Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK)

Ambassador Jonathan Cohen
U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
June 10, 2019

AS DELIVERED

Thank you, Mr. President.

Mr. President, the Security Council must ensure that we are using the time and resources of this Council wisely and where the needs are greatest. In light of last week’s open debate on Security Council working methods, today’s very lengthy relitigations of historical grievances which do nothing to move things forward in Kosovo only underscored the wisdom of our strong support for a reduced number of council sessions concerning UNMIK. While the UN continues to have a useful role to play in Kosovo, this can be carried out under the UN Country Team. The United States would welcome a clear path to phase out UNMIK, which has achieved its original mandate, and a transition of its activities to a Country Team.

We share the Secretary-General’s concern about the heightened tensions between Belgrade and Pristina. The priority of both sides should be to lower tensions, remove barriers, and immediately return to Dialogue negotiations. For Kosovo, this means suspending tariffs on Serbian imports. For Serbia, this means avoiding provocative actions and words and ceasing its campaign against Kosovo’s international standing – an effort that runs counter to normalization.

Mr. President, Kosovo’s independence is a reality. Both parties need to advance on their respective European paths, which will take courageous leadership and flexibility. The 20th anniversary of the end of the conflict in Kosovo should remind us all that it is time to move beyond the past, and commit to a durable, lasting peace for the future.

Among reforms necessary to advance European integration and economic growth, strengthening the rule of law is a top priority. The United States supports Kosovo’s lawful efforts to combat smuggling and corruption. The operation carried out by Kosovo Police on May 28 took place in various communities throughout Kosovo, targeted corrupt officials and other individuals, and led to arrests of suspects from multiple ethnicities.

Mr. President, it is deeply regrettable that Kosovo Police officers encountered roadblocks, came under fire, and were wounded during this operation. It is unacceptable to obstruct a legitimate law enforcement operation.

The alleged involvement of two UNMIK personnel and an UNMIK vehicle is an issue of serious concern, which we are following closely as facts present themselves. As in any such operation, it is imperative that proper, after-action investigations establish the facts, and we understand that these are ongoing.

Mr. President, suspending the legitimate exercise of law enforcement is not in the interest of peace and stability in the region, nor those of any of the people of Kosovo, regardless of ethnicity. These events demonstrate once more how critical it is for the parties to immediately return to Dialogue negotiations to achieve a normalization deal.

Thank you.

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