First of all I am pleased to congratulate you on the assumption of the Presidency of the Security Council for this month, wish you a fruitful and productive term, and pledge the full cooperation of the delegation of Brazil.
We welcome the please today of Mr. Zoran Lonzar, Minister of Public Administration of Servia and Montenegro.
I thank Assistant-Secretary-General Hedi Annabi for his thorough presentation of the Secretary-General’s report.
Brazil reiterates its support for the work carried out by UNMIK in the very volatile circumstances that prevail in Kosovo. The Mission has been able to deal with the extremely difficult situation on the ground and to respond promptly to challenges to its authority. We are also appreciative of the efforts of the “Contact Group Plus” in promoting the implementation of standards. In this regard, I would like to express our appreciation for the work performed by former Special Representative Harri Holkeri and welcome the indication of the new Special Representative for Kosovo, Søren Jessen-Petersen. The credentials of Mr. Jessen-Petersen certainly qualify him for that difficult and sensitive task.
We take note with appreciation that the task of identifying and prosecuting the perpetrators of March’s violent outbursts is not being neglected. We appreciate that Police in Kosovo has arrested suspects in connection with the riots, and that many cases are in the initial stages of prosecution. Although it is encouraging that effective steps are being taken to avoid impunity, it is important to guarantee that this effort does not lose momentum, and that cases of involvement of Kosovo Police officers be pursued with .
We also appreciate the progress made in the implementation of the reconstruction program following the March violence.
Unfortunately, the overall minorities’ rights situation has deteriorated. Kosovo Serbs and other groups are still facing severe restrictions to their freedom to work and travel, and, in practice, they are being denied the right to a normal life. The international community must take a firm stance in protecting them against this continued violation of their fundamental rights and in encouraging the Provisional Institutions to honor the commitments set out by the Kosovo Standards Implementation Plan (KSIP) in this regard.
In recent months many different plans for the future of the province have seen the light. We must remain aware of the dangers of solutions that rest on changing borders or allowing internal cantonization. They are artificial and in the past have already proven to increase volatility in the Balkans. We favor solutions that rest on integration and capable of preventing further division.
Although Brazil does not oppose decentralization and a degree of autonomy for minorities, we remain faithful to the principle that peace and reconciliation in the region must be based on compliance with resolution 1244 and the “standards before status” policy.
In this connection, we call upon the Provisional Institutions to enhance their commitment to the fulfillment of the Kosovo Standards Implementation Plan (KSIP), which is the only viable path towards meeting the standards that will allow a future decision on the status of the province.
Progress towards peace will not be fostered by unilateral acts such as the recent movement by the Kosovo Parliamentary Assembly to make amendments to the Constitutional Framework, on issues that actually fall under UNMIK’s sphere of competence. Kosovo Provisional Institutions of Self-Government would make a valuable contribution to peace if they concentrated in helping to implement the “Standards for Kosovo”, a prerequisite for the future discussion on the status of the province. A firmer engagement is needed for achieving adequate standards for minority rights.
Minorities must also accept the responsibility to engage constructively in the building of peace. Effective participation in the political process, and particularly in the upcoming elections, is one of the ways to strengthen such an engagement. All minorities, and especially Kosovo Serbs, must be aware that refusal to participate in shaping a new political cenario will only aggravate exclusion and helplessness.
The lack of tangible progress towards a political solution for Kosovo magnifies the human dimension of the tragedy. As long as the political situation remains uncertain, prospects are bleak for economic recovery. In spite of laudable efforts in this area by UNMIK and the Provisional Institutions, unemployment, rural backwardness, gender disparities and deficient educational, health and social welfare systems continue to prevail.
The March riots in Kosovo and their repercussions in Serbia and Montenegro have reminded us that the persistence of an environment of underlying violence and resent in the province can threaten the stability of the whole region and potentially generate more ethnic clashes.
Finally, we must call upon authorities in Pristina and Belgrade for resumption of the work of the dialogue working groups. Only by benefiting from the value of dialogue, tolerance and diversity will Kosovo be able to leave behind decades of conflict and destruction and pave the way for a better future for all. Thank you.