UN envoy voices concern over tension between Kosovo, Serbia

Source: Xinhua| 2018-05-15 03:43:30|Editor: Liangyu
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Zahir Tanin (Front), the UN secretary-general's special representative for Kosovo, briefs the United Nations Security Council on developments in Kosovo, at the UN headquarters in New York, on May 14, 2018. The UN envoy for Kosovo on Monday expressed concern over the tension between Kosovo and Serbia. (Xinhua/Li Muzi)

UNITED NATIONS, May 14 (Xinhua) -- The UN envoy for Kosovo on Monday expressed concern over the tension between Kosovo and Serbia, from which the territory has declared independence.

The past few months were generally characterized by a decline in both the quality of actions and the tenor of political discourse between Pristina and Belgrade, Zahir Tanin, the UN secretary-general's special representative for Kosovo, told the UN Security Council.

Tentative meetings of the EU-facilitated dialogue between the two parties took place in March. But the atmosphere was poisoned by the subsequent arrest of Belgrade's chief negotiator Marko Duric, for allegedly entering Serb-dominated northern Kosovo illegally, said Tanin.

"Following the incident, political figures from both sides engaged in rhetorical escalation that led to further setbacks in the effort to continue the EU-facilitated dialogue," said the special representative and head of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).

There has been discussion over many months about the prospects of a shift in the essentially frozen positions of the two sides through the new EU focus on the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue and on wider regional engagement.

Despite these expectations, recent rising political temperatures have created hurdles in advancing the dialogue that requires sufficient political will from either or both sides to bring a new level of engagement to bolster the process, he said.

"There is no other viable option. However, for that to happen, there is a clear need for exercising leadership to stand up to challenges even with short-term political costs."

A new focus by the EU at all levels provides a mutually beneficial opportunity for Pristina and Belgrade to leave the current difficult moment behind and to take the dialogue to the next stage of real progress, he said.

Kosovo, which is dominated by ethnic Albanians, declared independence from Serbia in 2008. UNMIK was established in 1999 following the Kosovo War.

The UN mission's role has been dwindling since Kosovo's proclamation of independence and following the creation of the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo.

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