What's In Blue

Kosovo Debate

This afternoon (27 November), the Security Council is scheduled to hold a quarterly debate on the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). Farid Zarif, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of UNMIK, will brief the Council, followed by statements from Serbia’s Foreign Minister, Ivan Mrkić, and Kosovo’s representative Enver Hoxhaj. No Council action will be taken.

Zarif will update Council members on recent developments in Kosovo as set out in the Secretary-General’s report of 8 November (S/2012/818). During the reporting period (16 July – 15 October) the EU-led dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina remained suspended. However, Council members are likely to raise the 19 October meeting in Brussels between Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dačić and Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi of Kosovo—both of whom participated in the previous UNMIK debate on 21 August—as a positive step forward. (The Secretary-General’s report likewise refers to “encouraging signals of commitment” by Serbia and Kosovo to engage in the dialogue process to resolve differences peacefully.)

In terms of the implementation of agreements already reached between Belgrade and Pristina, Council members are likely to seek further information concerning the positive steps Serbia has taken in the joint management of crossing points and ‘regional cooperation’, and the reasons behind delays in other areas. (On the integrated management of crossing points, Belgrade signed a technical protocol on 25 September for the implementation of an existing agreement. Also in September, the impasse caused by the differing interpretations of the use of the footnote reference for Kosovo was resolved, which should enable both Belgrade and Pristina to participate in future regional meetings.)

Developments in predominantly Serb northern Mitrovica are also likely to be of interest to several Council members, and some may mention recent ethnic clashes in the region which occurred after the conclusion of the reporting period. Issues surrounding the Kosovo authorities’ administrative office in Mitrovica North, as alluded to in the report, will also likely draw attention. Staff members working at the office, which Pristina controversially opened in July, who live in northern Kosovo have reportedly been victims of “suspected intimidation,” including having their vehicles burned. Some Council members may also express concerns about the reallocation of UNMIK funding to the office, which works alongside a small UN office in northern Mitrovica. (This concern was noted in the previous Secretary-General’s report but not elaborated on in the latest report.)

Additionally, non-EU Council members are likely to seek further information on the activities of the EU Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) and in particular its reconfiguration and the extension of its mandate, which are mentioned only briefly in the Secretary-General’s report. The report contains, as has become customary, an annex on EULEX’s activities which refers to a series of incidents that took place, including an attack in northern Kosovo on 7 September on a EULEX vehicle which came under automatic gunfire.

The EULEX report also notes that the implementation of its mandate has continued to be hampered by security threats and its lack of freedom of movement in northern Kosovo. Some Council members might raise this issue as well as the brief update in the EULEX report on the Special Investigative Task Force, which is investigating serious crimes including organ harvesting and trafficking. The update states that all investigative leads will be thoroughly analysed. However, the EULEX policy of not discussing the Task Force’s findings or providing details of its investigations to the Council has resulted in some members consistently seeking more information and evidence of progress.

Finally, while falling out of the ambit of the Secretary-General’s report, some states may mention the recent decisions by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the resulting outcry in Serbia where many accused The Hague-based tribunal of an anti-Serb bias.

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