Mr. President, 

I would like to thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) for her statement. The presence of their Excellencies, Prime Minister Brnabić and President Osmani, among us today testifies to the importance of this meeting.

The close relations between the Western Balkans region and Switzerland draw their strength both from a shared history of more than 30 years and from a present marked by strong personal ties. In consequence, we are all the more committed to a stable and prosperous region, and support the European prospects of Kosovo and Serbia. 

Mr. President,

The path towards a normalized and prosperous relationship between Kosovo and Serbia can be mapped out in three stages: de-escalation, a political solution, and confidence-building, including through dealing with the past. 

De-escalation is urgent. Since our last meeting six months ago, uncertainty and tensions between Kosovo and Serbia have continued to grow. At the end of May, more than 90 KFOR soldiers were injured during demonstrations. A new level of violence was reached with the attack on 24 September, which claimed the life of a Kosovar policeman and again caused several injuries. 

Switzerland condemns these acts of violence and calls on Serbia and Kosovo to return to calm. All parties must refrain from using and promoting violence and from unilateral and provocative actions, such as the deployment of troops close to the border. Inflammatory rhetoric must give way to constructive behavior, in order to implement political solutions. Leaders must set an example. They are responsible for the language they use and the actions they take. 

Furthermore, we call on all actors to cooperate fully with the investigation of the attack of 24 September so that the perpetrators are brought to justice. We welcome the close cooperation between the Kosovo police, as the first responder, and EULEX and KFOR. We reiterate our support for KFOR as one of the main guarantors of security.

Switzerland calls on the parties to engage fully in the dialogue facilitated by the European Union and to implement their commitments under the Agreement on the path towards normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia. This Agreement represents the way forward to overcome differences and establish more peaceful relations. In support of the EU-led normalization process, Switzerland offers an informal framework in which high-level representatives of political parties from both countries can discuss concrete steps towards normalization. We furthermore welcome the important discussions that took place this weekend and hope that they will lead to concrete progress. We also reiterate that the participation of women and the integration of the gender perspective must be guaranteed throughout the process.

Establishing a climate of trust, both between the parties to the dialogue and between the communities in Kosovo, is crucial. An important step in this direction is dealing with the past, which must benefit all communities, including the most marginalized such as the Roma. We welcome the May Declaration on Missing Persons and actively support the search for and identification of missing persons. We are also encouraged by efforts to ensure that people who have suffered conflict-related sexual violence can live their lives with dignity, and we continue to support these efforts. 

Mr. President,

In order to achieve lasting stability, the concerns of all the inhabitants of Kosovo must be addressed. Switzerland thanks UNMIK for the work it has accomplished and remains ready to discuss constructively a possible strategic review of UNMIK. 

Building on our close relations, Switzerland continues to support Kosovo in its efforts to strengthen the rule of law and respect for human rights, taking into account the interests of all communities. The future of the Western Balkans lies in peaceful, multi-ethnic and prosperous societies. We will remain committed to this path.

I thank you.

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