May 2014 Monthly Forecast

Posted 1 May 2014
Download Complete Forecast: PDF
EUROPE

Kosovo

Expected Council Action

The Council will hold its quarterly debate on Kosovo in May. 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 the Secretary-General’s report and latest developments. High-level participation from Kosovo and Serbia is likely, with delegates from a newly elected government representing the latter.

No Council Action is expected.

Key Recent Developments

One year since the signing of the landmark “First Agreement on Principles Governing the Normalisation of Relations between Belgrade and Pristina” on 19 April 2013, major developments have included: the successful organisation of local elections in Kosovo with the participation of Kosovo Serbs in the north, the intensified dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina aimed at normalisation of relations and the start of  EU accession talks for Serbia.

Local elections in Kosovo officially concluded on 23 February with repeat mayoral elections in North Mitrovica. In general, the elections were successful and uneventful save for minor incidents requiring repeat elections in a few municipalities in the north.

On 4 March, Kosovo announced that it would transform the Kosovo Security Forces into the “Armed Forces of Kosovo”. A few days after the announcement, Foreign Affairs Minister Ivan Mrkić of Serbia addressed a letter to the Council (S/2014/165) stating that the move was a clear violation of resolution 1244 and “would inflict a heavy blow to all efforts to find peaceful solutions and amount to a serious undermining of the authority and global role of the Security Council in safeguarding international peace and security”. The proposal requires the approval of the Assembly of Kosovo, which at press time, had not yet scheduled a vote on the transformation.

Since the last Council debate on Kosovo on 10 February, two EU-facilitated meetings between Belgrade and Pristina were held on 12 February and 31 March. Although both sides said they were getting closer to a final agreement, the main point of contention seems to be the judicial system.  

The relatively low frequency of the EU-facilitated dialogues in the past two months  may be related to the 16 March general elections in Serbia. Aleksandar Vučić—the central figure in the EU accession talks and in promoting the normalisation of relations between Belgrade and Pristina—and his Serbian Progressive Party recorded an overwhelming victory, winning 157 of 250 seats in the parliament. With the position of prime minister for Vučić and a majority rule for the party secured, it is expected that cooperation between the EU and Serbia will soon increase.

Established under the auspices of resolution 1244, the mandate of the EU Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) is set to expire on 14 June. Procedurally, the extension of the EULEX mandate requires a negotiated agreement between the EU and Kosovo. On 22 April, Kosovo proposed a draft law granting an extension of the EULEX mandate for two years. The draft bill also contained the legal basis for creating a special court to deal with accusations stemming from the Council of Europe report by Dick Marty accusing the Kosovo Liberation Army of organ trafficking and other serious violations. Although Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi of Kosovo described the special court as “completely unfair and an insult for the state of Kosovo”, he nevertheless called on the parliament to vote on the issue, signalling that his party will support the bill.

On 23 April, the Kosovo Assembly passed the bill, with 89 votes in favour, 22 against and two abstentions. The bill extended the EULEX mandate for two years while  transferring the functions of EULEX’s Special Investigative Task Force to the special court. The court is to operate under Kosovo law, with work being done in Kosovo and the Netherlands. The judges and prosecutors will be foreign citizens, insuring impartiality and preventing interference with the judicial process.  

Key Issues 

Maintaining stability in Kosovo remains the main concern for the Council.

Options

The establishment of the special court and agreement on the extension of the EULEX mandate are decisions that enjoy wide support in the Council. Therefore, one of the options is for the Council to issue a presidential or press statement commending Kosovo for taking concrete action to investigate crimes and promote reconciliation. 

The Council could also consider lengthening the reporting cycle on Kosovo in light of the positive developments on the ground. However, this option remains unlikely at the time because of strong opposition from Russia.

Alternatively, the Council might choose to take no action.

Council Dynamics

Kosovo remains an issue of relative low intensity in the Council because other international organisations—mainly the EU, NATO and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe—play an active role.

Council members’ established positions on Kosovo remain unchanged, with a clear division between the permanent members that recognise Kosovo (France, the UK and the US) and Russia, which strongly supports Serbia. This division will likely prevent any action by the Council that would significantly alter UNMIK’s mandate.

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 May, Russia will take the lead on Kosovo within the contact and drafting group.

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 forces from Kosovo and established UNMIK.
Secretary-General’s Report 
29 April 2014 S/2014/305 This was the latest report on UNMIK.
Security Council Meeting Record
10 February 2014 S/PV.7108 This was the Council’s quarterly debate on Kosovo during which Special Representative Farid Zarif briefed.