Saturday, January 23, 2010

International Community Plan To Strengthen Albanian Control in North Kosovo

The "international community" has come up with a plan to decrease Serbia's already withering control over northern Kosovo, the last major ethnic Serb outpost in Kosovo.  The plan would give more authority to the government in Pristina to territory north of the Ibar River.  Serb President Boris Tadic says a "final solution" is being foisted on northern Kosovo.  The tinderbox that is Kosovo just got more explosive.Approximately 2,600 people are currently active there within the framework of EULEX, including around 1,650 international police officers and judges

According to SETimes, the plan "strategy envisions the creation of a Northern Mitrovica municipality by mid-year."  It would also arrogate to authorities in Pristina the "right" to organize elections this year in three northern municipalities -- Zvecan, Leposavic, and Zubin Potok.

Not surprisingly, the ethnic Albanians in Pristina are tickled pink with the plan to cut Serb influence in northern Kosovo. 

The EU mission in Kosovo, EULEX, is spinning the plan as a kumbaya "multiethnic" effort to get Albanians and Serbs to hold hands.

"The strong, fair and multiethnic rule-of-law institutions for all communities are the only option. This will be a guarantee for a fair justice and will make the so-called parallel structures irrelevant," EULEX chief Yves de Kermabon said.

He said that EULEX's top priority is to get Kosovo Serb and Kosovo Albanian judges and prosecutors back to the Mitrovica District Court, so that justice can be delivered by a local, multiethnic and single judiciary.

Mitrovica has been a flashpoint with KFOR often clashing with the Serbs.

On Friday at the UN, Serb President Boris Tadic denounced the plan as a "final solution," being imposed by the International Civilian Office under Peter Feith.

As Inner City Press reports Kosovo's Skender Hyseni laughed off Tadic's argument and refused to mutter the term, "final solution." 

Hyseni also rejected a Tadic offer to renew talks on the status of Kosovo.

Earlier at the UN, the UN Special Representative to the territory, Lamberto Zannier, stated the obvious, saying tensions remain high in northern Kosovo between Serbs and Albanians. 

Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in February, 2008.  Since then 65 nations have recognized it.  That's still a minority of the 190 nations or so in the UN. 

The International Court of Justice is now looking into the legality of Kosovo's declaration, although that decision will only be an "opinion" and therefore carry little practical, but lots of moral weight. 

The 'international community' is up to its elbows in Kosovo.

EULEX -- launched on December 9, 2008 -- is the EU biggest and most expesive civil intervention abroad to date.  

To the numbers:

and around 900 locals.

To the coin:

The operational budget for the first 16 months amounts to 205 million euros, in addition to which the EU is investing 209 million euros in Kosovo in 2008 and 2009 via the so-called IPA (Instruments for Pre-Accession Assistance) funds (European Commission Liaison Office in Kosovo 2009).

On top of that, the international community is covering the costs of the 800 OSCE staff members in Kosovo, as well as 10,000 KFOR troops.

EULEX still operates under the UN.  That was concession to Serbia and Russia. 

What does that mean?  The EU is operating under UN Security Council Resolution 1244, which makes no mention of Kosovo's right to secede from Serbia.  It is "status free."  So, EULEX, theoretically anyway, should be a bit impartial, even though 22 of the EU's 27 nations actively support Kosovo's independence.  

However, it's not just the Serbs angered with EULEX.

Last September, EULEX signed an agreement with Serb police to cooperate in the fight against corruption, organized crime and gun running and other illicit trade, something Kosovo seems to excel in. 

However, that decision was met by violence by the ethnic Albanian movement, Vetevendosje "Self-Determination" which damaged about 28 vehicles belonging to EULEX. 

You can watch them in action below.

As Ian Bancroft writes at the Guardian, the "international community", has botched things in Kosovo by trying to impose results. 

The problems facing Eulex – and indeed the entire international community, not only in Kosovo but in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well – stem in part from attempts to impose outcomes, instead of working to lay the foundations for practical arrangements to contentious issues. Developments in the north of Kosovo best elucidate this point, with reconstruction in the highly sensitive Brdjani neighbourhood contributing to sporadic clashes and heightened tensions; tensions that will continue to grow without reciprocal measures to support the safe and sustainable return of Serbs and other non-Albanian minorities, particularly the Roma community. Given Kosovo's contested status, especially in the north, pragmatic steps are required to defuse the current situation with the aim of preventing future outbreaks of violence and laying the basis for further negotiations.

As the latest plan for northern Kosovo shows, the "international community" is still eager to "help".  Expect things to get worse in Kosovo.

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