Kosovo: UN envoy calls on parties to engage in dialogue, make ‘hard choices’ for regional stability

NEW YORK, 8th February, 2015 (WAM) — Citing recent violent protests, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Kosovo has informed the Security Council that leaders must engage seriously in ongoing dialogue and make the hard choices required for regional stability.

“From its inception, the European Union-facilitated dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina has been about making hard choices between the past and the future, between stagnation and progress and between consolidating political power and doing what is in the best interest of the people in the region,” Farid Zarif told the 15-member Council via video teleconference from Pristina, ahead of a debate on the issue.

Introducing the Secretary-General’s latest report, Mr. Zarif, who is also the Head of the United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK), said that in December 2014 a new Kosovo government was formed as the result of an alliance between two major political parties.

Over the past weeks, however, the government has responded to mass protests in Pristina on 24th and 27th January that caused scores of injuries and destruction of property, he said. The protests demanded the resignation of a Kosovo Serb minister over remarks attributed to him at previous protests and the reversal of law asserting public ownership of a large mining enterprise. It also seemed to be fuelled by discontent with the economic situation.

Calling peaceful protest a right, but violence deplorable, Mr. Zarif commended the proportional reaction of the Kosovo police and the condemnation of the violence by political and civil leaders in Kosovo. Unfortunately, a small number of political figures, mostly from the opposition, attempted to exploit the situation. He called for “measured” discussions of the issues that sparked the protest, so that the new government could make progress on its stated objectives.