February 2011 Monthly Forecast

EUROPE

Kosovo

Expected Council Action 

In February, the head of UNMIK, Lamberto Zannier, is expected to brief the Council. A debate is likely. No formal action is expected.

Key Recent Developments
Kosovo’s first general elections since independence, held on 12 December 2010, were marred by allegations of fraud and voter intimidation. Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi’s Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) claimed victory in the elections, but the country’s Central Election Commission called for an election rerun in five municipalities that experienced voting irregularities. The PDK reportedly received approximately 20,000 fewer votes when election reruns were held, but final results issued on 24 January confirmed that the PDK had still won the election. A state prosecutor’s investigation into the election fraud is being conducted and should be concluded by the end of January.

Because of the political uncertainty Kosovo is still in the process of forming a government and this appears likely to delay EU-sponsored negotiations between Pristina and Belgrade. While there have been no recent major violent incidents, interethnic tensions remain, and the security situation remains fragile.

A 12 December 2010 report by the rapporteur for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe alleged that Prime Minister Thaçi had been involved in organised crime, including drug trafficking and the illegal trafficking of human organs, during his time as a Kosovo Liberation Army leader. Kosovo authorities dismissed the allegations as “baseless and defamatory.” The report is based on a two-year investigation by Council of Europe Special Rapporteur Dick Marty. The EU’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, said in a 20 January interview that the European Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) should investigate the organ-trafficking allegations brought against Thaçi.

Following the Marty report, another report from the Council of Europe by Rapporteur Jean-Charles Gardetto was released in January that said Kosovo has no adequate witness protection programme and those who testify in sensitive cases face the danger of their identities being revealed.

On 19 January the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA), which opened up trade relations between Serbia and the EU with an eye to Serbia’s eventual EU accession. The text of the SAA urged Belgrade to begin talks with Pristina without delay. The parliament also urged Serbia to dismantle parallel political structures in Kosovo.

On 29 October 2010, Maj. Gen. Erhard Bühler, commander of NATO’s Kosovo Force (KFOR), announced a restructuring of KFOR. He said that the calm military situation in Kosovo and the performance of EULEX had made it possible for KFOR to reduce its current force of approximately 10,000 to a force of just over 5,000. On 21 January, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen confirmed that the decrease in troop levels would not negatively affect security.

On 12 November 2010, Lamberto Zannier, the head of the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), briefed the Council on the situation in Kosovo. He urged the authorities and communities in Kosovo and Serbia to take advantage of UN and European facilitation of dialogue to resolve outstanding issues. He reported that since the issuance of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) advisory opinion on the legality of Kosovo’s declaration of independence there has been growing unease between Kosovo authorities and UNMIK on two of the mission’s mandated tasks—the facilitation of regional cooperation and the administration of northern Mitrovica. He also noted that although the situation in northern Kosovo remained stable during the reporting period, low-level interethnic incidents have persisted and that interethnic relations appear to be deteriorating.

Currently 74 countries have recognised Kosovo, with the most recent recognitions being Tuvalu in November 2010 and Qatar and Guinea-Bissau in January.

Human Rights-Related Developments
The Committee on Legal Affairs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has called for investigations into evidence of disappearances, organ trafficking, and collusion between organised criminal groups and political circles in Kosovo. In a resolution approved unanimously on 16 December 2010, the committee took the view that there were “numerous concrete and convergent indications” confirming that Serbian and Albanian Kosovars had been subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment before ultimately disappearing, and it called on the EU mission in Kosovo to persevere with its investigations. It also called on the Serbian and Albanian authorities, and the Kosovo administration, to co-operate fully with all investigations. PACE was due to debate the resolution during its winter plenary session (24 to 28 January).

   

Key Issues
A key issue is whether Council members want to use the opportunity in February to help move the negotiating process forward.

A related issue is the security situation in northern Kosovo. The situation may continue to need monitoring, particularly in light of the reduced KFOR troop levels.

A continuing practical issue is whether the cycle of quarterly UNMIK reports and briefings by the Secretary-General’s special representative is still appropriate.

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

A likely option, following recent practice, would be a public Council debate with representatives of Kosovo and Serbia participating.

An additional option would be a statement expressing support for the prompt commencement of negotiations and shifting to a reporting cycle of three reports per year.

Council Dynamics
The ICJ advisory opinion on the legality of Kosovo’s declaration of independence seems not to have affected Council dynamics. The Council remains divided between those who formally recognise Kosovo as an independent state and those who do not.

France, the UK and the US recognise Kosovo, as do new Council members Colombia, Germany and Portugal.

Many other Council members continue to remain neutral.

All Council members seem keen to see the start of EU-sponsored negotiations between Pristina and Belgrade and are supportive of this process.

Russia continues to support Serbia’s position and says it would favour any negotiated agreement between the parties that is supported by Belgrade. Russia remains in favour of the UN playing a key role in the negotiation process.

The US is also supportive of the upcoming settlement talks but, like Kosovo, opposes a return to “status negotiations.”

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

  • S/PV.6422 (12 November 2010) was the most recent debate on Kosovo.
  • A/64/L.65/Rev.1 (8 September 2010) was the General Assembly resolution welcoming EU-mediated talks between Serbia and 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: 421
Cost: $47.87 million (1 July 2010- 30 June 2011 budget)

KFOR (NATO force)

Force commander: Maj. Gen. Erhard Bühler (Germany)
Size of mission: 8454 Troops (as of 7 November 2010)

Useful Additional Source
Inhuman treatment of people and illicit trafficking in human organs in Kosovo, Dick Marty, Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, 12 December 2010

Full forecast