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Non-paper: The request for membership of the so-called „Kosovo" in UNESCO - why this should not happen

Friday, 30 October 2015

This would be a serious breach of the international law, the Constitution of UNESCO, the UN Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999) arid the UN Charter.


Unilateral attempts such as this one seriously harm and disrupt the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, held under the auspices of the European Union.


The EU-facilitated dialogue is the right place to address all the outstanding issues in the interest of regional stability and improvement of the life quality of all inhabitants of Kosovo and Metohija. Mutually acceptable solutions for many complex issues were reached so far in this dialogue in areas of legislation, energy, telecommunications, etc. and many other issues are yet to be discussed, including the status of the Serbian Orthodox Church property and the protection of the Serbian cultural heritage.


At this very delicate moment for the dialogue, which is one of the rare successful examples of peaceful settlement of disputes in the world, the consideration of such a request would virtually preclude reaching a mutually acceptable solution for the Serbian cultural heritage. For Serbia, this is one of the most sensitive issues, having in mind that the Serbian cultural and religious heritage in the Province is of extraordinary spiritual and civilizational value, dating back to XI century. This cultural heritage is the pillar of the national identity of Serbian people and an important part of the historical heritage of modern Europe and the world.


This would be a dangerous precedent opening the door for other entities to follow the same path thus threatening territorial integrity and sovereignty of other member states.


UNESCO as an organization within the UN system should not be abused as a political instrument for the affirmation of an illegal, unilateral declaration of independence of a part of the territory of a UN Member State, whose sovereignty and territorial integrity are also guaranteed by the, still valid and legally binding UN Security Council Resolution 1244.


This issue is polarizing the membership of UNESCO by bringing politics in the Organization contrary to its founding principles and noble mission. UNESCO should stay true to its original goals to promote universal values of humanity through education, science and culture. It is not up to UNESCO to make political decisions with regard to the statehood.


UNESCO's Executive Board meeting held on 21 October 2015 clearly demonstrated how controversial and polarizing this issue is. In fact, the majority of its member states (31 of 58 in total) did not support the adoption of the recommendation to. the General Conference to admit „Kosovo" as a UNESCO member.


There is a common responsibility of all UNESCO member states to preserve the moral integrity of our Organization and protect the cultural heritage of other member states. Having this in mind, it should not be forgotten that Serbian cultural and historic monuments in Kosovo since 1999 are the targets of organized, ethnically and religiously motivated violence and destruction which is certainly not compatible with UNESCO membership.


All this is telling evidence that the discussion on this issue should be postponed in order to give a chance to the dialogue and to prevent the further politicization and confrontations in UNESCO.