SRSG Ziadeh to UN Security Council: Commitments in recent agreements need to be matched by courageous leadership and action
Leaders in Belgrade and Pristina must take responsible steps to rebuild confidence in the normalisation of relations, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General Caroline Ziadeh said in her latest address to the Security Council.
Speaking in relation to significant agreements reached by the parties, the Head of UNMIK told Security Council members in her latest biannual update on Kosovo that without a demonstrable commitment from political leaders there could be direct consequences for regional stability.
“A sustained focus of attention on the principles and declarations jointly affirmed on 27 February in Brussels, and further elaborated on 18 March in Ohrid, should be matched by courageous leadership.”
Acknowledging the continuation of provocations and grievances, SRSG Ziadeh said that progress in relations demanded confidence be rebuilt “[by] those who have grown suspicious of the intentions of each side”.
She also encouraged leaders to communicate clearly and continuously with their constituents on issues that affect livelihoods, including on the impartiality of judicial institutions and protection of human rights.
“Reassurance is necessary in order to replace feelings of mistrust and uncertainty felt by ordinary inhabitants on both sides of the Ibar River. Accusatory rhetoric should be avoided, and fears replaced with concrete reasons for confidence and optimism.”
The Head of UNMIK noted the peaceful conduct of extraordinary elections on 23 April. At the same time, she said questions of representation should be addressed and she urged elected leaders and institutions to fulfil the interests of the population.
Looking ahead, SRSG Ziadeh expressed hope that the expected endorsement of a joint Declaration on Missing Persons would enable resumption of full cooperation between Pristina and Belgrade on the Working Group on Missing Persons.
“This would provide families on both sides the chance for answers regarding their loved ones.”
She also called for a “good faith consideration” of the Draft Statute for the Association/Community of Serb-majority municipalities.
SRSG Ziadeh also spoke of her personal interactions with representatives of civil society and political institutions alike:
“The most common sentiments I encounter are frustration and concern about an uncertain future. However, equally, I see the spirit and the will to work to create a better reality. This is something we cherish as we work alongside all people striving for positive and tangible change.”
Turning to the work of the mission, SRSG Ziadeh underscored this year marks the fifth anniversary of the launch of UNMIK’s trustbuilding agenda, the objectives of which are to promote inter-community dialogue, resilience and confidence.
“Trustbuilding can directly help light the path to political normalisation. Political agreements need such soil in which to grow. Together, these approaches mark a genuine path toward a more sustainable, peaceful, and ultimately prosperous future,” she said.
SRSG Ziadeh concluded by reaffirming UNMIK’s commitment to supporting progress and Kosovo communities.
“We will do so in the expectation that the choices made by political leaders – and the fulfilment of their obligations and their commitments – will lead to greater opportunities for a generation deserving of more.”
Read SRSG Ziadeh's full statement here:
Read the Secretary-General's report on Kosovo here.