Delivered by Carolyn Schwalger, Deputy Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the United Nations, 29 February 2016.

I thank Special Representative Tanin for your briefing, and I also welcome Deputy Prime Minister Dačić and Ambassador Çitaku to this discussion.

The EU-facilitated Dialogue continues to play an important role in normalising relations between Belgrade and Pristina.  

New Zealand is pleased to see continued constructive engagement in this Dialogue by the leadership of Serbia and Kosovo, including the recent high-level meeting in January. 

Under the auspices of this Dialogue both sides have made a number of commitments to each other. 

While many practical steps have been taken to fulfil these agreements, important work remains.  This includes the ongoing process of establishing an Association or Community of Serb majority municipalities in Kosovo. 

We urge both sides to engage constructively and pragmatically to deliver on their commitments without undue delay.

Mr President,

While the overall security situation in Kosovo has continued to be generally stable, we are concerned at recent incidents of politically motivated violence. 

There is no place for this in a democracy, and all political actors should repudiate the use of violence and intimidation to achieve political aims.  Political disagreement can only be resolved through political dialogue.   In this regard it is most unfortunate that some members of opposition parties are not setting a better example through their own actions. 

The physical disruption of the Kosovo Assembly, including through the use of teargas, only serves to encourage those who wish to use force to achieve political aims instead of dialogue and engagement. 

Political leaders must reject all acts that undermine the proper functioning of democratic institutions.     

Mr President,

We continue to follow the progress being made towards establishing a special court to address serious allegations arising from the EU Special Investigative Task Force. 

In this regard we welcome the recent agreement by the Netherlands to host this court.  We hope that the court will be in a position to commence its work as soon as possible.

Finally we reiterate our view that the Council should adopt a more flexible approach as to how and when it considers this agenda item, taking into account developments on the ground.  While the security situation in Kosovo is generally stable, sadly the same cannot be said for many other pressing matters requiring the Council’s limited time and attention.