Statement by H.E. Ambassador Baki İlkin, Permanent Representative of Turkey to the UN, at the Security Council Meeting on the Debate on Kosova

Baki İlkin 14.02.2006
Mr. President,

Allow me to start by expressing our heartfelt condolences to the people of Kosovo, over the passing away of President Rugova. His peaceful and constructive policies would always be remembered with great appreciation.

I would welcome the high level delegation headed by the President of Serbia, H.E. Boris Tadiç, as well as the Prime Minister of Kosovo, H.E. Bajram Kosumi.

May I also extend our deep appreciation to the Secretary-General for his comprehensive report describing the present situation in Kosovo.

I would also like to thank Mr. Soren Jessen-Petersen, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Mission in Kosovo, for his briefing today and commend him and his colleagues for their tireless efforts.

Mr. President,

Turkey already aligned itself with the statement made by the distinguished representative of Austria on behalf of the European Union. Therefore, I shall confine myself to making a brief comment on a number of points, which we think have a particular importance, as seen from Turkey.

Mr. President,

At the outset, I would like to underline that Turkey, also a Balkan country, has always been directly involved in efforts to establish peace and stability in the region. Within this framework Turkey contributes to the UN and OSCE Missions as well as to the NATO Force in Kosovo.

Mr. President,

Decentralization process, fair and equitable representation of all minorities in the political and administrative structures of Kosovo, respect for the cultural rights of minorities, pursuit of economic reforms, dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, as well as between all Kosovo communities and the return of refugees and internally displaced people to their homes are the main priorities of my country in Kosovo. In this respect, we hope and expect that the future political structure in Kosovo will reflect the multi-ethnic nature of the region and will be able to reach out to all communities. We believe that improved security conditions and region-wide implementation of the property legislation would encourage the returns, which remains to be a very slow process.

Mr. President,

We welcome the holding of direct talks between Pristina and Belgrade in Vienna on the 20th of February on the decentralization issue. We believe that these direct contacts can and should serve as a platform for the parties to put forward their respective positions on concrete issues. Yet we also believe that any announcement related to a specific deadline could be counterproductive at this stage. What really matters is the achievement of a sustainable solution.

We also welcome the launch, with the support of UNMIK, of the decentralization pilot projects, one of them being the Kosovo Turkish-majority area. Likewise, we also welcome the establishment of the Consultative Committee for Minorities, which will provide advice on minority issues. Furthermore, we also deem it crucial that all minorities be engaged in the status talks. To this end, we believe that a representative for all minorities, in addition to the one for the Kosovo Serbs, should be present in the negotiating team. Another option would be to institutionalize the relationship between the Consultative Committee for Minorities and the negotiating team so that all minorities would be able to share their views and proposals with the negotiating parties at each stage of the talks related to the future status of Kosovo. Furthermore, we believe that minorities should be included in the drafting of the new Constitution.

Mr. President,

I would like to conclude by reiterating the strong commitment of the Turkish Government to the security, stability and prosperity of the Balkans as well as Kosovo.

Thank you Mr. President.