Statement by Ambassador Christoph Heusgen at the Security Council open debate on UNMIK/Kosovo, February 7

07.02.2019 - Speech

(check against delivery)

Thank you Mr. President.

I was wondering when we were sitting around the table on Monday to discuss the program why you insisted so much on having this UNMIK debate. Having heard 46 minutes of a lot of repetitive statements, I think we found a very good solution to reduce the amount of discussions on this issue. I would subscribe to everything my UK colleague has said with regards to the developments in the country and only repeat that Kosovo has made enormous progress since 2008. With regards to the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, we have now the European Union and the Brussels Dialogue, although it is not making the progress we want. But we have that and, therefore, I do not really see the importance of having these discussions here, also with regards to UNMIK itself.

I would like to thank Mr. Tanin for his work and his team for the report. I listened very carefully to what he said. Unfortunately he also stated that there are a lot of antagonistic gestures and there are a lot of things that should be improved. He pointed to the work that they are doing and we very much support the people-to-people contacts, what is done with regards to youth exchange and youth contacts, women’s participation and empowerment of women leaders. This is all very important. We think that this is something that can be taken over either by the Kosovar institutions themselves or can be taken over by other international organizations. So, in our opinion it is time for a strategic assessment of UNMIK and we should align the mission to the situation on the ground. As I said, many of the tasks, all of the tasks can be taken over.

I would like to highlight one point in the report of the Secretary General which we find very important: Kosovo made significant progress in recognizing survivors of conflict-related sexual violence. We welcome the survivor-centered approach as a positive example for others in the region and beyond to follow.

I think it is very important that we look at the victims of violence--that we look at the women. When you look at the conflict that we also have on our agenda from South Sudan to Myanmar to DRC, we always see that women are the victims and we have to look after these victims. Tomorrow, Germany will have an Arria meeting where we concentrate on this issue again and on the very important question of accountability. Let me briefly come to the normalization dialogue.

We think that - as those speakers stated as well -  the European perspective is very important. Special Representative Tanin also said that the European perspective is very important.

What I do not understand - the issues and problems that we have discussed – is how these are in conformity with the European perspective. So first of all, with regard to our Kosovar government, we are looking forward to you becoming a member of the European Union, a space without any tariffs or trade barriers. To then have tariffs on products from Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina is against the European perspective, and I would urge you to lift these. At the same time, with regard to Serbia, there is this very good initiative by the president of Serbia to have a free trade zone in the Balkans. To not allow Kosovo products into Serbia is actually against a very Serbian initiative.

Talking about Serbian initiatives, Ivica Dacic in his intervention mentioned that there were 13 withdrawals of recognition and I also know from reports that Ivica Dacic himself travelled to some of those countries. Of course those probably were beautiful trips, to the Caribbean, the Pacific islands and so on, but I don’t understand the logic behind those. The declaration of independence was recognized by the International Court of Justice as being in accordance with international law. So there is an independent Kosovo. The only way that Serbia will enter the European Union will be with a successful normalization dialogue, with the recognition of Kosovo.  By travelling around the world and trying to get other countries to take back their recognition of Kosovo, you are shooting yourself in the foot. I still don’t understand the logic behind that because I always believed that Serbia actually wanted to enter into the European Union. And as a last point on that: You all mentioned the Brussels dialogue or agreement. Nothing in the Brussels agreement talks about border adjustments, changes to the border lines or territorial swaps. I will state for Germany that we do not think these ideas which have been floating around will contribute to finding a solution. We believe these efforts are actually risky for the region and will destabilize the whole region.

Thank you.

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