Remarks by Ambassador Ferit Hoxha at the Security Council meeting on UNMIK – Kosova

23 October 2023

I welcome the President of the Republic of Kosova, Vjosa Osmani, and the Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia, Ana Brnabic, to this meeting.

I thank SRSG Ziadeh for her detailed briefing.

Mr. President,

Let me start with some good news, despite a somewhat blurred horizon during these last months.

In January of next year, the people of Kosova will, like every other nation in the continent, enjoy the freedom of movement in the Schengen area, a process long overdue.

Visa liberalization and increased human mobility have proven to have a huge transformative power everywhere. This is part of the rapprochement with the EU’s freedoms and its core values, which Kosova, a functioning and ever-strengthening democracy, has fully embraced.

Mr. President,

When we speak about the still unresolved relations between Kosova and Serbia, and after the divergent views expressed here, it is always important to put things in their right context.

In a not too distant past, Kosovo and Serbia have been part of an ensemble that no longer exists.

The dissolution of former Yugoslavia was cruel and brutal. The Kosova chapter, in 1999, had nothing in common with a difficult divorce.

The separation of Kosova and Serbia went through the worst, with war crimes and crimes against humanity; the death of countless civilians that mass graves continue to reveal to this day; through mass torture and widespread rape that can never be forgotten. It required an international intervention, to stop atrocities and open a new page for the entire region.

Needless to say, it has left behind bitter memories that are hard to erase, wounds not easy to heal, and scars that are still visible, including as many as 1,600 persons still unaccounted for.

It is undeniable, in the course of the last two decades, the region has gone a long way to overcome the demons of the past. It has largely succeeded, but there is still work to do.

I was surprised, to say the least, listening to the Prime Minister about her analysis of the situation in Kosova. I checked the title of the meeting to make sure that we were not by any twist of chance in a meeting about Syria.

None of those three key elements she mentioned is reflected in the report of Secretary General; none in the report of the OSCE or in the Eulex report.

There may be problems and issues like everywhere, including for lack of wearing the seatbelt or turning right on the signal, but no one can, in full honesty, deny that there are laws, modern laws; there are institutions, democratic institutions and there is due process, equally for anyone in Kosovo.


No matter how hard we may try, we cannot undo the past and its miseries.

But, despite everything, we must move on and be forward-looking, as President Osmani said, turning pain to strength.

This has been and continues to be Albania’s investment.

It is a fact that a quarter of a century later, the Western Balkans are no longer the Balkans; and balkanization has been replaced with Europeanisation. Because the region has reconnected with its core identity, Europe.

It is upon this conviction that I profoundly believe that despite the bitter past, the region has reached that transformative point when, in our part of Europe like elsewhere in the continent, there is only talk of progress, cooperation, compromise, free movement and open spaces, connectivity with little or no borders; talk of a common destiny with far more positive prospects than worrying aspects.

For the first time in our long and troubled history, there is a clear pathway to a common future, individually and collectively, which was once again confirmed in a very convincing and committing way last week in Tirana, during the 10th EU-Western Balkans Summit in the framework of the Berlin Process, the first ever organized outside the EU.

We need to hold firm to it, not let it slip, not waste it.

Precisely because if we don’t, the demons of the past or any incomprehensible of the present, may be tempted to jeopardize it.

Let me briefly share my worry.

It was mentioned, on 24 September, Kosova experienced what was thought inconceivable.

The SRSG called it a security incident. The European parliament qualified it a terrorist act.

A military commando carefully prepared and trained in Serbia, ready to fan the flames of the worst in the history of the Balkan, attacked Kosovo and its institutions, killing a police officer in the line of duty.

Thanks to the prompt and professional intervention by the Kosovo police, the damage was contained and the terrorist mob was quickly pushed back.

The more we learn about it, the more difficult it becomes not to see a pattern between these events and the déjà vu elsewhere, remember the story of heavily armed men in help of a fabricated narrative of a discriminated minority.

The enterprise failed miserably – and that is the positive side – but its intentions remain frightening nonetheless – and that is the deeply worrying side.

There were no fighting sides as we heard here. There was a terrorist mob on one hand, and the police of an independent country preserving law and order.

Critical questions regarding their plans, preparations, training, support, and financing need to be answered. Quickly and convincingly.

Because explanations provided so far, including today, fall short of credibility, even more so when criminals who should have been immediately condemned, were rushily honored.

Glorification of criminals, genocide denials, and efforts to revisit history are wrong and unacceptable. They undermine the principles of justice, ethics, and morality and have detrimental effects on the society of the countries concerned as they run against reconciliation efforts.

Therefore, a full and thorough investigation is needed, as called for by many, including a recent resolution of the European parliament, so that truth and responsibility are properly and clearly established, perpetrators held to account, and make sure that no one thinks again to go down that slippery and dangerous slope.

Mr. President,

This is the last meeting on this issue during our term in the Council.

Next year will mark a quarter of a century since Kosova and Serbia parted their ways and for good.

They will never be under the same roof again, but they will always be neighbors, and we hope, good neighbors.

Reconciliation is always an arduous and complex process. It must rely on good will and vision, but also on accountability and justice. It may be fragile, especially knowing that extremists, surfing on populist narratives, may try to derail it.

In February of this year, Kosova and Serbia agreed to normalize relations with a binding agreement brokered by the EU, concluded in Ohrid and Brussels.

While implementation has been slow, we welcome the establishment of a Joint Monitoring Committee. It should be fully functioning. We also welcome the Declaration on Missing Persons, a crucial process to bring closure to the pain of those concerned.

The agreement must be implemented, quickly and fully.

Those who stand in the way of the process of the dialogue of normalization between Kosovo and Serbia must be resisted.

Those who think that they can solve issues with manipulations, threats and war games must be sanctioned.

Those who want to gamble and hijack the future of Serbia and Kosova as neighbors leaving in peace and cooperation, which impacts the entire region, must be held to account.

It is imperative to look forward, project forward, and move forward.

Let me end by quoting John Fitzgerald Kennedy who has said that “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past are certain to miss the future”.

Too much time has been already lost; too much precious time has been wasted.

Failure to move on has a price, a price tag that will be billed to the next generation.

The EU mediated dialogue is therefore a priceless opportunity that is to the detriment of no one, but to the benefit of all:

Kosova, Serbia and the entire region.

Thank you.

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