H.E. Mr. Koichi Haraguchi
Permanent Representative of Japan
At the Open Meeting of the Security Council on the Situation in Kosovo
3 July 2003
Thank you for convening this open meeting concerning the situation in Kosovo. I would also like to thank Special Representative of the Secretary-General Michael Steiner for his presentation. Let me take this opportunity to commend him for the achievements made during his tenure and express the hope that his successor will be appointed as early as possible.
As the continued instability in Kosovo has the potential to negatively affect the security of and economic development in neighboring areas, ensuring the stability and prosperity of Kosovo is of vital importance to southeastern Europe as a whole. In this belief, the Government of Japan has supported the peace implementation process in accordance with Security Council resolution 1244. Thanks to the efforts of Mr. Steiner and the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), Kosovo has made significant progress. However, major challenges remain to be addressed, including the strengthening of the rule of law, especially as regards improved security and freedom of movement for all as well as refugee and IDP returns, before the goal of building a democratic and multiethnic society can be achieved, a society in which the basic human rights of all people are respected regardless of their ethnic background and all communities can participate fairly in the political process.
Therefore, what is important at this stage is to work steadily to address these challenges rather than hastily discussing the future status of Kosovo. My Government has supported the "standard before status" policy advocated by the Special Representative, and hopes that the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government will make further efforts for the solution of these problems.
There are two major issues to resolve in confronting these challenges: the transfer of responsibilities from UNMIK to the Provisional Institutions, and dialogue between the Kosovo Provisional Institutions and the Government of Serbia and Montenegro. We support the Secretary-General’s policy of phased transfer, taking into account the limited capacity of the Provisional Institutions and the need for them to be held accountable for Kosovofs population. Regarding the dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade, my Government welcomes the news that, on the occasion of the EU-Western Balkans summit in Thessaloniki, the leaders of both sides have agreed to hold discussions on practical issues. We hope that such direct talks will start soon and that constructive dialogue will take place.
The existence of violence and organized crime in Kosovo has not only made the region a hotbed for illicit weapons trafficking and ethnically motivated crime but also has had a negative impact on the economy as a whole. Security-related incidents such as the murder in Obilic and the explosion of the railway bridge in Zvecan may be undermining the process of reconciliation in Kosovo, toward which we all are working. It is thus important that the international community extend assistance for ethnic reconciliation, including funds for the eradication of organized crime and further improvement of the security situation. The Government of Japan has extended in the past humanitarian and reconstruction assistance in various areas including refugee returns, housing and electricity, and has recently decided to contribute to the small arms control programme in Kosovo and the project aimed at achieving reconciliation in Obilic.
In closing, I would like to assure you that Japan remains determined to continue to make a positive contribution for the stability and prosperity of Kosovo.
Thank you, Mr. President.