EULEX between hopes and fears

posted by Julia on 2008/12/02 22:16

[ Western Balkans and EU ]

The new EULEX mission should be operational in a few days. Its legal basis is a report by the Secretary General on the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo which was adopted by the UN Security Council last week:

"I expect EULEX to move forward with its deployment in the coming period and to assume responsibilities in the areas of policing, justice and customs, under the overall authority of the United Nations, under a United Nations umbrella headed by my Special Representative, and in accordance with resolution 1244 (1999). UNMIK has been working closely with EULEX on technical arrangements designed to facilitate its deployment under resolution 1244 (1999)." (Ban Ki Moon in the Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo from 24 November 2008) (click on "MORE" to read on)

The fact that EULEX will be deployed under resolution 1244 (and not under the Kosovar Constitution) has spurred protests in Kosovo (cf. also B. Pula/in French), but what angers Kosovars most is that the report refers to the "six point plan" agreed with Belgrade - but rejected by Pristina: "As made clear in my report, each of the arrangements for the six points will apply until the relevant follow-up mechanisms have been put in place" (Report of 24.11.2008). The "six point plan" is included in a letter to President Tadic annexed to the Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo from 12 June 2008 (copy-pasted below). The fact that the six points were maintained is understood in Pristina as a signal that Kosovo politics are still made in/with Belgrade.

One of the provision of the 6-point plan is: "Additional local and district courts serving relevant Serb-majority areas may be created. They will operate within a Kosovo court system under the applicable law within the framework of resolution 1244 (1999)." This can be interpreted as a legalisation of the Kosovo-Serb "parallel system" of justice, police, and border-control (which was tolerated but not accepted by UNMIK) ... especially since the UN Secretary General report of 24.11.2008 acknowledges that the EULEX Mission in not welcomed in North-Kosovo: "The Kosovo Serb political leadership in northern Kosovo ... continued to oppose the deployment of the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX). The northern Kosovo Serb leaders claim that they will not change their stance, regardless of Belgrade ’s approach."

"Although not explicitly stated in the plan, critics say the reality on the ground will be that police, customs and courts in Serb enclaves will come under United Nations jurisdiction, while EULEX will be in charge in areas with a majority ethnic Albanian population." (source: BalkanInsight, 27.11.2008)

Green Member of the European Parliament A. Beer and journalist Enver Robelli both fear a consolidation of the ethnic dividing lines of Kosovo. Here a quote from Robelli's article (BAZ):

"Der Plan schreibt die faktische Teilung des neuen Staates in ethnisch getrennte Gebiete fest. Im Norden Kosovos und in den von Serben bewohnten Enklaven sollen serbische Polizisten operieren, die nur den internationalen Vertretern unterstehen. Die Zentralregierung in Pristina soll dort keinen Einfluss haben. Das gilt auch für die Justiz: In den serbischen Gemeinden sollen die Gerichte ausserhalb der kosovarischen Verfassung funktionieren. Die Nordgrenze zu Serbien sollen nur ausländische Beamten kontrollieren.
Auf die Barrikaden gebracht hat die Kosovo-Albaner auch eine Erklärung von Pierre Mirel, der in der EU-Kommission für den Balkan zuständig ist. Der französische Diplomat hatte in Belgrad verkündet, die EU-Rechtsstaatsmission Eulex werde in Kosovo nicht den Ahtisaari-Plan umsetzen. Nach diesen Zugeständnissen, die im Widerspruch zur Verfassung des kosovarischen Staates stehen, ist Belgrad nun bereit, die Stationierung der EU-Mission in Kosovo zu tolerieren."

The NZZ (16.11.2008) wonders about the conflicting priorities of the EU: "What is more important - a functioning multiethnic society in the whole of Kosovo or a continuous EU territory between Greece and Slovenia?" (my translation)

Others welcome the deployment of EULEX, which has been prepared for more than a year. For Fabian Schmidt (Deutsche Welle) the "hype surrounding the German suspects detracted from an investigation of other leads in the [ICO] bombing case" and showed that Kosovo needs support in the field of rule of law - exactly the support EULEX will offer. However, this will not be an easy task:

"it's doubtful whether or not all the powers in Kosovo are interested in a functioning judiciary. Organized crime circles are more concerned with maintaining a free hand to keep smuggling and trafficking people and even organs. These networks don't know ethnic or national borders. The dark side of the current solution is that the continuation of Belgrade's controlled parallel structures in the North only prolongs insecurity and creates a good environment for organized crime to flourish." (Fabian Schmidt, DW)

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The "six points" - Annex I of the Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo from 12 June 2008

Letter dated 12 June 2008 from the Secretary-General to His Excellency Mr. Boris Tadić

The position of the United Nations on the question of the status of Kosovo has been one of strict status neutrality. Following Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence on 17 February 2008, some Member States have recognized Kosovo as a sovereign state, while others have not. Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) continues to be in force until the Security Council decides otherwise. In the absence of other guidance from the Security Council and following consultations with your Government and other relevant stakeholders, I intend to exercise the authority vested in me by resolution 1244 (1999) to reconfigure the international civil presence as set out in my report to the Security Council
(S/2008/354). Furthermore, the following provisions would be temporary arrangements that would apply for a limited duration and without prejudice to the status of Kosovo.

1. Police
Kosovo Police Service personnel operating in relevant Serb-majority areas should report to international police under the overall authority of my Special Representative.

2. Courts
Additional local and district courts serving relevant Serb-majority areas may be created. They will operate within a Kosovo court system under the applicable law within the framework of resolution 1244 (1999).

3. Customs
My Special Representative will determine, in consultation with relevant stakeholders, an organizational structure allowing Kosovo to continue to function as a single customs area, which will include guarantees for the continued presence of international customs officers at relevant customs points.

4. Transportation and infrastructure

A technical coordination committee, including Serbia and other relevant stakeholders, will be established by my Special Representative to address all relevant technical and cross-boundary issues, taking into account the work of the Pristina-Belgrade technical dialogue working group.

5. Boundaries
In accordance with resolution 1244 (1999), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, as the international military presence, will continue to fulfil its existing security mandate throughout Kosovo, including with respect to the boundaries, in conjunction with other international organizations.

6. Serbian patrimony
The Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo shall be afforded international protection. The Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo will remain under the direct authority of its religious seat in Belgrade. The Church will retain the sole right to preserve and reconstruct its religious, historical and cultural sites in Kosovo. Serbia will continue close cooperation with the United Nations and all relevant bodies in the provision of support to such preservation and reconstruction activities. Concerning the implementation of the above provisions, my Special Representative will pursue a dialogue with your Government. In this context, my Special Representative will consult with other relevant stakeholders, including the authorities in Pristina. In accordance with paragraph 6 of resolution 1244 (1999), I intend to appoint a new Special Representative in conjunction with the envisaged
reconfiguration.

Mindful of the commitment of the European Union to the region, I intend to consult with the European Union High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy to determine an operational role for the European Union in the implementation of the above provisions within the United Nations status-neutral framework.

(Signed) Ban Ki-moon


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This weblog is a forum for discussion on the political and social processes linked to EU integration in the Western Balkans. We would also like to use this space to create a virtual network of researchers on this topic. You are most welcome to contribute to this weblog with comments, postings, links, or photos. Please use the "add comment" function at the end of each posting!
All photos by the Photo Arts Collective of Kosovo. First photo by Burim Myftiu (Swimming olympiade in Klina). Second photo by Mimoza. Third photo by Dashmir Izairi.
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