TransConflict’s Co-Founders, Mr. Ian Bancroft and Ms. Mirjana Kosic, recently took part in a three-day workshop organized by the Youth Dialogue Programme, in conjunction with the EULEX Mission in Kosovo, entitled, “EULEX and Minority Communities in Kosovo”.
By Ian Bancroft
The workshop forms part of a broader project – implemented across Serbia and Kosovo, and supported by the Soros Foundation in Kosovo – that is designed to highlight the particular elements of the EULEX mission that can benefit minority communities in Kosovo. Several events have been held to date, involving organizations from throughout Kosovo, including North Mitrovica, Leposavic, Gracanica, Orahovac, Strpce, Novo Brdo and Gnjilane.
Following a short introduction about the purpose of the training program, Ms. Tanja Vikki, a policy advisor, provided an insight into the mandate of the EULEX mission in Kosovo. EULEX, which operates under the general framework of United Nations Security Resolution 1244 and has a unified chain of command to Brussels, is the largest civil mission launched under the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP); with an expected total of 1,900 international and 1,100 local staff, and a budget of €205m for the first sixteen months.
According to Ms. Vikki, EULEX is an integrated, specialised, technical rule of law mission, composed of three components – justice, police and customs. EULEX fulfils its mandate in two ways – through monitoring, mentoring, and advising, and through a number of limited executive or correctional powers.
Ms. Vikki was keen to emphasise that EULEX is not a replacement for UNMIK, but instead, as its mission statement states, ‘will assist the Kosovo authorities, judicial authorities and law enforcement agencies in their progress towards sustainability and accountability. It will further develop and strengthen an independent and multi-ethnic justice system and a multi-ethnic police and customs service, ensuring that these institutions are free from political interference and adhering to internationally recognised standards and European best practices’.
In the second session, Ms. Theodora Krumova, a human rights expert, gave a presentation on ‘Access to Justice in Kosovo’. Ms. Krumova emphasised that whilst a number of legal instruments exist, such as the Law on Anti-Discrimination, they are rarely enforced by the courts.
In the following sessions, Mr. Alberto Pesquero, a legal officer, delivered two presentations; one on ‘War Crimes’ and the other on ‘Missing Persons’. In the first presentation, Mr. Pesquero discussed the need to focus more on the criminal element of war crimes cases, not the ethnic dimension, and emphasised that the majority of prosecutions are actually for intra- as opposed to inter-ethnic crimes. Mr. Pesquero’s second presentation highlighted some of the advances made in forensic technologies that have assisted the hunt for missing persons, of which some 1,900 remain unaccounted for.
On the second day, Mr. Declan O’Mahony, Property Rights Coordinator, gave two presentations on ‘Property Rights’ and ‘Complaint Mechanisms in Justice’. Mr. O’Mahony emphasised that of the 45 EULEX judges, 20 are focusing on property-related disputes. Whilst constituting one of the main challenges in Kosovo, Mr. O’Mahony encourage citizens to seek prosecution in cases where their land was illegally occupied.
In the afternoon session, Mr. Imre Pallagi, Head of the EULEX Police Strengthening Department, gave a presentation on ‘Inter-Ethnic Crime Investigations in Kosovo’, which emphasised the importance of distinguishing between ethnically-motivated crimes and purely criminal activities. Mr. Pallagi also provided details about the police complaints procedure in Kosovo and encouraged all communities to use the mechanisms that exist.
To read Mr. Pallagi’s presentation on ‘Inter-Ethnic Crime Investigations in Kosovo’, please click here.
In the final session, Mr. Alessandro Tedesco, Project Manager, delivered a presentation on ‘Monitoring, Mentoring and Advising and the Role of Civil Society’, which outlined the key role that civil society has to play in order to ensure the objectivity and accuracy of EULEX’S reporting functions.
The conclusions of the workshop emphasised that more needs to be done to ensure that civil society organizations throughout Kosovo play an active role in ensuring that the work of EULEX remains objective and responsive to the needs of all citizens. As such, TransConflict plans to focus on strengthening the capacity of civil society organizations to actively monitor and report on the work of EULEX throughout Kosovo.