Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Balkans: Serbia and Kosovo urged to overcome past feuds and seek stability

serbia and kosovo urged to patch up differences
UN - The United Nations envoy in Kosovo today called on both Serbia and Kosovo to put past disputes behind them and focus instead on promoting mutual prosperity and stability, urging the international community, for its part, to ensure that its efforts to help resolve outstanding issues are coherent.

“To the extent the parties can increasingly find ways to put the past behind them and focus instead on shared interests in prosperity and stability, new space may open for settling some of the differences that have remained, for now, unresolved,” the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Kosovo, Farid Zarif, said in a briefing to the Security Council.

He highlighted some positive developments in Kosovo in recent months, including the agreement to have the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) facilitate voting in Kosovo for elections in Serbia on 6 May. The agreement allowed Kosovo Serbs to take part in Serbia’s parliamentary and presidential elections.

The decision by the European Union (EU) to grant candidate status to Serbia and to launch a feasibility study in Kosovo was also a positive development, Mr. Zarif said, adding that the EU’s presence on the ground has been consolidated under the leadership of the bloc’s new Special Representative for Kosovo, Samuel ┼Żbogar.

However, there have been serious security and criminal incidents throughout the ethnically mixed areas of Kosovo, especially in the north, Mr. Zarif told the Council.

“While the occurrence of any such incidents could significantly inflame tensions, a greater concentration and frequency of incidents in this reporting period are ample evidence that the status quo is not a stable one,” he said.

“I also continue to stress that our common efforts should not wane on issues that are fundamental to reconciliation and the protection of the rights of minority communities throughout Kosovo,” Mr. Zarif added. “These especially include progress in determining the fate of the missing; creating conditions for safe voluntary returns; the fair adjudication and resolution of property claims; and full and effective implementation of the legal framework for the protection and preservation of the cultural and religious heritage.”