UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon presents a report at the UN session
17. February 2011. | 06:58
The Secretary-General’s report spotlights the events leading up to and following the collapse of Kosovo’s governing coalition, as well as the calling of extraordinary Assembly elections on last 12 December.
The Security Council met yesterday to consider the latest report of the Secretary-General covering the activities of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and related developments occurring between 19 October 2010 and 15 January 2011.
Annexed to it was the latest report of the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on the activities of the regional body’s Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo.
The Secretary-General’s report (document S/2011/43) spotlights the events leading up to and following the collapse of Kosovo’s governing coalition, as well as the calling of extraordinary Assembly elections on last 12 December.
Those political developments have slowed down the momentum generated by General Assembly resolution 64/298, adopted on 9 September 2010, which welcomed the European Union’s readiness to facilitate a dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia.
As of 28 January 2011, the date of the current report, representatives of Belgrade and Pristina have not met, although the European Union facilitators have held several preparatory meetings with both sides, and with those contributing to the preparations, including United Nations representatives.
According to the report, the leadership in Belgrade has continued to stress its readiness to begin the dialogue immediately. Pristina has also expressed its willingness to start rapidly, but the need for partial reruns of the elections has delayed the formation of a new Government in Kosovo and consequently the start of the dialogue.
“I remain encouraged by the continued commitment of the sides to engage in this dialogue, and I urge all stakeholders to maintain their positive and constructive approach towards it,” the Secretary-General writes, describing the dialogue as a valuable opportunity to address and resolve long-standing issues, which would contribute significantly to the consolidation of peace, stability and reconciliation in Kosovo and in the wider region.
As for the Assembly elections, organized by the Kosovo authorities without UNMIK involvement, the report notes that while the ballot was held in a peaceful atmosphere and did not escalate tensions among the population, organizations monitoring the polls have expressed concerns about the level of adherence to democratic standards during the electoral process.
The report also notes a “considerable increase” in participation by Kosovo Serbs south of the Ibër/Ibar River compared to earlier elections, as opposed to the community’s boycott of the electoral exercise in the north.
The report goes on to note that the situation in northern Kosovo has remained volatile, “with simmering inter-ethnic tensions and a wave of attacks” against members of the international community and Kosovo Serbs associated with the authorities.
The Secretary-General expects that the dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade will provide the appropriate forum for resolving issues that could lead to tensions and instability in northern Kosovo, and will, therefore, greatly enhance peace and security in the area.
Continuing misrepresentation of UNMIK activities in northern Kosovo by some Pristina-based media, which risks placing United Nations staff in danger, remains another cause for concern, the Secretary-General states.
“I urge all parties to acknowledge UNMIK’s efforts to provide good offices to all communities in northern Kosovo and to cooperate with such efforts.”
The development of stronger inter-community relations and inter-faith contacts can also significantly benefit the long-term safety and sustainability of the remaining Serbian Orthodox sites in Kosovo.
In that context, UNMIK’s continuing efforts to encourage greater inter-faith contact and dialogue are of particular importance, as they serve to foster reconciliation among the communities, the report says.
The Secretary-General appeals to local religious leaders of different faiths to demonstrate openness towards each other and participate in inter-faith events, and to the international community to support those leaders who can play a positive role in bridging the divide between the communities.