November 2013 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 October 2013
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EUROPE

Kosovo

Expected Council Action

In November the Council is scheduled to hold its quarterly debate on Kosovo. Farid Zarif, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), is expected to brief the Council on recent developments and the latest Secretary-General’s report.

No Council action is likely.

Key Recent Developments

The implementation of the “First Agreement on Principles Governing the Normalization of Relations,” which Prime Minister Ivica Dačić of Serbia and Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi of Kosovo signed on 19 April in Brussels, loomed large among developments on the ground. One of the main elements of the agreement entails the participation of Kosovar Serbs in the local elections scheduled for 3 November (the last municipal elections, held in 2009, were boycotted by the Serb minority). The upcoming elections will be facilitated in the north by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and are to be conducted in accordance with Kosovo’s law and international standards. On 3 October, Serbia transmitted a letter to Council members urging Zarif to ensure “status neutral” voting in the elections—meaning that participation does not constitute recognition of Kosovo’s independence—and to protect the rights of Kosovar Serbs to freely express and exercise their rights.

On 2 October, Pristina rejected Dačić’s request to visit Kosovo on the basis that the visit would constitute interference by Serbia in the local elections. (Dačić had planned to visit Kosovar municipalities with majority Serb populations.) Dačić warned the EU that he would no longer take part in negotiations if Pristina did not allow his visit. 

The rejection of Dačić’s visit and its aftermath raised serious concerns about the continuation of the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. To address the stalemate, Catherine Ashton, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, held a meeting on 7 October with Dačić and Thaçi, during which an agreement was reached to allow officials from Serbia to visit Kosovo to encourage citizens to participate in the elections as long as the visitors abstain from partaking in the election campaign. 

Another issue tackled at the 7 October meeting in Brussels was the question of voter registration for displaced Kosovar Serbs. Kosovo’s Central Election Commission received some 40,000 applications for voter registration and initially accepted only about 6,600, citing incomplete information as the reason the majority of applications were rejected. At the 7 October meeting an agreement was reached to allow registration of an additional 12,000 voters.  

A 16 October European Commission report commended the efforts of Kosovo and Serbia for the improvement in their relations, as well as their efforts toward EU integration. As a result of the recent developments, Serbia is set to start membership negotiations with the EU by January 2014, while Kosovo is set to start negotiations for a stabilisation and association agreement on 28 October. 

In a second letter to Council members dated 18 October, Serbia addressed allegations by the media in Kosovo that four Serbian Citizen Initiative (Građanska inicijativa Srpska) candidates are suspected of war crimes. According to Serbia, these claims only hinder the consolidation of the Serb community and prevent the process of return for internally displaced persons. The letter urged the Council to help overcome this problem.

Sporadic serious security incidents have continued in the north. On 19 September, two vehicles of the EU Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) came under fire, killing one EULEX staff member. No perpetrators were identified, and the investigation is ongoing. The attack drew strong condemnation from the EU, Kosovo and Serbia.

Human Rights-Related Developments

From 9 to 12 October, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs), Chaloka Beyani visited Serbia and Kosovo. In a 22 October press statement, Beyani urged the government of Serbia and the authorities of Kosovo to solve the problems of IDPs and to ensure the registration of eligible IDPs as voters and ensure their participation in the upcoming local and parliamentary elections.

Key Issues

Maintaining stability in Kosovo remains the main concern for the Council, especially during the implementation of the 19 April agreement and upcoming 3 November elections.

The role UNMIK could play in support of the process is a related issue for the Council.

Options

Considering recent positive developments in the implementation of the 19 April agreement, the Council could consider issuing either a press or presidential statement expressing its support, especially if the 3 November elections are deemed successful. 

Another option would be to consider lengthening UNMIK’s reporting cycle from quarterly to semi-annual if the Council determines that progress in the implementation of the 19 April agreement has continued and has led to increased stability on the ground.  

Alternatively, the Council may choose to take no action, as was the case with previous quarterly briefings.

Council Dynamics 

Council members are divided on Kosovo: Australia, France Luxembourg, Pakistan, the Republic of Korea, the UK and the US have recognised Kosovo, while Russia remains Serbia’s main ally on the Council. Because other organisations, such as EU, NATO and OSCE, are in the lead in Kosovo, the issue overall has a relatively low intensity in the Council.

The contact and drafting group on Kosovo consists of France, Germany, Italy, Russia, the UK and the US, and also includes this year, Australia, Azerbaijan and Luxembourg.

In November, the penholder is Azerbaijan. 

UN Documents on Kosovo

Security Council Resolution
10 June 1999 S/RES/1244 This resolution authorised NATO to secure and enforce the withdrawal of Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) forces from Kosovo, and established UNMIK.
Secretary-General’s Report
26 July 2013 S/2013/444 This Secretary-General’s report was the UNMIK report for the period from 23 April to 15 July.
Security Council Meeting Record
29 August 2013 S/PV.7026 This was the Council’s quarterly debate on UNMIK.

Other Relevant Facts 

Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNMIK
Farid Zarif (Afghanistan)

UNMIK Size and Composition
As of 31 August 2013: 17 uniformed, 128 international civilians, 208 local, 26 UN volunteers 

Kosovo Force (KFOR) Commander
Major General Salvatore Farina (Italy)

KFOR Size and Composition
As of 6 September 2013: 4,936 troops from 31 countries

Head of EULEX
Bernd Borchardt (Germany) 

EULEX Size and Composition
Approximately 2,250 international and local staff