"Kosovo precedent created new hotspots"
President Tomislav Nikolić says the Kosovo precedent marked the beginning of an era of inconsistent application of international law.Source: Tanjug
and created new hotspots in the world.
It also created new hotspots in the world, he told a meeting of the UN Security Council on Tuesday, called to discuss the latest report on Kosovo of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
"In this particular case there was a paradox and a precedent was made that was claimed not to be a precedent. Then, there came Crimea, where the people and the authorities of that peninsula, in declaring their independence, invoked 'the famous Kosovo precedent which Western countries helped create themselves,'" Nikolić said.
It is necessary to come up with a new term to mean a precedent that is not a precedent, which goes against all logic and respect for international regulations, he noted.
"Any decision, just or unjust, must follow a certain rule or regulation, while the very existence of international law guarantees legal safety, abolishes voluntaryism and arbitrariness and ensures legality. Otherwise, modern civilization would not be any different from the Medieval, and in that event we would have not learned anything from the past," Nikolić stated.
Serbia has always respected the territorial integrity of every UN member state without exception, Nikolić underscored, adding that force when not based on law should be condemned. "Serbia expects the same justice and fairness in its case as in the case of any other country," he pointed out.
Serbia does not recognize Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence, but it is in negotiations with Priština and will continue those negotiations with the intention of providing peace and prosperity for all the residents of Kosovo, he said.
"It is a constant goal of this and every future government and Serbia will not be forced to recognize Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence (made by the Kosovo Albanians) through attrition," Nikolić remarked.
"No one should expect us to willingly and quietly submit to our own destruction," the president stated.
The Brussels agreement (on the normalization of the relations between Belgrade and Priština) marked a true watershed, he believes, adding that Serbia has showed unequivocally through the talks that it is a constructive partner and willing to compromise in order to stabilize and push the entire region forward.
It is now more important than ever for both sides to be committed and sincere in the talks and the coming period is crucial for the implementation of what has been agreed and further normalization of the relations between Belgrade and Priština, said Nikolić, adding that the talks therefore had to be under the watchful eye of UNMIK.
He expects the EU to provide extremely valuable assistance in that respect, especially during the future talks in Brussels, but also within EU integration.
The announced creation of the Kosovo armed forces does not merely undermine the talks, but also constitutes a severe violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1244, poses a threat to stability in Serbia and the region and also undermines the authority of the UN, he said.
Serbia sees the start of the EU accession process as a great incentive to continue its efforts towards improving the life of the Serbs in Kosovo, Nikolić stated, but also raised the question of how could the EU conduct negotiations about the Stabilization and Association Agreement with Kosovo.
"Serbia has no mechanism to prevent that, but it can ask the question: Is the EU a union of states or a union of states and a parastate? Will another precedent that is not a precedent come to pass," he noted.
The EU has to keep in mind international law and the rules it was founded on, because its foundation will otherwise be shaken, he stressed.
If it is decided for Kosovo to negotiate with the EU on its own, it would lead the EU into lawlessness, chaos and general voluntaryism, Nikolić feels.
He said that Serbia has encouraged its compatriots in Kosovo and Metohija to go to the polls in the local elections, stressing that the provisional institutions in Priština, preparing themselves for the forthcoming elections on June 8, had done all they could to challenge the voting right of the Serbs.
"Calling the internally displaced persons to vote on ballots containing symbols of an independent state that gained independence by driving them out of their ancestral homes, a quarter of a million of them, is an example of utmost hypocrisy and provocation! By manipulating the electoral rolls, Priština attempted to put in place a new, forcibly changed ethnic structure and thus directly influence the result of the vote," Nikolić said.
The president underlined that UNMIK's role must be preserved as it constitutes the last barrier against the promotion of the unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo.
"In this context, I am opposed to the initiative to use an excuse such as 'being overburdened' and attention to other more urgent matters instead of convening Security Council sessions devoted to consideration of the situation in Kosovo and Metohija more frequently," the president said.
"We support the initiative to set up a special tribunal and a prosecutor's office outside the territory of Kosovo to try all cases resulting from the investigations carried out by the Special Investigation Task Force. Serbia will lend its full support to the efforts to bring all responsible to justice, as it has done in the past," Nikolić said.
Commenting on the NATO air campaign against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1999, Nikolić said that he is not complaining today about the pain and suffering inflicted upon Serbia and its people, and he is not asking for war reparation in the classical sense.
"However, as long as I am President of Serbia, I will remind you of your obligation to compensate us for the enormous and irreparable damage caused to our civilian facilities and the economy as a whole", the Serbian president said.
A few challenges remain with regard to the implementation of certain provisions of the First Agreement of Principles Governing the Normalization of Relations of 19 April 2013, in particular those relating to the establishment of the association/community of Serbian municipalities in Kosovo, Ban said in his quarterly report covering the period from January 21 to April 15.
"I encourage both sides to continue to make efforts towards the full and faithful implementation of the Agreement and to address the establishment of the above-mentioned association/community in a spirit of openness and goodwill. The challenges to the full implementation of the Agreement should not, however, over shadow the remarkable progress that has been achieved since the start of the dialogue between the prime ministers in October 2012," the secretary general stated.
It remains essential for progress towards the full implementation of the Agreement to continue apace, in line with the implementation plan of May 22, 2013, he noted.
"I note with appreciation that Belgrade and Priština have continued to participate actively in the European Union-facilitated dialogue, albeit at a somewhat slower pace, largely owing to the general elections in Serbia and the forthcoming legislative elections in Kosovo," Ban points out in his report.
"I welcome, in particular, the agreement reached by the parties during the reporting period on remaining technical issues concerning the integration of Serbian parallel judicial institutions into the legal framework of Kosovo. I look forward to a final agreement on the integration of the judiciary at the next high-level meeting within the framework of the European Union-facilitated dialogue," he remarked.
The security situation in Kosovo is generally stable, despite some incidents, but the rate of voluntary return and reintegration of displaced persons remains low, he said.
"I also welcome the steps taken towards the full establishment of the new municipal governments in northern Kosovo, following the holding of successful local elections in 2013," he pointed out.
There was also progress in other areas of the Agreement, including the integration of former officers of the Ministry of Interior of Serbia into the Kosovo police, Ban noted.
"Looking ahead, continued engagement by the European Union remains critical to achieving further progress in the normalization of relations between Belgrade and Priština, as does the support provided by the international community at large," he stated.
An annex of the secretary general's report contains a report by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton in which she says the EULEX Special Investigative Task Force led by prosecutor Clint Williamson is still investigating the allegations contained in the report by Council of Europe Special Rapporteur Dick Marty on the inhuman treatment of people and illicit trafficking in human organs in Kosovo.
"Investigative and operational activities continued apace, while cooperation with judicial and law enforcement authorities in the region and beyond remained fruitful," the document states.
"In Kosovo, Mr. Williamson met the Minister of Justice, Hajredin Kuci, and reiterated his determination to conduct an impartial and independent investigation that uncovers the whole truth behind the serious allegations contained in the 2011 Council of Europe report. Mr. Williamson underlined that the Task Force had been empowered to investigate and, if warranted, prosecute individuals personally responsible for crimes alleged in the report," Ashton said.
The head of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) Farid Zarif has called on all residents of Kosovo, particularly Serbs, to take part in the June 8 elections for the Kosovo assembly, expressing hope that, once the elections are complete, the Belgrade-Priština dialogue will resume without delay.
Both sides have fully continued their commitment to political dialogue, Zarif told the UN Security Council in New York late Tuesday.
Congratulating Serbia on the successful holding of the March 16 elections and the formation of the new government under Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, he called on all Kosovo residents, "particularly members of the Kosovo Serb community, to take part in the forthcoming elections and exercise their democratic franchise”.
Despite a slower pace of implementation of the agreement, the parties have narrowed their differences, including those on the issue of the judiciary in northern Kosovo, he said, adding that increased operational capability of the Kosovo police in northern Kosovo is an indicator of progress.
“It is hoped that, once the forthcoming electoral process in Kosovo is complete and new authorities are in place, the dialogue will resume without delay and a crucial pending matter - the establishment of the Community/Association of Serb municipalities - will be tackled expeditiously, along with other issues of mutual interest and concern,” Zarif said.
Over the past months, a great deal of effort was made to overcome challenges related to the municipal assembly statutes of the four Serb municipalities in northern Kosovo, he said, adding that it is "an important step forward in the implementation of the 19 April 2013 agreement."
Zarif also noted a number of violent incidents in northern Kosovo, condemning the involvement of Kosovo fighters in the war in Syria and noting that there has been progress on issues such as missing persons and recognition of survivors of sexual violence in war.
“It is essential that Belgrade and Priština stay on track towards the full implementation of the agreement of 19 April 2013," he said, adding that UNMIK will continue to fully engage in Kosovo in coordination with its partners within its status neutral framework.
Zarif expressed solidarity with the peoples of Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, which have been hit by catastrophic floods, and extended his sincere condolences.
Kosovo President Atifete Jahjaga has said that the creation of Kosovo armed forces would contribute to overall security in the Balkans and called on all ethnic communities to take part in the process.
Speaking at a UN Security Council meeting that considered the UN secretary-general's latest report on developments in Kosovo late on Tuesday, Jahjaga said that the armed forces would be a smaller military and the creation process would be long, requiring the support and participation of all ethnic communities in Kosovo.
She recalled the fact that 15 percent of Kosovo police and nine percent of the Kosovo Security Force were made up of people from minority communities.
Speaking about the upcoming parliamentary elections, she said that she had called on all citizens to exercise their right and choose their representatives and in that way contribute to strengthening democracy.
Jahjaga said that Kosovo had made progress in recent months, contributing to the stability of the region.
When it comes to the Brussels-based dialogue with Belgrade, Jahjaga said that she appreciated Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić’s support of the process, adding that "while we have our differences over Kosovo, it is important that we have recognized the reality of Kosovo's independence and its irreversibility."
Kosovo remains committed to dialogue with Serbia, she said.
Jahjaga said that Serbian municipalities now had the opportunity to establish the community of Serbian municipalities in compliance with the Kosovo Constitution, adding that the body would be an integral part of Kosovo’s institutional system.
She expressed the expectation that the issue of courts would be resolved in the further course of events so they could become part of the Kosovo system.
She observed that a certain paramilitary element kept the Kosovo north in the position of a hostage, alleging attacks on EULEX and pointing to presence of roadblocks preventing freedom of movement as evidence.
Regarding the establishment of a special court to address war crime allegations, she said it reflected Kosovo's commitment to justice for all.
She pointed out that bodies of victims killed during the Kosovo conflict were being unearthed in Rudnica (southern Serbia), adding that the fate of missing persons needed to be resolved and those responsible brought to justice.
Jahjaga expressed her condolences to the Serbian president and people for the victims of the recent massive floods in Serbia.