Thank you Mr. President,
I would like to begin by warmly welcoming Serbia’s Prime Minister Ivica Dacic in his first presence on this Council in that capacity and wish him the best in his duties. I also welcome Prime Minister Hacim Tahci, from Kosovo, and thank both Prime Ministers for their statements. I also thank Special Representative Farid Zarif for his very comprehensive briefing and for his work leading UNMIK.
On a general note, I would like to highlight the restraint and constructive pragmatism shown by relevant political actors on all sides in the context of the holding, in Kosovo, of Serbian parliamentary and presidential elections: together with the outstanding job done by the OSCE, they contributed decisively to a successful conduct of the vote.
The situation in Kosovo over the last few months has already been addressed in detail by the Prime Ministers’ statements and by the Special Representative’s briefing. I will focus my statement on three specific aspects.
First: the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, facilitated by the European Union, should be resumed on the shortest possible term. Portugal calls upon the parties to constructively re-engage in a dialogue which has constituted the fundamental tool that brings the two sides together, working for the common good of all involved in, and affected by, the situation in Kosovo. The Belgrade-Pristina dialogue must not be let to wither on the basis of transient political circumstances. Progress achieved so far has had an impact in the everyday lives of thousands of people, regardless of their ethnicity or political stances on the status of Kosovo, showing that the basis and the need for a dialogue continue to exist. In this context, implementation of the agreements reached should proceed swiftly and differences over their interpretation should be solved.
Second: the potential for instability in Kosovo remains, and the political and security situations must continue to be addressed by all involved in a balanced and cautious way. Incidents and breaches of public order that the report and briefing of Mr. Zarif’s have mentioned have resulted in the wounding of civilians, including children, and also of KFOR soldiers. Portugal condemns these incidents vigorously.We believe that they indicate there are reasons for the international community to pay particular attention to the nature and motives of these incidents, and to be actively engaged in both preventing future violence as well as in reacting swiftly to similar occurrences.
Changes are coming to Kosovo at a fast pace, and the next few months will be of great importance both at the political and institutional levels, as well as regarding the security environment. In this regard, we take very seriously the Secretary-General’s warning about the near future. There is indeed the need to genuinely reach out to the population in the northern part of Kosovo. Precipitate action may spark a sequence of events the results of which may be unforeseen in extent and seriousness. Portugal calls upon all stakeholders to refrain from any actions that may increase tension and to exert maximum restraint in reacting to provocations that only serve very limited interests at the expense of stability and of a commonly acceptable solution for the situation in the northern Kosovo. In this regard the United Nations, OSCE, KFOR and EULEX, among other international actors on the ground will be required to carry out their mandates in a changing and demanding environment. We are confident that they will continue to fulfil what the international community, and this Council, expect of them.
Third: human rights and rule of law. Portugal is encouraged to see that significant and constructive activity took place in Kosovo during the reporting period, and in very diverse aspects of human rights issues. It is a positive sign that the “Dialogue between Women in Kosovo” initiative was able to bring to the same table Kosovo Albanians and Serbs, as well as delegates from neighbouring countries. In the same area, we welcome the positive work being done on an Action Plan for the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325, to be finalized by the end of the year.
We also note the establishment of the Inter-ministerial Working Group on dealing with the Past and Reconciliation, the results of which we are sure will be closely followed in and out of Kosovo.
We are concerned, however, about the challenges minority communities still face: it is vital for public institutions in Kosovo, namely the police, to be perceived by all communities as neutral guardians and enforcers of the rule of law. The security situation and the way it is perceived among minorities is essential for their integration into the Kosovo society and also for the return process.
Finally, Mr. President, a word on EULEX’s work in Kosovo. We consider any attempts to obstruct EULEX’s work and any threats to the security of its personnel – or indeed to the security of any international organization on the ground in Kosovo – to be totally unacceptable. It is imperative that EULEX finds the necessary support and cooperation from all stakeholders to assist in the institutional reform needed in Kosovo, besides the ongoing – and successful – fight against corruption and organised crime. Portugal also reiterates its supports for the Special Investigative Task Force regarding the allegations of trafficking in human organs and is encouraged by the degree of cooperation pledged by regional governments and partners. We hope that this will be translated into results in the foreseeable future.
The months between today and the next Security Council debate on UNMIK will prove to be very important for the future not only of Kosovo, but also for Kosovo’s neighbours and indeed the entire region. The anticipated closure of the International Civilian Office entails political and institutional developments that are bound to impact on the ground, presenting new challenges. We expect Kosovo to remain strongly committed to a peaceful, stable, democratic and multi-ethnic state. Under your dutiful and insightful leadership, Mr. Special Representative Farid Zarif, Portugal believes that the United Nations will continue to thoroughly fulfil its mandate and uphold international peace and security.