Kosovo – the negotiations, the north and the police

Whilst Belgrade shows a willingness to compromise on specific issues, Pristina remains wedded to a maximalist stance – particularly towards the north – that inhibits its scope for making concessions and has led to suggestions that regional stability could be threatened if the spectre of partition is raised.

By Gerard Gallucci

Belgrade has been playing the negotiations game well over the past months. Continuously turning “sow’s ears into silk purses,” Serbian diplomacy on Kosovo since 2008 has kept the issue from being settled unilaterally by the Kosovo Albanians and their international allies. Well less than half of the world’s countries recognize Kosovo independence and the EU has abandoned efforts to simply impose Pristina’s rule on the Serb-majority north. The EU’s commitment to seek negotiated outcomes between the two sides keeps open issues – such as courts and customs, telecoms and electricity – that Pristina and its Quint supporters would rather have kept closed. This is so because while the dialogue is supposed to begin with “practical” matters – with status put aside for now – even “technical” solutions would have to accept some form of continued Serbian role in Kosovo and the north.

Belgrade understands this dynamic. The Tadic government has emphasized willingness to reach a “historic” compromise through discussions with the Kosovo Albanians while reserving Serbia’s position against accepting independence. While noting that even “practical” issues have a political dimension, Belgrade has suggested readiness to reach accommodations with the Albanians on a number of such issues, and reportedly presented proposals of its own while seeking involvement from the EU mediator to help bridge gaps between the two sides. The chief Serbian negotiator visited Pristina last week to meet senior officials there to discuss matters without a mediator. The visit may have been more clever “marketing” by Belgrade – something its officials deny whilst calling it a “very intelligent” approach ” – but the EU labelled it “positive” and called for more direct contacts.

The burden is increasingly on the Albanian side to respond positively. But having remained wedded to a maximalist position for so long, Pristina and its closest allies seem unable to contemplate anything less than winning everything. They have not put forward any ideas of their own and have not even pressed the Serb side to define what an “historic” agreement agreement might look like. During the visit by the Serbian negotiator, Pristina’s lack of preparation for dialogue, and failure to work for domestic support for the talks, boiled over into street violence.

Serbia has hinted clearly on outcomes it might accept. Serbia’s Interior Minister was the latest official to signal that perhaps separation of north Kosovo could be part of a solution. Belgrade’s proposals for the “technical” issues would allow Serbian entities to serve Serbian communities in Kosovo, while keeping customs and the courts in the north under the status neutral umbrella of UNSCR 1244. Further sessions of the EU-facilitated discussions continue. The Serb side has been suggesting agreement on some matters is near. The next move seems up to Pristina.

But the Kosovo Albanians are most likely to continue to resist compromise. They and others have been suggesting threats to regional stability, including in Presevo, if they don’t get all of Kosovo. Pristina will also seek to pressure the northern Serbs on the ground through efforts to wrest control of local police or provoke conflicts around construction efforts or other activities in the north. The latest move by Pristina to remove current local KPS commanders north of the Ibar runs the risk of leading them to remove their uniforms. This may be Pristina’s objective, to disrupt the talks through creating a crisis over “partition.”

The northern Serbs’ peaceful resistance to being incorporated into independent Kosovo has kept the issue of the north alive. Tadic was never eager to assist the northern Serbs but politically he had no choice but to appear supportive. Now, however, Belgrade clearly sees the north as both leverage and possibly a key part of what it might come away with from its “historic” compromise. Will the EU be able to make this work? Or will the Kosovo leadership be allowed to stonewall and threaten peace?

Gerard M. Gallucci is a retired US diplomat and UN peacekeeper. He worked as part of US efforts to resolve the conflicts in Angola, South Africa and Sudan and as Director for Inter-American Affairs at the National Security Council. He served as UN Regional Representative in Mitrovica, Kosovo from July 2005 until October 2008 and as Chief of Staff for the UN mission in East Timor from November 2008 until June 2010. He is currently an adjunct professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Gerard is also a member of TransConflict’s Advisory Board. The views expressed in this piece are his own and do not represent the position of any organization.

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0 Response

  1. another very good and honest article from an individual who is obviously more than experienced with matters in Kosovo. After having worked there for almost five years and having a very good knowledge of how things actually work “on the the ground”,I can see that Mr. Galluci is someone whose wealth of experience should listened to. Unlike most other persons who choose to comment from afar and with no understandng on the situation, at least he has been present at some of the most important times in recent years.

  2. Pingback : Kosovo – the negotiations | Balkanization

  3. Postovani prijatelji,

    Na Kosovu sa bio policajac 1992 i 1993 godine, kada sam suspendovan zbog mog neprilagodjavanja Milosevicevom rezimu, i bez moje krivice, bez ikakvih dokaza u mom odsustvu, vodjen je i sproveden disciplinski postupak u Centru javne bezbednosti u Gnjilanu, nakon cega mi je izrecena disciplinska mera “prestanak radnog odnosa”. Po zalbi je Visi disciplinski sud MUP-a Srbije u Beogradu preinacio disciplinsku meru u meru “raspored na drugo radno mesto za koje je propisna niza strucna sprema u trajanju od 2 godine”. Kako se nisam pomirio ni sa tim, pokrenuo sam radni spor kod Prvog opsinskog suda u Beogradu, gde, nakon 10 godina vodjenja radnog spora protiv MUP-a Srbije, sud je ponistio sve disciplinske presude MUP-a Srbije i presuda je postala pravosnazna i izvrsna, ali Cetvrti osnovni (tada opstinski)sud u Beogradu, nije do danas izvrsio ovu presudu u pogledu mog vracanja na rad, tako da se nisam vratio na rad u MUP, sto je i MUP Srbije stao na to stanoviste. Dugogodisnjim trajanjem sudskog izvrsenja o mom vracanju na rad u MUP Srbije, usledilo je i moje obracanje Ustavnom sudu Srbije podnosenjem ustavne zalbe, koja je uvazena u delu zbog povrede prava na sudjenje u razumnom roku i nalozio izvrsenje ove presude od nadleznog suda radi odlucivanja o mom vracanju na rad u MUP Srbije, iako se nakon reforme sudstva, u Srbiji sada i ne zna, koji sud je nadlezan za izvrsenje pravosnaznih i izvrsnih sudskih presuda, a doslo bi i do sukoba nadleznosti, sto znaci da bez Vase pomoci i podrske, nema nikakvog izgleda da se vratim u Gnjilansku policiju, gde sam i radio u ovom vremenskom periodu.

    Takodje navodim, da je pomenuta pravosnazna i izvrsna sudska presuda i bila smetnja MUP-u Srbije 2003 godine (dve nedelje nakon njene pravosnaznosti i izvrsnosti), kada su iskoristili obracun protiv politicki nepodobnih licnosti i borce za ljudska prava, medju kojima sam bio i ja preko NVO Demokratska internacionalna akcija sa sedistem u Bosilegradu, kako bi pljacku iz moje kuce na najnezakonitiji i brutalniji nacin, bez ikavog zakonskog osnova, bez naloga, bez prava odbrane odnosno advokata, uz nametanje njihovog advokata po sluzbenoj duznosti, Zdravke Gagulske (koja nije bila moj branilac vec igrala ulogu javnog tuzioca), po skracenom postupku, a uz pomoc reizabranog istraznog sudije, Borisa Kostadinova u Vranju, njegovim resenjem sprovedem sam u pritvor zbog podmetnute municije u mojoj kuci u Bosilegradu od strane policajaca koji su mi vrsili pretres, i to: Damnjan Pejcov, Slavko Miladinov, Goran Grigorov, Novica Stojanov (sadasnji komandir PS u Bosilegradu, Toni Nikolov), teretivsi me za 120 metaka bojeve municije kal.7,62 mm za automatsku pusku, kako bi kradju stvari iz moje kuce, uz zaplenu kaseta, mobilnog telefona, fotoaparata i foto albuma sa fotografijama iz mog privatnog zivota i sa sastanaka NVO Demokratske internacionalne akcije, i drugog materijala, neprocenjive vrednosti u iznosu od najmanje 600.000 evra, a bez izdavanja potvrde o oduzimanju, proglasili nepodobnim, samo zbog toga sto sam im rekao da neko od ovih policajaca su ratni zlocinci na Kosovu i Metohiji, jer su, ne samo ubijali neduzne civile albance, vec i plackali srbe, a ako sam stvarno imao municiju, da je razlog tome sto nisam hteo da ubijam na Kosovu neduzno stanovnistvo jer bi u protivno bio okupator.

    Na ovaj nacin do danas ne mogu da nadjem nikakav posao, niti da budem socijalan slucaj kako treba, vec zivim u potpunoj bedi i siromastvu-bez vode, struje, vise od 6 godina, tako sto su uz stalno moje maltretiranje od strane srpskih organa vlasti na relaciji sud-policija-tuzilastvo, saljuci me po naredbama i setajuci me, tamo, amo, ubili moju majku koja je bila invalid I kat. invalidnosti i koja nije mogla da se brine i stara o sebi bez pomoci treceg lica, sto je bilo svojstveno fasizmu u zlocinackom udruzivanju protiv mene, uz osnovanu sumnju u nihovu korumpiranost i jacanju organizovanog kriminala.

    Ovakav pritisak se nastavlja i do danas, tako da sam prinudjen da se obratim Vama radi Vase pomoci za moje vracanje na rad u policiji u Gnjilanu gde sam i radio ili da potrazim makar azil na Kosovu od podmukle zavere i zlocinackog udruzivanja vlasti protiv mene kako bi se otarasio diskriminacije po svim osnovama, sto je zabranjeno Evropskom konvencijom o zastiti ljudskih prava i osnovnih sloboda, Univerzalne deklaracije o pravima coveka UN, Pakta o gradjanskim i politickim pravima UN i drugim medjunarodnim pravnim aktima, koja prava su zajemcena, odnosno njima zagarantovana.

    S toga Vas moilim, da me u vezi ovog dopisa obavestite o Vasem stavu,odnosno misljenju, i po mogucstvu zakazali prijem za razgovor u Gnjilanu.

    Pozdrav,

    Dragan Cvetkovic
    7 juli 36
    17540 – Bosilegrad

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