Kosovo making steady progress despite continued challenges, Security Council told
Progress in Kosovo remains on track in most priority areas, despite continued uncertainty, a change of Government and the fact that Kosovo Serbs continue to shun participation in the provisional institutions, Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s representative told the United Nations Security Council today.
“Let there be no doubt there has been progress,” Søren Jessen-Petersen, Mr. Annan’s Special Representative for Kosovo told the Council in a briefing on the Secretary-General’s latest report. He pointed, in particular, to the rapid formation of a new Government in March following the resignation of Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj after his notification of an imminent indictment from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).
“During those difficult days and weeks, the political leaders and citizens of Kosovo managed a highly unusual situation with maturity and without any disorder or instability,” he said.
In addition to other progress in the building of democracy, Mr. Jessen-Petersen also highlighted positive developments on dialogue between the Kosovo institutions and the Government of Serbia and Montenegro, as well as with the Serbian Orthodox Church.
He said that such progress would continue even without the meaningful participation of the Kosovo Serbs, but the ability to establish a full multi-ethnic country, integrating all communities, would remain limited as long as one ethnic group was pressured to stay outside the political, economic and social processes.
In that context, he said, “Belgrade would help the Kosovo Serb community, and itself, by moving from reticence and delay to commitment and engagement.”
Pointing to improvements in security, freedom of movement and economic issues, among others, he stressed that the so-called international “standards” remained the road map for the short and long term, as well as a way for Kosovo to move progressively towards European Union integration. He added that a resolution of the status issue would produce even more significant results on issues such as refugee returns and the economy.
Finally, he emphasized that the pace of further progress relied on the willingness of the majority community to continue to make efforts to create a multi-ethnic and democratic Kosovo.
“This willingness does exist, despite the recent, painful conflict, and we must and will continue to support those who display it,” he said.
For his part, Nebojsa Covic, President of the Coordination Centre of Serbia and Montenegro and the Republic of Serbia for Kosovo and Metohia, said that the report heard today, regrettably, linked the most important problems to the Kosovo Serbs and to the Government of Serbia and its authorities. In view of the fact that Serbs and other non-Albanians lived isolated in enclaves precisely because their safety was jeopardized and there was no freedom of movement, the statement that the freedom of movement existed in all municipalities in the province except in the northern part of Kosovska Mitrovica was inaccurate.
He said the authorities in Belgrade were trying to facilitate the process of achieving the common goal of a truly democratic and multi-ethnic society. The cornerstone of Belgrade’s policy was that state borders could not be changed, and its sovereignty and territorial integrity could not be questioned. Direct dialogue was the only road to follow if solutions to the problems faced in the province were to be found. Mr. Covic said he hoped that the leaders of the Kosovo Albanians would also demonstrate their readiness for dialogue.