN, on behalf of the European Union

New York, 13 December 2006

Mr. President,

I have the pleasure to speak on behalf of the European Union.

The Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania, the Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, and the EFTA countries Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, members of the European Economic Area and Moldova align themselves with this declaration.

*) Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

Let me begin by thanking the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), Mr. Joachim Rücker, for his clear presentation. I would like to once more underline the European Union's continued support for the Special Representative, Mr. Rücker in his efforts to implement the UN Security Council resolution 1244 as well as to prepare the transition between UNMIK and the future international presence in Kosovo once the status of Kosovo has been determined.

As the UN Secretary-General notes the status negotiations and the first preparations for the end of UNMIK's mandate and for the transition period have indeed characterized the past months. UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari has since the beginning of this year actively pursued engagement with both Belgrade and Pristina through direct talks and expert consultations on such key areas as community rights, decentralisation, the protection of cultural and religious heritage as well as on the economy. Regarding the future status of Kosovo, Belgrade and Pristina unfortunately have continued expressing diametrically opposed positions. As the Secretary General remarks in his report, these talks have "enabled the two sides to engage in substantial exchange of views without, however, resulting in any major shifts of position". The EU continues to encourage both Belgrade and Pristina to engage constructively in the status process. However, the process should not be open-ended and neither party should unilaterally block or derail the process for example by resorting to violence. We fully share the view of the Secretary General who noted with dismay that violent attacks continue to be used by a few to attempt to effect policital change and that political process cannot be dictated by the streets and that violence will not be tolerated.

The EU continues to fully support the UN Status Envoy Martti Ahtisaari and his conduct of the political process to determine Kosovo's future status. We welcome his intention to present a proposal for a comprehensive status settlement to the parties after the parliamentary elections in Serbia that will be held on the 21st of January.

We share the Secretary General's view of general positive development in Kosovo. In its annual progress reports for the Western Balkan countries and also for Kosovo the Commission of the European Union welcomes the progress in Kosovo in the transfer of responsibilities to the provisional institutions of self government. At the same time we stress the crucial importance of further accelerated and effective implementation of the Standards which are equally essential for Kosovo's European perspective. More efforts are needed to create an administrative environment that will ensure further approximation of European standards. We also stress the need for further efforts in full respect of  the rule of law and independence of the judicial system. The issues of fight against organised crime and corruption, macroeconomic stability, and the protection of all communities living in Kosovo also need special attention of the Kosovo authorities. 

The future status settlement will be a challenging task not only for Serbia and Kosovo, but for the whole international community. It will require coordinated and forward-looking action from all actors involved. However, the status settlement alone will not solve Kosovo's pressing economic and social problems. These challenges will remain and must be tackled with new vigour after the status settlement.

The future status settlement should safeguard a future for all the citizens of Kosovo in a multi-ethnic and democratic society and be conducive for economic and social development.

The Western Balkan region - including Kosovo - has been given a European perspective. The EU has a major interest in a positive and clear outcome of the status process. Its success will be essential not only for providing a clear perspective for the people in Kosovo but also for the overall stability of the region. In this context, the maintaining of the European perspective of Serbia is of great importance. Also, we would like to make clear that we see the question of Kosovo's status as sui generis. The outcome to the status process will not set a precedent for other regions, as its current status is exceptional, being based on the UN Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999).

We regret the fact that the Kosovo Serbs still do not participate in the work of the central institutions in Kosovo, despite the international community's repeated calls for them to do so. We once again urge Belgrade to encourage Serbs in Kosovo to engage in the work of the Kosovo institutions, in which they can most effectively advocate their own interests.  It is crucial to understand and to ensure that all communities have a place in Kosovo regardless of its future status.

The EU continues its support to the Kosovo institutions in their efforts of implementing the reform agenda. The EU is firmly committed to supporting Kosovo’s political and economic development. We are preparing our future presence in Kosovo with other international actors. It is essential that UNMIK stays with full powers until that future presence is established . Well co-ordinated action between different international organisations and assistance from other donors are vital to ensure effective implementation of the status settlement and sustainable development of Kosovo and the EU will assume its role in this regard. A longterm commitment of the donor community will be indispensable to ensure a stable and secure Kosovo for all of its citizens. A strong post-status international presence would be needed also to support the Kosovo institutions  to ensure security and stability, as well as to safeguard the multiethnic character of the new Kosovo.

Thank you Mr. President.