Let me use the opportunity to welcome you Caroline Ziadeh in your new and challenging position as SRSG in Kosovo and as head of UNMIK. Norway looks forward to working closely with you and your team. Let me thank you also for your first briefing to the Security Council. And to the Secretary-General for his Report.
One key political and security development within the reporting period was centered around Kosovo’s local elections. We are pleased that the overall conduct of these elections was assessed as positive by the EU- while they did also note some lack of transparency and accountability.
Yet, when it came to the Serbian presidential and parliamentary elections in April, Kosovo’s Government did not take the opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to the principle of protecting the political and civil rights of all its citizens. We acknowledge that it is the prerogative of Kosovo to decide whether or not to permit voting in another country’s elections on its territory.
However, we note that Kosovo decided not to allow participation in the Serbian elections, which had been the case previously.
Last September we saw renewed tensions between Belgrade and Pristina- triggered by long-standing, unresolved, aspects on the freedom of movement. A permanent solution to the licence plate issue is urgent, and would be a step in the right direction. We encourage the parties to strengthen dialogue, and to engage constructively based on the Brussels Agreements. While also exercising pragmatism in finding mutually acceptable compromises, and respecting the commitments already undertaken.
Above all, a comprehensive agreement between Kosovo and Serbia on full normalisation of relations is key to avoiding a frozen conflict, and to achieving improved economic development for all.
Like other speakers, we are deeply concerned about last week’s attacks on the Kosovo Police in the north of Kosovo. We note that the relevant law enforcement agencies are investigating the incidents, and stress that any use of force against the Kosovo Police is unacceptable. We also echo the Secretary-General in welcoming the adoption of Kosovo’s Strategy for Protection against Domestic Violence and Violence against Women. And we emphasise the importance of having the standards of the Istanbul Convention reflected in its implementation. Inclusive approaches are key to peace.
Gender mainstreaming as well as the full, equal and meaningful participation of women in any dialogue or decisions about post-conflict peacebuilding and the future of Kosovo remains crucial.
The question of a "review" of the UN Mission in Kosovo has been raised several times.
While noting that the Mission pursues important work in various areas, we would support a closer look at possible efficiency improvements.
We note the slow overall progress in the European Union-facilitated dialogue and we urge all actors to fully engage. Both Kosovo and Serbia should intensify their efforts to improve relations, and refrain from actions and rhetoric that may set back dialogue, or further increase tensions leading to incidents. There is no alternative to the EU-led process. It needs our full support.
Norway will continue to work closely with EU institutions, key EU member states, and the United States to this end.