Kosovo status

What future EU mission in Kosovo?

Short description:

The EU has almost completed the preparations to deploy its biggest civilian mission in the field of security and defence, in Kosovo. It will consist of 1800 police and customs offices, judges and prosecutors. But in order to deploy this mission, a new UN resolution is needed.

Below, you will find:

1. the transcript of the edited feature story

2. the transcript of additional interview clips (B-ROLL)

1. Transcript of commentary and interviews

In Pristina this spring all eyes are set on New York, where the decision on the final status will be taken by the UN. The decision will also determine the nature of the new international mission in Kosovo, to be led by the EU. In this building, an EU advanced team has been preparing the mission over the last year. Final works are underway; what’s missing is the green light from New York.

Torbjorn Sohlstrom, Head of the International Civilian Mission(ICO) Preparation Team:

“We are ready to assume the leading role in the ICO – this is the political office in charge of overseeing the implementation of the solution. Furthermore, the EU is also preparing for taking over a major mission in the area of rule of law, law enforcement, the judiciary and customs.”

Europe is getting ready to deploy its biggest civilian mission ever. It will consist of around 1800 police and customs officers, judges and prosecutors. The EU shall also play the leading role in the main political body – the International Civilian Office – to be headed by a European. Its task will be to oversee and assist the work of Kosovo authorities; apart from Prishtina, the ICO will have offices in Northern Mitrovica and Belgrade.

Cristina Gallach, Spokesperson of the EUHR Javier Solana:

The basic role will not be the one of supplanting the local authorities. The local authorities will assume fully their responsibilities and they will have to develop every single aspect of authority that is going to be given to them. But the EU will definitely do the mentoring, monitoring with reduced aspects of executive powers.”

These executive powers mean that the Mission will be able to change in some cases the decisions of local authorities or even to replace their representatives. For example, to replace a police commander who is failing to conduct the appropriate criminal investigation.

Caspar Klynge, Head of EU preparation team in Kosovo:

«These competences are going to be limited and focused on most sensitive areas such as inter ethnic crime, corruption, war crimes, terrorism, organized crime. Those are areas where, if the local authorities are not willing or ready to do what is necessary, we could come in to help them.”

To help means actually to impose a decision where necessary. In any case, the mission will have to find the right balance between the desire of Kosovo Albanians for self-governance and a message to Serbs that it will guarantee their security if the local authorities fail to do so.

Torbjorn Sohlstrom, Head of ICO preparation team in Kosovo:

« The settlement proposal that Mr Ahtisaari presented focuses a lot on these issues. It focuses a lot on the rights of the Serbs and other minority populations. I think this is two thirds of the document – decentralization, religious heritage etc. And obviously it is going to be the focus of the future international presence that we are planning.”

4 months after the Security Council (SC) decision, the new mission should entirely replace UNMIK. EU says that it can happen only in case of a Security Council Resolution that would provide the mandate to implement the status. However, such resolution is highly precarious due to the objections of Russiato Ahtisaari’s plan. Russian Ambassador with the EU Vladimir Chizov says the status must not be imposed and that negotiations should continue.

Vladimir Chizhov, Russian Ambassador to the EU:

« I’m not in favour of procrastinating the Kosovo solution. I never said that I consider the present status quo as an ideal arrangement. No, it is not. Of course, the final status solution is both unavoidable and necessary. But it should be a negotiated solution.”

The Russian position postpones the status decision, but also the launch of the EU Mission in Kosovo, which Russiasays it is supporting. As a possible “Plan B” a resolution is mentioned that would not define the status, but would provide legitimacy to the Mission. But Brusselsprefers to stick to Plan A.

Cristina Gallach, spokesperson of EUHR Javier Solana:

“What we are aiming in this moment is for a clear resolution that will in a very substantive manner define what is going to be the status of Kosovo and the tasks of the EU to support the local authorities in the particular field of the law and order. I think without this instrument it will be impossible for the EU to step in.”

Vladimir Chizhov, Russian ambassador to the EU:

There are certain realities that have to be taken into consideration like, the status of implementation of the resolution 1244, which is unfinished. Secondly, the wish of the EU to get more involved that has to be acknowledged. Thirdly, the need for continued negotiations.”

In case the outcome of New York talks is a UN Resolution giving the mandate to the EU while including in some way Ahtisaari’s package, the EU could activate the Missioneasily. A big question mark is what will happen in case of Resolution not mentioning Ahtisaari’s plan or if there’s no resolution at all.

Sabine Freizer, International Crisis Group

“Then we are going to have a tremendous amount of troubles. The EU has been preparing this mission intensively for a long time, but there is a strong feeling amongst member states that they need to have a political signal to be able to deploy. So if there is no resolution, or if the resolution is very weak, then I think there is going to be a lot of discussions amongst the member states about how to move forward, whether to deploy or not.”

The preparation of the EU Mission is practically over. It is not contested by either Belgrade or Pristina, or Moscowand Washington. But in the absence of an agreement on Kosovo’s status in New York, plans about the largest European civilian mission in history could for the time being remain on the shelves.



Vladimir Chizhov, Russian ambassador to the EU:

(interviewed on 04 June 2007)

Question: Is Russia opposing the Ahtisaari plan for Kosovo because it considers that it is an imposed solution or because it thinks that independence as such is not good solution for Kosovo?

“The solution on Kosovo is much more important than Kosovo itself. It is much more important than the faith of Serbiaitself. I believe we should take the issue in four dimensions at least. One is the immediate dimensions of what happens to Kosovo and its relations with Serbia. Secondly, the regional dimension: what would be the impact across the Balkans. We all know some of the views expressed in other parts of the Balkans and other areas. So, independence as solution would definitely lead to certain rumblings across the region. Thirdly, it is the international president. It’s not only Abkhazia and South Osetia, parts of the former Soviet Union, but much wider scale: Northern Cyprus, The Basque Country, Northern Ireland, Quebec… I won't go any further in that direction, but let’s not forget places like West Saharafor example. And fourthly – the impact on the authority of the UN. Because, if the UN for the first time in its now 62 years old history legalizes a forcible break up of a member state, that would have strong negative impact on the UN itself.”

Question: The position of the EU is that Kosovo needs legally and politically clear solution of the status, the sooner the better, and that prolonging of status quo is prolonging of agony?

“With all due respect, I would say that it is somewhat formalistic view, the essence of that being that until Kosovo becomes independent the international financial institutions are unable to channel money. I’m sure the way can be found through the international presences currently in the region. I don’t want to make any direct analogies, but it has shown recently that it can be very inventive when it came to problem of transmitting money to the Palestinian authority. So they found a way. When there is a will, there is a way.”

Cristina Gallach, spokesperson of EUHR Javier Solana:

(interviewed in Brusselson 29 May 2007)

Question: Can the EU deploy its mission to Kosovo if there is no resolution in UNSC specifying the final status of Kosovo?

“Definitely the deployment of the EU presence is totally linked to the existence of new resolution that defines the future status of Kosovo. Currently, it should be well underlined; the responsible for the type of activities that the International Community assumes in Kosovo continues to be the UN through UNMIK. UNMIK has police presence; it has administration which is supporting the local authorities. The EU will only deploy once we have the resolution that mandates on the status implementation.”

Sabine Freizer, International Crisis Group:

(interviewed in Brussels on 30 May 2007)

Question: Can EU mission be activated if there is no UN SC resolution which defines the final status but gives a mandate to the EU?

“I think that the EU will feel that it can deploy if there is a UN SC resolution which mentions the EU and gives a mandate to the EU and somehow endorses the Ahtisaari’s package. In that case the EU will deploy and will be able to function relatively comfortably. The big question is what happens if there is UNSCresolution which does not do that, does not mention Ahtisaari’s plan for example. Well, if there is no UN SC resolution, than we are going to have a tremendous amount of troubles. The EU has been preparing this mission intensively for long time, but there is strong feeling amongst member states that they need to have political signal to be able to deploy. So if there is no resolution, or if the resolution is very week, than I think there is going to be a lot of discussions amongst the member states about how to move forward, whether to deploy or not.”