ELECTION MOMENTUM CAN ADVANCE RENEWAL OF DIALOGUE BETWEEN BELGRADE AND PRISTINA, SRSG TANIN TELLS SECURITY COUNCIL
Momentum from an election that heralded the most “significant change” in Kosovo’s politics in years could trigger renewed efforts for rule of law, job creation and the Pristina-Belgrade dialogue, the Head of UNMIK says.
The snap elections held on October 6, which had the highest voter turnout since 2010, were called during a difficult time of internal political division, disunity in the governing coalition and “most importantly, the public's perception of inability to deliver on promises to the people of Kosovo,” the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNMIK Mr. Zahir Tanin told the Security Council on October 31.
SRSG Tanin noted voters endorsed “unconventional” candidates who did not share the same political vision or background as previous leaders, expressing his hope that the new leadership could use momentum from the election to deliver on election promises.
“The international community also expects the new leaders to affirm their commitment to the negotiations with Belgrade and ensure that obstacles to dialogue are removed. Particular efforts should be made to ensure that political rhetoric and actions are conducive to resumption and progress in the dialogue after a year of stalled negotiations.”
SRSG Tanin said any potential agreement between Belgrade and Pristina would only be sustainable with local ownership but highlighted the need for the international community to stand “united and firm in its support toward a viable agreement”.
SRSG Tanin also updated the Security Council on the results of a months-long investigation by UN experts from outside UNMIK that encompassed interviews with more than 50 witnesses and review of extensive photographic and video evidence during a comprehensive review of the events of May 28, when two UNMIK staff members were arrested by Kosovo police during a Kosovo-wide police operation. SRSG Tanin shared key findings of the investigation, including that it yielded no evidence of any wrongdoing by the UNMIK staff who were on official duty at the time of their arrests and had clearly identified themselves as UN staff. The investigators determined there was “substantial evidence of the use of excessive force by Kosovo Police” that resulted in numerous injuries, including fractures, hearing loss and post-traumatic stress, and that police drove and retained an UNMIK vehicle.
“The use of excessive force, interference with Mission property, and the continuation of criminal proceedings against both staff members are in clear breach of the applicable legal framework… These actions are unacceptable and should not be condoned,” SRSG Tanin stated.
While calling for all criminal proceedings against the staff to be “terminated immediately”, SRSG Tanin also praised the cooperative spirit with which Kosovo authorities received the report findings during recent engagements.
“As long as this Council maintains the mandate for the international presences in Kosovo, I look forward to the institutions of Kosovo and UNMIK operating in full respect of one another. We are proud that UNMIK played a central role in the formation of the Kosovo police and judiciary, and we are hopeful that their intention is to address any failings and to operate in accordance with international norms and standards.”
SRSG Tanin also mentioned several achievements of the mission during the previous reporting period, including an UNMIK-funded legal aid centre to provide assistance to vulnerable groups; support with the first-ever regional shelter for survivors of gender-based violence; and the launch of the first Serbian-Albanian/Albanian-Serbian dictionary since 1984, as part of a broader and ongoing UNMIK-supported language rights programme.
SRSG Tanin commemorated the 19-year anniversary since the adoption of Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. He highlighted the value of gender-inclusive and responsive political processes, in alignment with this resolution.
“Our Mission continues to support such efforts with women leaders and international partners, including UN Women and the European Union, through concrete projects,” he said.
SRSG Tanin concluded by acknowledging the vision of the United Nations’ founders.
“As we approach the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, we are reminded of the central importance of ‘We the Peoples’. These first three words of our Charter remind us that the vital work of governments in the maintenance of international peace and security can only endure if anchored in strong societal foundations.”