What's In Blue

Posted Thu 13 Jun 2013

Quartely Debate on Kosovo

Tomorrow (14 June) the Security Council will be briefed by Farid Zarif, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), on the latest report of the Secretary-General (S/2013/254) and other recent developments. Prime Minister Ivica Dačić of Serbia and Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi of Kosovo will participate, and Foreign Minister Ivan Mrkić of Serbia will also attend. The quarterly debate, which had originally been scheduled for 21 May, was postponed at the request of Serbia in order to accommodate Mrkić’s schedule.

The Council is likely to be interested in more information on upcoming security challenges, particularly the holding of elections in northern Kosovo tentatively scheduled for October 2013. Potential public protest among the 50,000 Serbs residing in northern Kosovo, some of whom oppose the 19 April agreement, could present difficult challenges for NATO peacekeepers, the Organization for Security and

Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and UNMIK. However, as with previous quarterly debates on Kosovo, an outcome is unlikely. Apparently, incremental progress in relations between Serbia and Kosovo within the context of an EU-facilitated political dialogue have not yet thawed a stalemate – principally between Russia on one side and the UK, US and France on the other side – with regard to Kosovo in the Council. It also seems that for most of the other Council members Kosovo may not be a very high priority, perhaps at least in part because the UN no longer has a lead role there.

Another key area of discussion is likely to be the “First agreement of principles governing the normalisation of relations” mediated by EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton and initialled by Dačić and Thaçi on 19 April. Central components of the historic 15-point agreement include: establishing an association of Serb municipalities with representation in the central government, affirming a national police and national judiciary while providing for a regional police commander in northern Kosovo and an appellate court for Serb-majority municipalities, scheduling elections to be held in northern Kosovo during 2013 with the assistance of the OSCE, and stating that neither party will block each other’s respective EU paths. The EU has continued to facilitate political dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo, with Dačić and Thaçi approving a second pact on 22 May regarding implementation of the 19 April text. By 26 May both governments had communicated their approval of the implementation plan to the EU.

Zarif is also likely to brief on a few other issues raised in the Secretary-General’s report including security, the rule of law, human rights, organised crime and corruption. The overall security situation was described as “generally calm” in the report although there continued to be incidents in ethnically-mixed areas, particularly northern Mitrovica. UNMIK’s role in supporting the EU Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) and its cooperation with the relevant ministries in Kosovo and Serbia are also likely to be covered. UNMIK’s involvement in helping the Human Rights International Contact Group to coordinate monitoring and advocacy is expected to be of interest to some Council members. Zarif may also highlight Annex I of the Secretary-General’s report of 30 April which contains a report by EULEX covering war crimes, organised crime and corruption, the Special Investigative Task Force, and security incidents in northern Kosovo among other topics.

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