Ambassador Cherith Norman Chalet
Acting Deputy Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
April 24, 2020
Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you, Special Representative Tanin, for your briefing this morning. We also welcome the participation of Kosovo and Serbia’s foreign ministers today.
The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that international cooperation is more important than ever. This is especially true in the Western Balkans. The United States recognizes the notable efforts of the governments of Kosovo and Serbia to respond to the pandemic, and we are encouraged by the increased cooperation between Pristina and Belgrade to facilitate the flow of essential goods and personnel required to combat COVID-19. Additionally, I want to express our gratitude to the Serbian government for its support with repatriation flights for American citizens, and the generous offer by the Kosovo government for support in the United States’ fight against COVID-19.
The United States supports a stable, secure, and prosperous Western Balkans, and we are committed to helping countries in the region advance their integration into Western institutions. Furthermore, it has been encouraging to hear continued statements from both Kosovo and Serbian leaders that they remain committed to the normalization of relations. The current situation emphasizes the priority the United States has placed on the development of economic and commercial ties between Kosovo and Serbia. Although tariffs have been suspended, Kosovo must remove all reciprocal measures immediately and unconditionally. We encourage both sides to implement agreements to help businesses flourish, open up economic opportunities for their citizens, and resume the dialogue process in earnest.
Today, we reiterate the importance of the meaningful participation of women in decision making, and we welcome recent progress in gender-representation in the new Kosovo government. Further, we expect the political establishment in Kosovo to focus on shared priorities and adhere to Kosovo’s constitution and law in its efforts. We also welcome the appointment of Miroslav Lacjak as the new European Union Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue and the Western Balkans. We look forward to continued US-EU coordination in the region.
While the unprecedented circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic reveal the importance of cooperation, they also illustrate the fact that the Council’s time and resources must be utilized wisely – and where the need is the greatest. The United States reiterates its firm conviction that UNMIK has long since fulfilled its original purpose and should close. The United States looks forward to working with other UN Security Council members to draw down UNMIK and determine a more relevant role for the United Nations in helping Kosovo and the Western Balkans realize their full potential.
Thank you, Mr. President.