Kosovo – an end to the northern crisis?

The new agreement between Belgrade and Pristina on the crossing points, plus the removal of some barricades, may provide an opportunity to finally end the current crisis in the north that began on July 25th.

By Gerard M. Gallucci

According to various sources, the northern Kosovo Serbs have begun removing barricades after an agreement with KFOR.  At the site in Zubin Potok that was the scene of recent clashes, KFOR will keep a checkpoint that will now include local Kosovo police. It is also reported that barricades on the road to Gate 1 in Leposavic are coming down.  It is not yet clear if all the barricades will be removed or just some.

There is some expectation that the new agreement between Belgrade and Pristina on the crossing points, plus the removal of some barricades, might lead to the EU deciding favorably on Serbia’s EU candidacy.  As long as nothing else negative happens in the next few days, it at least will make it harder for Germany and others to deny Serbia.

The real story, however, may be that finally an opportunity has been created to end the current crisis in the north that began on July 25th.  The decision by the northern Serbs to at least test whether KFOR and EULEX are willing now to return to acting within their UN mandate is a wise and courageous one.  The actions by KFOR and EULEX over the last few months to impose Kosovo customs at the northern boundary have given the local community in the north absolutely no reason to trust them.  However, within the context of the new agreement – which offers a framework for a status neutral approach to the northern crossing points – and to help remove any excuses for Berlin to veto Serbian candidacy, the northerners have apparently decided to act as if they do.  It is now up to KFOR and EULEX to perform their duties as peacekeepers as mandated by UNSCR 1244 and not to seek to further the political agenda of any one side.

Now some words on “status neutral” and “trust.”

Some have questioned the value and meaning of “status neutral.”  The term derives from UNSCR 1244, which does not settle the question of the status of Kosovo but provides for peacekeeping while that status is resolved.  “Status neutral” does not mean – nor does it prevent – each side claiming that status has been decided.  Pristina and its supporters assert Kosovo independence, whilst Serbia and Serbs deny it.  “Status neutral” does, however, establish a mandatory approach for those international elements – namely KFOR, EULEX and UNMIK – acting under the UN mandate in Kosovo.  A status neutral framework for the northern boundary would simply mean that both sides accept neutral practical arrangements while the political dispute continues.  Status neutral does not mean either side has given up their views on Kosovo’s political status.

Some question how KFOR and EULEX can be trusted to remain neutral and carry out any agreements reached in a status neutral manner.  Indeed, they have good reason to question these two Quint agents. It is not, however, really a matter of trust.  The northern Kosovo Serbs have demonstrated – by their determined and peaceful resistance to the effort to impose a new political order on them – that they must be part of any process to achieve a stable and peaceful accommodation over the north.  Their actions to protect what they see as the interests of their community are their ultimate guarantee.  Nothing lasting can be done without them.  Hopefully, KFOR and EULEX will not again be used to try and settle the northern issue through force.  Clearly that does not work.

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. Gerard is also a member of TransConflict’s Advisory Board.

To read TransConflict’s recently-released policy paper, entitled ‘The Ahtisaari Plan and North Kosovo’, please click here.

To read other articles by Gerard for TransConflict, please click here.

To keep up-to-date with the work of TransConflict, please click here. If you are interested in supporting TransConflict, please click here.

12 Responses

  1. Pingback : Kosovo – an end to the northern crisis? – TransConflict | Angola news

  2. Avni Ademi

    I would like to point out a correction for you.
    KFOR yes acts under 1244, while you should understand that NATO troops in Kosovo have acted even without any resolution from UN, you should bear in mind that a resolution is good as log as it is. when it serves no more the NATO Nations will find the best solution avoiding the UN completely , and you know that. Bottom line Kosovo should be treated as a State.
    Second thing I want to point out is YOU referring to “Crossing Points”, you’re a former UN, and you should respect the UN Policy, so please do See the link below how your Boss refers to “crossing points”
    http://www.transconflict.com/2011/12/kosovo-an-end-to-the-northern-crisis-612/
    I would like to apologies if my comments seem very harsh, but I have had enough of all UN Mission in Kosovo I have worked with you guys for 8 years, None of you have really came to help anyone, But pay your own bills and mortgages.
    You like it when there is unrest and unsolved conflict don’t you? It means longer contract.

    Respectfully
    The devoted Albanian from Kosovo

  3. Avni Ademi

    *** I had a wrong link in the previous Comment please take this under consideration***

    I would like to point out a correction for you.
    KFOR, yes It acts under 1244, while you should understand that NATO troops in Kosovo have acted even without any resolution from UN, you should bear in mind that a resolution is good as log as it is usefull. when it serves no more, the NATO Nations will find the best solution avoiding the UN completely (if UN continues to be an obstacle to a peace), and you know that. Bottom line Kosovo should be treated as a State.
    Second thing I want to point out is YOU referring to “Crossing Points”, you’re a former UN, and you should respect the UN Policy, so please do See the link below how your Boss refers to “crossing points”
    http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=40643&Cr=&Cr1=

    I would like to apologies if my comments seem very harsh, but I have had enough of all UN Mission in Kosovo I have worked with you guys for 8 years, None of you have really come to help anyone, But pay your own bills and mortgages.
    You like it when there is unrest and unsolved conflict don’t you? It means longer contract.

    Respectfully
    The devoted Albanian from Kosovo

  4. I understand the frustration with the international community in Kosovo. The EU especially has failed in its responsibility to help improve the economy and establish a reliable energy supply. (It was the Economic Pillar under UNMIK.) Also, it may well seem that UNMIK (and ICO & EULEX) staff doesn’t do enough to make up for the many years of being there. But in the case of the UN, it represents 193 countries and the Security Council and can only do what they agree to do.

    As to NATO. Yes, NATO took action on Kosovo even without a UN mandate but stayed since 1999 under UNSCR 1244. Under 1244, NATO’s mission is peacekeeping, not furthering political agendas.

    Lastly, the UN Secretary General is not my “boss.” And his actual statement – http://www.un.org/apps/sg/sgstats.asp?nid=5737 – is very careful. He refers only to the “IBM” agreement and to “Gates 1 & 31.”

  5. Jugoslav Rinas

    Avni, common people who are working for UN are working for salary as in any other entity. The general idea governing UN is improvement and maintenance of the world peace and individuals are just little screws in the machine. Maybe, your bitterness comes from the unrealistic perception that your purpose of waging war is sacred and the only right one. Maybe it is not and maybe it is time to see that there are other ways to achieve lasting peace and prosperity in the region?

  6. Pingback : Kosovo/ Trans Conflict. Pubblicato l’appello per la Pace Serbia Kosovo « Rassegna Stampa Militare

  7. Aitor

    I would like to point out that EULEX mission is not acting under UN R1244. It is acting under the unilateral Ahtisaari´s Plan which was not passed by the UN Security Council… What is the value of a Resolution that was fought for all serbians?? They suffered a criminal bombing to have that Resolution, where was stated that Kosovo would remain part of Serbia, and where nothing is said about an European Mission acting under a Kosovo constitution…
    US is turning International Law into a joke.

  8. I would like to point out that we would not have been in this situation if we would have acted in timely manner, and we did ignore and denied Ahtisaari’s plan with out even reading it. That is a pretty foolish thing to do, isn’t it?

  9. Aitor

    What is happening right now with Kosovo is a legal joke. Two administrations (serbia and kosovo), two international missions (EULEX and UNMIK), and two legal habilitations (R1244 and Ahtrisaari´s Plan)… And both, UN and EU, claim to operate under the neutrality of the final status…
    This is crazy!!! All this problem has been caused due to some states such as USA, which did not want to follow R1244 instructions, where was perfectly claimed that Kosovo would have an autonomy “under the soverignity of Serbia”.
    Good work USA encouraging kosovars to declare an independent secession…

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