August 2014 Monthly Forecast

Posted 1 August 2014
Download Complete Forecast: PDF
EUROPE

Kosovo

Expected Council Action

In August, the Council is due 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 on recent developments and the latest Secretary-General’s report by video-teleconference. High-level participation from both Serbia and Kosovo is also likely at the debate.

No Council action is expected.

Key Recent Developments

Prior to the last debate on Kosovo (S/PV.7183) held on 27 May, the Assembly of Kosovo was scheduled to vote on the formation of the armed forces and resolve the issue of reserved seats for minorities in the Assembly. Unable to pass legislation on those issues, the Assembly decided to dissolve itself in an extraordinary session on 7 May. The motion was supported by the overwhelming majority of the legislators, with 90 votes in favour, four against and three abstentions. New general elections were set for 8 June.

In comparison to the 2010 general elections, which were marked by widespread irregularities, the 8 June elections were held peacefully and according to international standards. In a statement following the elections, the Secretary-General said he was encouraged “by the reports of the smooth and orderly conduct of the elections and broad public participation throughout Kosovo”. For the first time, general elections were held in all of Kosovo and with the participation of the Serb community.

Initially, Serb leaders in Kosovo threatened to withdraw from running in the elections because of a dispute over the Republic of Kosovo insignia on ballot papers and the ethnic composition of polling station committees in the Serb-majority municipalities. Four days prior to the elections, Serb leaders agreed to take part after holding talks with Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić, who urged them to participate.

The Central Election Commission reported a general voter turnout of around 42 percent and a somewhat lower turnout in Serb-dominated municipalities. Of 120 seats in the Assembly, Hasim Thaçi’s Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) won 37 seats, while the main opposition party, the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), won 30 seats. Following the elections, three major opposition parties—the LDK, the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AFK), which won 11 seats, and the Initiative for Kosovo, which won six seats—formed a coalition and expressed their intent to support Ramush Haradinaj, of the AFK, a former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) commander.

According to the constitution, the president is supposed to propose a candidate for prime minister to the Assembly in consultation with the political party or coalition that has the majority in the Assembly necessary to establish the government. After winning the most seats, the PDK claimed that it had the right to form a government. However, the opposition block also claimed the right to form a new government because it emerged as the coalition with the most seats in the Assembly. Since the election results were announced on 26 June, Kosovo has experienced a constitutional crisis.

Seeking clarification on who should be nominated for the post of prime minister, President Atifete Jahjaga referred the case to the Constitutional Court, which stated in an opinion that Thaçi should be nominated prime minister as the leader of the party or pre-election coalition that won the most votes. The Court also ruled that in case the initial candidate did not receive the necessary votes to form a government, the president should appoint another candidate who could meet those criteria.

On 17 July, the Assembly held its first session, at which Isa Mustafa, the leader of the major opposition LDK party, was elected speaker of the house. PDK members walked out of the session, but the opposition managed to form a quorum necessary for a vote. After a challenge by the PDK on 23 July, the Constitutional Court ruled to suspend the election of Mustafa as speaker of the house pending a final decision, expected by 18 September.

In April, the Assembly voted to transfer the functions of the EU Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) Special Investigative Task Force to a special court. After visiting Kosovo on 21 July, EU Special Prosecutor Clint Williamson said that he expects the special court to be fully functional in 2015. The court is supposed to operate under Kosovo law but will be based in the Netherlands and be staffed with international judges. The court will investigate cases involving war crimes, including allegations of organ trafficking by the KLA during the conflict in Kosovo. Williamson’s report containing findings about war crime allegations was released on 29 July. Even though he did not mention specific names, Williamson stated in his findings that some senior level KLA members could be indicted for war crimes committed against non-Albanian population in Kosovo. 

The general elections and the constitutional crisis have impacted recent developments. High-level dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina has not taken place since 31 March though it is expected to resume after a new government is formed. The security situation remained fairly stable with the exception of a 22 June incident in which Kosovo police clashed with Kosovo Albanians in South Mitrovica. The clashes came after local Serbs blocked a bridge on the Ibar River with concrete pots filled with flowers, calling it a “Peace Park”. This provoked demonstrations by Kosovo Albanians that eventually led to clashes with the Kosovo police. There were injuries on both sides, as well as damage to police cars and surrounding property. EULEX and the NATO led Kosovo Force (KROR) were called on to assist the Kosovo police.

Human Rights-Related Developments

On 12 June, the Human Rights Council considered a report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs), Chaloka Beyani, on his October 2013 visit to Kosovo and Serbia (A/HRC/26/33/Add.2). He said that more is needed to be done in Kosovo and Serbia to ensure IDPs’ access to adequate housing and livelihoods in their current locations and to provide them with adequate services.

The Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances visited Serbia on 19-23 and Kosovo on 24-26 June. Press conferences were held in Belgrade on 23 June and Pristina on 26 June. During the 26 June press conference, the group urged authorities in Kosovo and Serbia to show a stronger political commitment and leadership to finding the 1,711 persons still missing since the 1990’s conflict, including 532 Kosovo Serbs. The group suggested that this question should be part of the EU-mediated talks about normalising relations between Pristina and Belgrade.

Key Issue

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

Options

An option for the Council could be to issue a statement welcoming the report on war crimes and organ trafficking by the EU Special Prosecutor and call on all parties to cooperate with the newly established special court.

An option for the Council—once the constitutional crisis subsides—would be to consider lengthening the reporting cycle on Kosovo in light of the stabilisation of the situation following the 19 April “First Agreement on Normalisation of Relations between Belgrade and Pristina”.

Alternatively, the Council might choose to take no action.

Council Dynamics

Because the Council is preoccupied with several extremely pressing issues, Kosovo remains an issue of relative low intensity in the Council. This is also the case because other international organisations—mainly the EU, NATO and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe—play a more active role in Kosovo.

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 August, Australia 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.
Security Council Meeting Record
27 May 2014 S/PV.7183 This was a quarterly debate on Kosovo with a briefing by Farid Zarif, the Special Representative and head of UNMIK.