Serbia and Kosovo clashed at an October 15 2009 United Nations Security Council debate on Kosovo, held against the background of a UN report that calls on all communities to work together to normalise the situation in Kosovo.
The report, in the name of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and presented by UNMIK chief Lamberto Zannier, said that the European Union mission in Kosovo – which unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in February 2008 – continued to be status-neutral and continued to exchange information and co-ordinate its work with UNMIK.
Covering the June 1 to September 15 2009 period, the report said that the situation in the north of Kosovo was still fragile and bore the risk of destabilising the rest of Kosovo.
Serbian foreign minister Vuk Jeremic urged UN member states to await the outcome of the International Court of Justice proceedings on Kosovo. The court was asked by the UN General Assembly in 2008 for an opinion on the legality of Kosovo’s self-declared independence.
On the municipal elections planned for Kosovo, Jeremic said the situation was "deeply regrettable" but that under the current circumstances the vote is illegitimate, the Voice of America reported.
"Unfortunately, the legitimacy of the entire electoral process has been lost by the failure to hold them within the status-neutral framework of Resolution 1244. According to the report before us, the SRSG (special representative of the U.N.secretary-general) did not call them, the OSCE will not monitor them, and the U.N. cannot certify them. Under such circumstances, it is simply impossible for us to support them," Jeremic said.
Kosovo foreign minister Skender Hyseni hit out at Serbia for its continuous support of "parallel structures" and for discouraging the Serb community from integrating the institutional life in Kosovo.
Hyseni also mentioned further recognitions of Kosovo’s independence, and Kosovo’s membership to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
He said that the government of Kosovo remained committed to fighting crime and corruption.
As to the local elections, Hyseni said that all necessary preparations have been made for elections to be held in a free and democratic fashion.
VOA reported that Hyseni said that the Kosovo Central Election Commission was fully responsible for organising and conducting the November 15 vote.
"Comprehensive preparations have taken place to make sure this coming municipal election is successful and in full compliance with the set standards. With over 70 political entities that have been duly certified to participate at the election, we are confident that this will be another democratic, free, fair election in the Republic of Kosovo," Hyseni said.
He said that he hoped that there would be "sizable and substantial participation" from the Kosovo-Serb community, but he said that the government was concerned that Serbia was trying to influence them not to take part.
"Regrettably, as we could hear today, there are clear indications that the government of the Republic of Serbia has been doing quite the opposite, calling on Kosovo-Serbs to boycott the elections," he said.
The sensitivity of Kosovo's growing international recognition was apparent in the council, when Russia's ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, protested the presence of Kosovar representatives at the United Nations during the September 2009 annual debate in the General Assembly, VOA said.
Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported Churkin as saying that Russia believes that calls by Albanian authorities in Kosovo to end the UN presence in the region are dangerous and unacceptable.
"No one has the right to obstruct the implementation of the UNMIK duties, including tasks of assisting in provision of the democratic standards in the region set by the international society," Churkin said.
He said that Moscow considered it unacceptable to reduce further the UNMIK presence in Kosovo.
The UN News Service reported that Zannier told the Security Council that the UN peacekeeping mission in Kosovo was "inextricably caught" between the differing perceptions of the opposing sides, which hinder its efforts to bring the majority Albanians and minority Serbian and other ethnic groups closer together.
"Actions by Pristina and Belgrade continue to be aimed at bolstering their respective legal positions before the (International Court of Justice)," Zannier said
"As a consequence our role, although aimed at promoting pragmatic solutions to existing problems, has not been an easy one to play," he said.
While Serbia expects a robust UNMIK role, Kosovo authorities believe its job is done, he said.
Zannier said that a number of Kosovo Serb community leaders south of the Ibar River had openly called for participation in the municipal elections.
"Putting status considerations aside, I believe that greater participation in Kosovo’s local structures could benefit all of Kosovo’s communities and foster development of multi-ethnic local institutions, leading to stronger protection of minority rights and encouraging returns (of displaced people)," Zannier said, calling for "pragmatism and compromise" to set up fully-functioning courts and customs points in northern Kosovo.
"Although conditions remained generally stable during this period [reporting from 1 June to 15 September] the situation in northern Kosovo remains an issue of concern, with the potential to destabilise other parts of Kosovo if not kept in check," Zannier said.