National Statement by Sweden at the Security Council briefing on UNMIK

National Statement by Sweden, Ambassador Olof Skoog, at the Security Council briefing on UNMIK. Tuesday, 16 May 2017, New York.

Mr President,

I would like to begin by thanking our friend Zahir Tanin, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, for his briefing today. I would also like to thank Minister Kuburović and Ambassador Çitaku for their statements to the Council.

Sweden has long stood with the people of Kosovo in their efforts to leave behind the legacy of war and to build a peaceful and prosperous society. Sweden's Foreign Minister, Margot Wallström, visited Kosovo only two weeks ago to reiterate our firm support for Kosovo's European perspective. She also stressed the need for continued reforms, and the normalisation of Pristina's relationship with Belgrade as part of this process. Sweden stands ready to help and will continue to support Kosovo's reform efforts as part of our bilateral development cooperation.

Mr President,

Delivering on Kosovo's European perspective and that of the wider Western Balkans region remains a top priority for the European Union. Regional cooperation and good neighborly relations are a prerequisite for a stable, peaceful and prosperous Western Balkans. Therefore, we are concerned about the hardened rhetoric in the region in recent months, as exemplified by the SRSG. We call on both sides to redouble their efforts for peace by refraining from rhetoric or actions that damage trust and instead to work actively to build confidence and mutual understanding across the region.

It is clear that the future of both Serbia and Kosovo lies within the European Union. For this reason too, normalisation of relations is essential. The European Union-facilitated Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue provides an important framework for finding pragmatic and mutually acceptable solutions to the concerns of both sides. It is an irreversible process that needs a strong commitment. We expect Pristina and Belgrade to engage constructively in the dialogue, and to implement their respective parts of the agreement. This includes, most notably, the dismantling of parallel structures in Serb majority areas and the establishment of the Association of Serb Municipalities. In addition, it is essential that the status issue does not hinder Kosovo's European perspective, or membership in international organizations.

To achieve the aspirations of the Kosovar people, national leaders must find a way to work together so as not to undermine efforts to achieve the crucial reforms needed to benefit all the people living in Kosovo. Therefore, it is regrettable that the current political impasse has hindered concrete and meaningful reform efforts. We hope that the forthcoming elections will lead to a strengthening of the democratic institutions and continued reforms, especially on rule of law and socio-economic development.

Mr President,

The United Nations and UNMIK have made invaluable contributions to achieving the level of peace and security that we see in Kosovo today. Kosovo will continue to need the support of the international community. However, the present challenges faced by the country must be dealt with, primarily, within the framework of the European Union integration process, including through the work of EULEX. In light of this, we would be interested to receive SRSG Tanin and the Secretary-General's views on the possibility to further downsize UNMIK's structure, size and tasks as well as the possibility to adjust the reporting and briefing period from three to six months.

Mr President,

The frameworks are in place to realise the vision of a stable and prosperous Kosovo with a normalised relationship with Serbia. However, to fully realise this vision a more consistent and sustained effort by both Pristina and Belgrade is needed. Doing so will have positive effects across the Western Balkans region.

Thank you

Contact

Lisa Laskaridis Sarmiento
Head of Press and Communication, Permanent Mission of Sweden to the UN
Phone +1 212 583 2543
Mobile +1 917 239 0941
email to Lisa Laskaridis Sarmiento