Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at UNSC briefing on the situation in Kosovo
We thank Special Representative of the Secretary-General Zahir Tanin for briefing us on the situation in the Province and sharing his insights. In general, we agree with his assessments.
We welcome the participation of Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia Nikola Selaković in this meeting. Today we once again listened to a propaganda pamphlet by Ms. Vjosa Osmani-Sadriu, telling us about a peaceful multiethnic Kosovo that achieved unspeakable progress on its way towards democracy and prosperity. However this nice tale has nothing to do with reality. Ms.Osmani shared her own version of the vents that have taken place in Kosovo over the recent month. This version is not convincing at all. You are misleading the Security Council and the entire international community. Your passionate rhetoric will not change evident facts.
The situation in northern areas of Serbia’s Autonomous Province of Kosovo raises great concern. It has deteriorated considerably over the recent month.
At the end of September the Kosovo authorities purposefully provoked tension in the north of the Province. As a result, road traffic through the administrative border was stopped. Kosovo-Albanian special ops force was dispatched to the Serb-populated area, besides armor vehicles and heavy weaponry were deployed, causing collateral damage and injuries among civilians. Thanks to the mediation of the European Union the issue seems to have been solved. But no sooner had the ink under the agreements dried than new blatant cases took place on 13 October. During inspection raids of department stores and pharmacies in Kosovo’s Mitrovica and Zvečan, Kosovar special ops force used firearms, tear gas, and sound bombs against civilians, injuring dozens of people.
We consider such steps of Pristina as a manifestation of its intention to escalate the situation in order to intimidate and exert pressure on native Serbs and oust them from Kosovo. Obviously, there is also an internal political aspect to this arms clatter: national radicalism becomes easily marketable in the run-up to municipal elections on 17 October. The overall statistics of attacks on Kosovo’s Serbs and other non-Albanians and offenses against their property is on the rise. As compared to 2020, the total number of attacks has almost doubled.
We welcome the responsible position of Belgrade. When reacting to the Kosovo-Albanian outrage, Belgrade has not violated a single obligation under UNSC resolution 1244 or the Kumanovo Military Technical Agreement. It also took a responsible approach to the dispute-settling dialogue under the EU auspices.
However, we regret that our Western colleagues evade giving fair public assessments to the current developments and merely continue calling the two sides to act with restraint. Meanwhile, “Kosovar leaders” confront Belgrade with ultimatum demands to recognize the Kosovo’s independence and pay off some “reparations”. Nor do Western states condemn “Great Albanian” campaigning in Tirana and Pristina. Steps towards creating the “Kosovo Army” that enjoy support of some states constitute a serious problem. Such ideas must be staved off by a solid barrier, and any unacceptable claims in this regard must receive a clear assessment.
Incomprehensible reaction of our Western colleagues who curate Pristina and in fact play along with it, gives the latter a feeling of permissiveness and inevitably triggers a relapse into open confrontation. In this regard, we would like to remind that the responsibility for maintaining peace and security in the Province rests upon NATO’s Kosovo Force and the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX).
The recent events in Kosovo, and Pristina’s obvious intention to exclude the search for a negotiated solution from its priorities – all this makes a very dangerous trend. Over the recent months Pristina undermined the high-level dialogue with Belgrade under EU auspices twice – on 15 June and 19 July. There is no doubt that the new tactics of forceful provocations is also aimed at undermining the negotiations process, especially in view of the fact that its next round is supposed to address establishment of the Community of Serb Municipalities of Kosovo – an obligation Pristina has been failing to implement ever since 2013.
We remind of the special responsibility of the European Union which the UN General Assembly vested with mediator function back in 2010. That is why Brussels has to maintain the dialogue in an impartial manner and drive the sides towards unconditional implementation of obligations, that Brussels itself helped to elaborate. What’s at stake is Brussels authority as a mediator.
The role of our American colleagues, who have an influence on Pristina is also considerable. We hope they will help Pristina realize that there is only one way to solve the Kosovo problem, and it is negotiations.
The Russian Federation advocates for Belgrade and Pristina finding a viable and mutually acceptable solution on the basis of UNSC resolution 1244. First of all, it must comply with the international law and receive approval of the Security Council, because it is all about ensuring international peace and security. For the same reason, we strongly oppose Kosovo’s accession to international organizations. It is only the UN Mission in Kosovo that is entitled to represent the Province.
We advocate for continuation of the cadenced work of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers in the Hague investigating the crimes committed by the “Kosovo Liberation Army”. It has been 22 years since the conflict started; time has come to restore justice regarding numerous innocent victims of Kosovo-Albanian extremists.
Unfortunately, no justice has been recovered in the matter of attack of Kosovo-Albanian police on an UNMIK officer – Russian national M.Krasnoshchekov that occurred on 28 May 2019. This standstill appears even more flagrant against the fact that the Security Council and the UN Secretariat always cite safety of UN personnel as an absolute priority.
Regrettably, Kosovo’s judiciary malfunctions regularly. It will just suffice to mention the illegitimate decision of Kosovo’s Court of Appeal pertaining to a leader of Kosovo Serbs, Head of Zvečan municipality Ivan Todosijevic that confirmed the guilty verdict in violation of the Brussels agreements.
The status of Serb minority in Kosovo remains extremely dissatisfying. As a result, return of IDPs and refugees to the Province proceeds at a very slow pace.
The problem with Pristina certifying Serbian companies that are to supply and distribute electric energy in northern Kosovo needs to be addressed urgently. As the heating season is approaching, this issue become truly crucial for Serbs living in Kosovo.
We take note of unstopping attacks on the century-long cultural and religious Serb heritage in Kosovo. In this connection, we welcome the decision of specialized mechanisms of UNESCO to keep facilities of the Serbian Orthodox Church on the list of World Heritage Sites in Danger.
The activity of the UN Mission in Kosovo remains in high demand amidst these unfavorable conditions. We stand for preserving the budgetary and staffing capacity of the Mission at the current level, and maintaining the endorsed frequency and the format of open Security Council briefings on Kosovo. Besides, we count on the next report of the Secretary-General to address all challenges that UNMIK is faced with.