Ministry Statements & Speeches:
I, too, welcome First Deputy Prime Minister Dačić and Ambassador Çitaku to the Security Council today, and thank Special Representative Tanin for his briefing.
New Zealand strongly supports dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina aimed at normalizing relations, and the European Union’s support for that process. We encourage the leaders of Serbia and Kosovo to engage constructively in that dialogue with sincerity and determination to achieve concrete results for their people. We reiterate the Secretary-General’s call for both sides to seek fair and lasting compromises.
While a number of agreements have emerged from the dialogue, the pace of implementing them has been relatively slow in some instances. We were pleased to learn about the recent agreement relating to telecommunications and we look forward to seeing progress on Serb majority municipalities in Kosovo. We encourage both sides to make progress on other issues identified in the Secretary-General’s report (S/2016/901), including those of internally displaced persons and of missing persons. Implementation of agreements reached within the dialogue is in the best interest of all of Kosovo’s communities. Therefore, we hope that both sides can focus on delivering on their commitments and refrain from taking actions which unnecessarily divert energy away from constructive dialogue.
The previous report of the Secretary-General (S/2016/666) noted a significant reduction in aggressive protests and political violence. We are, therefore, disappointed to see a recurrence of such incidents, including disruptive tactics in the Kosovo Assembly. When elected representatives engage in such behaviour, what example does that set for the communities they represent? We encourage those parties who oppose the use of violence to achieve political objectives to continue to distance themselves from that behaviour, to send a clear message that concerns must be addressed through peaceful and normal democratic processes.
Previously, New Zealand has welcomed progress towards the establishment of a specialized court to try cases brought forward by the European Union Special Investigative Task Force. We are therefore pleased to see another step taken in that direction with the recent appointment of a specialist prosecutor. We look forward to the court becoming operational as soon as possible and contributing to the broader process of reconciliation.
Finally, and as we have said throughout our Council term, we believe the Council should take a more flexible approach as to how and when it considers this agenda item. The current frequency of meetings is not justified by the situation on the ground, especially when contrasted against other pressing issues on the Council’s agenda. We say that not to diminish the range and strength of views that exist on the question of Kosovo or to suggest that everything is perfect in Kosovo. Rather, we believe that the Council has a responsibility to organize its work in a manner that directs its time and energy towards the peace and security challenges that most urgently demand our attention. In that regard, we would also be open to considering a possible restructuring of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo to reflect the improving realities on the ground with the passage of time.