I thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for his briefing and the Prime Ministers of Serbia and Kosovo for their statements.
Naturally, my country remains committed to the reality of a sovereign, peaceful, democratic and multi-ethnic Kosovo, living in peace with its neighbours. Our hope therefore is that Serbia and Kosovo can find an agreement that would allow them to definitively close the chapter on their conflict, work towards their European future and contribute to stabilizing the Balkans.
That is why the European Union is promoting dialogue between the two countries; the meeting held on Wednesday, 20 March, in Brussels has confirmed that we were close to an agreement. That is major progress, and we encourage both sides to finalize discussions by each making the necessary compromises. We thank Mr. Dačić and Mr. Thaçi for the information they have just provided us with respect to the meeting, and we commend their determination to find an agreement. Thus, considerable progress has been made in the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. That dialogue is being held at the level of Heads of Government, and is addressing the most sensitive issues. We offer all our support to the efforts of the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy for the European Union, Ms. Catherine Ashton, to promote that dialogue.
We need to move towards a long-term solution on the issue of northern Kosovo. The outlines are known. Serbia must dismantle the parallel structures that it maintains there, and Kosovo, for its part, must provide security assurances and substantial autonomy that would win the acceptance of the Serbian populations concerned, which would entail a degree of decentralization, the scope of which would be agreed upon by both sides.
Parallel to that, it is important that the technical agreements that have been reached be implemented and that an agreement be reached on other issues that have been identified, particularly on energy and telecommunications. If the conditions defined in the conclusions of the European Council of December 2012 are met, we could enter a new phase of the European rapprochement for the two countries, which means the launch of European Union accession talks for Serbia and a stabilization and association agreement for Kosovo. We call on the authorities of Serbia and of Kosovo to remain committed to this historic process and to prepare the public for concessions in each stage. We know that this is never easy, and we specifically commend the recent courageous statements of the Prime Minister of Serbia and the resolute commitment of Mr. Thaçi to the dialogue, which does not enjoy unanimous support in Kosovo.
On the ground, the security situation in Kosovo remains calm overall, although incidents continue to take place, particularly in the northern part of the country. As is recalled in the Secretary-General’s report (S/2013/72), it is critical to consolidate the rights of the different communities within Kosovo, to protect their cultural and religious heritage, and to guarantee the return of the 18,000 refugees and internally displaced persons in appropriate conditions of security and reintegration.
We firmly condemn the recent desecration of Serbian cemeteries, and any attack against orthodox religious and cultural sites. Such acts must not go unpunished.
With the end of supervized independence and the establishment of the administrative office in northern Mitrovica, it is normal and desirable that the international presence should adapt to the new realities on the ground. We call on all parties to cooperate with international organizations. It is essential that the authorities of Kosovo cooperate actively with the Special Representative of the European Union and the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) on the rule of law, especially with respect to the investigation into alleged trafficking of human organs. In that regard, I welcome the fact that EULEX continues to provide to the Security Council information on progress made in this investigation, as provided in the report of the Secretary-General.
We would also like to reiterate that the soldiers and personnel deployed within the Kosovo Force and EULEX are instructed to ensure the respect for the freedom of movement within Kosovo. Any impediment to their own freedom of movement or physical security is unacceptable. At a time when the European Union, NATO and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe are adapting their presence to conditions on the ground, we call on the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) to do the same in a spirit of subsidiarity in order to contribute to a peaceful evolution of behaviour, in accord with the Kosovo authorities, without letting themselves be used by the defenders of the status quo.
I would like to conclude by thanking the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and the personnel of the UNMIK in Kosovo for their work.
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