Statement at the UNSC Briefing on UNMIK - Kosovo
Statement18 October 2022
Thank you, President.
Let me also thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for her presentation today, and I’d also like to welcome the representatives of Kosovo and Serbia to the Chamber.
I want to begin by welcoming the 27 August agreement on free movement between Kosovo and Serbia following high-level talks in Brussels. This agreement is a positive step in the right direction that will deliver concrete results for all citizens.
It is proof that acceptable, pragmatic solutions are possible when leaders engage openly and constructively in the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue.
This EU-facilitated dialogue, mandated by the UN, is the channel through which issues and tensions between Kosovo and Serbia can and should be resolved. And we encourage both sides to continue their engagement to resolve all outstanding issues.
These include the issue of license plates, and preserving the integrity of the dialogue by respecting and implementing past agreements.
Both sides have a responsibility to refrain from divisive rhetoric or actions. The events of 31 July in northern Kosovo, and the heightened tensions between Belgrade and Pristina throughout the reporting period, remind us that hard-won gains can be quickly undone.
Although calm prevailed, the importance of restraint and commitment to dialogue to resolve disagreements cannot be understated.
Against the current backdrop of multiple and intersecting global challenges, finding practical modes of economic cooperation between Belgrade, Pristina and the other countries of the region takes on new urgency.
In this regard, Ireland reiterates our view that a comprehensive, final and legally binding normalisation agreement is essential for the European perspective of both Serbia and Kosovo, and for wider stability and prosperity in the Western Balkans.
We know from experience in my country that achieving lasting peace is not possible without building a more equal and inclusive society. Peace cannot be sustained, political processes cannot be successful, where women are not fully included and at the table, and where the voices of youth and civil society are not heeded.
Ireland welcomes Kosovo’s commitment to gender equality, and we value the work done by UNMIK to progress the WPS and YPS agendas. And I thank the SRSG for her updates today on that work.
Though steps have been taken to prevent and combat sexual and gender-based violence against women and girls, we share the concerns of the Secretary-General that more must be done to ensure effective protection and support for victims and survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.
We know the people of Kosovo aspire to join the European Union. We welcome the fact that the government of Kosovo has made progress in advancing the EU reform agenda. We take this opportunity to echo the European Commission’s 2022 Enlargement Package report on Kosovo, and encourage Kosovo to continue along its EU path and to intensify its efforts to strengthen democracy, public administration, and the rule of law.
In this context, I also want to underline Ireland’s continued support for the Kosovo Specialist Chambers. Countering impunity for past crimes is essential to preventing future violations.
It is vital that the authorities in Kosovo adhere to their commitments to the Specialist Chambers. Ireland will also continue to support the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo.
The UN has proven itself to be a trusted partner of all communities in Kosovo. UNMIK plays an important role by bringing people together, promoting inter-ethnic cooperation, and supporting vulnerable and marginalised communities.
We particularly value UNMIK’s work on missing persons and UNHCR’s work on the return of displaced persons. Advancing both of these issues is an essential part of the reconciliation process and can help to build confidence between Kosovo and Serbia.
We know again from our national experience that peace is a process, not a moment. It takes courage to overcome conflict and to overcome the divisions caused by conflict, but these are steps that need to be taken; that are worth taking.
Thank you, President.