H.E. MR. YOSHIYUKI MOTOMURA
Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan
At the Open Meeting of the Security Council on the Situation in Kosovo
6 November 2002
I would like to thank you for convening this open meeting on the situation in Kosovo. My thanks go as well to Under-Secretary-General Mr. Jean-Marie Guéhenno for his timely report.
I shall focus my comments today on the recent municipal elections and various related issues.
The municipal elections on 26 October were the first to be held since the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government were established. Recognizing the great significance of the elections for the peace process, Japan dispatched an election expert to the Kosovo Mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which organized the elections.
Japan welcomes the fact that, in general, the elections were conducted in a free and fair manner, with the participation of all ethnic groups. We believe they are an important step toward realizing a democratic and multi-ethnic society in Kosovo. Unlike the elections in 2000, there was no Kosovo-wide boycott, although the low turnout among Serbs and the boycott in Mitrovica were disappointing. We call upon all the elected members of the municipal assemblies to work together to develop democratic local governments.
The international community must build upon the outcome of the municipal elections and continue its efforts for the construction of a democratic and multi-ethnic society throughout Kosovo. For this purpose, UNMIK and the elected leaders should first of all cooperate to achieve decentralization, as UN Special Representative Michael Steiner has urged them to do. Dismantling the parallel structure in Mitrovica will be key to this endeavor.
Secondly, the construction of a democratic and multi-ethnic society will depend upon the expeditious return of the refugees and IDPs who were forced out of the area by the conflict. From this viewpoint, we welcome the establishment of the task force on the return of refugees and IDPs, and support UNMIKfs policy of organized, sustainable returns, based on respect for the rights of individuals.
In addition, it is also important that the international community extend assistance for ethnic reconciliation. Japan, for its part, has contributed almost US $100 million for various reconstruction assistance programmes in Kosovo. Hereafter we intend to focus on projects which facilitate confidence-building and cooperation among different communities. Specifically, we will pursue possibilities to contribute to small arms control and human resources development projects.
Finally, let me take this opportunity to refer to the issue of Security Council missions. The Council has decided to send the third mission to Kosovo. My delegation recognizes that while such missions can play an important role in determining how the UN should be engaged in efforts to settle a regional conflict, it is important that the costs and the criteria for deciding when and where to dispatch a mission, as well as its composition, be made transparent.
In closing, let me assure you, Mr. President, that Japan remains committed to the peace implementation process in Kosovo. It does so in the belief that the stability and prosperity of Kosovo are also vitally important to southeastern Europe as a whole.
Thank you very much.