Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE : Report by the Head of OSCE Mission in Kosovo : UK response [October 2023]

The press release issued by the Foreign Office on 19 October 2023.

Ambassador Holland thanks the Head of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo, Ambassador Davenport, for the Mission’s work to strengthen Kosovo’s institutions during the reporting period.

I would like to welcome Ambassador Davenport back to the Permanent Council. Thank you to you and your team for this comprehensive report, which provides a helpful summary of developments and activities over the reporting period.

The United Kingdom commends the work of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo, its close engagement with government institutions, municipalities, and civil society, and its delivery of important initiatives across the three core pillars of its mandate.

The UK highly appreciates the Mission’s important work during this reporting period on monitoring and early warning functions, amid the tense security situation in the north of Kosovo in recent months. The UK supports the assessment in the Report that the participation of Kosovo Serbs in the judiciary, police and municipal institutions in the north of Kosovo is essential to restoring confidence and stabilising the security situation. We also encourage the unconditional participation of Kosovo Serbs in any new municipal elections that take place in the north of Kosovo.

We welcome the Mission’s continued engagement and support on electoral legal reform during the reporting period – including through technical support to the adoption of the Law on General Elections on 8 June, and your work with the Central Election Commission on refining secondary legislation in line with the new law. We welcome the Mission’s continued close engagement with municipal administrations – in particular through capacity-building to municipalities on communications, to promote transparency and gender inclusivity.

The UK values the Mission’s continued support to government institutions on human rights and inter-community relations, including on community safety, and facilitating dialogue among communities on freedom of religion or belief. We also particularly welcome the Mission’s continued work to strengthen inter-institutional cooperation in support of tackling domestic and gender-based violence.

Mr Chair, the UK has been following the recent developments in the north of Kosovo with serious concern. We strongly condemn the violent attack on Kosovo Police on 24 September by a group of heavily armed and organised assailants. The level of resourcing and organisation of this attack, including the discovery of significant heavy weaponry and ammunition, represented a marked escalation. It is important that Serbia co-operates fully with the investigations by Kosovo’s institutions in coordination with EULEX, to establish the full facts, identify those responsible and bring them to justice.

The UK continues to urge Serbia and Kosovo to avoid unilateral actions, and to take immediate steps to reduce tensions, including refraining from inflammatory rhetoric. Dialogue is vital to de-escalation, finding solutions, and protecting the gains of the last decade. We expect Kosovo and Serbia to re-engage in the EU-facilitated Dialogue, honour their commitments, and avoid actions or rhetoric that could reduce prospects for a comprehensive and sustainable normalisation agreement. In line with the Brussels and Ohrid agreements, we urge both parties to engage constructively – including on the establishment of an Association of Serb Majority Municipalities – as soon as possible.

Mr Chair, the United Kingdom remains a long-standing and strong supporter of Kosovo as an independent and sovereign state. We remain committed to supporting an inclusive, diverse and multi-ethnic democracy in Kosovo, and its full participation in the international system. We value and appreciate the Mission’s continued engagement and commitment to its work to strengthen Kosovo’s institutions.

In conclusion, I would like to thank you, Ambassador Davenport, for your leadership of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo during this reporting period. I also thank your team for their continued expertise, engagement and hard work under pressure and uncertainty – it really is much appreciated.

Thank you, Mr Chair.