Ambassador Holland welcomes the Report by the Head of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo, and the work of the Mission over the last six months across the three pillars of its mandate.

Neil Holland

Firstly, I would like to welcome Ambassador Davenport back to the Permanent Council for the final time as Head of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo. I would like to express my sincere gratitude for your expert leadership of the Mission over the last three (plus) years, during such a pivotal time for the Western Balkans region. Thank you, as always, for the written report on the activities of the Mission over the last six months, and the comprehensive presentation this morning.

Madam Chair, the United Kingdom shares the assessment in the Report of the concerning lack of progress towards Kosovo-Serbia normalisation, which continues to have negative implications for stability in the Western Balkans.

While the UK welcomes the progress in December on the energy roadmap and licence plates, many fundamental issues remain unresolved. We encourage both sides to engage constructively in the EU-facilitated Dialogue and to deliver on their respective obligations, including on establishing an Association of Serb-Majority Municipalities.

The UK will continue to encourage Kosovo to ensure that non-majority communities can play a full and equal role in the country’s future. In this respect, we urge Kosovo and Serbia to continue to work with the EU Special Representative to agree technical solutions to the implementation of the new regulation on foreign currencies.

We are also clear that Kosovo Serbs should be free to exercise their democratic rights and further integrate into Kosovan society. The recent boycott of the mayoral recall votes in the four northern municipalities is a step away from securing the representative democracy that the local population deserves, and we encourage Kosovo Serbs to return to institutions and serve their communities.

The UK reiterates the importance of ensuring justice and accountability for all acts of violence. We call on Serbia to cooperate fully with efforts to hold to account those responsible for the shocking attacks in Banjska last September, and on NATO KFOR troops last May. We also urge Serbia to take action to tackle cross-border arms smuggling.

In this context, the UK commends the work of the OSCE Mission during the last six months across the three core pillars of its mandate. In particular, we highly appreciate the Mission’s continued prioritisation of monitoring and early warning functions in light of the fragile security situation in northern Kosovo.

We value the Mission’s ongoing support to government institutions on human rights and inter-community relations, including recent support to delivery of the Kosovo government’s Strategy for the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Communities. We also welcome the Mission’s continued work to strengthen institutional cooperation in tackling domestic and gender-based violence.

Madam Chair, the United Kingdom will remain 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.

I would like to end by again thanking you, Ambassador Davenport, for your leadership of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo – both during this reporting period, and throughout the last three years. I commend your team’s expertise, engagement and hard work, and I wish you well in your future endeavours.

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Published 9 May 2024