The Ahtisaari Plan and North Kosovo

TransConflict is pleased to present a new policy paper, entitled ‘The Ahtisaari Plan and North Kosovo, authored by Gerard Gallucci, the former UN Regional Representative in Mitrovica.


The paper provides a series of detailed recommendations – pertaining to the courts, the police, municipal competences, finance, inter-municipal co-operation, co-operation with Serbia and extended competences for north Mitrovica – that are intended to facilitate implementation of the Ahtisaari Plan in north Kosovo.

After 12 years of frozen conflict over Kosovo, it seems now more than ever that all sides are ready to consider practical solutions to practical problems.  In the last few months, it has become clear that finding such practical accommodations for northern Kosovo is especially timely.  The local Kosovo Serbs have prevented, through peaceful means, what they saw as a one-sided effort to impose Kosovo institutions north of the Ibar River.  The international peacekeepers have reached the limits of their ability to project political solutions that do not have the support of the local communities in the north.”

There is, however, also a strong political imperative supported by both Belgrade and Pristina to treat Kosovo as a whole even as differences over Kosovo status remain.  Some are now talking about how the Ahtisaari Plan might be implemented in the north.  The Plan offers a detailed framework for achieving, in the north, local autonomy within a continued relationship to Serbia while maintaining the territorial and political integrity of Kosovo.  It may therefore be a good time for all parties – Kosovo Albanians and Kosovo Serbs, Pristina and Belgrade and the internationals including the EU and the Contact Group – to consider how the Ahtisaari Plan might be actually implemented in the north.

TransConflict approaches this effort with an understanding that nothing positive can emerge as long as the two sides continue to see the situation in zero-sum terms, that for them to win, the other side must lose.  Rather, to avoid further conflict and open the door to focusing on achieving economic progress, each side must be willing to compromise and consider outcomes that recognize the fundamental interests of the other side, as well as their own.  Simply put, these are:

  • for the northern Serbs, to be allowed to live in their own communities without political interference in local matters from Kosovo central institutions and with continued linkages to Serbia.
  • for the Kosovo Albanians that the north remain part of Kosovo and function in significant ways as part of the Kosovo political system.

In the current context, any compromise approach would need to leave aside the question of the status of Kosovo and – for the purposes of any agreement over the north – the status of any Kosovo institutions in which the northern Serbs might participate.

This policy paper seeks to look at how the Ahtisaari Plan might be implemented within this context.