Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Kosovo’s Status: Difficult Months Ahead

This is the latest report of the ICG. As usual they are right in their observations and recommendations. I would add that it is not only important that there is no delay of the proposal, but that the content of the proposal should be acceptable to the Kosovo population. I guess, ICG assumes that this will be the case.


Kosovo’s Status: Difficult Months Ahead

Pristina/Belgrade/Brussels, 20 December 2006: With Russia’s position hardening and Serbia as obstinate as ever, EU unity is vital to keep the Kosovo final status process on track.

Kosovo’s Status: Difficult Months Ahead,* the new briefing from the International Crisis Group, examines the possible consequences of a botched status process that fails to consolidate the prospect of a Kosovo state within its present borders. UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari announced a short postponement for the presentation of his Kosovo final status proposals until after the 21 January elections in Serbia, but there is growing concern that this may not be the last delay.

“The international community will need to give Ahtisaari strong and unambiguous support to get this process wrapped up in the first half of next year”, says Nicholas Whyte, Director of Crisis Group’s Europe Program. “His proposals need to hit the ground running in January because rising Albanian frustration means time is running out for Kosovo”.

Since international intervention evicted Belgrade from the province in 1999, Kosovo has been run as a UN protectorate. UN Security Council Resolution 1244, which mandates an international administration, is ambiguous on the duration of Belgrade’s technical sovereignty over Kosovo. But it does make clear that Belgrade, having violently expelled more than 700,000 Kosovo Albanians in 1999, has lost the right to run the province, and that following a period of international administration, a political process will determine final status.

The international community must deliver upon its promises, implied and explicit:

  • The Contact Group should not permit further delay in Ahtisaari’s proposals after Serbia’s January elections and should not dilute them. It should refer them quickly to the UN for Security Council consideration.
  • The EU Council should give its preparations and requirements for assuming post-status responsibilities in Kosovo more prominence, both for European public opinion and the Security Council. The incoming German Presidency should make uniting member states behind the Ahtisaari proposals a top priority.
  • The Security Council should act promptly and positively when it receives Ahtisaari’s proposals, recognising that delay would likely mean a return of Kosovo to its agenda soon in crisis circumstances.
  • Kosovo institutions should strengthen good governance to gain more legitimacy with their public and be prepared to exercise new responsibilities effectively once status is resolved.
  • Serbia should be encouraged to engage with the Kosovo independence project and extract the maximum benefit for its own long-term interests and those of the Kosovo Serb minority but be left in no doubt that it does not have a veto over the status decision.

“The precarious situation in Kosovo makes it essential that its elite, institutions and society use 2007 to make a great adjustment: away from threats of crisis and toward sustainable self-governance”, says Alex Anderson, Crisis Group’s Kosovo Project Director. “If Kosovo is to graduate to independence in 2007 – as it should – it must at the same time grow up”.

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