Thank you Chair. Welcome Kilian and thank you to you and your team for the report.
The Mission has continued to achieve progress against both the backdrop of COVID-19 and changes in government. Thank you for your continued focus on ensuring access to information in all official languages. This is always essential and especially vital at this time. And thank you for your timely reporting on key developments. We attach value to your spot reports, as a key part of the OSCE’s Early Warning.
I will now focus on three areas- democratisation and oversight, including media freedom; gender and minority communities; and law enforcement capacity.
Firstly, on democratisation and oversight. Whilst the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) did not request technical assistance from the Mission for the elections on 14th February, which is in itself testament to the work the Mission has previously done with the CEC, we welcome that you sent more than 100 staff to monitor security and maintain awareness of the situation on the day. We also appreciate your workshops with the Association of the Blind of Kosovo to enable around 1,300 people to cast their vote independently.
We recognise your continued assistance on Kosovo’s Legislative Programme, and look forward to hearing more when the new Government is confirmed.
Media Freedom is essential for democracy to function effectively.
The Mission’s assistance to non-majority community media is particularly worth highlighting, alongside your assistance on improving the knowledge and reporting skills of journalists on hate speech and hate crime, and your outreach to young children and youth on media and digital literacy skills. Safety of journalists remains a great concern, and we would welcome continued focus on this essential issue. The rise in the number of incidents against journalists during this reporting period is extremely worrying – in one instance it involved gunshots being fired at a journalist’s vehicle in Mitrovice/Mitrovica South.
Secondly, we commend the Mission’s work on tackling gender-based and domestic violence. The Mission’s support in ensuring that key providers are trained in essential approaches to support victims is highly appreciated. During the 16 Days of Activism Campaign against Gender-Based Violence, we would draw attention to the Mission’s work in producing TV slots and TV debates on sexual harassment in the workplace, harassment against women in politics, and women’s property rights.
I would also like to highlight your work supporting minority communities and facilitating inter community dialogue. The Mission’s continued work in supporting returnees to Kosovo to live full lives and support on drafting the sub-law on religious freedom are welcomed, as are programmes to support Kosovo’s Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian (RAE) population, particularly the government internships programme for students from these communities.
Thirdly – we welcome your capacity-building support for the Kosovo Police to combat serious organised crime, including cybercrime and narcotics. We appreciate the Mission’s assistance on new Strategies and Action Plans for policing and counter-terrorism. I’d like to draw particular attention to the workshop organised by the Kosovo Police with the Mission’s support with representatives of the local community, civil society and other relevant actors which was able to identify actions to encourage women’s involvement in community safety forums. Trafficking in human beings and violent extremism and radicalisation was also discussed.
On 14 October, the Secretary General of the Ministry of Local Government Administration, briefed us in Vienna. This was an excellent opportunity for delegations to hear first-hand from one of your stakeholders about the value of the Mission’s work on the ground. We look forward to a further briefing from a Kosovo interlocutor this autumn.
Finally, with international partners, we support the EU-facilitated Dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo working towards a comprehensive and sustainable normalisation agreement that benefits the people of both countries.