Response to Head of OSCE Mission to Serbia, Ambassador Dimitrios Kypreos

As delivered by Ambassador Ian Kelly
to the Permanent Council, Vienna
March 1, 2012

The United States welcomes Ambassador Kypreos to the Permanent Council and thanks him for his comprehensive report.

We welcome the positive results of the most recent round of the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue in Brussels on integrated border management and representation of Kosovo in regional fora. We hope these steps will lead to more intensified efforts to resolve issues that can lead to improvements in the daily lives of ordinary citizens, promote stability and development of the region, and help Serbia and Kosovo on their European integration paths.

Ambassador Kypreos, the work of the Mission is invaluable, both to Serbia and to the region. The success of the first meeting of your joint project with the Mission in Kosovo, bringing together women from public life, academia and civil society, exemplifies the possibilities that cross-border, inter-Mission projects offer to foster confidence and provide a platform for dialog and reconciliation. These are core OSCE activities, and we look forward to the results from the next meeting this month in Pristina.

The Mission’s work in human and minority rights is key to integrating disparate groups. The Mission’s assistance to the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights on implementing the National Strategy for Roma Inclusion is one valuable example. We welcome the creation of a multi-ethnic university department in Bujanovac, and we applaud the Mission for supporting the creation and distribution of Albanian-language textbooks there, reinforcing support for Bujanovac’s multi-ethnic government there.

We commend the Government of Serbia for its April 2011 strategy for preventing domestic violence against women, as well as its National Action Plan on the implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace, and security. We regret that the 2011 Pride Parade was cancelled due to the inability of the Government of Serbia to guarantee the security of participants, but we welcome Serbia’s plans to open a shelter for lesbian and gay individuals seeking safety from harassment, an effort that underscores the importance of protecting all citizens in OSCE participating States. We call on the Mission to continue to work with government and civil society to ensure that all minority groups, including persons with disabilities, have access to fair and safe representation.

We note that the work of the Police Reform Unit, in conjunction with the Ministry of the Interior, shows great progress in the area of police accountability and transparency. Giventhese strides, we believe that these programmatic activities may be able to wind down in the next year, a success story for both the Mission and the Government of Serbia.

We commend the Mission for training prosecutors of war crimes and organized crime on the new Criminal Procedure Code. The new Criminal Procedure Code also provides an avenue for regional integration, allowing for a comprehensive approach to these cross-border issues. The “Joint Declaration on Ending Displacement and Ensuring Durable Solutions for Vulnerable Refugees and IDPs” is a step forward on regional cooperation in responding to the needs of displaced persons, both internally and across the Western Balkans. The United States has pledged its support for this important program, and we urge all participating States to show their support at the Donors’ Conference in Sarajevo on April 24th.

The United States is committed to the stability and progress of Serbia and of the region. We thank you, Ambassador Kypreos, for your continued leadership of an excellent team and we look forward to a year of progress for Serbia and the Mission.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.