I thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo for her statement and the work of her Mission.
This is the first time that Switzerland pronounces itself on Kosovo as a member of this Council. This issue is of profound importance to us, both politically and socially. More than twenty years ago, Switzerland welcomed thousands of refugees from all over the Western Balkans. Today, they are an integral part of Swiss society and contribute to our close ties with the region. Switzerland was among the first countries to recognize Kosovo as an independent state. The future of Kosovo, its people and lasting peace in the region are close to our hearts.
Switzerland is committed to peaceful, multi-ethnic and prosperous societies in Kosovo and in the Western Balkans as a whole – societies that respect and defend human rights and the rule of law. We welcome Kosovo's progress, particularly in the fight against corruption and organized crime. We support Kosovo's European perspective and its integration into international structures and institutions.
Cooperation between Kosovo and the Kosovo Force (KFOR), the European Union Rule of Law Mission (EULEX), the OSCE Mission and the Council of Europe, as well as UN agencies, have contributed to this positive development. We also recognize the important and long-lasting work of UNMIK since 1999. In order for the UN to be effective, its presence must be commensurate with the realities. It is in this sense that Switzerland is ready to discuss constructively a possible strategic review of UNMIK.
The Secretary-General's report describes an eventful six months. I would like to emphasize three points:
First, it is essential to foster trust between Kosovo and Serbia. Switzerland welcomes the Agreement on the path to normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia, facilitated by the European Union. The effective normalization of relations remains essential in order to build common ground, preserve stability and prevent a resurgence of the conflict. The objective now is to build on this positive momentum and to ensure that the commitments made in the context of the Agreement are fully implemented. Sustainable progress can only be achieved through continued sincere, constructive and inclusive dialogue. Switzerland is contributing to this by providing an informal platform for exchange between representatives of political parties on both sides, in support of the EU-led normalization process. The full, equal and meaningful participation of women must be ensured throughout the process.
My second point refers to the security situation, which has deteriorated in recent months. Switzerland deplores the new tensions in northern Kosovo in particular. We call on the parties to avoid any action or rhetoric that could hinder the prospects for reconciliation and lasting peace. We condemn the increase in inter-communal incidents, which heighten the sense of insecurity and mistrust between the communities and thus undermine their rapprochement. In this context, KFOR continues to play an essential role as a guarantor of stability and security in Kosovo. In recognition of this, Switzerland is providing its largest military peacekeeping contingent to the mission. With regard to the recent local elections, Switzerland regrets that the Serbian community in Kosovo did not participate. We encourage Kosovo's leaders to seek dialogue with the representatives of the Serb minority.
Finally, dealing with the past is essential to prevent a resurgence of the conflict. The right to know, the right to justice, the right to reparation, and the right to guarantees of non-repetition for all victims, regardless of their affiliation, strengthen a society's resilience. We welcome the draft inclusive transitional justice strategy of the government of Kosovo. We call on the parties to cooperate in this field, with a victim- and survivor-centered approach, also with regard to sexual violence committed during the conflict. Switzerland supports a renewed commitment to make further progress on the issue of enforced disappearances and the continued engagement of the ICRC to this end.
We call on Serbia and Kosovo to continue their efforts on the basis of the progress made for the benefit of peace and security in Europe. Mindful of the countless family and cultural ties that bind us to the region, we will accompany the Western Balkans on this path.
I thank you.