“Serbia wants agreement, but not humiliation”

NEW YORK -- Prime Minister Ivica Dačić addressed the UN Security Council session on Friday to say that Serbia wanted the dialogue with Priština to be successful.

(Beta, file)
(Beta, file)

However, he stressed at the UN Security Council session on Friday that Serbia was not ready for “humiliation and double standards”.

The prime minister noted that it was necessary for UNMIK to remain in Kosovo and added that the negotiations with Priština did not lead toward Serbia’s recognition of Kosovo.

“Reconciliation between Serbs and Albanians includes difficult decisions. The meetings in Brussels are a confirmation of our readiness. Serbia will continue cooperation with open and honest intentions with a solution as its goal,” he said.

Dačić pointed out that Serbia was committed to the European future.

“After many years of conflicts, the region should start a new phase of the dialogue. Serbia is committed to the dialogue. But political will and courage to make a compromise are necessary for the progress in the Belgrade-Priština relations. Serbia is ready to make the dialogue work but it is not ready for humiliation and double standards. I hope the dialogue will lead to a fair and permanent solution and that all of us will turn to the future,” he said.

The PM underscored that without protection of non-Albanians, “a planned goal of a safe multiethnic society” would not be possible. He added that Serbia would not change its stance on Kosovo’s unilaterally declared independence and reiterated that the negotiations in Brussels were “status neutral” and that they “will not lead to the recognition of Kosovo”.

Dačić thanked all UN member states that have not recognized the unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo, made by ethnic Albanians more than five years ago.

“It is necessary that UNMIK stays in Kosovo, with an adequate structure, so the UN Security Council would be efficiently informed since they have a great role in finding a solution in Kosovo,” he concluded.

Thaci wants "war reparations"

Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci stated in New York on Friday that Priština will seek war reparations from Belgrade.

In his address to members of the UN Security Council, Tahci called on Belgrade to dismantle "parallel institutions in north Kosovo", adding that Kosovo was "a sovereign state" and that this process is irreversible.

He said that Kosovo "will not be a place of divisions and barricades, and creation of a new Republika Srpska".

Thaci ruled out the possibility of granting executive powers to a future association of Serb municipalities in Kosovo and Metohija, adding that "the maximum that can be achieved is the Ahtisaari Plan".

"The role of Serbia is destructive, and it obstructs the security situation," he added.

"Kosovo is now recognized by over a half of the UN member states. This is an irreversible process, given that many countries are in the process of recognition of independence," Thaci said.

UNMIK chief: Dačić and Thaci show courage

UNMIK Chief Farid Zarif assessed that the recent meetings of the top Belgrade and Priština officials were “historic” and expressed hope that both sides would persist in their attempts to reach a compromise.

Zarif said that “persistent negotiators” Dačić and Thaci had shown “courage” during the dialogue.

“I hope that the two sides would remain persistent in the attempts to reach compromises and find achievable solutions for both communities in Kosovo,” he said.

The UNMIK chief said that “great progress has been made” but pointed out that “there are challenges in the field”, such as desecration of Serb tombstones. He said that “several incidents” had been reported and that a “flaming rhetoric has been used which sometimes jeopardizes efforts to implement the reached agreements”.

He urged both sides to take on a leadership role and mollify the reactions and emotions of their people and called on Belgrade and Priština to significantly step up their activity with the people in northern Kosovo.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in his regular quarterly report that significant progress had been made in the previous period by elevating the talks between Belgrade and Priština dialogue to a higher, political level, and called on the Kosovo authorities to respond decisively to any acts of intolerance against Serbs, noting incidents that occurred during Orthodox Christmas celebrations in Kosovo on January 7.

“Although there are still many difficult issues to be resolved, the continued dialogue is a strong signal of commitment of both sides to peaceful dialogue and overcoming the burdens of the past conflict," he stressed.

When it comes to the situation in northern Kosovska Mitrovica, Ban said "coordinated action and attention are needed to ensure that the difficult issues are addressed in good faith to avert future tensions."

The UN secretary-general noted that alongside the high-level political process, sustained efforts to promote reconciliation and increase trust among the communities in Kosovo were also important.

Earlier on Friday, Dačić met with Ban and informed him about the dialogue with Priština and stressed that UNMIK should have a key role in Kosovo.

The UNSC meeting was originally supposed to be held on February 22, but was postponed due to the continuation of the EU-mediated dialogue between Belgrade and Priština.

Satisfaction over talks, concern over north

The UN Security Council member countries whose ambassadors took part in the Friday discussion on Kosovo have commended Belgrade and Priština for their efforts in the talks, but also expressed concern over recent incidents in northern Kosovo.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said he was concerned because of a wave of anti-Serb incidents in Kosovo and small return of refugees and displaced persons, adding that it constituted ethnic cleansing by peaceful means.

Russia does not recognize Kosovo, Churkin stated, adding he believed the talks between Belgrade and Priština facilitated by the EU would bring a long-term solution for the Kosovo issue, but also stressed that the UN Security Council had the final word.

Churkin criticized Priština for opening an administrative office in Kosovska Mitrovica, adding that it was a serious mistake leading to further increase in tension. He also stated concern over the attacks on Serb cemeteries, churches and memorials to World War II victims.

The recent wave of anti-Serb incidents is reminiscent of the tragic events of March 2004, and when the small progress regarding the return of the displaced is taken into account, the situation can be described as ethnic cleansing by peaceful means, Churkin remarked.

China hopes Belgrade and Priština will find a solution so peace and stability in the Balkans can survive.

Chinese Ambassador Li Baodong said at the three-hour meeting China was concerned that there was still tension in northern Kosovo.

China appreciates and supports the efforts of UNMIK, EULEX and KFOR and is also concerned over the illegal human organ trafficking in Kosovo, he stressed, adding that his country demanded zero tolerance in that respect.

U.S. Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo estimated that Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dačić and Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci demonstrated courage and pragmatism, and called for further efforts in that respect.

We commend Priština and Belgrade for efforts put in the dialogue with a view to normalizing relations, DiCarlo said.

Washington welcomes the progress made in the seventh round of the dialogue, and calls on all sides to make use of the moment and continue in the right direction.

The U.S. representative, however, voiced concern over the incidents on the ground, especially in northern Kosovo, and underscored that ethnically motivated attacks must not be tolerated.

She also called on the Kosovo authorities to show 'the zero tolerance' toward attacks on religious and cultural facilities.

The French representative backed the efforts that EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton had been investing in the dialogue between Belgrade and Priština, saying that the Wednesday meeting of the two prime ministers confirmed that the agreement was close.

Serbia has to disband parallel institutions, and Kosovo should ensure safety and the freedom of movement for all communities, he said.

France condemns the incidents such as the demolition of Serb graveyards, which must not be left unpunished.

The UK representative praised the two prime ministers for their courage and estimated that "we are one step away from a historic agreement which would open a new chapter in the relations between Belgrade and Priština and contribute to their progress along the EU path.

The rights of all minorities must be respected in Kosovo, and London is concerned about the incidents and demolition of monuments, said the UK representative, underlining that it is unacceptable and that all perpetrators had to be brought to justice.

An agreement between Belgrade and Priština is within reach, and the results of the dialogue should have a positive effect on the situation on the ground, said representatives of Rwanda, Togo, Guatemala, Morocco, Luxembourg, Argentina, Pakistan, Azerbaijan and Australia during the session.