Mr. Kio Amieyeofori


Nigeria Mission to the UN

New York, NY

17th May, 2010

As Delivered

We welcome the presence of His Excellency Mr. Vuk Jeremić, Foreign Minister of Serbia, and his insightful statement. We thank the Special Representative of the Secretary- General, Mr. Lamberto Zannier, for his comprehensive briefing in the context of the Secretary-General’s report (S/2010/169) pursuant to resolution 1244 (1999). We also thank Mr. Skender Hyseni for his remarks.

We commend the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) for its role in helping to maintain peace and stability in the region. Its efforts to facilitate dialogue among all of the parties concerned, activities in the rule of law area and coordination among the various actors enjoy our strong support. We are encouraged by the collaboration between UNMIK and the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo in fostering cooperation and peace in the region, within the status-neutral framework of the United Nations. We welcome the intervention of the European Union in setting up a mechanism to facilitate the preservation of the religious and cultural heritage of the Balkan region. It is an initiative, given the traditional respect for these institutions and values that will further promote mutual tolerance, harmony and coexistence among the people.

Despite these positive developments, we note that some challenges exist. We share the concern noted in the Secretary-General’s report about the possibility of increased tension in northern Kosovo should the implementation of the strategy for northern Kosovo by the authorities in Pristina take place without dialogue with local communities and all relevant stakeholders. It is important that sensitive issues related to northern Kosovo be addressed through peaceful means and close consultation and coordination between all relevant actors, taking into account the specific circumstances and concerns of all communities. Reported incidents of attack against minority communities only serve to raise the perception of insecurity in Kosovo. They also constrain efforts to promote returns of displace persons, reconciliation and the longer-term stability and development of Kosovo and the region. My country stresses the need to ensure that perpetrators of crimes are brought to justice, such incidents roundly condemned, and efforts made to reach out to victims.

On the issue of minority returns, we welcome the increased number of returnees recorded during the reporting period. We are concerned, however, that overall numbers of returns remain low and that, in the assessment of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the implementation of returns strategies in 2010 may be hampered by lack of funding for returns activities, lack of political commitment and structural problems in local governance, as well as concerns over the viability of conditions for returns. We call for concerted efforts by all stakeholders, in particular UNMIK and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, to ensure that returns are voluntary and safe.

Nigeria reiterates its full support for dialogue and a negotiated settlement of the dispute. In concluding, we commend the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and his team for their unrelenting efforts in promoting peace and stability in Kosovo and in the region.