What's In Blue

Posted Mon 16 Jul 2012

Kosovo Consultations

Tomorrow afternoon (Tuesday, 17 July), Council members will meet in consultations on the situation in Kosovo. Requested by Russia, the consultations are in addition to the regular quarterly briefings to the Council on the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), the next meeting of which is scheduled for August. At press time, it seemed that a representative from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations would brief Council members tomorrow. An outcome following the consultations is not anticipated.

It appears that Russia called the meeting tomorrow to discuss two issues. The first concerns the killing of two Serbs in a village outside of Uroševac in central Kosovo on 6 July. A Kosovo police spokesperson in the region confirmed the deaths on 7 July and told reporters that it was clear the two had been shot with firearms. Media reports indicate that one of the victims, who had been killed alongside his wife, represented Serb residents in the village council. It seems that Kosovo police and the EU Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo, which increased police presence in the area following the shootings, are conducting an investigation into the killings.

The second issue which seems likely to feature in discussions tomorrow concerns reports, dating back to late April and early May, that three Syrian opposition figures arrived in Kosovo on 26 April to seek advice from former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). According to an interview reportedly held in Pristina with the Associated Press, Ammar Abdulhamid – one of the Syrian dissidents – said of their visit: “We come here to learn. Kosovo has walked this path and has an experience that would be very useful to us in terms of how the different armed groups that formed the KLA organised themselves.” The story was published at the time by Fox News and a limited number of other news agencies. The call for the issue to be discussed by Council members seems to have arisen from a concern that Kosovo is potentially being used as a training ground for Syrian and Libyan rebels.

While there has been enough interest among Council members for the consultations to go ahead, several members seem to be less convinced that the Council should be meeting on these two matters. Concerning the two Serb deaths, some Council members emphasise that a police investigation into the matter is underway and that assumptions should not be made about the killings, including the motivations behind them, until that investigation has been completed. On the issue of Kosovo being used as a possible training ground by Syrian activists, some Council members, while agreeing to discuss the matter, have questioned the timing of tomorrow’s meeting, given that the visit reportedly took place in April.

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