H.E. MR. SHINICHI KITAOKA
Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan
At the Public Meeting of the Security Council on the Situation in Kosovo
24 February 2005
I would like to thank you for convening today's public meeting. I also wish to thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. Søren Jessen-Petersen, for his comprehensive briefing. We are fully aware that today's meeting has significant implications for the coming comprehensive review of the implementation of the standards planned for the middle of this year.
Japan welcomes the relatively smooth establishment of the coalition Government of PISG, based on the results of the election held last October, as an evidence of political maturity in Kosovo, which was also acknowledged as such by the Secretary-General. We would like to commend the proactive efforts of the new PISG for the implementation of the standards, and appreciate that measurable progress has been made towards the implementation of the standards, coupled with noteworthy concrete steps in several areas.
Japan, however, acknowledges many challenges remain which should be addressed by the PISG on the implementation of the standards. In particular, I am concerned that progress has been impeded in the areas of minorities' freedom of movement and sustainable returns. While I would like to express Japan's appreciation for the efforts of all parties concerned, such as KFOR, to maintain the security as a prerequisite for implementing the standards, it is important to point out that minorities' fear is the major obstacle to them. Therefore, I would also like to strongly urge political leaders in Kosovo to demonstrate further initiatives to remove such a fear. From this point of view, Japan calls on the PISG to engage in inter-community dialogue initiative in order to rebuild confidence and trust. Through these efforts we expect the increased participation of Kosovo Serbs in the standards implementation process. It will also have an effect to remind us of the fact that the implementation of standards must be of benefit to all the people of Kosovo.
As was reported by the Secretary-General, Japan appreciates the progress made in discussion on decentralization. The results of the pilot projects which are planned to be carried out in March in several submunicipal bodies, including one resided mainly by Kosovo Serbs, will be of importance in that regard. I would like to reiterate my request here for the united efforts of all political leaders of Kosovo in this undertaking. At the same time, the Belgrade authority must halt its assistance to the parallel structure and encourage all Kosovo Serbs to participate in the political process in Kosovo, including discussion on the issue of decentralization.
Macroeconomic indicators show Kosovo to be in a calm recovery phase. Noting, however, that the unemployment rate remains high as well as the poverty rate is increasing, we continue to recognize that the economy in Kosovo still remains to be in the serious situation. We expect that Mr. Joachim Rucker, the new head of UNMIK Pillar IV, in cooperation with the PISG, will make utmost efforts to realize the economic development through the privatization of the socially-owned companies and formulation and implementation of the social development plan. Japan also shares the view expressed in the report of the Secretary-General that lack of reliable electricity is a serious constraint on Kosovo's development. However, while the stable provision of electricity is essential for long-term development of Kosovo, taking into account that it is a basic need of inhabitants of this region, the reform of Kosovo's energy sector should not be politicized. Japan calls on all parties concerned to seek a solution with earnest sincerity on this issue.
Japan co-hosted the Ministerial Conference on Peace Consolidation and Economic Development of the Western Balkans last April, and is working on the follow-up activities for this meeting. We wish to reaffirm our commitment to this region, including our intention to provide assistance, in cooperation with the international community, to advance the Kosovo Standards Implementation Plan. Japan, as a member of the Security Council, would like to express its readiness to participate constructively in the comprehensive review of the Standards scheduled in the middle of this year.
Thank you, Mr. President.