Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Yasuhisa Kawamura, Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations, at the Security Council Briefing on the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK)

Mr. President,
          Please allow me to thank SRSG Tanin for his informative briefing and continued service.  I also appreciate the presentations by First Deputy Prime Minister Dacic and Ambassador Citaku.
          As an Ambassador to the UN residing in New York, I have one important lesson in mind in attending any Security Council meeting; that is to conduct discussions based on the realities on the ground and, when appropriate, to call for measures to be taken.
          The Council should always pay attention to developments on the ground.  One such development is that the local elections were held throughout Kosovo in a fairly peaceful manner, including in areas with Serb majorities despite some challenges, and that the new government of Kosovo, which formed in September, is embarking on a smooth transition of political administration. Another is that Kosovo has long faced a number of challenges, including the need to create jobs, expand foreign investment, normalize relations with Serbia, and demarcate its border with Montenegro, and thus there is no time to spare for the government to face squarely with these challenges.
          Another important reality is that the risk of violence in Kosovo is far lower than in other regions on our agenda, such as the Middle East and Africa.
          Since its establishment in 1999, UNMIK has contributed greatly to the development of self-governing democratic institutions and ensuring the conditions for a peaceful and normal life for the citizens of Kosovo.  Today, Kosovo has its own constitution, democratic government, and parliament.  UNMIK is undeniably a success story for the Security Council.  At the same time, the Council has the responsibility to determine the future of UNMIK.  A review of the mission is required to assess which functions and mandates UNMIK alone can provide.  We must address the possible duplication of UNMIK’s rule of law activities with those of the EU and OSCE, and consider a feasible reduction of UNMIK personnel.  In addition, it is well past time to adjust the briefing cycle.  A half-year cycle or longer is more than sufficient.  Japan strongly hopes that the Council will discuss the future function of UNMIK and make necessary decisions in a calm environment.
          Of course, while almost 10 years have passed since Kosovo gained its independence, the realities of Kosovo are far from rosy.  The issues of utmost importance include reconciliation between Albanian and Serb communities in Kosovo, which is far from complete, as well as the normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia.  In this connection, Japan welcomes the oath of Serb judges and prosecutors and their integration into Kosovo’s justice system last month, in accordance with the agreement between the two leaders in the EU-facilitated dialogue in August.  Now, the government of Kosovo must accelerate the establishment of the long-awaited Association/Community of Serb Municipalities to honor the agreement with Serbia in 2013.
          Regarding the relations between the two sides, Japan positively values the recent remarks by President Vucic of Serbia on his commitment to a final resolution of the conflict and pays attention to the commencement of an internal dialogue last month.  The environment for dialogue between the two sides on their status has been gradually building up, thanks also to the call by President Thaci of Kosovo for an internal dialogue.
          Japan strongly hopes that, with the assistance of the EU, the two sides will achieve the normalization of relations in the near future through high-level and serious dialogue, while promoting tolerance and refraining from provocative ethnic rhetoric.
          In concluding my remarks, Japan is confident that Kosovo will achieve reconciliation among its ethnic groups under democratic governance, and sustained economic growth through use of its abundant natural resources and facilitating a predictable business environment.  Japan fully supports Kosovo’s efforts to this end and its aspiration towards European integration.
I thank you, Mr. President