I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union. The Candidate Countries Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey and Croatia , the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the EFTA countries Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, align themselves with this statement.
Let me begin with thanking the Special Representative, Mr. Jessen-Petersen for his briefing, and commend him with his swift start in this challenging situation.
Two weeks ago, the Security Council discussed the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The High Representative, Lord Ashdown, stated that Bosnia is moving from a Dayton-era to a Brussels-era. The European perspective of peace and progress is for countries in the region a real and important incentive to replace conflict and confrontation with reconciliation and reforms. It is in the interest of the European Union to assist the region to further integrate in the Euro-Atlantic structures. Against that background, the EU is engaged with the region through the comprehensive Stabilisation- and Association Process. Against that same background, the EU will in 3 days time take over the main peace stabilization role from NATO in Bosnia.
And finally Mr. President, against that background, the EU is deeply committed to be part of the discussion on the future of Kosovo. Let me today briefly touch upon two issues: the current situation in Kosovo and reform steps as presented in the Eide-report.
The situation in Kosovo
The positive trend to address the consequences of the March violence continues. As the report of the Secretary-General states, tangible and encouraging progress has been made. Houses and schools are being rebuilt. Those directly responsible are being brought to justice. The EU commends the Kosovan leadership for their efforts. It will, however, take longer to also rebuild the confidence and trust of the victims. Structural outreach to the victimized communities is now the important next step. This should include a thorough investigation of those who created an environment that enabled the violence, like some media outlets. They may not be criminally liable, but they are morally responsible, and should therefore be held no less accountable.
As the report describes, after the derailment of March, Kosovo is getting back on track to fulfill the implementation of the standards. Immediate priority for the Kosovans is now to put a new government to work. Despite the disappointing non-participation by the Kosovo-Serbs in the elections, the government should be representative for the whole population. And it will have to work effectively on the priority standards.
The EU reiterates that a multi-ethnic, democratic Kosovo is only achievable if the implementation of the standards is guaranteed. This requires constructive actions from the new government and the minorities themselves, and renewed energy by both Pristina and Belgrade to engage in a dialogue, supported by the international community. Belgrade must also play a constructive and committed role in enabling Kosovo to implement the standards. In this regard, the next report of the SG will be of great importance. It will reflect the first results of the new government. And, the SRSG will more than before focus on those standards that are essential to a multi-ethnic Kosovo. Progress is still lacking in the areas of minority return, security for minorities and freedom of movement, and reform of local government. Especially with the winter months coming up, reconstruction efforts should be doubled.
Reforms after the Eide-report
During the last weeks and months, the Secretary-General held a series of consultations on the Eide-report with key Member States, the Contact Group, and regional organizations, such as the EU. We commend the SG for this inclusive approach and share his conclusion that there is a broad consensus on a number of important measures. The measures consist notably of defining priority actions within the Kosovo standards, the transfer of additional competencies to the Provisional Institutions, a greater accountability by the Provisional Institutions, and a more robust oversight by the SRSG.
With regard to the transfer of competencies to the Provisional Institutions, UNMIK has identified a number of responsibilities that do not impinge on sovereignty. The European Union welcomes the swift transfer of those responsibilities. This will provide the leadership in Kosovo with a further opportunity to show the political will to govern effectively, and in accordance with basic principles of democracy, rule of law and respect for minorities. Reforming local government will be crucial in this regard and the EU looks forward to early implementation of decentralization pilot projects. As is pointed out in the report, additional capacities within the Provisional Institutions are necessary. In order to improve coherence of international assistance, we welcome that a clear needs assessment from the side of the PISG and UNMIK is under preparation. This will also enable a more targeted support by the EU, its member states and its institutions.
A crucial element for the future of Kosovo is the economic development. The Eide-report clearly analyzed the detrimental effect of the bleak economic situation in Kosovo. The EU looks forward to responding positively to calls upon the EU to develop and implement an economic plan in accordance with its mandate under Pillar IV of UNMIK and the Constitutional Framework. Recognizing the value of a regional, European-oriented economic strategy, the EU notes the importance of the Kosovo government taking on greater responsibility for the economy, and stands ready to help build the capacity of the Kosovo government to design and drive forward such a process. The EU welcomes the work of the joint UNMIK/PISG Economic Strategy and Project Identification Group (ESPIG) and looks forward to close co-operation with the PISG and UNMIK in planning for development and identifying precise needs.
Last but not least, the EU fully supports the further development and evolvement of a comprehensive and integrated strategy for Kosovo. The strategy should offer the leadership and population of Kosovo a chance to show its intentions to establish a democratic, multi-ethnic Kosovo. Consequently, that will ultimately provide the basis to embark on the process determining the future status of Kosovo.