Today’s briefing at the UN Security Council by Special Representative of Secretary General and Head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) Caroline Ziadeh provided an opportunity for the members to state their positions on a few issues pertaining to security, the upcoming Serbia Kosova dialogue on May 2 in Brussels and the future role of the UN presence in Kosova. It was also a showdown between the Foreign Affairs Ministers of Kosova and Serbia.
The report by the current Head of UN Mission in Kosova, who got the appointment in 2021, placed emphasis on communication improvements as an empowering vehicle for the youth and women leaders. She said that next month the inauguration of a new dialogue center in Kosova further builds on such efforts. Ultimately, she said the aim of political agreements is to get to a realistic path towards normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosova.
Serbian First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Ivica Dačić called the formation of the Association of Serb Municipalities the only solution “necessary” for the normalization. Drawing inferences on minority’s violations based on Sunday’s elections in four Northern municipalities in Kosova, the Serb Minister expressed indignation that Kosova Serbs are not included in the visa liberalization act. The much-sought-after act has been pursued by several Kosova administrations for more than a decade. It was signed last week in Europe giving Prime Minister Albin Kurti, who was elected in early 2021, a tangible victory.
Dačić who spoke in Serbian tried to preemptively argue against the points of a speech that had not yet occurred, that of Kosova’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Donika Gërvalla Schwarz. Speaking to the members of the body presided by Russia since April, he said that “each state has its own Kosova.” Minister Dačić went over this point once more remarking that Kosova is a sui generis case as is Jerusalem, Meka or Vatican. In his remarks, he called into question the existence of the international body lest it adheres to the UN Resolution 1244.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Diaspora of the Republic of Kosova Donika Gërvalla Schwarz was critical of the briefing by the Chief of the UN Mission in Kosova Ziadeh and found it generally inaccurate. Minister Gërvalla, who gave her briefing in English made a remark about the current Presidency’s denial of the request to speak in Albanian.
Raising the issue of good faith negotiations, she said that the past agreements have not been implemented by Serbia indicating that “Serbia’s strategy is to block Balkan’s integration in Europe.” Earlier this week the EU Council of Ministers passed a vote that advances Kosova’s integration into the EU. In juxtaposition, Minister Gërvalla said that Serbia’s foreign policy is aligned with Russia’s.
She rebuked the speech of the Serbian counterpart as a “tirade of complaints and propaganda.” Minister Gërvalla called him out for having “blood on his hands” and for being a close collaborator of Milosevic, Serbian nationalist leader and a war criminal who died in the Hague.
“Kosova is strengthening the rule of law which is a direct threat to Serbia’s regime,” said she.
Emphasizing the contrast in their approaches, Minister Gervalla stated “The Serbia of Vuçic and Dačić is not Europe.”
On the topic of negotiations, Kosova’s Chief diplomat said that while “we remain vigilant, cautious and skeptical” “we will negotiate because we want peace”. Lastly, she remarked how indicative it was to be at the UN Security Council on April 27 which is Kosova’s National Day of Missing Persons.
Permanent and non permanent members spoke in turn to emphasize the earlier agreements in Brussels and Ohrid, the normalization of relations and formation of the Kosova’s Association of Serb Municipalities as paving a path forward. The UK, France and the US, with Japan and Albania’s backing raised the point of reviewing the mandate and role of the UN in Kosova.
Chief of of Albania’s Mission to the UN Ferid Hoxha supported the stance saying “UN cannot stay there forever.” He touted the issuing of license plates in Kosova as a sign that “the dialogue is working.” Ambassador Hoxha clarified the record on the language request and its denial by the Presidency. As a matter of procedure, since Kosova is not a member state the protocol for requesting a non UN language interpreter is operational only in cases when the speaker does not know any of the six official languages.
At the end of the round, Minister Dačić was allowed to address the Security Council again. This time his remarks consisted of disjointed arguments and a series of misrepresentations as well as personal insinuations directed at Minister Gërvalla. He seemed to be following the recipe of throwing ideas against the wall to see what sticks. In her response, which he tried to interrupt a few times, Minister Gërvalla retorted: “You just showed why you lost Kosova forever in 1999. You are old Serbia, not the new Serbia.” Making a point about Kosova’s Special War Crimes Tribunal that was established by the Kosova Parliament, she said “We did that because we are not Serbia.” The Chief diplomat of Kosova ended her remarks by stating that Dačić is playing to the domestic audience. Clapping back at his statement that “Kosova is Serbia” and “we’ll never recognize it,” Minister Gervalla said that Kosova is an independent country and that “the dialogue is not about Kosova’s status. That’s a done deal. We are not looking back in the past.”