November 2010 Monthly Forecast

EUROPE

Kosovo

Expected Council Action

In November head of UNMIK, Lamberto Zannier, is expected to brief the Council.

Discussion is likely to focus on the upcoming EU-brokered talks between Serbia and Kosovo. It seems unlikely that the Council will take any formal action.

Key Recent Developments
On 16 October the coalition government of Prime Minister Hashim Thaci collapsed when the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) announced it was leaving the government. Among those resigning was Foreign Minister Skender Hyseni. According to Kosovo’s constitution, elections must be held within 45 days of the withdrawal, which would mean early December. The withdrawal occurred just days after acting president, Jakup Krasniqi, announced that general elections would be held on 13 February. At press time the election timetable remained unclear. These developments follow the 27 September resignation of Kosovo’s first president, Fatmir Sejdiu, after the constitutional court ruled that he had acted in violation of the constitution by simultaneously holding office and the leadership of the LDK.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Pristina on 13 October, pledging to work for broader international recognition of Kosovo and to support Kosovo’s pursuit of EU and NATO membership. Clinton then travelled to Brussels, where she met with EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton. Clinton told Ashton that she believed Serbia’s application for EU membership ought to be forwarded to the European Commission, a crucial step in the accession process, as a reward for its recent constructive stance on Kosovo. Serbia’s application was forwarded to the Commission on 25 October.

The General Assembly on 9 September adopted without a vote a resolution that welcomedthe readiness of the European Union to facilitate a process of dialogue between the parties.” The resolution also acknowledged the content of the advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence and noted that dialogue would “promote cooperation, achieve progress on the path to the EU and improve the lives of people.” The resolution was tabled by Serbia and prepared in cooperation with the EU. (An earlier draft condemning Kosovo’s declaration of independence and calling for new negotiations on all outstanding issues was shelved.)

In his previous briefing to the Council, Zannier reported that the situation in the north remains of major concern. He cited insufficient progress towards reconciliation between the communities and slow economic development as culprits behind the ongoing instability.

The security situation in northern Kosovo still remains tense. On 4 October, following a string of violent incidents, the heads of the NATO-led force (KFOR), the EU Rule of Law Mission Police and Kosovo police announced a plan to increase patrols to prevent unrest and establish law and order.

Clashes between ethnic Serbs and Albanians erupted in Mitrovica on 12 September following Serbia’s loss in a world championship basketball match in Istanbul. Three international peacekeepers and six locals were wounded.

In September the Czech defence minister announced that his country will withdraw 300 peacekeepers from Kosovo, which would leave only ninety Czech troops in Kosovo. Slovakia is currently also drawing down forces, as its commitment to KFOR expires in November. NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on 16 September urged alliance members to reconsider the pace of their troop reductions, warning that while all KFOR partners were considering a reduced military presence, the announced reductions seemed too large and that KFOR must continue to have a sufficient presence to ensure stability and peace.

On 11 September, Serbia indicted nine former paramilitary members for the killing of 43 ethnic Albanians in May 1999 during the Kosovo conflict. The nine were also implicated in rapes, beatings and the burning of homes and property. Serbia’s prosecution of such atrocities committed during the Balkan wars is a key condition of advancing Serbia’s bid for EU accession.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia on 10 September denied a request by former Kosovo prime minister Ramush Haradinaj to be provisionally freed before he is retried, stating his release would encourage his supporters to intimidate witnesses. Haradinaj had been acquitted of war crimes in April 2008, but the acquittal was overturned in July 2010 because of claims of witness intimidation in the original trial. He is being retried for war crimes including murder and torture.

On 3 August, Zannier, briefed the Council on Kosovo following the issuance of the ICJ opinion affirming the legality of Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence. Zannier recalled that the ICJ had reaffirmed that Kosovo remained subject to the interim administration of the UN and resolution 1244 (1999) and that the UN Mission in Kosovo’s (UNMIK) Constitutional Framework continued to apply.

In a 27 July letter to the Secretary-General, Serbia outlined its position concerning the ICJ opinion. The letter asserted that the ICJ findings did not endorse Pristina’s claim to statehood nor did it conclude that Kosovo’s declaration of independence is a unique case. It maintained that the status of Kosovo is yet to be resolved.

Human Rights-Related Developments

In a report on 28 September, the mission of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in Kosovo expressed concern over ineffective legal representation observed in criminal and civil proceedings in Kosovo. The OSCE regards the legal representation by defence counsel for criminal matters as often substandard and ineffective, having serious repercussions for a defendant’s right to a fair trial and thus for his or her human rights. As explained by European Court of Human Rights case law, a fair trial is intended to be a right that is “practical and effective,” not “theoretical or illusory.” While some defence counsels do provide effective legal representation, the OSCE has observed instances where both court-appointed and privately hired defence counsel fail to exercise their professional advocacy duties. The report notes that authorities have a duty to ensure that legal assistance is effective, particularly when appointed by the court.


Key Issues

A key issue is whether and how a Council debate can help to move the negotiating process forward.

A related issue is the security situation in northern Kosovo. (The situation will continue to need close monitoring during the negotiation process, particularly in light of the reduced KFOR troop levels.)

A continuing practical issue is whether there is still a need for quarterly UNMIK reports and briefings by the Secretary-General’s special representative.

Options
One option is for the Council to simply receive the briefing and for the members to discuss the key issues in informal consultations.

Another option, following recent practice, would be a public Council debate with invitations to Kosovo and Serbia to participate.

A third option would be a statement reflecting support for EU-mediated dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina and addressing the security situation in the north.

Council Dynamics
The Council remains divided between those members who have formally recognised Kosovo’s independence (Austria, France, Japan, Turkey, the UK and the US) and those who have not.

Council members who had previously taken low key positions on Kosovo’s status continue to remain neutral after the issuance of the ICJ advisory opinion (which seems not to have affected Council dynamics).

Of the incoming 2011 Council members Colombia, Germany and Portugal have recognised Kosovo.

Russia continues to support Serbia’s position and says it would favour any negotiated agreement between the parties that is supported by Belgrade. Russia is in favour of the UN playing a role in the negotiation process. The US is also supportive of the upcoming settlement talks but, like Kosovo, opposes a return to “status negotiations”.

In light of the recent move toward dialogue, Council members are likely to approach the issue with a more positive and encouraging tone than in recent past.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolution

  • S/RES/1244 (10 June 1999) authorised NATO to secure and enforce the withdrawal of Yugoslav forces from Kosovo and established UNMIK.

Latest Secretary-General’s Report

Other

  • A/64/L.65/Rev.1 (8 September 2010) was the General Assembly resolution welcoming EU-mediated talks between Serbia and Kosovo.
  • S.PV/6367 (3 August 2010) was the most recent debate on Kosovo.
  • A/64/876 (27 July 2010) was the letter from Serbia to the Secretary-General outlining Serbia’s position concerning the ICJ advisory opinion.
  • A/64/881 (26 July 2010) was the ICJ Advisory opinion on the accordance with international law of the unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo.


Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General

Lamberto Zannier (Italy)

UNMIK

  • Size of mission: 510
  • Cost: $47.87 million (1 July 2010- 30 June 2011 budget)

KFOR (NATO force)

  • Force commander: Lt. Gen. Erhard Büler (Germany)
  • Size of mission: 9,923 Troops (as of 26 February 2010)

Useful Additional Source

Kosovo and Serbia after the ICJ Opinion, International Crisis Group, Europe Report Number 206, 26 Aug 2010

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