Statement by Acting Permanent Representative Dmitry Polyanskiy at the Security Council meeting on the situation in Kosovo
We welcome the participation of First Vice Prime-Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia Ivica Dačić. We share the concerns about the state of affairs in Kosovo expressed by the distinguished Minister.
We also thank Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Head of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) Zahir Tanin for a substantive briefing on the situation in the Province. In general, we share the assessments contained therein. We thank Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Miguel Soares for his comments. It was with great attention that we listened to the speech by Ms. Vlora Çitaku. Frankly speaking, there is nothing we can thank her for, but eloquent lies, insinuations and hatred-inciting racist historical fantasies that are not worth being said in the Security Council Chamber. This is what came instead of apologies for banditism of her compatriots, though apologies is something many of us basically expected.
In spite of the fact that the events to have taken place in the North of Kosovo on May 28, 2019, did not make it to the report of the UN Secretary-General that is under consideration today, we believe it was logical that we paid priority attention precisely to these events. Far too flagrant were the unlawful acts of the brazened Kosovo authorities.
Kosovo-Albanian special forces intruded Serb-populated municipalities in the North of Kosovo on a far-fetched pretext of combatting organized crime. As a result, 28 people were detained, the majority of them being Serb police officers. A UNMIK member, a Russian National Mikhail Krasnoshchekov who was on-duty, suffered beatings and was detained.
Ms. Çitaku has just presented a version of what UNMIK official M.Krasnoshchekov did, which is void of any common sense; to say nothing of the fact that Pristina never even bothered to spell M.Krasnoshchekov’s name properly. According to them, he felled trees for the barricades, then carefully placed the chainsaw in a car trunk, then he stood in front of the barricades and refused the demand to present a UNMIK ID card. Do you yourself believe in this nonsense? I understand that an investigation is in progress, however, I have two questions for Mr.Tanin: Did M. Krasnoshchekov provide a UNMIK ID card? Did he suffer beatings? Ms. Çitaku has just tried to convince us that there had been no beatings. However, we have many photos that prove the opposite. By the way, there are quite many video files on the Internet that depict lawlessness and banditry of the Kosovo special forces. I would very much appreciate your answers.
We would like to remind that during the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, carried out with the support and participation of the West, sides came to an understanding that Kosovo police special forces, armed with long-barreled weapons, would not enter the Serb-populated North. This was a kind of a “gentlemen’s agreement” which was not committed to paper. However, in the course of the recent years, such “intrusions” have happened time and again with the connivance of the International Forces for Kosovo that hold the relevant UNSC mandate to ensure peace and security in the Province.
We consider these actions to have been of a deliberate, provocative and demonstrative nature. Such enthusiasm to combat crime had not been characteristic of the Pristina authorities before. The timing chosen for this attack was far not coincidental. The day before that, when speaking in the Parliament, President of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić stated readiness to develop a compromise solution to the Kosovo problem. The Kosovo-Albanian authorities, however, preferred to demonstrate that even without that they were “hosts” in the North of the Province. By the way, one week prior to this there had been municipal elections where the “Serb List” won over Albanian parties by a large margin. The attempt to take over the North in a legal way failed, so they chose the other, forceful manner.
People in the Balkans remember the events of 1990s too well. One rash word or gesture will suffice to begin bloodshed and give a new breath to the smoldering conflict. Why deliberately provoke such a situation?
The Western sponsors almost left without attention this aggressive action, including a blatant and premeditated violation of the immunity of UN personnel. Pristina, through Ms. Çitaku, unambiguously stated it did not intend to respect the UN immunity in the future as well. However, to erode this immunity means to inflict severe consequences on the organization and its members. I believe we all understand it too well. If we go soft on this now, it will mean that UN officials all over the globe might find themselves in a similar situation. Should this happen, it would be too late to appeal to the universal diplomatic norms.
Pristina has launched an information campaign that targets both the UN and Russia. The motifs are clear. On the one side there is a goal to discredit the UNMIK and ensure its closure; on the other – to affirm “statehood” at any cost. Kosovo’s “Foreign Office” proclaims M.A.Krashoshchekov a ‘persona non grata’. As was already said today, such procedure is not applicable to UN officials – States can only use it in bilateral relations. However, this is not applicable to Kosovars all the same, because Kosovo does not possess international legal personality. It seems a good knowledge of international legal nuances is not the strongest side of the Kosovar officials.
The European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) suggested that we trust the investigation to the Kosovo police, which is responsible for the incident, as we understand. The proposal to seek truth with the Kosovar police-outlaws sounds absurd and mockingly, when we take into account that they violated all possible written and spoken norms, then falsified the picture of the events with support and participation of Kosovo’s highest leaders. It devaluates the role of the EU in Kosovo, and its claims to assist in ensuring the rule of law there.
We would like to draw your attention to the fact that this was not the first provocation related to UNMIK-employed Russian nationals. The Kosovo police had once detained – on a falsified pretext – a Russian intern who was part of the UNMIK. Now Kosovo’s “Foreign Office” addresses the UN Secretary-General and requests to cut the UN presence that allegedly discredits itself, and to hold a Mission review. All of this are links of one and the same chain. Representatives of some of UNSC Permanent Member States use same approaches to discreetly influence the UN Secretariat. They use trendy (in the West), yet absolutely baseless speculations about so called “Russian spies”. We reject point blank such corrupt allegations. Mandates of peacekeeping missions should be considered at the UN Security Council without any behind-the-scenes meddling.
For many years on end, the West has indulged Pristina authorities, which led to a situation where they demonstratively refuse to abide by their patrons. The Kosovo-Albanian “government” under R.Haradinaj has taken course at escalation of the crisis; it appears not to be ready for a targeted dialogue. Brussels’ calls to normalize the relations that are for some reason addressed to the “both sides” only enhance the feeling of all-permissiveness that one of the sides enjoys and provokes it to take maximalist approaches that leave no space for compromise solutions. In November 2018, Kosovo introduced customs tariffs of 100% on goods from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, this measure is still in effect. It is in the same context that we view the resolution on “Serbian genocide” adopted by the Kosovo “Assembly” on 16 May, 2019. This resolution only fuels hatred between the two peoples.
This entire chain of “frantic” anti-Serb actions has a sole goal: to overcome the domestic political stalemate that Kosovo is stuck in on a permanent basis. It actually reflects the cross-clan squabble in Pristina – something that representatives of some political forces of Kosovar Albanians expressly speak about.
We still insist that the decision made by the so called “parliament” on 14 December 2018 to transform Kosovo Security Forces into a full-fledged Kosovo “army” gravely violated UNSC resolution 1244 that contains a clear demand to demilitarize all armed groups of Kosovar Albanians and allows only international forces to be present in Kosovo. We point out the lack of transparency of NATO military facility “Bondsteel” in the Province. What is the true purpose of this base? Is it, perhaps, a creeping engagement of Kosovo in NATO?
Russian position on Kosovo settlement is well established. We believe that Belgrade and Pristina should find a viable and mutually acceptable solution based on UNSC resolution 1244. We believe it destructive to force the so called “ultimate normalization” between Belgrade and Pristina, to link it to some far-fetched time frames. Sustainable solution to the Kosovo problem cannot be found unless it is endorsed by both the affected sides and the Security Council, because what is in question here is ensuring global peace and security.
There is no alternative to a peaceful dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. In this regard, we would like to remind of a key agreement that they achieved and that the Kosovo authorities have been sabotaging for six years on end, namely: agreement to establish a Community of Serb Municipalities in Kosovo. The implementation of this key element of the first agreement on principles of normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo, signed on 19 April, 2013, in Brussels is the major factor indicating the very possibility of having any further targeted discussions.
We would like to appeal to the UN Secretariat and underscore the necessity to keep close track of the situation, which – the aforementioned facts prove this – requires thorough international monitoring.
It is quite obvious to us that this meeting has put those to shame who, despite any common sense and the degrading situation “on the ground” insist on cutting time assigned at the Security Council for discussions of the Kosovo issue. The discussion we have had only confirmed that without close attention of the Security Council, the Kosovo Albanian authorities will become absolutely confident of their impunity and all-permissiveness. This risks to nudge the region towards a renewed bloodstained confrontation that neither the Security Council, nor the leadership of Serbia or the neighbor States are interested in.