Thank you, President. Let me begin by thanking Special Representative Ziadeh for her briefing and we welcome the participation to our meeting Her Excellency Ms. Vjosa Osmani, President of Kosovo, and Her Excellency Ms. Ana Brnabic, Prime Minister of Serbia.
The United Kingdom is a long-standing supporter of Kosovo as an independent and sovereign state. We welcome the Government’s continued progress on important issues such as the rule of law, transitional justice and tackling organised crime and corruption.
We fully support the Declaration on Missing Persons endorsed by both Kosovo and Serbia. This is a priority issue, and should not be politicised.
We also echo the Mission’s call for the Government of Kosovo to implement the 2016 ruling of the Constitutional Court of Kosovo regarding the Dečani monastery’s property. This would send a positive signal to minority communities and demonstrate Kosovo’s commitment to an inclusive, multi-ethnic future.
President, we also remain deeply concerned by the immediate security challenges in the north of Kosovo. We strongly condemn the attacks on international personnel in May and Kosovo Police on 24 September. It is vital that those responsible are brought to justice. We call on Serbia to cooperate fully with the investigations underway, and to take steps to address cross-border organised crime and arms smuggling.
Kosovo must be able to implement the rule of law across the whole of its territory, in close coordination with EULEX and KFOR. We are proud to have deployed approximately 600 UK soldiers to Kosovo in response to a request from NATO, to help fulfil KFOR’s mandate to maintain a safe and secure environment in Kosovo.
At this time of heightened tension, the normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia remains vital. We urge both parties to engage with the EU-facilitated Dialogue to find mutually acceptable solutions, end the cycle of instability, and protect the hard-fought gains of the last decade.
We call on Kosovo and Serbia to honour their commitments and avoid unilateral actions or rhetoric that could reduce prospects for a comprehensive normalisation agreement. We urge both parties to engage constructively – including on the establishment of an Association of Serb Majority Municipalities – as soon as possible.
Finally, President, we recognise the vital role that UNMIK has played in the significant progress Kosovo has made since resolution 1244. But conditions on the ground are unrecognisable from 1999. We believe it is time to review UNMIK’s role and responsibilities. This would enable the Council to take a fresh look at how the Mission can adapt to serve the current conditions in Kosovo.
In closing, let me reiterate the UK’s gratitude to the Special Representative and the Mission for all of their work, and for the professional implementation of their mandate.