I wish at the outset to thank the Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia and the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo for their statements. I also welcome the presence among us of Mr. Farid Zarif, Special Representative of the Secretary-General.
As the key issues have already been discussed, I shall restrict myself to the following three points. First, the end of Kosovo’s supervised independence on 10 September is an opportunity that should be seized, not to revisit past legal controversies but to consolidate a sovereign, peaceful, democratic and multi-ethnic Kosovo living in peace with its neighbours. That will require the early resumption of dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo under the auspices of the European Union.
In that regard, we are encouraged by the statements made by the new Serbian authorities indicating their determination to make progress and to implement, at an early date, existing agreements. Pristina must also convince the Kosovo Serbs that the Serbs and the Albanians share a common destiny and have common interests both north and south of the river Ibar, and Belgrade, for its part, must dismantle the parallel structures that have been set up in the north. It is essential to consolidate the rights of minorities throughout Kosovo, to continue to protect their cultural and religious heritage, and to ensure the return of refugees in suitable conditions.
Secondly, the prospect of European integration must enable Serbia and Kosovo to turn the page on past conf licts. The future of the two countries lies within the European Union. The granting of candidate status to Serbia and the launching of a feasibility study with regard to a stabilization and association pact for Kosovo are tangible elements of the progress that has been achieved. They have been made possible by the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, which has been bearing fruit since March 2011.
The European Union will now focus its efforts on supporting political dialogue between the two parties and ensuring compliance with past agreements between the two capitals. On the ground, the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) and the Kosovo Force (KFOR) will continue to support the peaceful transition and will focus on establishing the rule of law and freedom of movement in northern Kosovo, restructuring their presence accordingly. The United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo must take note of these developments. The international presence in Kosovo will not be there indefinitely. As Kosovo institutions mature, they will be increasingly up to the task of ensuring the security and political rights of minorities.
Thirdly, the region is not condemned to a cycle of violence or conf lict. The situation on the ground is headed in the right direction, although it remains fragile. Soldiers and individuals deployed under KFOR and EULEX are responsible for ensuring respect for freedom of movement in Kosovo, pursuant to resolution 1244 (1999). Any obstacle to their own freedom of movement and any acts of violence against them must be unambiguously condemned.
Finally, the lack of consensus within the international community should not serve as a pretext for a lack of action. Dual-national Kosovo Serbs living in Kosovo were able to participate peacefully in the legislative and presidential elections held in Serbia. The transfer of security responsibilities at the Dević Convent to the Kosovo police also took place in a satisfactory manner — clear evidence of the fact that when there is political will on the part of both parties, agreements are possible, and can even be expedited, even on the most sensitive issues.