The Situation in Kosovo
UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL
Statement by Ms Lara Nassau, Counsellor, Australian Mission to the United Nations
I thank Special Representative Zarif for his presentation, and for his continuing efforts in supporting stability, security and human rights in Kosovo. I also welcome Foreign Ministers Mrkic and Hoxhaj, and thank them for their remarks.
Australia supports an ongoing transition in Kosovo that provides for longer-term political stability, with inclusiveness for all parties, and that effectively integrates Kosovo within the region.
The Security Council’s role is to support practical progress towards stability and security – this will eventually enable UNMIK to complete its mandate.
We welcome the progress made so far by the parties in fulfilling their obligations under the 19 April “First Agreement on principles governing the normalisation of relations”.
We also welcome the 28 June decision by the EU to open accession negotiations with Serbia by January 2014 and to launch negotiations for a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Kosovo.
The priority for both parties now is implementation of all fifteen points of the April Agreement fully and within the agreed timelines. To this end, we welcome the establishment of Liaison Offices in Belgrade and Pristina on 17 July and the placement of a Management Team for Implementation of the Brussels Agreement in northern Mitrovica.
We acknowledge the Belgrade-Pristina working groups’ efforts to implement the Agreement, particularly their focus on policing and on election preparations.
With regard to the negotiations in the complex areas of telecommunications and energy, we note that progress on practical areas such as these can translate into genuine confidence building measures with a long-lasting impact on security and stability.
A robust framework for guaranteeing human security, the rule of law, human rights and respect for cultural heritage is essential to the long term prosperity of Kosovo and the welfare of its citizens.
The local elections in the northern municipalities on 3 November, facilitated by the OSCE, will be a critical step towards political inclusion for Serbs residing in northern Kosovo, within a sustainable and viable institutional framework. We welcome the efforts of the governments in Belgrade and Pristina to encourage all citizens living in northern Kosovo to take full advantage of this opportunity to build local democratic institutions which have the potential to be credible and legitimate.
We note the steps which have been taken to date, including the difficult issue of amnesty, in facilitating the transition of northern Kosovo’s security and political structures into a coherent Kosovo-wide framework. Australia also continues to encourage the safe and viable return of internally displaced persons.
Australia is encouraged by the close cooperation between the Kosovo Police, EULEX and KFOR, particularly in responding to security incidents in ethnically mixed areas in northern Kosovo. Ensuring security will continue to be vital to the success of the elections.
Australia welcomed the visit to Kosovo by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, on 19-20 June. Australia is encouraged that she noted continuing positive dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade. It was pleasing that High Commissioner Pillay found that a good legal and institutional human rights framework was in place. Important next steps in building community confidence will be addressing the weaknesses of the rule of law institutions in Kosovo, including ensuring the independence of the judiciary, and addressing the lack of execution of judicial decisions. Sustained efforts to improve inclusive education, and human rights education in particular, will also be vital for Kosovo’s future generations.
Australia welcomes Kosovo’s commitment to protect Orthodox religious and cultural sites in Kosovo, and notes the ongoing transfer of responsibilities in this regard, from KFOR to the newly established Kosovo Police Unit for the Protection of Religious and Cultural Heritage. It is essential that the work of this new Police Unit retains the confidence of Serbs throughout Kosovo. Australia condemns acts of vandalism, desecration and theft from all sites of cultural or religious significance. We
commend the establishment of a Cultural Heritage Council in Prizren on 2 July and hope that a similar council will soon open in Rahovec/Orahovac.
Australia continues to support ongoing dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. The sustained engagement of the international community will be crucial to ensure the agreements are faithfully implemented. We continue to support measures to address the sensitivities of local communities, particularly in northern Kosovo, and stress the importance of encouraging the development of strong institutions to ensure a stable and peaceful Kosovo.