Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at the UN Security Council Meeting on Kosovo
We thank Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Head of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) Zahir Tanin for his informative briefing on the situation in the Province.
We welcome participation of First Vice-Prime-Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia Ivica Dačić in this session. Mr.Minister, we share serious concerns about the state of affairs in Kosovo that you expressed. We also take note of Ms.Vlora Çitaku’s participation in this meeting.
The situation in Kosovo settlement is unfavorable; it does not instill any optimism. Dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina under EU auspices, that used to be paralyzed, now seems to have lapsed into a coma. For quite a long time, no events have been held in this format, it is “alive” only on paper and in statements.
We expect that the EU will galvanize action once a new European Commission assembles. We hope our European partners will become more productive at this track. We need unbiased mediation. Wrongful practice of tolerating Pristina’s provocations should be abandoned, because it is this attitude that nipped the dialogue in the bud. In this regard, we note Belgrade’s self-restraint.
We see no improvement of the situation in the Province in terms of security and observation of rights of non-Albanian communes. We speak about today, not about yesterday, Ms. Çitaku. There are recurring acts of intimidation, barbarism and seizure of property, cemeteries, and facilities of the Serb Orthodox Church. It is clear that in these circumstances we can hardly talk about return of refugees and IDPs.
Invasions by Kosovo-Albanian special task forces in Serb-populated communes on a false pretext of combatting crime (the latest one took place on 16 October) consistently drive the situation to a dangerous line that might provoke recurrence of conflict. What is discouraging is the lack of will of international presence, KFOR in the first place, to do anything to prevent such incidents.
Forgiving stance that Western partners take with regard to Pristina, adds to growing aggression of Kosovo authorities to UNMIK. Ms. Çitaku, I noticed that you listened very carefully to what Prime-Minister Dačić was talking about. But apparently you did not listen to the Head of UNMIK, or rather preferred not to listen to his statement and the findings of the Special Commission on the incident dated 16 October. Let me remind you what it was, Ms. Çitaku. Please, listen to me now.
We agree with conclusions made by UN representatives regarding the incident that occurred in the North of Kosovo on 28 May, during which Kosovo-Albanian special task force beat and detained UNMIK personnel, namely a Russian national Mikhail Krasnoshchekov and a Serbian national Dejan Dimovic.
These conclusions coincide with results of the investigation held by the Russian Investigation Committee. Our experts found out that special task force intended to hamper official activity of M.Krasnoshchekov that he was carrying out in full compliance with Security Council resolution 1244. They ignored his UN immunity, even though M.Krasnoshchekov presented his ID card and introduced himself in English; and his vehicle had UN insignia. Therefore, he was not subject to arrest and detention. The details of the incident are shocking: Kosovar enforcement officers dragged him out of his car by using physical force, bumped his head against the car door, punched him, then used means of restraint and handcuffs, after that they shoved him in the back seat of the car and continued to beat him. They withdrew M. Krasnoshchekov’s ID card and driver’s license of a UN official, crashed his mobile device. As a result, the UN Mission official suffered bodily harm: a concussion, a complex jaw fracture, to say nothing about moral damage and post trauma syndrome. By taking such action, the Kosovo special task force demonstrated full neglect of norms of international law, including those that guarantee UN official immunity against arrest and detention. Let me also point out that later Kosovar enforcers produced some excuses and framed up charges against M.Krasnoshchekov (Ms. Çitaku did it today) that have found no objective proof. They are defied, i.a. by video footage of those events of 28 May
Distinguished Members of the Council, what happened proves immaturity of Kosovo-Albanian enforcement bodies and its low culture. We believe it would be erroneous and unsubstantiated to raise the issue of Kosovo’s joining international organizations, including INTERPOL. We demand investigation and punishment for those guilty of this crime. We believe the Security Council should condemn in strongest terms this crime against UN personnel.
There is one more thing that is important. We see obvious intention of Kosovo-Albanian authorities to oust UNMIK from the Province. There are no UNMIK officials left in the North of Kosovo, and the Mission is forced to operate while being in fact boycotted by Pristina authorities.
Today Ms. Çitaku explicitly stated that Pristina authorities dream of UN leaving the Province as soon as possible in order to have no one see the lawlessness that occurs there and that we talk about today. Of course, Ms. Çitaku would like the Security Council to stop discussing Kosovo and stop wasting, as she put it, “its valuable time”. The lawlessness that we discuss today somehow does not reconcile itself with the image of a young and beautiful democracy that Ms. Çitaku portrays here for us.
What constituted another severe violation of Security Council resolution 1244 was participation of “Kosovo Security Forces” in multinational military exercise “Albanian Effort 19”. Organizers of those military games ignored a provision of the aforementioned Security Council resolution containing a demand to demilitarize any armed groups of Kosovar Albanians, to say nothing of their participation in military maneuvers or their transformation in regular armed forces. Such activity, alongside with promotion of so-called “Great Albania” project pose a profound threat to regional security.
Kosovo remains a comfort zone for recruiting various sorts of terrorists. What also poses a threat to peace and stability in the region is returning of former ISIL militants to Kosovo. Trained to kill, they promote corresponding radical ideas. It is a ticking time bomb planted under the regional security.
It is puzzling that initiators of the project of Kosovar independence try to ignore these problems. Brussels-based EU has done nothing either to resume full-fledged dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade and implement the key agreement, which is to establish a Community of Serb Municipalities in Kosovo, or to revoke customs tariffs of 100% on goods from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina introduced by Pristina. Special Court on investigation of crimes committed by the “Kosovo Liberation Army” has never begun real work, even though it has appointed a third prosecutor in a row. We consider it an attempt to “wear out” investigation of crimes identified by Rapporteur of the Council of Europe D.Marti.
Everyone guilty of grave crimes should be brought to court and held accountable. Slogans that we often hear at the Security Council regarding other crisis situations, should be translated to practice. Let us be frank: helplessness of Pristina’s mentors is astonishing. And no one of them can report what they do to relaunch political process and bring Kosovo authorities to reason.
Russian position on Kosovo settlement is consistent. We believe that Belgrade and Pristina should find a viable and mutually acceptable solution based on UNSC resolution 1244. It should abide by the international law in the first place and be endorsed by the Security Council, because this is an issue of global peace and security. We believe it destructive to force the so-called ultimate normalization between Belgrade and Pristina, to link it to some far-fetched time frames.
All the aforesaid shows that problems in the Province do not get solved, they only mount up. In this context, we believe calls to suspend UNMIK or hold its “strategic review” that were expressed in this room on many occasions to be baseless.
Once again, we pay attention of the UN Secretariat to the need to keep close track of the situation that, as proven by the facts I mentioned, requires close monitoring of the international community.
In light of this, we believe that the Security Council should respond to the current situation. We have prepared a draft statement by the President of the Security Council that reflects points I dwelt on today. We would like to request the Secretariat to circulate the text among the Members of the Security Council. We hope the Council will be able to endorse it.