May 2015 Monthly Forecast

Posted 1 May 2015
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EUROPE

Kosovo

Expected Council Action

In May, 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 on the latest Secretary-General’s report and recent developments. Both Serbia and Kosovo are likely to participate at high-level.

Key Recent Developments

After more than ten months of suspension, the EU-facilitated dialogue on implementation of the 19 April 2013 “First Agreement on Principles Governing the Normalisation of Relations between Belgrade and Pristina” resumed in Brussels. The dialogue had been suspended in part because of Serbian elections in March 2014 and the inability of Kosovo’s political leaders to agree on the composition of the new government following Kosovo’s June 2014 elections. 

Under the framework of the EU-facilitated dialogue, on 9 February, EU High Representative Federica Mogherini hosted a meeting with prime ministers Aleksandar Vučić of Serbia and Isa Mustafa of Kosovo. The initial meeting continued until the early-morning hours of 10 February, when Vučić and Mustafa reached an agreement on the judiciary in Kosovo. The agreement stipulates that Kosovar Serb judges and prosecutors will be integrated into Kosovo judicial institutions and that court and prosecutor offices will be established in Serb-dominated northern Kosovo. At press time, the exact details of the agreement were not publicly available. However, according to public remarks by Vučić and Mustafa following the meeting, it seems that it was agreed that judges and prosecutors would include both ethnic Serbs and ethnic Albanians. A decision on the way in which cases will be distributed has not been taken yet.

On 26 and 27 March, Mogherini visited Pristina and Belgrade and met with the prime ministers and senior government officials of both Serbia and Kosovo. Mogherini used her visit to discuss with the leaders issues related to the implementation of the agreements on normalisation of relations between Belgrade and Pristina as well as the next steps in Serbia’s and Kosovo’s EU integration process.

The high-level Belgrade-Pristina dialogue continued on 21 April when Mogherini hosted Vučić and Mustafa in Brussels. Issues discussed at this meeting included progress of the implementation of the existing agreements between Belgrade and Pristina as well as other outstanding questions such as the establishment of the Association/Community of Serb Municipalities which is one of the main points of the 19 April agreement. The Association/Community is intended to bring broad powers to the municipalities with Serb majority.

On 3 February, Mustafa dismissed Aleksandar Jablanović, minister for communities and returns, after immense pressure from Kosovar Albanians. In January, Jablanović made  highly critical public remarks about Kosovar Albanians who confronted Serb pilgrims visiting holy sites in Kosovo. This resulted in massive protests throughout Kosovo calling for Jablanović to resign. Shortly after Jablanović’s dismissal, members of the Srpska List, the major political party representing Kosovar Serbs, decided to  suspend their participation in the government and the Assembly of Kosovo. The members of  Srpska List who decided to suspend participation included those holding nine out of 20 seats in the Assembly guaranteed for minorities and two ministers in the government of Kosovo. On 23 April, Srpska List members called off their boycott and decided to return to the government and Assembly of Kosovo.

Though expected to be fully operational at the beginning of 2015, formation of the special court that is supposed to investigate cases of war crimes committed by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) during the conflict in Kosovo is still pending. The court is expected to operate under Kosovo law, but it will be based in the Netherlands and staffed with international judges. In early March, the Kosovo government proposed an amendment to the constitution that would allow the formation of the court within Kosovo’s judicial system. After review, the Constitutional Court of Kosovo ruled on 15 April that the amendment is constitutional, thus allowing a vote in the Assembly. At press time, the Assembly had not yet held a vote on the amendment.

Key Issues

Maintaining stability in Kosovo remains one of the main issues for the Council.

Another issue for the Council will be the role UNMIK can play in normalisation of relations between Belgrade and Pristina.

Related issues for the Council will be the implementation of the existing agreements between Belgrade and Pristina.

The establishment of the special court for investigating alleged war crimes committed by the KLA may become an issue for the Council if the current delays continue.

Options

Considering the relative stability on the ground, the Council could contemplate reducing UNMIK’s presence in Kosovo.

Also, with progress made in the normalisation of relations between Belgrade and Pristina, the Council could consider lengthening the Secretary-General’s reporting cycle from the current three-month interval.

In case Kosovo authorities fail to move on the issue of the establishment of  the special court, the Security Council could consider setting up an ad hoc accountability mechanism for alleged KLA crimes.   

Council Dynamics

In recent years Kosovo has been an issue of relatively low intensity for the Council. Other regional organisations, primarily the EU, NATO and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, play more active roles in Kosovo. 

The Council’s dynamics on Kosovo remain unchanged, notwithstanding a change in the composition of the Council at the beginning of 2015. Permanent members have remained divided. France, the UK and the US recognise Kosovo while Russia does not and is strongly supportive of Serbia’s position. 

In addition to Russia, other countries on the Council that do not recognise Kosovo are Angola, Chile, China, Spain and Venezuela. Spain is one of the five EU members that have not recognised Kosovo.

In recent debates on Kosovo, several Council members, most notably the UK, the US and Lithuania, have recommended lengthening the reporting cycles for Secretary-General’s reports on Kosovo. Russia remains strongly opposed to any attempt by the Council to alter UNMIK’s reporting cycle.        

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
6 February 2015 S/PV.7377 This was a briefing by Special Representative and head of UNMIK Farid Zarif on the most recent UNMIK report.