October 2007 Monthly Forecast

Posted 28 September 2007
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EUROPE

Kosovo

Expected Council Action
The Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Joachim Rucker, is expected to present the Secretary-General’s latest report on the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) in informal consultations.

This is the first UNMIK report since the aborted resolution in July. The issue of Kosovo’s status, while not on the agenda, is likely to appear as an element in discussions on UNMIK’s future. The issue of witness protection in the case of former Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj has come up in recent expert level discussions on the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and may be raised during the briefing. These two issues are expected to influence the tone of discussions on the UNMIK report and whether any agreed action emerges from the discussions.
 
Recent Key Developments
At the end of July, the issue of Kosovo’s status moved from the Council to the Contact Group.  Following a suggestion from Germany, a troika made up of the EU (represented by Germany), Russia and the US was formed and given four months to conduct further talks with Kosovo and Serbia in an attempt to seek a negotiated solution. The Contact Group is expected to report its progress to the Secretary-General by 10 December.

Talks between the troika and the two parties began in mid-August and continued in London in September. At the time of writing the first direct talks between representatives from Kosovo and Serbia were scheduled for 28 September following a ministerial-level Contact Group meeting on 27 September. So far there has been no hint of compromise from either side. Serbia is offering full autonomy but retaining control over foreign policy, borders and monetary policy. Kosovo continues to maintain that nothing short of independence is acceptable. Alternatives ranging from partition to the Hong Kong model of an autonomous administrative region have been floated but no common ground has yet emerged.

On 31 August, Rucker announced that municipal, assembly and mayoral elections would be held on 17 November. He reserved the right to postpone elections if there is conflict or if they are used as an excuse to delay status.

The EU foreign ministers discussed Kosovo in early September in Portugal and admitted that there were differences on Kosovo among the 27 members. However, since the Council failed to come to a decision on Kosovo’s final status the EU has been forced to seriously consider alternative scenarios.  Some see this as a test of the credibility of a common EU foreign policy.

UNMIK said on 5 September that the leader of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, former Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, can participate in the 17 November elections in Kosovo even though he is currently on trial at The Hague. UNMIK has said that as Haradinaj voluntarily surrendered and cooperated with the ICTY there is nothing to prohibit him from running.

In early July, ICTY Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte, told the European parliament that the ICTY faced obstructions from the intimidation of witnesses in the trial of Haradinaj. She said there were 15 witnesses who were refusing to testify because they were afraid for their safety. It seems a major problem is that the Kosovo Police Service does not want to protect witnesses whom they regard as traitors.

Options
The Council has the following options:

  • choose to take no action at this point;
  • issue a statement encouraging the work of the troika and encouraging the parties to work at finding a solution;
  • resolve the differences on the witness protection issue; and
  • request a briefing by the Secretary-General in December after he receives the report on the troika’s negotiations.

Key Issues
An immediate key issue is whether the elections can be held in November. The short lead time for the elections is expected to make it difficult to meet voter registration deadlines. Another is the prospect of increased tension in the lead-up to the elections, especially if campaigning stirs nationalist sentiments. Related is the risk of retaliation against the government if elections are postponed because the status issue remains unresolved.

A pressing issue is whether UNMIK, which was drawn-down earlier this year in anticipation of a Council decision giving Kosovo independence by the middle of 2007, will be able to effectively carry out its mandate, particularly during the lead-up to the elections. A future issue is what to do with UNMIK if Kosovo declares independence or alternatively if the status quo continues indefinitely. 

Another issue is witness safety in trials involving Albanian indictees at the ICTY.  With Haradinaj running in the November election, prosecutors fear an increase in witness intimidation. The perception that UNMIK has facilitated his candidacy may impact potential witnesses. The unresolved issue of Kosovo’s status has slowed down previous hopes for progress in the area of witness relocation from Kosovo.

The big issue on most minds, however, will be what to do if the current talks fail to bring about a negotiated solution by 10 December and the related issue of a possible unilateral declaration of independence. 

Related issues include possible secession moves by Serbs in the north and the possible impact on break-away entities in other regions.

Council and Wider Dynamics
Kosovo was a high-priority agenda item from March to July. By then, intense activity and pressure to make a decision had begun to wear down some members. Some members were relieved, therefore, when the issue moved away in July.

The mood is now more pessimistic. Many acknowledge that consensus on a status resolution (either pro-Kosovo independence or pro-the status quo) is now unlikely.

The US and Russia are participating constructively in the troika. However, fundamental differences remain. US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State David Kramer has voiced opposition to an extended process while Russia has made it clear it wants negotiations to be open-ended.

Members also differ over how to deal with a unilateral declaration of independence. The US has made it clear that it will recognise such a declaration. Most of the EU members also seem likely to recognise unilateral independence. Russia, recognising that its veto only carries weight within the Council, is advocating the return of the issue to the Council.

UN Documents

 Security Council Resolution
  • S/RES/1244 (10 June 1999) authorised NATO to secure and enforce the withdrawal of Yugoslav (FRY) forces from Kosovo and established UNMIK.
 Selected Presidential Statement
  • S/PRST/2005/51 (24 October 2005) declared it was time to begin the political process to determine the future status of Kosovo.
Selected Letters
  • S/2007/427 (10 July 2007) was the letter from the Permanent Representative of Serbia containing comments on the Secretary-General’s June UNMIK report.
  • S/2007/414 (6 July 2007) was the letter reporting on KFOR operations from 1 to 31 May 2007.
  • S/2007/403 (2 July 2007) was the letter reporting on KFOR operations from 1 to 30 April 2007.
  • S/2007/168 and Add. 1 (26 March 2007) was the letter transmitting Ahtisaari’s report on Kosovo’s future status and the Comprehensive Proposal for the Kosovo Status Settlement.
 Selected Reports
  • S/2007/395 (29 June 2007) was the latest report of the Secretary-General on UNMIK.
  • S/2007/256 (4 May 2007) was the report of the Security Council on the Kosovo mission.
 Others
  • Statement issued on 20 July 2007 by Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, UK and the US, co-sponsors of the draft resolution on Kosovo presented to the Council on 17 July.
  • S/2007/437 (17 July 2007) was the draft resolution on Kosovo.

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)
 UNMIK
  •  Size of UNMIK mission: 483 international, 1967 national, 142 UN volunteers as of 30 March
  •  Size of OSCE mission: 1300 staff (310 international and 990 local as of 30 September 2006) (Pillar 3) and 447(114 international and 333 local staff as of 31 March 2007)  (Pillar 4)
  • Size of EU mission: 125 international staff, 336 local staff
 Cost
 $217.9 million for fiscal year 2006-2007 (not including OSCE, EU and NATO expenditures)
 KFOR (NATO FORCE)
 General Roland Kather (Germany) 
 Size and Composition of Mission
  •  Size: 16,000 troops
  •  NATO countries: Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, UK, US
  •  Non-NATO countries: Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Finland, Georgia, Ireland, Morocco, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine

Useful Additional Sources

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