Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at UN Security Council meeting on the situation in Kosovo
Thank you, Mr. President,
Above all, we would like to thank our colleagues from Equatorial Guinea for their principal position and for inclusion of a meeting on Kosovo in the Council’s agenda for February in order to discuss the situation in the Province and the report by Secretary-General of 31 January on the implementation of UNSC resolution 1244.
We welcome the participation of Mr. Ivica Dačić, First Deputy Prime-Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia. Distinguished Minister, we share the profound concerns about the situation in Kosovo that you talked about.
We are also grateful to Mr. Zahir Tanin, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Head of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo for a very informative briefing on the situation in the Province. We give a positive assessment to the work of the Mission. We support you and your efforts. We have also been very interested to listen to the speech by Mm. Vlora Çitaku.
Mm. Çitaku said that she could not understand why we are here today. Now I will explain to you why. Furthermore, Mm. Çitaku read to us the latest pamphlet (in which, by the way, I did not hear any answer to the serious and fair claims that were made about Kosovo by Prime-Minister Dačić). Mm. Çitaku called this meeting of Security Council a “charade”. Thank you very much for your assessment of this meeting. But if you think that this is a charade, then you are very free not to come to these meetings. After all, you are invited to them.
We do not accept the attempts of Pristina’s sponsors to exclude the Kosovo issue from the UNSC agenda. Behind the phrases “recently discussed”, “nothing to discuss”, “situation is calm”, “why so often?” there is the desire to conceal from the international community the truth about the real situation in the Province and behind-the-curtain meddling on Kosovo. This also covers the calls for strategic assessment.
May we remind that according to resolution 1244 the Security Council has always been and still is the main platform for international dialogue on Kosovo. This problem – taking into account its escalation – should remain under tight control of Security Council and be proposed for its consideration in accordance with established practice –in the form of open briefings.
The situation in the Province is very unstable; it can get out of control any time. By the way, analogous assessments have been made during the semi-annual report of the Head of OSCE Mission in Kosovo that has been recently presented at the OSCE Permanent Council meeting.
Kosovo remains the main cradle of instability and source of conflict potential in the Balkans region. Pristina authorities have chosen to exacerbate the crisis, they threaten to get back to violence and war. We take notice of recurring signs showing that Kosovo Albanian leadership 20 years after barbarous NATO bombings of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and after 10 years of unilateral “independence” is coming out of control of the Western countries who had designed this “independence”. We can articulate the question in another way: “Could ‘Pristina leadership’ have behaved in such a manner, had there been no connivance from the outside?” The answer is obvious.
During the period under review, Pristina undertook a series of provocations against Serbia and Serbs who live in the Autonomous Province. The “government” of Kosovo violated the obligations under the Central European Free Trade Agreement and introduced customs tariffs of 100% on goods from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. This measure is still valid despite the appeals of President of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić in SC. Pristina simply ignores unsubstantiated and unconvincing requests of US and EU to revoke those steps.
Besides on 14 December 2018 the so called “parliament” made a decision to transform Kosovo Security Forces into a full-fledged Kosovo “army” thus gravely violating UNSC resolution 1244. This resolution, as Secretary-General reiterated, remains the core international legal act on Kosovo settlement. It contains a clear demand to demilitarize all armed groups of Kosovar Albanians and allows only multinational contingents under international control to be present in Kosovo. Therefore, should Pristina create armed forces, KFOR will have to disarm them. However, quite on the contrary, the ones who should be preventing this are the ones to encourage the foundation of the “army”.
Western mentors try to whitewash Pristina by saying that this decision would not change the nature of Kosovo Security Forces. But in reality they actually want to double them in number, create reserves and, most importantly – change the very essence of this structure that has been a tool of civil defense up to now. With assistance of the US and a number of NATO countries, Kosovo Albanian military servicemen receive boosted training, increased weapons and technology deliveries. There is no guarantee, that Kosovo “armed forces”, constituted mainly from terrorists of “Kosovo Liberation Army”, will not be deployed against the Serbian population in the North of the Province.
The calls of Kosovo Albanian side to “unite” the North and the South Mitrovica sound particularly alarming. In the current precarious situation any step in this direction may become, as we say, “a spark that would start the fire”.
It is quite evident that all the decisions made in Kosovo are links of the same chain. Their goal – threaten Serb population of the Province and deprive them of opportunity. All this is developing against the background of propagandist bustle about establishing “multiethnic community” in the Province.
In the light of partisan course of our partners, the impotence of mediation efforts of the EU in the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina is clearly seen and seems to be quite logical. I speak about the efforts to which our partners used to refer as to a guiding star.
Here is a vivid example: for sixth year in a row there has been no progress in implementing the key agreement on establishing a Community of Serb Municipalities in Kosovo. Brussels is unable to make Pristina do this. We hear no reaction to how Kosovar Albanians openly sabotage their obligations. Instead, there are calls upon “both sides” to normalize the relations which only enhance the feeling of total permissiveness by one side and provoke maximalist approaches that do not entail compromise solutions.
Russian position on Kosovo is consistent. We believe that Belgrade and Pristina should find a viable, mutually acceptable and sustainable solution based on UNSC resolution 1244. This solution should be fair, compliant with international law and endorsed by the UN Security Council. To force the so called “ultimate normalization” between Belgrade and Pristina, to link it to some far-fetched time frames would be destructive. If we want stability in the Balkans, we have to be able to look for compromise. When the solutions are found in the course of this work, they should be implemented, not sabotaged. This is true, in particular, for the Community of Serb Municipalities.
Flagrantly irresponsible statements of Pristina about UNMIK raise our deepest concerns. The statement of “prime-minister” of Kosovo Ramush Kharadinay in which he says that his “government” stops cooperation with the Mission – is a blatant violation of resolution 1244. In my paper I had a question here: “I am eager to hear the assessment that our Western partners will give to it. Or will they prefer to ignore him and again pretend nothing has happened?” I listened carefully to the speeches of our colleagues, however I had known the answer in advance: no one even mentioned this.
There is no result of the operation of the Special Court to try crimes committed by militants of “Kosovo Liberation Army”, including kidnapping and murders for the purpose of removing people’s organs. There was a noteworthy interview in Serbian newspaper “Večernje novosti” of Mr. D.Marty, Swiss, former member of Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), author of the report “Investigation of alleged crimes of inhuman treatment of people and illicit trafficking in human organs in Kosovo”. There are interesting facts in it.
C.Williamson, former US prosecutor of Special Court in the Hague in July 2014 reported that the results of the investigation coincide with the conclusions made by D.Marty, however right after that he resigned. Since then prosecutors have changed three times, but things are not moving.
According to D.Marty, it is “unconceivable, absurd and doubtful” from the point of view of ethics, that the former prosecutor of ICTY G.Nice is now engaged in defending Kosovars in the Special Court. The most notable thought of Marty report is this: it may happen, that Kosovo-Albanian leaders involved in crimes will never be held accountable. We believe it characterizes both the real state of affairs and the potential of the Court and the general trend of its work.
In this regard we emphasize, that unambiguous signals of PACE rapporteur Marty require an adequate reaction of the international community. At stake is the reputation of international justice and of the European Union as a guarantor to the Special Court and to the fulfilment of its duties. Individuals involved in serious crimes, including illicit trafficking of human organs, must receive heavy penalties – no matter what offices in Pristina they hold now. We will not allow to “coil up” this topic, we will continue highlighting it. It may be noted in passing that the position of our Western partners regarding the Special Court proves that they apply multi-levelled standards to international justice.
The Province remains a comfort zone for recruiting radicals, terrorist returnees from Syria and Iraq flow to the region. To our regret, each year less and less refugees and IDPs return to the Province. Crimes against Serbs and their property, whereby culprits escape liability, are a fact of life.
Kosovo Albanians go on appropriating property of the Serbian Orthodox Church. We reiterate that Church of St John the Baptist and the chapel of St Paraskeva Pyatnitsa in the city of Pec are no longer listed in local cadastral documents as SOC property. There have been attempts to start illegitimate construction works in the area near churches and monasteries protected by UNESCO. I remind that UNESCO is an organization Kosovo wanted to become a member of. In the same context we consider the new charter of Mine and Metal Works “Trepča”, situated in the North of the Province and populated by Serbs, that was adopted by Kosovo “parliament”. The new charter envisions unlawful alienation of this Serbian state-owned facility, which thousands of families of this region live from.
We take notice of persistent efforts of Kosovo authorities, supported by a number of countries, to become member of various international organizations. We stick to our unchanging position, that participation of Pristina in multilateral mechanisms is possible only through UNMIK. Otherwise, it would be a grave violation of the provisions of UNSC resolution 1244.
We draw the attention of the UN Secretariat to the need to closely keep track of the situation, which, as indicated by the abovementioned facts, requires strict international scrutiny, and this scrutiny should be performed by the UN Security Council.
I thank you for your attention.