December 2007 Monthly Forecast

Posted 29 November 2007
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EUROPE

Kosovo

Expected Council Action

On 10 December the Secretary-General will receive the Kosovo Contact Group’s report on the negotiations between Pristina and Belgrade, led by the Troika (the EU represented by Germany, US and Russia). The Secretary-General is expected to transmit the report to the Council. It is unclear if there will be any briefing.

With a declaration of independence by Kosovo seeming increasingly likely, this aspect is also likely to figure in Council discussions. The question of resolution 1244 and the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), whose mandate is open-ended, is also expected to be addressed.

The next report from UNMIK is due at the end of December.

Key Recent Developments

At the time of writing Serbia and Kosovo had not reached agreement after four months of negotiations led by the Troika. Six meetings were held between the end of September and the end of November. Proposals ranging from supervised independence, limited independence, confederation and variations of autonomy were all rejected. A suggestion by the Troika’s EU representative, Wolfgang Ischinger, involving a form of “neutral status”, was under discussion in the Troika at press time. However, Pristina has maintained its position of nothing short of independence. Belgrade has offered wide autonomy but will not agree to independence.

Elections were held in Kosovo on 17 November. Ex-guerilla fighter Hashim Thaci’s Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) won 35 percent of the votes with the outgoing ruling Democratic League of Kosovo getting 22 percent. Thaci, likely to be prime minister, said immediately after the elections that he would declare independence immediately after 10 December. However, he subsequently signalled that he would consult with Washington and the EU on timing.

Voter turnout was only 43 percent. Many see this as a sign of disillusionment with the political parties for failing to achieve independence and the deteriorating economy. Encouraged by Belgrade, Kosovo Serbs boycotted the election. The boycott was criticised by UNMIK which issued a statement asking Belgrade to refrain from activities which would undermine elections and Kosovo Serb participation.

EU foreign ministers met in Brussels on 19 November and appealed to Thaci not to rush to declare independence if the Troika failed to resolve Kosovo’s status. Several European countries including Luxembourg and Sweden also urged Kosovo not to make hasty moves towards independence.

Greece, Cyprus, Romania and Slovakia, keeping in mind the possible impact on their own minorities, have all expressed reservations about independence. But there is a commitment from all members to keep intact EU foreign policy and it seems that even those who may be slow to recognise a unilateral declaration are unlikely to block wider EU consensus or the deployment of an EU force.

In early November, Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica overtly linked Kosovo with Bosnia saying that preserving the status quo regarding Kosovo and the Bosnian entity Republika Srpska were the most important goals of state policy.

Options

Options include:

  • discussion of the report in informal consultations;
  • an open briefing, but no debate, followed by closed consultations to discuss the report;
  • a closed, formal meeting where selected non-Council members could be invited to speak (in past practice the Kosovo government would not be included in this scenario); or
  • an Arria style meeting to include Kosovo representatives.

If there is a unilateral declaration of independence, several scenarios could emerge:

  • Kosovo having been recognised by a number of states invites the EU to replace NATO forces (this might be done by consent as opposed to being authorised through resolution 1244 or other Council decisions); or
  • Kosovo consents to UNMIK continuing to play a residual role under resolution 1244 (protection of minorities and developing governmental institutions).

Options for the Council might include the following.

  • Hearing reports on developments but taking no action.
  • Considering a new resolution to replace 1244. (The resolution which was put in blue in July has been withdrawn as is clear from the fact that the number given to the draft, S/2007/437, was used for another document in August 2007.)
  • Deciding that UNMIK should leave. In this case a resolution would be needed.
  • If it looks like UNMIK’s security is threatened, the Secretary-General could withdraw the mission.

Key Issues

Apart from the procedural issues, the substantive issues now seem to revolve around a likely declaration of independence in the coming months.

The first is the impact in the Council of any unilateral declaration. Traditionally the Council has not taken a position on such actions until it is faced with an application for UN membership. The only exception might be if events seemed likely to give rise to a threat to international peace and security. However, Kosovo has some unique features. These include the presence of a UN operation under a Council mandate (UNMIK) and resolution 1244. The issue seems to be that some feel that the Council should address the issue at an early stage. Others seem reluctant to address it in the abstract, preferring to wait and see whether in practice problems will emerge.

A related issue is the impact on other countries in the region. Some believe that unilateral independence could lead to further disintegration in the Balkans with Kosovo’s Serbian-dominated north breaking away and joining Serbia as well as separatists in Bosnia and Herzegovina and possibly Macedonia being inspired to make similar moves.

Another issue is whether Thaci will have difficulty forming a coalition government soon and whether a delay could lead to unrest in Kosovo. The Council is aware that NATO forces and UNMIK have prepared contingency plans for possible trouble but will be concerned about how best to handle such a situation.

A further issue, whatever happens, is whether and when Kosovo should come back to the Council.

A wider question is the timing of the Serbian presidential elections (expected early next year) and whether some members of the Council might advocate waiting until after the elections before making any moves on Kosovo.

Council and Wider Dynamics

Basic positions of members remain unchanged. The US has continued to make clear it favours independence for Kosovo. Russia says negotiations should continue beyond 10 December as it still prefers to work on a negotiated solution.

Most of the European members seem to be keen to find a way for EU forces to quickly replace NATO, within resolution 1244.

China, like many others, seems to have concerns about regional instability if there is a unilateral declaration of independence that is not quickly recognised. Many elected Council members still see this very much as a European issue and are likely to be cautious about publicly stating their positions.

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 Statements

  • 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/2007/168 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/2007/652 (5 November 2007) was the report on the international security presence from 1 – 30 September 2007
  • S/2007/582 (28 September 2007) was the latest report of the Secretary-General on UNMIK.

Letters

  • S/2007/606 (11 October 2007) was the letter from the Serbian permanent representative commenting on the latest UNMIK report.

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: 1996 police, forty military observers as of 30 October 2007
  • Size of OSCE mission: 1300 staff (310 international and 990 local as of 30 September 2006) (Pillar 3) and 443 (99 international and 334 local staff as of 31 October 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: 15,000 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 and the US
  • Non-NATO countries: Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Finland, Georgia, Ireland, Morocco, Sweden, Switzerland and Ukraine

Full forecast