Thank you so much, Madam President. I want to thank Special Representative Tanin for his briefing and for all of the good work that he and his team do on the ground. I also want to thank Ambassador Citaku and Foreign Minister Dacic for your participation here today.
The United States strongly supports Kosovo, its independence, its sovereignty, and its integration with Europe and the broader international community. Given the reality of Kosovo’s independence, recognized by the majority of Member States of the United Nations, we call on Serbia and Kosovo to work with utmost determination towards lasting peace and reconciliation.
The United States underscores our support for the Brussels Dialogue, and we greatly appreciate the European Union for its leadership in this effort. The EU’s continuing engagement and guidance will ensure both countries make progress towards normalization of Kosovo-Serbian relations. We urge leaders from both sides to seize this opportunity, demonstrate true political will, and work together to reach agreement as soon as possible.
Normalization demands that both countries follow through with full implementation of their Brussels Dialogue commitments. We welcome Kosovo’s launch of the process to form the Association of Serb-Majority Municipalities, and we look forward to continued work and cooperation on this important and long overdue task. We also look to Serbia to fully cooperate and engage to finalize implementation of the energy agreement. The long delays on this agreement are having negative effects not just for ordinary citizens in Kosovo, but throughout the region and Europe.
The United States commends Kosovo’s ratification of the border demarcation agreement with Montenegro, which stands as a political milestone and a key step toward full visa liberalization with the European Union for the benefit of all of Kosovo’s citizens.
Nonetheless, the United States joins the Secretary-General in expressing concern over increased tensions between Belgrade and Pristina, which can undermine efforts to maintain regional stability and the safety of citizens in both Kosovo and Serbia. The March 26 events surrounding the arrest of Marko Djuric in Mitrovica are an example of this, and we urge all parties to avoid provocation and focus on normalizing relations through the Dialogue.
Additionally, we note with concern the increased tension in the Kosovo Serb community following the killing of Kosovo Serb politician Oliver Ivanovic. We continue to support a full and impartial investigation by Kosovo’s institutions and call on them to work with urgency, and with Serbia’s full cooperation, to bring the perpetrators to justice. We also urge Serbian institutions to investigate the threats against Kosovo Serbs who have joined the Kosovo Security Forces and are making important public service contributions. Rhetorical threats or legal actions against Kosovo Serbs who have integrated into Kosovo’s institutions are contrary to the spirit of the Dialogue and must cease.
Madam President, as we have stated before, this Council must take corrective action on our outdated approach to UNMIK. The mission is long overdue for drawdown and closure. The upcoming Fifth Committee negotiations on mission budgets will serve as a reminder of the Security Council’s critical need to instill fiscal discipline and responsibility and leadership in the United Nations. The nearly $38 million requested for UNMIK operations does not make sense. While we appreciate the work of Special Representative Tanin and his team, UNMIK continues to live past its purpose, and we must wind it down.
UNMIK’s reporting period should be extended to six or twelve months with fewer sessions before this Council. This Council spends as much or more time on UNMIK as it does on missions operating in volatile security environments that are crucial to maintain stability and protect civilians. We must reorient the Security Council’s time and efforts to pressing peacekeeping concerns. We welcome recent expressions of support for fewer UNMIK briefings, and we ask for Council agreement on this change.
Finally, we continue to strongly support Kosovo’s membership in all relevant international organizations, including the United Nations. We strongly encourage all INTERPOL members to support Kosovo’s membership at that organization’s General Assembly in November. Kosovo meets all the criteria for membership, which will also enhance the international law enforcement community’s collective ability to combat terrorism, violent extremism, trafficking, cybercrime, and other criminal activity in the critical Balkan region. We also call on UN Member States that have not yet done so to join the more than 110 Member States that have publicly recognized Kosovo as an independent state.
Thank you very much.