Expected Council Action
The endgame in the Council over Kosovo’s final status is expected in June. At press time there have been two expert-level meetings on the draft resolution circulated by the EU5 (France, the UK, Italy, Belgium and Slovakia) and US. A decision in June seems inevitable, bringing to a conclusion the debate over the report released in March by Martti Ahtisaari, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Future Status Process for Kosovo. The Secretary-General’s periodic report on the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) is also expected in June.
Key Recent Developments
In late April and May momentum on the Kosovo issue picked up. The Council mission from 25 to 28 April was a major development. On 24 April, Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno briefed the Council on resolution 1244, which in 1999 authorised NATO to secure and enforce the withdrawal of Yugoslav (FRY) forces from Kosovo and also established UNMIK.
The mission visited Belgrade, Pristina, Brussels and Vienna and met key players. The head of the mission, Ambassador Johan Verbeke of Belgium, gave an oral briefing to the Council on 2 May. The formal mission report followed on 10 May.
On 4 May the EU and the US circulated initial elements of a draft resolution to repeal resolution 1244 and implement the Ahtisaari proposals. This was followed on 7 May by a Russian paper containing its proposal elements which reaffirmed 1244, focused on the implementation of standards and suggested phased implementation of Ahtisaari’s proposal. On 11 May the EU and the US circulated a draft resolution.
The Contact Group on Kosovo—the US, the UK, France, Italy, Russia and Germany—has played a smaller role than expected. Traditionally discussions of the draft resolution would have been managed in the Contact Drafting Group. However, the other Council members wanted discussions brought into the Council. This suited Russia, which has little support in the Contact Group.
Kosovo was also discussed at high-level meetings involving Russia, the EU and the US. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in mid-May but failed to find common ground on Kosovo. The EU-Russia summit ended on 18 May and was unsuccessful in bringing the European and Russian positions any closer.
On 11 May in Serbia, a government was formed after four months of delay, just in time to prevent a new election being called. The EU has shown support for the new government and signalled that if it cooperates with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) on the arrest and extradition of suspects, negotiations on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU will follow.
At press time Council members were expecting a pause in discussions in New York because of the pending G8 Summit taking place from 6-8 June. High-level discussion of Kosovo is expected in the wings.
Adopting the current draft without change. This is unlikely given that Russia has said that it cannot support this draft.
Agreeing with the Russian proposal for a substantively different approach from the current draft. Among the possible versions are:
o “Ahtisaari Plus,” which supersedes resolution 1244 but substantially strengthens international oversight and minority rights protection.
o “Ahtisaari Light,” which retains resolution 1244 but starts implementing the decentralisation and protection of minority recommendations;
o “Ahtisaari minus Status,” which supersedes resolution 1244, accepts key elements of the plan, including replacement of the UN by the EU but puts off determination of Kosovo’s final status subject to review.
Voting on a resolution which retains the key elements of the EU/US draft, but making some modifications designed to meet some of Russia’s concerns, e.g., the precedential effort of the resolution.
The key issue seems to be the risk of Kosovo unilaterally declaring independence if the Council does not make a decision by the end of June. A unilateral declaration of independence could lead to violence. It could lead to a parallel declaration of secession from Kosovo by the Serbian population. A related issue is that UNMIK would be left in an extremely difficult position as the de facto legal authority. Another issue is EU unity. Some believe that without a binding Chapter VII resolution the fragile EU position will not hold.
Within the Council a growing issue is a kind of “Kosovo fatigue.” Some members see this as essentially a European issue and are beginning to resent being caught in a tussle between the Russia, EU and the US.
Council and Wider Dynamics
There has been a shift in Council dynamics since the mission. Discussions moved from the philosophical to the practical. Having experienced realities on the ground many members seem ready to accept that the status quo cannot be maintained. Council members witnessed first-hand the gulf between the two parties during meetings with key players from the Albanian and Serbian communities. Discussions with NATO and the EU in Brussels seem to have satisfied them that there would not be a security void once UNMIK left.
The mission also enabled members to spend prolonged periods together discussing the issue. Over time, the atmosphere between the elected and permanent Council members has improved as effort has been made to include all 15 members of the Council in the issue. European members continue to play a key role in explaining the importance of the issue to Europe.
In May more countries openly endorsed Ahtisaari’s proposal and it seems that there are now sufficient votes for the draft resolution to pass comfortably. While Indonesia and South Africa have not made their final positions public, they have indicated that they do not want to rush the process and need to have a clear idea of the final picture before making a decision. However, this does not seem inconsistent with making a decision by the end of June.
Russia still maintains that there should be further negotiations and a study of 1244. It has now openly referred to the possibility of a veto. It has said its three top concerns are that it cannot agree to a resolution that endorses Ahtisaari’s recommendations, 1244 must remain in place, and Kosovo must not be able to be a precedent.
By the end of May, the sense in the Council was that it was up to Russia, the EU and the US to try and sort out a solution at a high level at the G8 Summit. Many believed that this might still, at best, require a voted resolution with some abstentions.
|Security Council Resolution
|Selected Presidential Statements
Other Relevant Facts
|Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Future Status Process
|Martti Ahtisaari (Finland)
|Special Representative of the Secretary-General
|Joachim Rucker (Germany)
|$2.17 billion for fiscal year 2006-2007 (not including OSCE, EU and NATO expenditures)
|KFOR (NATO Force)
|General Roland Kather (Germany)
|Size and Composition of Mission
Useful Additional Sources
Kosovo: No Good Alternatives to the Ahtisaari Plan, International Crisis Group, Europe Report No.182, 14 May 2007