November 2014 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 October 2014
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EUROPE

Kosovo

Expected Council Action

In November, the Council will hold its quarterly debate on Kosovo. Farid Zarif, the Special Representative and head of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), is expected to present the latest Secretary-General’s report. High-level participation in the debate from both Serbia and Kosovo is likely.

No Council action is expected.

Key Recent Developments

Four months after elections, Kosovo remains deadlocked in a constitutional and political crisis stemming from the inability of political leaders to reach an agreement on the formation of a new government. On 8 June, Kosovo held its first general election under a unified legal framework, with the participation of all voters, including Kosovar Serbs. Both the EU and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) declared the elections to be a successful exercise of democracy. At the last Council debate, held on 29 August, Zarif and the majority of Council members urged political leaders in Kosovo to address the issue of forming a new government with utmost immediacy. At press time, Kosovo leaders still had not formed a new government.

The stalemate is a result of a disagreement between Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi’s Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) and the opposition coalition bloc led by the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), which includes the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) and the Initiative for Kosovo. Of 120 seats in the Assembly, the PDK won the most seats (37) and, as a result, the right to form a government. After the elections, the LDK (30 seats), AAK (11 seats) and the Initiative for Kosovo (6 seats) formed a 47-seat coalition and claimed the right to form a new government because their combined seat count was now the largest. On 10 September, the nationalist Self Determination party (16 seats) joined the coalition in exchange for running a dialogue with Serbia in a new government.

Seeking a solution to the crisis, Kosovo President Atifete Jahjaga referred the issue to the Constitutional Court, which ruled that the PDK had the right, as the party that won the most votes in the election, to nominate the candidate for speaker of the assembly. The court also ruled that the president should nominate a PDK candidate for prime minister. On 18 September, the PDK proposed a candidate only to be blocked by the majority of the assembly members. Unable to elect its president, the assembly adjourned the session.

Though initially planned for 2 October, the third session of the assembly was postponed until further notice with the aim of finding an alternative solution to the crisis. On 9 October, the opposition bloc gathered in the assembly but failed to reach a quorum for a regular session due to the absence of 58 members, mainly from the PDK and minority parties. In the meantime, Jahjaga continued consultations with the leaders of the major political parties aimed at solving the political impasse in a way that complied with the ruling of the Constitutional Court. The consultations did not result in any form of agreement on the issue.

The ongoing constitutional crisis impacted the EU-facilitated dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, causing a standstill in high-level meetings; the last one was held on 31 March. However, the dialogue has continued on a technical level, with several meetings on the implementation of 19 April agreement having taken place since March. On 8 October, the European Commission issued its progress report on Kosovo, which outlined the main areas of progress towards EU integration. While noting some positive developments, the report stressed the political crisis. The report stated that failure to constitute the new legislature smoothly and in a timely manner has been a setback and that the new government would need to launch a range of comprehensive reforms, in particular electoral reform and public administration reform.

Earlier this year, the assembly adopted a law transferring the functions of the EU Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) special investigative task force to a special court that will investigate cases involving war crimes and allegations of organ trafficking by the Kosovo Liberation Army during the conflict in Kosovo. Though expected to be fully operational at the beginning of 2015, establishment of the court could be postponed pending formation of the new government and adoption of legislation necessary for the functioning of the court.

On 23 October, Belgrade hosted an EU Commission-sponsored Western Balkans ministerial conference with participation of foreign ministers from the region. Enver Hoxhaj, Kosovo’s foreign minister, took part in the meeting, making it the first high-level visit by a Kosovo official to Belgrade. Addressing the media, Hoxhaj said that his visit “shows that the process of normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia as two sovereign and independent states is at an important phase”. Furthermore, Hoxhaj told reporters that the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina should end with a peace treaty that included Serbia’s recognition of Kosovo as an independent state and of Kosovo’s admission to the UN.

The security situation in Kosovo remained stable without major incidents. Kosovo authorities have continued addressing the issue of terrorism and participation of Kosovars in the conflicts in Syria and Iraq. On 17 September, Kosovo police arrested 15 suspects on charges of terrorism, threatening the constitutional order and inciting religious hate speech. Earlier in August, Kosovo police arrested 40 persons suspected of supporting extremist organisations.

Key Issues

Maintaining stability in Kosovo remains the main issue for the Council, especially in light of the current political crisis, which could potentially have destabilising effect on Kosovo.

Resumption of the EU-facilitated dialogue and implementation of the existing agreements between Belgrade and Pristina is also an issue for the Council.

Options

An option for the Council would be to issue a statement calling on political leaders in Kosovo to engage constructively in finding a solution to the current crisis and forming a new government in line with democratic and constitutional principles.

Once the constitutional crisis recedes, an option would be to consider lengthening the reporting cycle on Kosovo in consideration of the stabilisation of the situation following the 19 April agreement on the normalisation of relations between Belgrade and Pristina.

A likely option is for the Council to take no action, as has been the case for several years.

Council Dynamics

Kosovo remains an issue of relative low intensity in the Council as a result of the more active role of other international organisations, primarily the EU, NATO and the OSCE.

Council dynamics on Kosovo remain unchanged, with clear division among the permanent members. France, the UK and the US recognise Kosovo while Russia is strongly supportive of Serbia on the Council. 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 as current Council members representing the two regional groups that include European states.

In November, Lithuania 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
28 August 2014 S/PV.7257 This was the quarterly debate on Kosovo.