‘Steady but fragile progress’ must be protected through sustained dialogue and trust-building, SRSG Tanin tells Security Council
15 October 2021 - In his briefing to the United Nations’ Security Council on 15 October, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) and Head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) Zahir Tanin warned Council members that escalating tensions had the potential to unravel “steady but fragile progress” that had been made to rebuild trust between Kosovo’s communities.
“History in the region has tragically and repeatedly shown that ostensibly small incidents, misreading of intentions, and outright mistakes can trigger an unstable security escalation that puts lives at risk and benefits no-one,” SRSG Tanin told the Council.
Referencing tensions over a recent police operation in the north of Kosovo and the introduction of a new license plate regime, the Head of UNMIK said a “responsible recommitment to dialogue” was more imperative than ever.
“Trust continues to be the element in shortest supply: Trust in good faith negotiations; trust between representatives and their constituencies; and trust in the institutions that are established to deliver both.”
The Head of UNMIK said that prospects for greater unity and cooperation had emerged from his conversations with leaders in Kosovo and around the region over the past year.
“Practical regional approaches have begun to evolve based on the commonality of interest in increased prosperity as an engine of stability in the region.”
However, it was essential that whatever agreements were reached at the political level were translated effectively into change for people on the ground. Reflecting on more than six years in his role, SRSG Tanin noted “having a paper in hand does not equate to having a solution in hand”.
“If the vast majority of people from the various communities, including women and young people, do not feel themselves to be a part of…the processes of political discussion and negotiation…then all efforts to change relations, and resolve long-term tensions, are destined to remain elusive.”
With municipal elections in two days’ time, SRSG Tanin said people in Kosovo continued to seek positive change, with expectations that public institutions should work in favour of people, including to promote greater economic and social opportunity, more fairness, accountability and rule of law.
The Head of UNMIK also noted the contributions made by diplomatic partners and the United Nations through COVAX in delivering COVID-19 vaccines to people in Kosovo, in addition to testing materials and medical equipment.
He also outlined the people-centred work undertaken by the Mission in furtherance of its mandate to enhance trust within and across society, including promotion of the Women and Youth, Peace and Security Agendas; supporting multi-lingual education; funding and supporting television debates and new media platforms; and provision of legal assistance and education for access to justice.
SRSG Tanin emphasised the need for such trust-building work to continue and encouraged leaders on all sides to abstain from engaging in divisive rhetoric that fuels mistrust for limited short-term political gain.
Read SRSG Tanin's full statement here:
Read the Secretary-General's Report on Kosovo here: