As a part of his visit to the states of former Yugoslavia, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited Kosovo, where he was welcomed by his special Representative and chief of UNMIK, Mr. Farid Zarif and Ms. Osnat Lubrani, UN Development Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative. Making his first steps at Pristina airport Mr. Ban has underlined that this trip to the region is focused on the future – on common challenges and opportunities. He also pointed out the important role of UN Kosovo Team, in building democratic institutions, strengthening the rule of law, protecting minority rights, facilitating dialogue and promoting confidence between communities.
Mr. Ban Ki-moon in his speech at the Pristina airport said:
I am here to gain a fuller insight into the situation, in particular the status of community relations, minority rights and safeguarding cultural heritage.
One overriding theme of my visit is the importance of dialogue and mutual respect across the region. I have emphasized to all the leaders I am meeting the crucial importance of taking further steps for greater understanding.
I bring the same message to Kosovo's leaders, and to the people of Kosovo, who I know have suffered from conflict and who yearn for a peaceful, prosperous future.
In particular, I expect strong efforts toward the normalization of relations with Belgrade, including through the same serious and sincere commitment to dialogue which I have asked from the Serbian leadership.
I also call upon all parties to intensify their efforts to resolve the issue of missing persons. This is a fundamental human rights issue, key to reconciliation and mutual respect.
I remain concerned about the situation in northern Kosovo and the escalation of tensions during the past year.
UN Secretary-General met in Pristina with Kosovo's President Atifete Jahjaga and the Prime Minister Hashim Thaqi, as well as representatives of local and international institutions. UN Secretary-General also visited the Decani monastery which is on the UNESCO World Heritage list, where he was welcomed by Father Sava Janjic. At the City of Prizren Mr. Ban Ki-moon visited the symbols of all three religions in Kosovo: the Catholic Church, Sinan Pasha Mosque and the Cathedral Church of St. George. In Prizren, he was met by the Bishop of Raska and Prizren Teodosije.
Mr. Ban Ki-moon has set aside special time for his associates, representatives of the UN mission in Kosovo, and warmly thanked them for their hard work.
It is essential that sensitive and complex issues related to northern Kosovo be resolved through peaceful dialogue.
The views of the communities most directly affected by tensions are paramount. Their voices must be heard. Their basic needs and rights must be democratically represented.
I also look forward to my discussions with our international partners, including KFOR, EULEX and the OSCE.
The European Union has taken the lead in international efforts in the region. The United Nations will continue to cooperate with all international partners in achieving our common goals for the people of Kosovo and the wider region.
Finally, I join with the people of Kosovo in mourning the sudden loss of Ali Podrimja, a great poet of Kosovo and an internationally recognized artist. Our thoughts and condolences are with you.
Once again, I am pleased to be in Kosovo at this important time. I look forward to a productive day.
Thank you very much.
The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called on Serbia and Kosovo to resume dialogue and normalize their relations.
On Tuesday, he visited Kosovo's capital Pristina as part of his Balkan tour. Ban Ki-moon urged the local government to observe the rights of ethnic minorities, strengthen democratic institutions and preserve historical and cultural monuments.
He voiced concern over continuing tension between the authorities and ethnic Serbs in the north of Kosovo.