At the outset, I thank Mr. Farid Zarif, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, for his briefing and Mr. Ivica Dačić, Prime Minister of Serbia, and Mr, Hashim Thaçi, Prime Minsiter of Kosovo, for their statements.
The Security Council is meeting for the third time since the historic agreement of 19 April between Serbia and Kosovo, concluded under the auspices of the European Union. The hopes that arose in the spring as a result of this historic compromise have been fulfilled by subsequent developments. Indeed, the momentum created in April was followed by regular meetings between the authorities of Serbia and Kosovo, while the foundations laid by the implementation plan of 22 May allowed for substantial progress to be made in the relations between the two countries.
We also welcome the agreement reached between the parties on 8 September in Brussels on issues of energy and telecommunications. Furthermore, the dismantling of Serb parallel structures in northern Kosovo continues. Finally, we note with satisfaction that laws ratifying the agreement of 19 April were adopted in early September by the Parliament of Kosovo following a review by the Constitutional Court. All of this, we believe, reflects the commitment of the parties to respecting and quickly implementing the pledges they gave in the spring.
Over the past few weeks, municipal elections were also organized and held throughout Kosovo, with the essential help of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). We commend the parties for their work with local communities throughout the countryside with a view to ensuring high participation rates. The first round of municipal elections, held on 3 November, took place in generally satisfactory conditions, thereby strengthening the implementation of the 19 April agreement. In southern Kosovo, the overall participation rate of the Serbian population was even higher than that observed in 2009. All of this is proof of the beginnings of the Serbian community’s ownership of institutions in Pristina.
Despite the incidents that occurred during the first round of elections, which were very localized, the elections in and of themselves constitute undeniable democratic progress. The smooth holding of the repeat vote, held on 17 November in the three polling stations in north Mitrovica, seems to further suggest that the lessons of the incidents of 3 November were quickly learned. The second round of elections will be held on 1 December, and France calls on the Kosovo and Serbian Governments, as well as all communities in Kosovo, to demonstrate the same maturity and the same courage during this second phase of the elections. Finally, like the Secretary-General, we encourage them to continue their education and reconciliation efforts in the post-election period.
In his report, the Secretary-General re-examines the incident that took the life of an officer of the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) on 19 September. Like all parties, we regret the death of a European officer, who fell in service to the rule of law. We commend both parties for their assistance to the criminal investigation opened by EULEX to bring the perpetrators of that murder to justice. The attack shocked us all, and as noted by the Secretary-General, stands in contrast to the security situation in Kosovo, which otherwise remains calm. We wish to acknowledge once again the work of the EULEX mission, which, alongside the Kosovo police and the Kosovo Force, plays a key role with the OSCE in ensuring the smooth holding of the elections.
The decision to open European Union accession negotiations with Serbia on the one hand, and to authorize the European Commission to negotiate a Stabilization and Association Agreement with Kosovo, on the other, was made after both countries made significant progress in normalizing their relations. That standard was set by the European Union as a common criterion for their respective European rapprochement processes. We must therefore ensure that both parties remain constructively engaged in the long term in improving their relations. With respect to Serbia, that will involve the effective opening of accession negotiations, which the Commission now recommends. It also involves ongoing discussions aimed at concluding a Stabilization and Association Agreement with Kosovo.
Beyond the normalization of their relations, we encourage Belgrade and Pristina to continue to pursue their internal reforms, particularly in terms of the rule of law and the protection of minorities. That is the only way to enable Kosovo and Serbia to together turn over a new leaf in their history and resolutely turn towards regional peace and cooperation.
The international community must take note of these positive developments. In this respect, we invite the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo to adapt its presence to the situation on the ground, in agreement with the Kosovo authorities and according to their actual needs.
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