Serbia

Kosovo seems headed for period of greater political stability, Secretary-General’s Special Representative says in briefing to Security Council

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SC/10250

Security Council
6534th Meeting (PM)

Members Urge Investigation into Allegations of Trafficking in Human Organs

Welcoming the recent start of a much-awaited dialogue between officials in Pristina and Belgrade, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General told the Security Council today that Kosovo had emerged from a constitutional crisis and appeared to be headed towards a period of increased political stability.

Lamberto Zannier, who is also the Head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), said the European Union-mediated dialogue — focused on technical and practical day-to-day matters such as civil registration, telecommunications, civil aviation, electricity and matters defined as “freedom of movement” issues — was crucial to resolving problems hampering development.

“I am hopeful that both Pristina and Belgrade will demonstrate the resolve needed to find solutions to all relevant issues in a constructive spirit,” he said. Kosovo and Serbia must reconcile with each other, achieve regional integration and fully restore the administration of justice in northern Kosovo, where relations between the Kosovo Albanian and Kosovo Serb communities had been very tense and plans for the United Nations to conduct a census were being thwarted.

Citing the lack of economic progress in Kosovo as a major obstacle to the return of refugees, he said efforts must continue to clarify the fates and locations of missing persons, investigate their disappearances and bring those responsible to justice. He also supported the call by the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly for a thorough, impartial and independent investigation into allegations of inhuman treatment of people and illicit trafficking of human organs in Kosovo. “UNMIK remains fully available to cooperate with such an investigation, in the awareness that while these allegations are pending, it will be even harder for reconciliation to take root,” he said.

Vuk Jeremić, Serbia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, agreed with that claim, saying that an investigation was a prerequisite for lasting peace between ethnic Serbs and Albanians in the Balkans. Calling for the “full truth” about the allegations, he said Serbia had formally asked the Council to set up a mechanism to carry out a comprehensive investigation. The assertion by the European Union Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) that it had the capacity and jurisdiction to head an investigation was factually incorrect because its jurisdiction did not extend beyond Kosovo, he said, adding, however, that EULEX should play a crucial role in uncovering what had happened within Kosovo.

He reaffirmed his Government’s rejection of Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence and criticized Pristina’s unilateral attempts to alter realities on the ground, such as its recent action to deploy heavily-armed special police units in north Kosovo. Since most Member States — including some Council members — continued to respect Serbia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, he urged them to maintain that principled position by ensuring that unilateral attempts to impose outcomes to ethnic and territorial disputes were not legitimized. However, Serbia remained strongly committed to dialogue, which was the only road to peace in Kosovo, he said.

Enver Hoxhaj of Kosovo pointed out, however, that the International Court of Justice had confirmed the legality of the unilateral declaration of independence. Now was the time for Serbia and Kosovo to put the past behind them and focus on entering the European Union as equal, independent States, he said. “We want to solve practical issues: the mutual recognition of documents, car plates, airspace, school and university diplomas, telephone communication and others.”

Free movement was in Kosovo’s strategic interest and within the framework of European Union integration, he continued, expressing regret that Serbia still refused to acknowledge passports issued in Kosovo. Serbia must stop obstructing Kosovo’s participation in the Central European Free Trade Agreement, he emphasized, saying he was “extremely disappointed” that the Serbian Government had called for a boycott of the census in Kosovo. However, Kosovo’s new governing coalition led a multi-ethnic democracy, in which the Kosovo Serb community was represented at all levels of government and in the civil service, he said.

In the ensuing debate, Council members urged officials in Pristina and Belgrade to continue their dialogue in good faith and engage constructively to sort out short- and long-term disputes. They also expressed concern over tensions in northern Kosovo and called for a full, independent and impartial investigation into the organ-trafficking allegations cited in the Council of Europe’s report.

Several speakers underscored the need for progress to accelerate the return of refugees, while others emphasized that Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) remained the legal basis for resolving the dispute.

Also speaking today were representatives of the United Kingdom, Brazil, Russian Federation, Germany, United States, Nigeria, Gabon, China, Lebanon, India, Portugal, South Africa, Colombia and France.

Mr. Jeremić and Mr. Hoxhaj took the floor a second time in response to comments.

The meeting began at 3:10 p.m. and ended at 5:15 p.m.