Acting Ambassador Deirdre Brown thanks the Head of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo, Ambassador Davenport, for the Mission’s ongoing work to strengthen Kosovo’s institutions.

Deirdre Brown MBE

I would like to welcome Ambassador Davenport back to the Permanent Council. Thank you to you and your team for this comprehensive report, which provides a helpful summary of developments and activities over the reporting period.

The United Kingdom highly appreciates the work of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo, its close engagement with government institutions, municipalities, and civil society, and its delivery of important initiatives across the three core pillars of its mandate.

The UK commends the Mission’s engagement and support on electoral legal reform during the reporting period – including through technical support to the Central Election Commission, and amendments to legislation in line with the recommendations of international election observation missions.

The UK also appreciates the recent work of the Mission in monitoring the overall security situation during the early municipal elections in northern Kosovo on 23 April – while noting that the Mission did not have a direct role in the election process itself. We regret the lack of participation of Kosovo Serb political parties in these elections, and the resulting lack of choice for Kosovo Serbs. Reports of pressure and threats to not participate are concerning.

The UK values the Mission’s continued support to government institutions on human rights and inter-community relations. In particular, the support for the development of an action plan to address the issues of non-majority communities, implementation of a strategy on property rights, facilitating dialogue among communities on freedom of religion or belief, and continuing to support the protection of cultural heritage. The UK also highly values the Mission’s ongoing work in support of tackling domestic and gender-based violence.

Mr Chair, for many years Kosovo has faced a unique challenge – the absence of a normal relationship with its neighbour Serbia. This has implications for regional stability, and a detrimental impact on communities in both countries. It is vital that all parties work towards creating the conditions for a secure and safe environment in the north of Kosovo – one which provides space for sustainable agreement and growing prosperity, rather than isolation and a continued security vacuum.

In this context, we welcome the considerable progress that has been made in recent months in the Normalisation Dialogue under EU Special Representative Miroslav Lajčák – including the 27 February Brussels Agreement, and its Implementation Annex negotiated on 18 March in Ohrid. The 2 May declaration on missing persons is a positive first step, but work on the remaining parts of the Agreement must continue without delay. It is important that both parties engage in the Dialogue in good faith, honour their commitments, and avoid actions or rhetoric that could reduce prospects for a comprehensive and sustainable normalisation agreement. In line with the Brussels and Ohrid agreements, we urge both parties to engage constructively, including on the establishment of an Association of Serb Majority Municipalities as soon as possible.

Mr Chair, the United Kingdom remains a long-standing and strong supporter of Kosovo as an independent and sovereign state. We remain committed to supporting an inclusive, diverse and multi-ethnic democracy in Kosovo, and its full participation in the international system. We value and appreciate the Mission’s continued engagement and commitment to its work to strengthen Kosovo’s institutions. The considerable improvement over the last year – reflected in Freedom House’s international rankings on political rights and civil liberties – is testament to Kosovo’s progress.

In conclusion, I would like to thank you, Ambassador Davenport, for your leadership of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo during this reporting period, and to thank your team for their continued expertise, engagement and hard work over the last six months.

Thank you, Mr Chair.

Published 4 May 2023