Opening the door to the future requires transformation, SRSG Tanin tells Security Council
13 April 2021 - A strong desire for change was expressed in Kosovo’s recent elections, the Head of UNMIK says.
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General Zahir Tanin made the remarks during his Security Council address after Kosovo successfully concluded early legislative elections that saw a high turnout with the Vetëvendosje political party receiving more than half of all votes cast.
“The expectations expressed were for a shift in the responsiveness of a government to the real hopes and needs of its voters, for greater equality of opportunity, accountability, and the rule of law. Accordingly, expectations across Kosovo will remain as high as were the results,” SRSG Tanin told the Council.
The results also saw the election of Vjosa Osmani as the second female president of Kosovo amid a groundswell of women elected to the Kosovo legislature. Forty-three women – representing 36 per cent of the entire parliament – were voted in, ensuring Kosovo takes a position alongside other constituencies with high numbers of women representation. Kosovo’s new parliamentary composition includes women in two of the three Deputy Prime Minister posts with 5 women holding ministerial portfolios.
SRSG Tanin said Kosovo’s new government, led by Prime Minister Albin Kurti, faced “great opportunities, alongside great challenges”.
“Opening the door to the future requires a transformation, and changing the priorities which are reflected in both words and in deeds. Reducing tension also requires that ruling and opposition parties alike prove their capacity to cohere on wider interests.”
With reference to the Pristina-Belgrade dialogue, following his meeting yesterday with Prime Minister Kurti and today’s conversation with President Vučić, SRSG Tanin noted that all political actors were aware of the central importance of their relations for progress along the European path. They underscored that only a meaningful and sincere dialogue, and forward-looking policies, would allow these relations to evolve and mutual interests to be met.
“Gains to public trust in this process are as fragile as they are essential,” SRSG Tanin said.
“With a strongly-mandated government now settled in Pristina, we should expect to see difficult subjects treated with seriousness and diligence.”
SRSG Tanin reiterated UNMIK’s unequivocal support of the process and its commitment at ground level to promote a conducive environment for progress along this pathway.
On the COVID-19 pandemic, SRSG Tanin briefed the Council on the alarming infection rates in Kosovo, and said Kosovo remained under relentless pressure from the spread of the COVID-19 virus. He urged Member States to accelerate vaccine-related support to Kosovo, amid global struggles to ensure vaccination supplies.
Turning to work that was being undertaken by the Mission, SRSG Tanin briefed the Council on COVID-19 relief provided to vulnerable populations, including the distribution of essential items; implementation of programmes to empower women and youth in politics and society; support to language rights initiatives; and the provision of free legal aid mechanisms.
SRSG Tanin noted the special importance and sensitivity attached to religious freedom and tolerance, assuring the Council that UNMIK continued to closely monitor all incidents affecting places of worship whilst it continued work with communities and authorities to ensure protection of such places.
“This is part of a shared responsibility for promoting inter-ethnic trust and reducing the risk of tensions,” SRSG Tanin said.
“The voters in Kosovo raised their voices for breaking with the past, and I hope that the members of this Council will add their clear support for the realisation of a more peaceful, more prosperous future in Kosovo and the region,” SRSG Tanin concluded.