I would like to thank Special Representative of the Secretary- General Farid Zarif for his briefing, as well as the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Serbia and Kosovo for their attendance today.
During our meeting last February, my delegation said that it was cautiously optimistic about developments in Kosovo (see S/PV.6713). I have been comforted in that feeling by two developments that have taken place since then.
First of all, thanks to the agreement reached among Serbia, Kosovo and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Serbian voters in Kosovo holding dual nationality were able to participate peacefully in Serbian legislative and presidential elections on 6 May. I wish to thank the Secretary General of the OSCE, his teams and the Irish presidency of the organization for their efforts.
NATO’s preventive deployment of an additional battalion and the presence of the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) helped to maintain a safe environment during the election period. But it is especially the restraint observed in statements and actions in Belgrade and Pristina that I wish to welcome. We hope that that attitude will be maintained beyond 20 May, the date of the second round of the Serbian presidential election, which we hope will be just as calm as was the voting on 6 May.
Secondly, Serbia and Kosovo have progressed towards European rapprochement. The granting of candidate status to Serbia and the launching of a feasibility study for a stabilization and association agreement for Kosovo are tangible evidence of the progress that has been made. The first development is the outcome of efforts made by the Serbian authorities, particularly in cooperating with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the internal reforms that they have conducted. The granting of status is also an incentive to follow through. The second development reflects our determination that Kosovo advance towards the European Union. The two events were made possible by progress in the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina facilitated by the European Union. We call on the two capitals to work together to implement all of the agreements that they have reached and to resume the dialogue as soon as possible.
The European Union is also strengthening its commitment in Kosovo, with EULEX being reconfigured to take into account progress made in administering Kosovo and to better adapt to the needs of the country.
France is committed to the existence of a Kosovo that is sovereign, stable, viable, peaceful, democratic and multi-ethnic, which requires a long-term solution to the question of the north of the country. The Ahtisaari plan provides a solid basis for establishing broad autonomy for the Serbians in the north, consolidating the rights of minorities all over Kosovo and protecting their religious heritage sites. We support the decision to close the International Civilian Office and hope that that will also be accompanied by a commitment to implement all the provisions of the Ahtisaari plan.
An international presence must be maintained on the ground as long as the security situation requires it. That is particularly true in the north, where the free movement of EULEX and Kosovo Force (KFOR) personnel must be respected by all parties.
We take seriously the concerns expressed by the Secretary-General about the small number of refugees choosing to return to Kosovo. We call on the Kosovar authorities to shed full light on malfeasance and criminal acts, particularly those against Serbian religious and cultural sites.
The rejection of impunity is also a responsibility of the international community when it comes to the most serious crimes. We have full confidence in the EULEX Special Investigative Task Force and in Prosecutor Williamson to investigate allegations of disappearances and organ trafficking contained in the report of Council of Europe Special Rapporteur, Senator Marty. Considerable financial, technical and human resources have been mobilized to conduct an effective and impartial investigation.
The commitment of the Kosovar authorities and Kosovo’s neighbouring States to fully cooperate with Prosecutor Williamson is an additional guarantee. We welcome in particular the decision taken by the Government of Albania to adopt a law giving EULEX the same powers as those conferred on the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, including the possibility of recording testimony outside the presence of an Albanian magistrate or police officer.
The report of the Secretary-General (S/2012/275) contains in its annex information on the work of the Special Investigative Task Force. That effort at communication must continue so that the Security Council will be informed, as it has requested, while respecting investigative secrecy and applicable elementary rules of confidentiality.