I wish to thank Special Representative Søren
Jessen-Petersen for his detailed briefing on UNMIK and Kosovo. I take the opportunity to express our
recognition for the quality of his work and that of UNMIK personnel. I am also pleased to recognize the
presence of Dr. Covic of Serbia and Montenegro.
After more than four years of international involvement in Kosovo, as we approach the moment of beginning status negotiations in that province, lack of progress in standards
implementation is an unfortunate reality that can not only jeopardize the progress made so far, but also delay the beginning of the process to determine final status.
Although there have been tangible advances in some very specific areas, such as the reconstruction of homes and public buildings looted in March, it is still regrettable to
see that, regarding key issues such as the overall situation of minorities, very little has been achieved. A firmer stance is required against unchecked abuses that continue to take
place routinely against minority groups, virtually deprived of their freedom of movement and disrespected in their basic human rights and needs.
The Provisional Institutions carry the primary responsibility for the implementation of standards and for alleviating the plight of minority groups, but the international community
must also take concrete action to improve the security conditions for those groups, and especially for the Kosovo Serbs.
It is encouraging that the October elections were held in an environment of calm and order. Lack of participation by the Kosovo Serbs in the poll, though, thwarts efforts of building
a multi-ethnic society, and is detrimental the situation of the Serb minority itself. It is unfortunate that the constructive appeal of some Serbian leaders, including many authorities in Belgrade, in favor of participation in the elections, was not heeded by the Kosovo Serb population.
The political parties in Kosovo have now reached agreement on the formation of a coalition government for the province. The composition of such government should not lead to an
exacerbation of tensions in the Region. The exercise of moderation is key to conducting Kosovo safely to the final status negotiations. The fact that there are plans to include
members of minorities in the new ministries is encouraging, but the weak and declining presence of minorities in the Provisional Institutions’ structure as a whole remains a
matter of deep concern.
Sustained social, economic and institutional development is a condition for final status. A revitalized economy, the creation of jobs and new opportunities, especially for the young, will help ease underlying social unrest.
We are pleased to note the continued progress in the task of bringing to justice those involved in last March’s riots. The fact that more than 300 cases have been completed or are
under appreciation bears witness to the good work that is being done by judges and prosecutors, under UNMIK’s monitoring.
Achieving a constructive and engaged dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade remains an imperative for the eventual success of international efforts in Kosovo. In this context,
Pristina, and especially Belgrade, should be convinced to resume negotiations.
While frustration and despair grow amidst all ethnic groups in the region, the temptation for unilateral, even violent initiatives may be surreptitiously increasing. As the moment of truth for Kosovo approaches, all parties concerned must be conscious that no durable, stable and satisfactory solution will be found without the respect for the rights and legitimate aspirations of all.