UN Security Council: EU Statement, Debate on UNMIK

Security Council
Debate on UNMIK

Statement on behalf of the European Union
H.E. Mrs. Kirsti Lintonen, Permanent Representive of Finland to the United Nations

New York, 13 September 2006

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Mr. President,

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

The Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania, the Candidate Countries Turkey and Croatia*, as well as the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this declaration.

* Croatia continues to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

Let me begin by thanking the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNMIK Mr. Rücker for a very comprehensive and informative presentation that clearly set out the progress that has been achieved in Kosovo.

I would like to welcome Mr. Rücker in his new duty as UN Special Representative of the Secretary General from the beginning of September. His long-term experience leading UNMIK Pillar IV gives him excellent understanding on the situation on the ground and thus the qualifications required for successfully carrying out his new tasks. I would like to underline the European Union's strong support for Mr Rücker in his efforts to implement the UN Security Council resolution 1244 and to prepare the transition from UNMIK to the future international presence in Kosovo after status . SRSG Rücker will be dealing with the double challenge of supporting the on-going status negotiations and the preparations for the post UNMIK time.

I would also like to reiterate our appreciation for the work of the former Special Representative Soren Jessen-Petersen.

We urge all the parties to cooperate fully with the SRSG in a constructive and committed manner. We fully support the Secretary-General's view that Pristina and Belgrade should constructively take part in the status negotiations to enable the UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari to complete the political process to determine Kosovo's future status. The UN Special Envoy will continue to have our fullest support and we welcome his efforts to reach a negotiated solution. Resolving the status is necessary in order to maintain stability in the Western Balkans region. The status quo is unsustainable and must be replaced with a solution that provides lasting peace and stability in the region, as well as promotes Kosovo's European integration. The EU underlines it's long-term commitment to Kosovo.

Mr. President,

The EU fully supports UNMIK's efforts together with the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government (PISG) in Kosovo to produce concrete progress on standards implementation. The implementation of the priority requirements are crucial to ensure a multi-ethnic Kosovo, but it is important not to lose sight of the fact that all of the standards are important for Kosovo's future. The European Union welcomes the progress which has been achieved in the priority areas such as functioning of Democratic Institutions, the Rule of Law, as well as Sustainable Returns and Rights of Communities. While this progress is encouraging, it is clear that successful implementation of “Standards for Kosovo” requires further effort on the part of all the parties. It is also necessary to prepare for a phased transition from a reform process driven by the UN standards to a reform process based on the requirements of European integration. The gradual transition has already started.

European Partnership and the annual progress reports and regular policy and technical dialogue ensured by the European Commission help the Kosovo Government to identify the priority areas of reforms needed to come closer to the EU. We have already integrated the essence of the Kosovo standards into our European Partnership which will make for better monitoring and easier implementation. We welcome the Kosovo Government's recently adopted "European Partnership Action Plan" outlining the government's strategy to implement the merged standards. In parallel with the status process, the PISG needs also to concentrate on the reform process necessary for preparing for Kosovo's European future.

It is a matter of concern, as the Secretary-General has pointed out, that not all ethnic communities participate meaningfully in the Provisional Institutions. We share the Secretary-General's concern of the governance of the portion of Kosovo territory which lies north of the Ibar river. We once again encourage the the Kosovo Serb participation in Kosovo's governance structures. As the Secretary-General points out, the current lack of engagement of Kosovo Serbs in Kosovo's institutions remains an obstacle to the fulfilment of certain standards. All Kosovo’s citizens should benefit from the same levels of social and administrative services. The Serb community living in Kosovo should be clearly and actively encouraged to participate in the Kosovo institutions, in which they can most effectively advocate their own interests.

Mr. President,

The European Union is aware that the Kosovo status process is a major challenge for the international community and has a vital interest in a positive and sustainable outcome. We support the efforts of the Special Envoy Ahtisaari to engage both Belgrade and Pristina through direct talks and experts consultations on key areas such as decentralisation, cultural heritage and religious sites as well as economic and minority rights issues. The views of the two sides remain divergent but the process so far has been useful in clarifying the two sides' positions and exploring possible common ground. The EU fully supports these efforts and plays - through its EU representative to the Kosovo future status process and the Commission - a leading role. The EU also recently welcomed the decision to move forward into direct political talks on the status issue and called upon both sides to engage constructively in this phase of the negotiations.

Depending on the future status settlement, the EU's engagement in Kosovo is planned to have three main components: the EU contribution to a possible future international civilian presence, a possible ESDP operation in the broader field of rule of law and an EU presence related to the European perspective of Kosovo. Preparations are well underway in all these areas. An EU Planning Team has already been established and deployed in Kosovo to make preparations for a possible ESDP operation in the fields of police and justice, which are crucial areas for the security and the stability of the region.

Preparations for the future EU role in Kosovo are taking place in close cooperation with the European Commission to ensure a coherent approach. High Representative Javier Solana together with Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn have already prepared three insightful reports on the future European commitment to Kosovo.These reports serve as basis for the future planning.

We believe that, following a settlement and the phasing out of UNMIK Kosovo's own institutions should be responsible for managing its affairs as much as possible. Local ownership and accountability should rest with Kosovo. The international engagement should assist Kosovo's institutions to assume full responsibility for Kosovo over time, based on rigid benchmarking of performance and capabilities.

The EU's objective is to ensure that Kosovo becomes a reliable partner, progressing together with the rest of the region towards the EU. Key elements here are the creation of democratic and multi-ethnic Kosovo with a sound basis for economic development and greater integration in the region. In particular, it needs the political will and genuine commitment of all parties involved in the current status negotiations. As the Secretary-General has noted in his report, it is crucial to reassure all communities that they have a place in Kosovo in the future regardless of its status. The future settlement should guarantee the protection of the rights and identity of all communities in Kosovo. The focus should be on improving the daily lives of all the people of Kosovo and in providing sustainable future prospects for the whole society. Together with the Secretary General we urge all parties concerned to cease inflammatory accusations and to pursue constructive behaviour to ensure sustainable future for Kosovo. Belgrade must play their part in achieving these aims, too. Serbia has a crucial role in the efforts to stabilise the Western Balkan region and to ensure its smooth integration into the Euro-Atlantic cooperation structures.

Mr. President,

The EU is firmly committed to supporting Kosovo’s economic reconstruction and development. In his report, the Secretary General notes that even a political settlement will not eliminate the difficulties Kosovo will face for some time to come. I would like to underline, that economic progress is essential for the creation of a tolerant, multiethnic and democratic Kosovo.

To date, the EU has provided over 2,6 billion Euros to Kosovo to address urgent post conflict needs, develop and strengthen Kosovo's new institutions, support the returns process and foster economic development. Furthermore, the EU financed  UNMIK Pillar IV that has been assisting in the revitalisation of economic activity in Kosovo and in the creation of a modern, open market economy attractive for foreign investments. The EU is also committed to assisting Kosovo's economy in the future. The aim is to create sustainable conditions for economic growth and development as well as to bring Kosovo’s legislative and administrative frameworks closer to European standards. The rule of law and security conditions are crucial for the prospects of economic growth and development of Kosovo.

Finally, UNMIK’s work is coming to a closing phase. The smooth transition can only continue if the necessary funding in crucial areas is available. The EU is the largest donor to Kosovo, and we encourage others to consider as a priority how they can deepen their assistance to Kosovo. An international donors' conference is foreseen after the status settlement. A long term commitment from the international donor community will be needed to ensure a lasting and durable status settlement in Kosovo.

Thank you, Mr. President.