UN mission must continue control over Kosovo, Serbia tells Security Council

11 March 2008

The situation on the ground in Kosovo has deteriorated since its Provisional Institutions of Self-Government declared independence last month, Serbia’s Foreign Minister told the Security Council today, calling for Belgrade and Pristina to meet again to try to work out a different resolution to their dispute over Kosovo’s status.

Vuk Jeremic told a Council meeting that the “unilateral, illegal and illegitimate declaration of independence” had brought dangerous consequences to both the region and to global affairs, including “a direct assault on the innate operating logic of the international system.”

He said “those 20-something countries that furthered the secessionist cause of the Kosovo Albanians [by recognizing the declaration of independence] have contributed to making the international system more unstable, more insecure, and more unpredictable” as they were legitimizing the doctrine of imposing solutions to ethnic conflicts.

“It supplies any ethnic or religious group with a grievance against its capital with a play book on how to achieve their ends.”

Stressing that Serbia would never recognize Kosovo’s unilateral secession, Mr. Jeremic called for the 1999 Security Council resolution that placed Kosovo under UN administration to be observed in full.

“This is the only way to prevent a further deterioration of the situation on the ground. There must be no erosion” of the mandates of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), he said, adding that no further transfers of competencies from UNMIK to another body be allowed to take place.

Serbia’s representative said his country was “committed to open dialogue and good-faith negotiation with all,” including on issues such as the Kosovo Serb population and the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo.

“Every day that goes by without working towards some sort of agreement creates unsustainable hopes, irrational fears, and dangerous, uncoordinated outcomes on the ground.”

He said Serbia would not impose an embargo on Kosovo or resort to force and he apologized for the damage to foreign embassies caused by protesters in the Serbian capital, Belgrade, on 21 February.

“It is in our vital interest that all of Kosovo’s communities prosper – and prosper together in peace, security and reconciliation as neighbours in a progressive society of hope and forgiveness.”

After Mr. Jeremic’s briefing, Council members then went into consultations on the issue.

Belgrade and Pristina have been unable to reach agreement on Kosovo’s status, which had been the subject of months of negotiations led by the troika, comprising the European Union, Russia and the United States. That group was set up after a stalemate emerged over a proposal by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Envoy, Martti Ahtisaari, for a phased process of independence for Kosovo.

 

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