Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis
Senior Advisor for Special Political Affairs
New York, New York
October 15, 2021
Thank you, Mr. President, and thanks to Special Representative Tanin for your briefing. We appreciate your leadership and dedicated support for the Republic of Kosovo, including for addressing the continued challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. I also want to thank President Osmani and Foreign Minister Selakovic for participating in this meeting today.
I want to begin by welcoming the September 30 agreement over license plate issues between Kosovo and Serbia, as brokered by EU Special Representative Lajcak. This agreement is a step forward for Kosovo, Serbia, and stability in the Western Balkans. This agreement is evidence that when leaders engage openly and seriously, they can find common ground benefitting all of their citizens.
We encourage Kosovo and Serbia to continue building on this progress by implementing this agreement, upholding prior agreements, refraining from provocations, and recommitting to finding solutions to other issues through the EU-facilitated Dialogue. The Dialogue remains the best platform to resolve outstanding issues and normalize relations, eventually reaching agreement on mutual recognition.
We note that UNMIK did not play a critical role in resolving the recent tensions between Kosovo and Serbia over the license plate issue. The de-escalation of this issue, with temporary support provided by KFOR, shows that other organizations can serve this role to better effect.
Recent events again demonstrated that UNMIK has fulfilled its purpose as outlined in the original mandate. We should acknowledge this reality and move toward its closure. This Council has a responsibility to redirect its attention and resources to areas and issues where they are needed most. The UN can still play an important role in furthering the development of democratic norms and institutions in the region. But this role does not require sustaining a peacekeeping mission in Kosovo.
The United States expresses disappointment that prior calls from Council members to review and take steps to end the UNMIK mission have gone unheeded. We again call for the development of such a plan, so that the Council can sunset UNMIK and help transition to a more effective UN presence that helps Kosovo and the rest of the Western Balkans realize its full potential.
We echo the Secretary-General’s call for the full and equal participation of women in political processes in Kosovo, and encourage the government to continue to invest in women’s advancement within civil society.
In closing, the United States remains fully committed to preserving stability in the Western Balkans. We will work closely with our European partners in fostering peaceful, prosperous, multi-ethnic societies that respect the rule of law across the Western Balkans.
Thank you, Mr. President.