The Situation in Kosovo
- Human Rights
- Rule of Law
UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL
Statement by HE Ms Philippa King, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations
I would like to express Australia's appreciation to Special Representative Zarif for his presentation this morning, and for his continuing efforts, and those of UNMIK, to promote security, stability and respect for human rights in Kosovo and in the region. I also welcome Prime Minister Thaçi and Prime Minister Dačić and thank them for their statements.
We welcome the "First agreement on principles governing the normalisation of relations" initialled on 19 April, and subsequently approved in full by the Government of Serbia and the Parliament of Kosovo on 22 April. We join others in congratulating both parties for the strong political leadership and far-sighted vision they have displayed in reaching this historic milestone, which, among other important components, also allows both countries to make progress towards their European integration. I would also like to acknowledge the constructive and dynamic role played by High Representative Ashton over a period of four critical months to steer difficult negotiations to their successful outcome.
It is necessary that both parties now implement the 15 points of the agremeent fully and in line with the agreed timelines. A viable solution to the situation in Kosovo cannot be achieved without addressing the anxieties expressed by Serbs residing in northern Kosovo. Continuing political dialogue between Belgrade, Pristina and Serbs in northern Kosovo can ensure that the implementation process meets their concerns and interests. Local elections in municipalities in northern Kosovo later this year, facilitated by the OSCE, will be an important test of the degree to which Serbs residing in northern Kosovo feel a real sense of political inclusion. Ensuring northern Kosovo's security structures become part of a coherent framework within Kosovo will also be a crucial step towards a long-term resolution of the situation.
Security, the rule of law and a strong human rights framework are essential components of any long-term sustainable solution to the situation in Kosovo. Australia is encouraged by the fact that the overall security situation on the ground remained generally calm throughout the period covered by Secretary-General's report, but we regret the incidents which occurred in ethnically mixed areas in northern Kosovo. The attacks on offices of political parties and civil society groups are particularly concerning and represent a threat to dialogue and mediation efforts. We commend the close co-operation between the Kosovo Police, EULEX and KFOR in responding to these challenges.
We welcome the steps taken by the Assembly of Kosovo to strengthen the rule of law and stem corruption. The work of the Kosovo Police to fight organised crime and international narcotic flows is vital. This contributes to strengthening law and order not only in Kosovo but in the broader region. Australia condems acts of vandalism and the desecration of sites of cultural or religious significance. In this regard, we commend the establishment of a specialised unit within the Kosovo Police for the protection of cultural heritage and religious sites.
We acknowledge the continuing efforts to strengthen protection frameworks in Kosovo for religious, ethnic and social minorities. Australia continues to encourage the safe and viable return of internally displaced persons.
Much progress has been achieved over the past four months and we welcome the efforts of the parties in working towards a stable and prosperous Kosovo. The international community needs to remain closely engaged to encourage and monitor the faithful implementation of the agreements reached at a political level, and continue to support the ongoing political dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, and with local communities, towards a better future for all people in Serbia and Kosovo.