I thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for her intervention.
I welcome their Excellencies, President Vučić and Prime Minister Kurti. Your presence here today testifies the importance you attach to this discussion. In this time of tension, measured and cautious words and actions are called for.
This call reflects Switzerland's deep commitment to peace in the Western Balkans. For a quarter of a century, we have been working alongside numerous national and international actors to achieve this, including reconciliation and the easing of inter-ethnic relations.
Progress has been made in terms of coexistence. However, these advances are now threatened by deep-seated tensions. These tensions reached a new level with the attack in Banjska last September. Switzerland reiterates its support for KFOR, which has prevented the situation from deteriorating further. We call on Serbia to support efforts to ensure that those involved in the Banjska attacks are held accountable.
De-escalation efforts must urgently continue.
Serbia and Kosovo have a responsibility to refrain from measures and actions that could aggravate the situation. Paths to rebuild trust exist:
The dialogue facilitated by the European Union is the framework within which both parties can and must address contentious issues. This includes the issues that have brought us together today, namely the implementation of the new regulation introduced by the Central Bank of Kosovo.
Switzerland acknowledges the legitimacy of the objectives pursued by this regulation, notably the transparency of financial flows and the fight against counterfeiting and money laundering. However, we share concerns about the communication regarding the Bank's decision and especially its short-term implementation. Uncoordinated actions with affected populations, perceived as a deliberately restrictive measure towards a particular ethnic group, can undermine trust. The announcement by the Kosovar government and central bank that a transitional period is planned, along with enhanced communication, is therefore commendable. Switzerland calls on the Kosovo authorities to implement these commitments and promptly strengthen dialogue with the Serbian population of Kosovo, directly affected by this regulation.
Greater efforts by Kosovo and Serbia are needed to find compromises.
Above all, building good-neighborly relations requires both parties to implement their commitments under the Brussels agreement and the Ohrid agreement of 2023. We welcome the progress made in this respect, including mutual recognition of vehicle license plates, as well as steps towards implementation of the energy agreements. We encourage both parties to continue along this path, and to make progress towards normalizing relations in good faith.
Switzerland is ready to continue contributing to the normalization process. We remain firmly convinced that this process is the way to peaceful and prosperous multi-ethnic societies.