‘Ambitious’ European Union strategy on West Balkans heralded by SRSG Tanin
A new phase of engagement by the European Union in the Western Balkans was heralded by the head of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo, during his address to Security Council members today.
In light of the EU’s new strategy, announced yesterday, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) in Kosovo Zahir Tanin described it as “the most ambitious and far-reaching framework for engagement” since 2003.
He noted the new framework made clear that no accession of Kosovo to the EU would be possible without normalisation of relations.
“2018 can present a new momentum for this dialogue, and as the EU High Representative herself highlighted yesterday, the dialogue could be positively concluded, given sufficient will from the leaders, and adequate encouragement from the international community,” SRSG Tanin told the Security Council.
He also used his address to highlight several political controversies that encircled Kosovo over the past few months.
The first was the attempt in December by 43 Kosovo MPs to revoke a 2015 law on the Kosovo Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s office, whose purpose it is to prosecute individual crimes committed during the Kosovo conflict.
SRSG Tanin briefed the Security Council on several of his recent discussions with Kosovo leaders, in which they offered assurances of their full intention to keep to international commitments.
“This court does not target any particular community or group, but only individual criminal responsibility. This is something well-known by many in Kosovo, who understand that repealing the Specialist Chambers is simply not an option. The only way forward is accepting justice,” SRSG Tanin said.
SRSG Tanin stressed the importance of solving the January 16 daylight assassination of one of Kosovo’s most prominent Serbian politicians Oliver Ivanovic, which had caused ripples of concern around the region and would prove another important test of the Kosovo institutions.
“Failure to identify the perpetrators would not only be a terrible miscarriage of justice, but would also undermine confidence on all sides.”
SRSG Tanin praised recent examples of cooperation between Pristina and Belgrade, including in the immediate aftermath of the Ivanovic murder and subsequent Kosovo visit of Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić.
“It is important to note that the leaders in Belgrade and Pristina have reacted to this event in a prompt and responsible manner.”
Describing ongoing challenges in ensuring the rule of law; strengthening the role of women and youth in politics, responding to the economy and social conditions in Kosovo; and building trust between Kosovo’s communities, SRSG Tanin pointed to the importance of gathering political will and unity in order to overcome these challenges.
SRSG Tanin said, following a series of meetings in Pristina, Belgrade and Tirana, “Despite the significant differences voiced, I am convinced these leaders also have a broader understanding of the nature of the challenges that need to be overcome, and equally, not to continuously postpone action to another day,” SRSG Tanin said.