NEW YORK, FEBRUARY 27 – In a statement delivered on February 27, 2017 at the Security Council Meeting on the “Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK)” Ambassador Inigo Lambertini welcomed the report presented by the Secretary General and stressed how the situation remains fragile.
The following is the transcript of his remarks.
I thank the SRSG Ambassador Mr. Zahir Tanin for his detailed update on the activities of UNMIK and President Nikolic and Ambassador Citaku for their statements.
We welcome the detailed report presented by Secretary General regarding the situation in Kosovo and UNMIK’s activities, this should be actually the purpose of the meeting.
The report highlights some progress as well as some critical issues in Kosovo and clearly depicts a situation which continues to remain fragile, due to the internal political problems as well as due to an overall deterioration of the relations among the Western Balkan countries.
Actually, we are very concerned by the rising tensions of the last weeks, leading to the use of heated rhetoric hampering the improvement in the relations between the two sides. We call on both Belgrade and Pristina to abstain from inflammatory statements and backward looking language.
In this perspective, I would like to emphasize our strong support to the normalization of their relations and encourage them to constructively advance the dialogue facilitated by the EU. We commend the effort of HR/VP Mogherini to convene at the highest level the latest rounds of the Dialogue in Brussels on 24 January and 1 February where the parties agreed to defuse tensions, refrain from unilateral acts and continue working together.
Remarkable progress has already been achieved through important steps forward in the areas of integration of the judiciary, freedom of movement and telecommunications.
But much is yet to be done to implement the agreements already attained. We strongly encourage Belgrade and Pristina to work in this direction and to find pragmatic and mutually acceptable solutions to the advantage of both communities, starting with the establishment of the Association/Community of Serb-majority Municipalities.
The normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina will have a crucial impact on regional balances. Allow me to underscore once again that the path towards the European Union is key for a durable peace, stability and prosperity in the Western Balkans and it is naturally linked to the progress on the EU facilitated Dialogue. Losing momentum now could open the way to counterproductive backlashes to the detriment of both parties and of the entire region. Our support to this process is unwavering at both bilateral level and in multilateral fora.
We stand in the frontline to assist the consolidation of Kosovo authorities and to improve local ownership, as testified by our long standing contribution to UNMIK, EULEX and KFOR.
In this vein, we welcome the entry into force of the Stabilization and Association Agreement of Kosovo with the EU. At this point, it is of primary importance for Pristina to step up the efforts in the fight against corruption and organized crime and to ratify the border agreement with Montenegro.
Effective reconciliation is at the basis of any democratic and functional society. We deem fundamental to facilitate voluntary returns and provide a durable solution to the situation of IDPs, focusing also on their economic and social integration and on confidence building. As well, we welcome the results achieved so far, with EULEX assistance, in the rule of law and justice sector and we look forward for the Kosovo Specialist Chambers to become fully operational.
In this regard, Mr. President, allow me to underscore that the international assistance to Kosovo must be grounded on the principles of sustainability and ownership. The UN are doing their part in facilitating dialogue and reconciliation ad community level, as stated by the Secretary General in his report, which confirmed the adequate configuration of UNMIK. In line with the ongoing process of peacekeeping operations reform, Italy stands, nonetheless, ready to discuss a reconfiguration of the mission, according to the evolution of the situation on the ground as well as the normalization of relations between Pristina and Belgrade.
Secondly, we emphasize the pivotal role of the European Union in the normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina and call on both to send out a message of détente and constructive commitment to the EU facilitated dialogue for the sake of their own populations and of the stability of the entire region.
We attach primary importance to the regional dimension: boosting integration in the Western Balkans is crucial to bring them closer to Europe while improving their resilience to emerging threats and triggering their development potential.
As Chair of the Berlin Process in 2017, which will culminate in the Summit of the Western Balkans in Trieste on July 12th, we focus on economic growth, infrastructure interconnectivity, innovation, youth and rule of law. On these priority areas, shared with the EU and at the core of its cooperation with Western Balkans Countries, we are engaging all actors in an inclusive dialogue. We encourage all of them to actively participate, starting with the implementation of soft measures on cooperation with neighbors essential for the process to be fruitful.
Within the framework of the Berlin Process, it is our intention to favor the development of a network of anti-corruption agencies of the region which can effectively strengthen the capabilities of the Governments in contrasting the phenomenon at a regional level.