Thank you Madame President, and let me join others in congratulations for assuming the Security Council presidency.
Let me also start by thanking Mr. Zannier and Mr. Yves de Kermabon for their comprehensive briefings, and to welcome back President Tadic and Foreign Minister Hyseni and thank them for their statements.
Madame President, we regret the tragic death of Dr. Mesud Dzekovic, an ethnic Bosnian pediatrician, and the injuries to several others that occurred on July 2 in north Mitrovica related to the opening by the Government of Kosovo of a Citizens’ Services Center there. We echo the calls for calm and restraint made by the Government of Kosovo, and we join in condemning violence and the threat of violence. We urge all parties to avoid any escalation of tensions.
As we learn more about the incidents that led to the loss of life and injuries, it is becoming clearer that this was an isolated criminal act, not a planned act of terrorism. We urge local law enforcement authorities, including those from the Kosovo Police and EULEX, to continue to investigate the incident and to ensure that those who are responsible for criminal acts are held accountable. We welcome the assistance offered by KFOR in responding to the incident.
Madame President, we frankly do not see that an isolated criminal act such as the one on July 2 warrants an emergency Security Council meeting. The President of Serbia has asked for this urgent meeting to discuss the serious deterioration of the security situation. If we are to discuss this situation, we should also discuss the threats and intimidation against ethnic Serb citizens of Kosovo such as Petar Miletic who was shot on July 5, as we heard, and reportedly accused of being a traitor by the perpetrator. If we are to condemn provocations, then we should also condemn the provocation of the senior Serbian government official calling any Kosovo Serb who supports the Kosovo government an accomplice to Albanian terrorists. Let me repeat what President Tadic mentioned in his statement, something we wholeheartedly agree with. He said that what everyone needs to do is reject the extremist voices who find comfort in the old ways. In this regard, it would be good to hear President Tadic also denounce the July 5 incident and the extremist statement by a member of his government.
Madame President, the decision by the Government of Kosovo to open the Citizens Service Center was the right one and one that is within its prerogative as an independent and sovereign state recognized by many in this room and beyond. Recognizing the delicate balance among minority communities in the north, the Government of Kosovo opened the center in a low-key, non-provocative, transparent manner. The opening was also part of a larger strategy endorsed by all of Kosovo’s communities and by members of the international community to extend the benefits of good, accountable, legitimate government to all of Kosovo's citizens – including its citizens in the north.
It is our understanding, that in the spirit of transparency, the Government of Serbia was informed in advance of the opening of the center. It is unfortunate that the Government of Kosovo’s efforts to assist those most in need in the north were subsequently disrupted by attempts to politicize the Citizens Services Center and destabilize the situation in northern Kosovo. We must also emphasize that any violence and provocative actions by demonstrators are also unacceptable.
The July 2 incident is representative of the continuing underlying tensions that exist in the north and the continuing need to strengthen the rule of law and protections for all communities there. In this regard, the Kosovo Police and EULEX must continue their work, and to use the resources at their disposal to ensure that those who would use violence or the threat of violence do not succeed in destabilizing the region.
Finally, we urge the Governments of Serbia and Kosovo to work together as neighbors in order to foster further regional stability and to prevent further violence.
Thank you, Madame President.
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