Dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia and the economic cooperation between the two countries represent positive steps toward reconciliation, according to Zahir Tanin, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).
During a Security Council video-teleconference meeting on Wednesday, Tanin said that the most important conditions to be met for negotiations to succeed are political unity, strong commitment and goodwill among leaders, both in Pristina and Belgrade, and sustained international support.
He also highlighted the importance of women’s participation particularly in the ongoing Prishtina- Blegrade dialogue.
During his briefing, Tanin stressed that ruling by a slim majority, Prime Minister’s Avdullah Hoti government faces significant parliamentary opposition.
“Having been in office for barely over 100 days, constant disagreements among its constituent parties and difficulty reaching compromises have hampered and delayed its responses in critical areas,” Tanin said.
Ivica Dacic, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Serbia said that after signing the Brussels agreement in 2013, for seven years Prishtina refused to implement it and establish the Association of Serb-majority municipalities.
While thanking the United States Government for its effort to facilitate the economic normalization agreement, Dacic said that Prishtina has already begun to violate that agreement.
“It is high time they started to act in a serious and responsible manner,” Dacic stated.
Agreeing that perpetrators for serious crimes must be held to account, he stressed that “this applies to everyone” — including the Kosovo Liberation Army.
On the other side, Kosovo’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Meliza Haradinaj- Stublla recalled the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia’s ruling that the military and paramilitary forces of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia conducted a widespread and systematic armed attack on the ethnic Albanian civilian population of Kosovo.
“12,000 people were killed in those attacks, 20,000 women were raped and half the population became refugees. The leaders who perpetrated those crimes include Aleksandar Vucic and Ivica Dacic, respectively the current President and Foreign Minister of Serbia,” she stated.
“Serbia has never acknowledged the past,” Haradinaj- Stublla added.
She stressed that the only way forward is true reconciliation, calling for a future that embraces all nationalities and ethnicities and where trade, culture and human well-being can flourish.
“The principles of such a path are clear: Serbia must acknowledge the fact of Kosovo’s statehood, including its territorial integrity, unitary character and constitutional order. Crimes of the past must be accounted for in an agreed manner, and the bodies of the missing must be returned,” Haradinaj- Stublla said.
Kosovo’s foreign minister started her speech saying that the sovereignty and independence of Kosovo is an irrefutable fact supported by a 2010 ruling of the International Court of Justice.
In his capacity as the president of the Security Council, the representative of Russia, Vasily Nebezya criticized Haradinaj- Stublla for using state symbols during the meeting, by also warning of consequences.
“Once again what we see on the screen is the so called attributes of statehood of Kosovo,” he said.
Vasily Nevezya added that if these rules are not respected “as representative of Russia I would like to say this would bring it to question our agreement to the invitation of Kosovo representatives to the next meeting”.