More dialogue needed to normalize relations between Kosovo and Serbia

20 April 2022

Pristina and Belgrade must engage more actively in dialogue facilitated by the European Union (EU), the head of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK)  told the Security Council on Wednesday.

“While this process has led to meaningful results on various practical matters, a comprehensive normalization of relations between the two sides so far continues to be elusive,” said Caroline Ziadeh in her first biannual address as the UN Special Representative.

Reconciliation and addressing grievances of the past should reinforce the pursuit of important strategic objectives,” she added.

Resilience crucial

Acknowledging the ongoing situation in Ukraine and its continued impact on European security and economy, Ms. Ziadeh reiterated that the resilience of democratic institutions throughout the Balkans is a crucial factor in maintaining a secure and democratic Europe.

However, shocks to Kosovo’s economy, were building up well before the onset of the conflict, she said, noting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In this context, finding practical modes of economic co-operation between Belgrade, Pristina and all neighbours in the region assumes greater urgency”.

Serbian elections

Her call for cooperation came on the heels of the Serbian general elections.

The UNMIK chief lauded the peaceful logistical exercise – supported by both sides – enabling 19,000 eligible voters to cast their ballots in special polling stations in Serbia.

Regrettably, however, a solution to facilitate voter participation in Kosovo could not be achieved.

Refuse impunity

Following the recent reports of attacks targeting Kosovo Police, Ms. Ziadeh urged collaborative condemnation and swift action to bring perpetrators to justice.

She also encouraged Pristina and Belgrade to seek a permanent solution to the issues regarding vehicle license plates and energy.

During these complex times, the Special Representative called upon leaders to be judicious in their actions and political rhetoric.

UNMIK’s legacy of support

The senior UN official clarified that UNMIK’s role is neither an obstacle nor vehicle for the outcome preferred by one side or the other side.

Rather, she explained, the Mission continues its legacy of institutional support, working in synergy with the UN family of agencies, funds, and programmes to ensure conditions for a peaceful and normal life for all inhabitants of Kosovo.

UNMIK remains the locus of relevant knowledge, experience, and subject area expertise…supporting an active civil society, promoting new tools to help Kosovo reinforce the rule of law, contributing to the empowerment of women and youth, providing expertise and support".

 

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