February 2014 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 January 2014
Download Complete Forecast: PDF
EUROPE

Kosovo

Expected Council Action

In February the Council will 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. High-level participation from both Serbia and Kosovo is also likely at the debate.

No Council action is expected. 

Key Recent Developments

The municipal elections held under the framework of the 19 April “First Agreement on Principles Governing the Normalisation of Relations between Belgrade and Pristina” were a major development in Kosovo. The elections were held on 3 November 2013 with close to 20 percent of the local Serb population participating, which is significant considering that Serbs boycotted the last elections in 2009. Isolated incidents of violence at polling stations occurred in three municipalities in North Mitrovica forcing the Central Election Commission (CEC) to hold repeat elections in those municipalities on 17 November. With the increased presence of the Kosovo police and the EU Rule of Law Mission (EULEX), repeat elections were held without any incidents.

Second round mayoral elections were held in 25 municipalities on 1 December 2013. On the same day, a re-vote was held in Zvecan municipality due to procedural irregularities that were reported in the 3 November first round. The second round elections were held without major disruptions, with a Serb turnout of around 20 percent, according to data by the CEC. The only incident occurred in Parteš municipality, a Serb-majority municipality in eastern Kosovo, where 20 people attacked the election staff and destroyed three ballot boxes. Successful repeat elections in this municipality were held on 15 December. 

During the implementation of the results of the mayoral elections in four Serb-dominated municipalities in northern Kosovo one incident occurred on 13 January. Krstimir Pantić, the newly elected mayor of North Mitrovica, failed to fulfil the legal obligation to be sworn in. According to Pantić, he refused to sign the oath of office as it had the Kosovo coat of arms and the inscription of the Republic of Kosovo. As a result, repeat mayoral elections have been called for North Mitrovica on 23 February.

The high-level Belgrade-Pristina dialogue continued following the completion of second-round elections. On 5 December, Prime Minister Ivica Dačić of Serbia and Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi of Kosovo met with Catherine Ashton, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy in Brussels. Implementation of the remaining elements of the 19 April agreement dominated the discussion, especially the integration of judiciary and police structures in northern Kosovo. Furthermore, on 10 December, Belgrade and Pristina reached agreement on electricity transmission. The 10 December meeting, held in Vienna, was organised with the backing of the European Commission and the Energy Community Secretariat.

The 19 April agreement stipulates the integration of judicial authorities within the legal framework of Kosovo, an issue Dačić and Thaçi discussed again in Brussels on 13 December alongside Ashton. However, they failed to reach agreement on the functioning of the judiciary in northern Kosovo as Belgrade insisted on having a separate court in North Mitrovica or assigning cases involving Serbs only to Serbian judges, a proposal Pristina did not accept. The next round of the EU-facilitated dialogue took place on 27 January with the agenda focusing on outstanding issues related to the Brussels agreement, mainly the judiciary and formation of the community of Serb municipalities.

The progress of Serbia in the EU accession process and its efforts to normalise relations with Kosovo was recognised by the European Council which adopted a negotiating framework and set a formal date (21 January) for the start of Serbia’s accession talks with the EU. At the first Intergovernmental Conference, the EU presented Serbia with the negotiating framework containing chapters which take account of Serbia’s continued engagement towards improvement of relations with Kosovo.   

Even though the overall security situation in Kosovo remained stable, one isolated incident of violence occurred. In the early morning hours of 16 January, Dimitrije Janićijević, a North Mitrovica municipal assembly member and former mayoral candidate, was shot. The killing was condemned by members of the international community as well as by Belgrade and Pristina. Appearing in front of the media a day after the incident, Dačić said that “given that Janićijević was a member of a political organisation, which has participated in the local government elections, there will certainly be political implications and consequences”. Kosovo police and EULEX are investigating the incident. At press time, the motives and perpetrators were unknown.

Key Issues

The role of UNMIK in supporting the process of normalisation between Serbia and Kosovo is the key issue for the Council. 

After successful completion of the municipal elections in Kosovo, implementation of the remaining elements of the 19 April agreement will be an important related issue for the Council.

An ongoing issue for the Council is maintaining stability in Kosovo.

Options

One option for the Council is to consider lengthening the reporting cycle set in resolution 1244 from quarterly to semi-annual. Because it would require a decision, this option is probably not viable in February, but could become more likely as Serbia and Kosovo continue to make progress. (The last Council resolution on Kosovo was adopted in 1999,and the most recent presidential statement was issued in 2008.)

On the other hand, the Council may choose to take no action, as has been the case for several years.

Council Dynamics

Council dynamics remain practically unchanged, with clear divisions between permanent members. France, the UK and the US recognise Kosovo, while Russia is strongly supportive of Serbia on the Council. Among non-permanent members, Kosovo has also been recognised by Australia, Chad, Jordan, Lithuania, Luxembourg and the Republic of Korea.

Other international organisations, mostly the EU, NATO and Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, are playing more of an active role on the issue of Kosovo, while at the Council this issue is one of relative low intensity.

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

In February, Germany will take the lead on Kosovo within the contact and drafting group. 

Security Council Resolution
10 June 1999 S/RES/1244 This resolution authorised NATO to secure and enforce the withdrawal of Federal Republic of Yugoslavia forces from Kosovo and established UNMIK.
Secretary-General’s Report
28 October 2013 S/2013/631 This was the latest report of the Secretary-General on the UNMIK.
Security Council Meeting Record
19 November 2013 S/PV.7064 This was the quarterly debate on Kosovo with a briefing by Farid Zarif, the Special Representative and Head of UNMIK.

OTHER RELEVANT FACTS

Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNMIK

Farid Zarif (Afghanistan)

UNMIK Size and Composition

As of 31 December 2013: 14 uniformed, 116 international civilians, 205 local, 27 UN volunteers

Kosovo Force (KFOR) Commander

Major General Salvatore Farina (Italy)

KFOR Size and Composition

As of 1 December 2013: 4,882 troops from 31 countries

Head of EULEX

Bernd Borchardt (Germany) 

EULEX Size and Composition

Approximately 2,250 international and local staff