February 2015 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 January 2015
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EUROPE

Kosovo

Expected Council Action

In February the Council is expected to hold its quarterly debate on Kosovo. Farid Zarif, Special Representative and head of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), is expected to brief (via video teleconference) on the latest Secretary-General’s report and recent developments. High-level representatives of both Serbia and Kosovo are likely to participate in the debate.

Key Recent Developments  

After general elections on 8 June 2014, Kosovo endured six months of political and constitutional crisis stemming from the inability of political leaders to agree on the composition of the new government. On 8 December, the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) and the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) signed a coalition agreement paving the way for the creation of a new government. Of 120 seats in Kosovo’s assembly, the coalition is in control of 67, with the PDK holding 37 and the LDK 30 seats. On 8 December, the assembly elected Kadri Veseli of the PDK as the speaker of the parliament. At the assembly’s constitutive session on 9 December, the lawmakers elected the leader of the LDK, Isa Mustafa, as Kosovo’s new prime minister while Hashim Thaçi, the former prime minister and the leader of the PDK, remained in the cabinet as first deputy prime minister and foreign minister. 

EU High Representative Federica Mogherini welcomed the formation of the new on 9 December 2014, expressing her readiness to personally engage in an effort to further the normalisation of relations between Belgrade and Pristina. Mogherini also emphasised the importance for the new government to cooperate with the EU Rule of Law Mission in implementing its mandate, including the establishment of the special court to try war crimes committed during and after the Kosovo war.

Serbian general elections in March 2014 and the inability of Kosovo’s political leaders to form a new government after the general elections in June temporarily suspended the EU-facilitated dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina for most of last year. The next round of high-level talks between Serbia and Kosovo is now scheduled for 9 February in Brussels. One of the main issues to be discussed will be further implementation of the Brussels agreement on principles governing normalisation of relations between Belgrade and Pristina signed on 19 April 2013. Also  discussed will be  the establishment of the judicial system in the Serb-dominated northern part of Kosovo.

Thaçi and Mogherini met on 18 December 2014 in Brussels, where they both agreed that the new government of Kosovo needs to resume work on the EU reform agenda in order to advance Kosovo’s internal development as well as its EU integration process. Mogherini reiterated that continuing the normalisation of relations between Belgrade and Pristina remains a high-priority issue. In an interview following the meeting, Thaçi noted that it is very important for Mogherini to lead in the discussions and be present at all high-level meetings between the leaders of Serbia and Kosovo. Mogherini’s predecessor, Catherine Ashton, facilitated more than twenty meetings between the leaders of Serbia and Kosovo and played a crucial role in the signing of the Brussels agreement.      

On 6 January, ethnic Albanian protesters attacked buses carrying Serbian pilgrims who were visiting an orthodox church in Djakovica, forcing the pilgrims to cancel their visit. Kosovo police arrested two Albanians. After the incident, Aleksandar Jablanović, minister for communities and return in the government of Kosovo, made disparaging and insulting remarks about the attackers and local Albanians, resulting in protests calling for his resignation. Jablanović has since publicly apologised, but the protests calling for his resignation have continued throughout Kosovo.

There has also been recent tension between Belgrade and Pristina over the Trepca mining complex that is currently facing bankruptcy. Soon after the new government of Kosovo was formed, it expressed the intention to take control of Trepca. On 19 January, the Assembly of Kosovo was scheduled to vote on the law on public enterprises that would bring Trepca under the control of government of Kosovo. However, the government postponed the vote after strong reaction from Serbia which also claims ownership of Trepca. On 19 January, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić told the press that the issue of property has yet to be discussed in an EU dialogue with Pristina and stressed the need for addressing the issue as soon as possible in order to prevent a takeover of Serbia’s property in Kosovo.

Around 350 miners working in Trepca held a three day strike from 20-22 January protesting the decision of the government of Kosovo to postpone nationalisation of Trepca. On 24 January, some 10,000 protesters gathered in Pristina calling for the resignation of Jablanović as well as nationalisation of Trepca. After clashes with the police some 22 protesters were arrested by the Kosovo police.     

Key Issues  

A key issue for the Council is the role UNMIK can play in:  

  • maintaining stability in Kosovo; and
  • continuing the normalisation of relations between Belgrade and Pristina following the formation of the new government in Kosovo.  

The resumption of the EU-facilitated dialogue and implementation of the existing agreements between Belgrade and Pristina will be related issues for the Council to follow. 

Options  

Given the progress made in normalising relations between Belgrade and Pristina and the overall stability in Kosovo, the Council could consider modifying the Secretary-General’s reporting cycle, currently set at three-month intervals.

Another option for the Council would be to consider reducing UNMIK’s presence in Kosovo, reflecting the current positive developments on the ground.       

As has been the case for several years, the Council could choose to take no action.

Council Dynamics

Kosovo remains an issue of relatively low intensity for the Council. Other international organisations, primarily the EU, NATO and the OSCE, have tended to play a lead role.      

Despite the change in the Council’s composition at the beginning of the year, Council dynamics remain largely unchanged. There is still a persistent division between permanent members France, the UK and the US, which recognise Kosovo, and Russia, which remains strongly supportive of Serbia. This is likely to prevent any action that would significantly alter UNMIK’s mandate. The Ukrainian crisis has further deepened the rift between Russia and the P3.   

Of the new Council members, Malaysia and New Zealand recognise Kosovo while Angola, Spain and Venezuela do not. Spain is one of the five EU members that have not recognised Kosovo. 

UN Documents

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
4 December 2014 S/PV.7327 This was the quarterly debate on Kosovo.
Secretary-General’s Report
31 October 2014 S/2014/773 This was the report of the Secretary-General on UNMIK.