Kosovo – another attempt to abolish the UN in the north?

Should the Kosovo government end funding of the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) Administration in Mitrovica (UAM), it will cut-off one of the few institutional linkages between north Mitrovica and Pristina.

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By Gerard M. Gallucci

The Pristina press is reporting on secret meetings between the Kosovo government, the US ambassador and chief of the International Civilian Office (ICO), Pieter Feith, on a new plan to push the UN out of the north. According to Koha Ditore, the three have agreed to close the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) Administration in Mitrovica (UAM) that administers north Mitrovica under UN Security Council Resolution 1244. Koha Ditore says it has the document, titled “Kosovo Government carries over the financing of the municipal services in the north from UAM to AONM.” It refers to an action plan aiming at the closure of UAM by March 31 and its replacement with an “Temporary Administrative Office for North Mitrovica” (AONM) under the authority of Pristina and to be placed in the mixed neighborhood of Bosniak Mahalla. The plan is said to contain 10 actions which were due to begin implementation early this month. Space and equipment for the AONM were to be secured by February 10th, with a meeting with the UNMIK SRSG on the 17th to inform him that the Kosovo government would cease funding UAM.

What exactly the Quint and Pristina may be planning, and how far along they are, remains unclear. The leaks to the press could be a bluff, feint or trial balloon. However, a Pristina think tank has just published a paper fleshing out what could be the plans being considered. KIPRED’s paper – “A Comprehensive Vision For The North: The Final Countdown” is a professionally done effort to prod the Kosovo government and its international supporters to undertake ten actions to overcome the status quo of “criminals and extremists” in the north. KIPRED calls for imposing its “non-negotiable” plan there “supported politically and operationally by EU, USA and NATO.” The actions include forming transitional local governments for the four northern Serb-majority municipalities, withdrawal of “parallel security institutions,” imposition of Kosovo courts and police in the north supported by EULEX and KFOR and closing UAM. KIPRED requires as well that the Ahtisaari Plan be implemented as it is.

KIPRED criticizes the EU, EULEX and NATO for not doing enough to bring the north under control by now and notes the failure of the ICO “northern strategy” in 2010. It welcomes the recent efforts by Germany to pressure Serbian president, Boris Tadic, to give up the north and applauds Pristina’s effort last July to seize the northern boundary posts with its special police.

Putting this all together, and supposing where there is “smoke” there is at least some “fire,” there could be less here than meets the eye. It may well be that Pieter Feith and the departing US ambassador want to leave on a “high note” by providing for Pristina the framework for a virtual administration for the north. Koha Ditore reports that the Kosovo government will inform UNMIK that it is stopping its funding of UAM. This would essentially “cut off the nose to spite its face” because the funding has helped all communities there and has kept open one of the few institutional linkages between north Mitrovica and Pristina. Diverting that funding to a new office in the “safe” part of north Mitrovica would change little on the ground, but help Pristina claim a presence there. Belgrade funding for the Serbian municipality for north Mitrovica would not be affected. UAM might lose its current role but under UNSCR 1244, UNMIK must retain an office there as it does in the other three northern municipalities.

It would be another matter, of course, if the Quint was ready to impose the other elements of the KIPRED plan. This could only be attempted through force and vigorous repression by KFOR and EULEX. But this would most likely lead to conflict and perhaps partition through violence.

Perhaps the Quint and Pristina are relying on their pressure on Tadic to lead him to surrender the north to get EU candidacy. They have not been as vocal as Belgrade about next week’s referendum in the north. Perhaps they would find the vote a convenient excuse for Belgrade to cut funding for the northerners – public salaries and such – to force them into Pristina’s arms? It is difficult to see Tadic paying the political costs for that and it is far from certain that the northerners would simply give-up.

This may all be a shadow game to increase pressure on the Serbs – especially those in north Kosovo – before getting serious about negotiating. It must be clear by now that the only peaceful solution available will be that gained through dialogue and compromise.

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 learn more about both Serbia and Kosovo, please check out TransConflict’s new reading lists series by clicking here.

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

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25 Responses

  1. Pingback : Kosovo – another attempt to abolish the UN in the north? – TransConflict | Angola news

  2. Gustavo Loria PhD.

    I want to congratulate Mr. Galluci for his expertise on Kosovo, Balkans and international politics in general. His articles represent one of the rare sober opinions that you may find on the subject. His realism and objectivity are an example of intellectual honesty, that should be followed by others. Once again, thanks Mr. Galluci.

  3. Diza Kosovar

    A usually the role of advocate for northerners continues regardless of any reason that might be related to justice. There is still no answer on the question: why northerners should be treated differently from other Serbs? Are they aliens that came into planet Earth?

    Let examine two statements of Mr. Gallucci.

    One is:
    “UAM might lose its current role but under UNSCR 1244, UNMIK must retain an office there as it does in the other three northern municipalities.”

    There is no a single paragraph of UN SC resolution 1244 that gives UNMIK any role on year 2012. If Russia wants to use its veto power in UN SC they can do it in the future but UN SC resolution 1244 in its operative part for UNMIK, (paragraph 11) says that UNMIK before commencing “political “process” should have already transferred its administrative duties to Kosovo institutions. If UNMIK doesn’t do that than continues violating UN SC resolution 1244. Of course they will be stopped doing that.

    Second statement:

    “It must be clear by now that the only peaceful solution available will be that gained through dialogue and compromise.”

    At first look very reasonable thinking but what negotiations and dialogue when criminal “mayors” in the north don’t want even to hear about Pristina. They even don’t want partition of the north. No, they want entire Kosovo within Serbia!!! They are have given tho themselves such a big role so normal people can’t imagine that.

  4. Diza Kosovar

    @ Gustavo Loria PhD,

    A question for you since Mr. Gallucci doesn’t responding: Why Serbs in the north of Kosovo should have more autonomy and treated differently from those in the south of Kosovo?

    Note: Bad things like murdering, burning of houses or orthodocs churches happened exclusively in the south of Kosovo. Nothing of that happened in the north of Kosovo.

  5. Mik

    Don’t you realize that Kosovo is Serbian territory, no matter how many times resolution 1244 , unmik, kfor is mentioned, Kosovo will never be independent, it will never be a country, it will never be recognized by the majority of the worlds countries, will never be part of the EU,

  6. Artur Trungu

    Comment to Gerard Gallucci
    We already know that you are pro serb. You are one of the heroes of serb press. But, you should know that albanians of Kosovo and intarnational community would never allow North Kosovo to become another Republika Srpska in Balcans.

  7. I agree that another Balkans Republika Srpska would have little international support. An approach to implementing the Ahtisaari Plan in a practical and acceptable way would not necessarily produce any such outcome. But it seems to me a way must be found to allow north Kosovo to exist both within Kosovo and as part of Serbia. That actually is in the spirit of the Ahtisaari Plan minus its explicit acceptance of one version of Kosovo status.

  8. Mr. Gallucci why not become honest, but supports one side and the other party hunts with banal titles such as the above (another attempt)…..Not another attempt,I think it will happen. You have developed an website which is called (TransConflict), so among the readers you are a man distinguished as incentive conflict, is probably necessary to change the title of the website to (IncentiveConflict).

  9. Add Ahtissari Plan minus -,add Ahtissari Plan plus +,turned again to Ahtissari minus -, all this is a wrong mathematic that will lead us to Quantenmechanik which would then be very difficult to come up with further, you know that we can not to allow Kosovo to become an arena for different experiments from different individuals, because Kosovo is a small country, so it will not remain to us but to go on the road as a Cowboy, who can win as much land as possible you know.

    Thank you.

  10. Diza Kosovar

    As for proposal of Mr. Gallucci, it is well known. It is absolutely unacceptable for Kosovo. Partition of the north from Kosovo is much better option. But in such scenario would someone blame Albanians from the south of Serbia asking the same or Bosniacs of Sandjak then Albanians in western Macedonia, Serbs in B&H, Serbs from eastern Croatia (eastern Slavonia) etc. So who can deny them asking the same as northerners of Kosovo?
    Even Mr. Ahisaari exaggerated because if we speak for justice we could easily realize that Serbs from the north of Kosovo are nothing special to have more autonomy than the others. If we want to avoid any future conflict we are in fact enforcing it with Ahtisaari plus. Reason is well known – in such scenario north of Kosovo would be paradise for smugglers, drug dealers and criminals as it is now.
    So giving to a certain group much more than to the other is neither justice nor avoids conflicting situation. In contrary, it creates conflicting situation.
    Compromise and dialogue is always desired solution but with those who are ready for dialogue. “Mayors” in the north of Kosovo don’t want even to hear about Pristina, not to mention any contact with Pristina.

  11. Drini – Mr. Gallucci did not develop TransConflict, as you suggest, but is an uncommissioned contributor to the site.

    We don’t quite understand how laying forth constructive solutions to the issue of the north can be deemed to be inciting violence?

  12. PEN

    @ Diza Kosovar
    ‘Bad things like murdering, burning of houses or orthodocs churches happened exclusively in the south of Kosovo. Nothing of that happened in the north of Kosovo.’
    What exactly is your point? It doesn’t take a genius to work out that precisely because there is no large, militant, Albanian population in the north the Serbs feel safe and suffer no acts of vandalism or abuse. (Speaking of which, I note from news reports that yet another Orthodox church was vandalised yesterday).
    I think it’s obvious that it is the intention of your compatriots to eradicate any last vestige of a Serb presence in Kosovo. The rest is all smoke and mirrors. As for Mr. Gallucci, he offers a concise and lucid observation of events on the ground. If that doesn’t appear to correspond with your agenda, well tough.

  13. Diza Kosovar

    @PEN
    My point is very clear for those who understand simply things. Serbs in the north of Kosovo are not aliens from another planet but ordinary people. The question is very clear, very concise and very simple: could anyone from the planet Earth tell us just ONE reason why Serbs from the north of Kosovo should have more autonomy than those Serbs living in the south? Why Serbia, Mr. Gallucci, you or somebody else insist on greater autonomy for Serbs in the north while it should be opposite? This is because Serbs from the north of Kosovo did not suffer from any attack. They (criminal groups) in fact murdered many Albanians and expelled some 12K Albanians from North Mitrovica. as you can see Mr. Gallucci’s observation is neither just nor peaceful. It creates more problems rather then solving them. It will open Pandora’s box so many communities will ask the same.
    So this debate is meaningful only and only when you or Mr. Gallucci or anybody else have answer for the above repeated question.

  14. Diza Kosovar

    @TransConflict

    “We don’t quite understand how laying forth constructive solutions to the issue of the north can be deemed to be inciting violence?”

    If we accept wishes of people living in the planet Earth it would be the end of life. Actually there is nothing else but expression of wishes in regard to situation in the north of Kosovo. But north of Kosovo is just geographical expression, nothing else. There are three municipalities with Serbian majority. These municipalities don’t have any argument but their wish (and their believe) to be part of Serbia. They simply don’t want at all any negotiation.
    Back to the point. Calling fo secession of three municipalities in the north of Kosovo or greater autonomy for them of that proposed from Mr. Ahtisaari will create more problems then solving something. It for sure creates conflicting situation in the future because it will be paradise for smugglers, drug dealers and criminals. So one may not call for violence but emboldening them (Serbs in the north) in their cause creates conflicting situation.

  15. Stefan D.

    I have to intervene on this matter. First of all I openly oppose Ahtiisari’s plan since it violates Serbian positive law, in this case the Serbian constitution and it calls for recognition of Kosovo independence.

    Mr Gallucci is an high skilled diplomat analyst, not to say gentleman and his views are based on facts, agree or disagree.

    But I don’t accept calling North Kosovo a paradise for “drug dealers”. If North Kosovo is a paradise for such activities, then Pristina is the “Valhalla” of criminal proceedings not only in the Balkans, but in Europe too. Using Albanian argumentation on legitimacy, we can conclude that Kosovo is far from being a legitimate state, I mean, the PM of Kosovo (republik e) and other officials of the illegal Government are suspected for committing horrible crimes against Serbs and other minorities, not to mention that even the CIA recognized KLA as a terroristic group up to 1999 (former KLA leaders are today’s the leading leaders of Kosovo).

    The Serbs from northern Kosovo are acting the same the Albanians acted during the 90s. Payback time, and there are going to be consequences. I do believe that the only solution for Kosovo is a frozen conflict, as tough as it could be, and wait for better times and better men.

  16. Bekim Mitrovica

    UNMIK and french forces, that were part of KFOR, have created this frozen conflict in the north Kosova that will be a serious threat to peace for a very long time.

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