STATEMENT By H.E. Mr. Hashim Thaçi Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of KosovoLet me first express my gratitude for the opportunity to address you at this years first meeting, to inform you about the progress achieved in Kosovo in recent months as well as the commitments of the new government of Kosovo.
Ambassadors of the Member States
Let me first express my gratitude for the opportunity to address you at this years first meeting, to inform you about the progress achieved in Kosovo in recent months as well as the commitments of the new government of Kosovo.
The month of February marks the 7th anniversary of the declaration of independence of Kosovo, the most important act in the commitment to freedom and democracy of the people of Kosovo.
I can say with pride that the 7th independence anniversary finds Kosovo as a consolidated state, inside and out. The recognitions have shown that the state of Kosovo is an irreversible reality and an indispensable factor of peace and stability in the region. Kosovo has been recognized by all neighboring countries (with the exception of Serbia), and the vast majority of countries from the region as well as the Euro-Atlantic community.
108 countries, spanning in all continents have already recognized the Republic of Kosovo. From here I call on all the other member states of the UN, including members of this Council who have not recognized Kosovo, to take this step and join in supporting Kosovo as an equal and full member of the international community.
Recently, Kosovo has become a member of the International Organization of the Francophonie, and in December Kosovo became a member of the International Olympic Committee. Kosovo was granted a full membership, ending its international isolation, and our athletes will now have the opportunity to compete in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Kosovo has achieved concrete results in its goals to strengthen regional cooperation. The new state has become a member of all relevant regional organizations.
In accordance with our policy of strengthening regional cooperation, at the beginning of my tenure I have visited the countries of Albania, Montenegro and Macedonia to promote good neighborly relations and to ensure our mutual commitment to the European future of the region.
At the end of March I will be the host of the six foreign ministers of the Balkans, including the foreign minister of Serbia, at a summit in Kosovo. We plan to discuss joint investment opportunities and projects.
We are also continuing to implement the agreements reached in the process of normalization of relations with Serbia. The process of integrating the four municipalities in northern Kosovo to the Kosovo institutions is now successfully underway.
The representatives of citizens who live in north of the country are now part of the new government of Kosovo and they hold ministerial positions.
Although the dialogue at the political level has been postponed due to the formation of new governments in Serbia and in Kosovo, the dialogue on technical issues has continued.
During this time we have achieved satisfactory progress in the following:
- The closure of the parallel structures of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Serbia in the northern part of our country and the full integration of Serb personnel in Kosovo Police has been completed;
- An agreement on implementation of integrated border management;
- Energy and telecom issues;
- And finally the collection of customs revenues at the border crossings in the northern part of the country.
I have to express our concern here with the trends from the Serbian side to avoid or delay the implementation of the Brussels agreements. This tells us that Serbia has not given up its goals of interference in the internal affairs of Kosovo.
The report published last week by the internationally respected Serbian organization, the Humanitarian Law Center, is very a disturbing account. It accuses the current chief of the Serbian Army for atrocities committed in Kosovo in 1999, and for hiding the bodies of Kosovar civilians killed in mass graves in Serbia.
According to their report, Serbia has never initiated or brought charges to any of the hundreds of officers and policemen implicated in atrocities. I invite the Serbian leadership to find strength and to deal with the past and I also call on the Security Council to request that Serbia heed this reports findings with full seriousness.
Earlier this year we saw an increasing trend of Serbian parallel structures appointing parallel municipal mayors, including in the municipality of Strpce, or creating parallel posts in Dragash and Prizren municipalities.
We have noted the obstacles that EULEX and local police are facing in establishing the rule of law and normality in the four northern municipalities. This has been caused by illegal mayors and paramilitary and criminal groups, which have hampered the progress of the Serb community in Kosovo during the the past fifteen years.
For all these developments we have informed the European Union and have demanded that Serbia respect the Brussels Agreement. I call on the Security Council today to demand from Serbia the fulfillment of agreements reached.
Ladies and Gentlemen
The state of Kosovo has shown maturity and consolidation in domestic affairs. An example of this is the political maturity shown by all political actors during the months in which we negotiated the formation of the new government, following the general elections held in Kosovo.
Throughout this period the political parties have shown respect for the laws and institutions of Kosovo.
At the same time, the independent institutions, such as Presidency and the Constitutional Court, have shown integrity and professionalism. All this led to a political agreement that paved the way for the creation of the new Assembly and the formation of the new government. This new government is a comprehensive one in which all communities are represented, including Kosovo Serb citizens who live in the northern part of the country.
This week the Prime Minister removed a member of the government, one of the representatives of the Serb community. His removal was not done because of his affiliation, but because he did not show professionalism that is expected from a government representative.
This was used as a pretext by Serbia to politically attack Kosovo.
The attack against Kosovo that Serbia used focused also on Trepca Mine complex and Serbia's claim to this industrial giant. It should be noted once again that Trepca is property of Kosovo and Kosovo's responsibility. The solution to this issue was delayed because the international administration in Kosovo was not ready to face the political pressure that the Trepca chapter would bring.
The institutions of Kosovo have taken a decision that Trepca requires a solution in accordance with applicable laws and regulations and in accordance with the principles of the privatization of the Socially Owned Enterprises in Kosovo that had begun with the United Nations administration and with the consent of the United Nations Legal Office.
The crucial evidence of the success within Kosovo is its successful completion of negotiations on a Stabilization and Association Agreement with the European Union.
This is a recognition of the substantial progress that Kosovo has made in the fields of economy, democracy and the rule of law.
Distinguished members of the Security Council,
I would also like to inform you of the main priorities of the new Government of the Republic of Kosovo.
Together with new government partners we have created a realistic and ambitious government program for the next four years. We are committed to a dynamic executive and legislative agenda that should move the country towards NATO and EU membership.
We are committed to economic development as our main focus for the next four years, starting with a series of concrete steps to improve the economic situation and continue the positive trend of economic growth.
Internationally, I want to reiterate that the Government of Kosovo will remain strongly committed to full normalization of interstate relations with Serbia and to continuing the dialogue that will be finalized with mutual recognition.
Only this step will enable the building of sustainable peace between the two countries and the establishment of diplomatic and good neighborly relations in the European spirit.
This commitment will be confirmed in 3 days, on February 9 when the first meeting of the new prime ministers of the two countries will take place, under the auspices of the High Representative and the EU Foreign Policy Chief, Ms. Federica Mogherini.
Kosovo, as part of the Western Balkans and the Euro-Atlantic area, will also continue the process of integration into the European Union and make it a priority for its social transformation, and for the economic and political development.
During this term in office, the Government is committed to concluding the signing of the Stabilization and Association Agreement in the first half of 2015 and starting implementation of the agreement. Stabilization and Association Agreement as a contractual relationship between the EU and Kosovo will serve the Europeanization of our national policies and the modernization of our country.
A concluded chapter will also be that of the unfair and perennial isolation of Kosovar citizens, who are the only people in Europe that do not have the right to free movement in the Schengen Zone.
In this respect, a key priority is the implementation of the Action Plan that addresses all the challenges of repatriation, reintegration, document security, border and migration management and overall security and public order.
Many Kosovars today are fleeing from Kosovo due to the inability to legally migrate to EU countries. Kosovo has been isolated for too long and our young people wish to have freedom of movement within our continent by any means necessary.
Distinguished members of the Security Council,
The Republic of Kosovo has consistently showed that it is a responsible actor in terms of its international obligations.
In the early days of the formation of this new Government, we showed commitment in finalizing the draft law that prohibits the citizens of Kosovo to take part in armed conflicts outside the country.
Our country, although a small one, has shown it is a partner and ally in the global war against terrorism.
We naturally aligned ourselves with the global coalition led by the United States of America against the so-called 'ISIS'. And will be active until the annihilation of this phenomenon that hurts not only the Middle East but has affected European capitals as well.
An uncertain world, a world of violence that these terrorists are proclaiming, is not a world that we can accept. Therefore, the Republic of Kosovo is in the front line to eradicate this phenomenon, and we know very well what it means to be living under terror, under the state of systematic violence.
Kosovo this year will also apply to be a full member of the Council of Europe. Today Kosovars are the only citizens in Europe who cannot seek protection from the European Court of Human Rights and it is going to be a key priority for me to end this exclusion.
It is Kosovos goal to be a place that contributes to collective security and we are continually committed to strengthening the architecture of peace and security in the region and beyond.
In this regard, we have undertaken a strategic review of the security sector in Kosovo and now we are making coordinated preparations for the transition from the Kosovo Security Force into the Kosovo Armed Forces.
I want to thank the NATO Liaison and Advising team that has been very close to us during this whole process.
I want to assure you that Kosovo Armed Forces will be a professional and multi-ethnic force, guided by the principles of democratic and civilian control, and gradually integrating into the Euro-Atlantic and ready to contribute to regional peace and global security.
I would like to inform you that Kosovo intends to open a new chapter of cooperation with NATO, moving towards the Partnership for Peace as the main instrument for full membership, through a gradual approach and coordination with our Euro-Atlantic partners.
Members of the Security Council;
Let me reiterate that during these past 7 years the Republic of Kosovo, thanks to the will and commitment of its people, as well as political leadership and the support from the international community, has built stable and durable multi-ethnic and democratic institutions.
As a result of this, Kosovo has become a factor of peace and exporter of stability in the region and beyond.
Let me remind you once again that Kosovo is one of the most successful state building endeavors in United Nations history.
The 1244 Resolution has been met for quite some time now and it's time for a new chapter in the relations between Kosovo and the United Nations.
Kosovo is forever grateful for the role and contribution of the United Nations in our countrys state building process. However, considering the course of developments since the declaration of independence, the role of UNMIK mission has been significantly minimized and it remains now only a reporting one.
Having this in mind and praising Kosovo's achievements in the field of security and economic stability, social and political development, highlighting here also the agreement reached between Kosovo and Serbia, Mr. President, it is time that the Security Council consider the possibility of a transformation of UNMIK, one that should help Kosovo join the Specialized Agencies.
We also ask the Security Council to help the Republic of Kosovo in the realization of its aspirations of joining the United Nations as a member with full rights and responsibilities.