Kosovo – the UN role in the north

Attempts by Pristina to drive the UN mission out of the north – in particular through cuts in funding and the establishment of its own “Potemkin” administration – has only served to reinforce the partition of Kosovo

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By Gerard M. Gallucci

While Pristina rejects the continued relevance of the UN mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) – with one official saying recently that its only role is to make reports – the organization remains in place subject to UN Security Council Resolution 1244.  As the status of Kosovo remains unsettled – though each side has its own strong view – and tensions between Serbs and Albanians continue to exist, UNMIK remains responsible for peacekeeping according to that 1244 mandate.  UNMIK is especially relevant in north Kosovo where the only local institutions are Serbian and Kosovo ones are absent and actively rejected.  The UN has been unable to play a very active role in keeping the two sides apart due to the split in the Security Council over Kosovo status.  But it still has an important role in preserving peace and the territorial integrity of Kosovo.  In the event of renewed conflict along the Ibar River, it would again be on the front line.

Pristina’s disregard – and disrespect – for the United Nations and the mandate of its mission in Kosovo does not speak well for any aspirations for eventual UN membership.  But the real problem lies more in what Pristina has sought to do on the ground – drive the UN mission out of the north.  It has bullied local Kosovo Albanians living in the north – and there are many – into non-cooperation with UNMIK, even when it would be of mutual advantage.  The effort to expel the UN has focused especially on North Mitrovica.  The Pristina government has tried to demonize the UN staff working there, set up its own “Potemkin” administration and cut-off funding to the UNMIK Administration in north Mitrovica (UAM).  The funds were included in the south Mitrovica municipal budget and funnelled through UAM for use in north Mitrovica for the benefit of local citizens – Albanian and non-Albanian.  (North Mitrovica is the only significant multi-ethnic town left in Kosovo with Albanians, Turks, Bosniaks, Gorani and others living with the majority Serbs.)  The funds paid for staff, services and projects.  The funds were modest and the cut-off will have little impact, but UAM activities were the main functioning link between Pristina and the north.

UNMIK does not have its own funds to replace those lost.  So the mission told local UAM employees last week that it could not renew their contracts after this year ends.  Pristina heralded this as finally “closing” UAM.  But UNMIK is not closing the office.  In a statement, UNMIK said:

The salaries of UAM staff and all other allocations to UAM have ceased to be paid from the Kosovo Consolidated Budget.  Staff from UAM who have been employed so far as Kosovo civil servants will no longer have a contract after 31 December.  UAM is not closing down.  We have International staff in UAM who will be focusing on conflict prevention, mediation, conflict resolution activities, and any other facilitation role that may be required.

The net effect of Pristina’s assault on UAM has been to enact its own form of partition.  The UN remains with offices in all four northern municipalities – where the UN flag still flies over municipal buildings – to carry out its status neutral responsibilities.

But the role of the UN in Kosovo should not consist of just being there.  As long as the Quint continues to pursue a policy of bullying Serbia into surrendering the north and the people of the north refuse to surrender, the potential for renewed conflict and violence remains.  The issue now is customs.  Pristina officials at the two northern crossings are unilaterally seeking to enforce collection of fees on the northern Kosovo Serbs.  (Goods bound for the south pay customs at the terminal in south Mitrovica.)   Belgrade and Pristina have not agreed yet on collecting customs fees or who they would be paid to.  EULEX’s position is unclear but it has apparently allowed Pristina officials to operate as they please at the crossings and reportedly prevented a peaceful demonstration against customs by local Serbs.  If the EU cannot remain status neutral over the north, then perhaps the UN needs to step in.

The options for the north remain limited:  more ethnic violence and possibly cleansing, partition or some form of Ahtisaari Plan.  Who is left to speak up for the alternatives that need not involve violence but the UN and maybe the UNMIK SRSG?

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.

To read TransConflict’s policy paper, written by Gerard and entitled ‘The Ahtisaari Plan and North Kosovo’, please click here.

11 Responses

  1. Fadil

    Gerard, its not you deciding for UNMIK. Its not UNMIK to take unilateral actions in Kosovo without new decisions of UN SC. I have read carefully the transcript of last UN SC meeting in regard to Kosovo and in the column “Security Council Action / Vote” i see “NO ACTION”.

    Actually, your opinion don’t differ nothing form these of Serbian nationalists and extremists. If one debates with them will see the same “arguments”.

    Your threats for “partition” of Kosovo are just ridiculous. Today there were news in Serbian media that more than 32K of Serbs leave Serbia forever so adding 40K of other Serbs as result of negative birth rate, there are in total of more than 70K of Serbs narrowing the total population of Serbia. Having each year some 30K more Albanians in Kosovo the total difference Kosovo vs Serbia is 100K annually. This means that Serbia is being more and more empty and having huge problems managing territories under control.

    If one wants partition of Kosovo then should bear in mind that there are other groups in other states wanting the same. If 40-50K of Serbs can do that nobody can stop the others.

    1. Hesh R.

      Fadil, I agree partition of Kosovo i Metohija is out of the question. How could Serbia legitimize a occupation that is only temporary as long as Serbia doesn’t acknowledge. The current demographic make up of Kosovo i Metohija was built off pogroms, ethnic cleansing, cultural genocide and organ extracting. The entire Kosovo i Metohija will be liberated by Serbia eventually as it is 100% irrational to believe the Albanians can maintain the occupation without outside help.

      Now it is not only irrational, but borderline insane to think the West will always be present to maintain your occupation. Therefore, you and I both know what the only other option is. Serbia will return to finally re-establish rule of law, and put an end to the sufferings of the population in Kosovo i Metohija both Albanians and Serbs alike.

      You can’t just move to another country and make up a large minority then call it your own. This is but a glitch in history that will, depending on how old you are, be fixed in our lifetime. In the mean time you can continue on and spew all you wish but I am just wondering if you are doing it to convince readers, or yourself?

      1. Fadil

        @Hesh R.

        Yes, yes, you will take back Kosovo when you become smaller than Montenegro. Actually, as Serbia is loosing some 70K people annually (just for now) indeed others should just wait and “occupy” other Serbian land, in Serbia itself. Since you are not able to manage your territory, some others maybe want that i.e. filling empty territory in Serbia. I urge you reading carefully my comment above as its based from Serbian data.

        So you are right, Albanians should just wait until many of you will simply disappear. With this rate of loosing population (situation will worsen according to Serbian statistical experts), there is not so long waiting for disappearing of Serbia, some 60 to 80 years maximum.

        Finally, I should remember you that in 21st century people vote and choose the fate of a certain territory by voting. For those who dream wars there is a solution.

        1. Hesh R.

          Fadil there are still 10 million Serbs on the Balkans while millions across the Diaspora. Unlike the Albanians, these Serbs are not participating in low level petty crime but are graduating from some of the top universities in the world. This is why Serbia has hope meanwhile your people live in filth which is something they seem to thrive in. You Albanians would like to continue to move to Serbia because Albania is such a sh**hole that I would not wish living there on my worse enemy.

          At least you make your cultural genocide known and apparent. But Serbia will need to at one point or another resort to Israeli tactics to deal with rabid savage Muslims who have 8-10 kids. Needless to say, its been working for them, it’ll work for us too. Because your high birthrate doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have an empire backing your territorial thefts. Thankfully, in the coming decade the U.S. will disengage itself from the Balkans and as soon as that happens you Albanian patriots will go where you love it the most-Albania.

          I sure do hope that ‘patriotic highway’ between Kosovo i Metohija and Albania is built before then. It will be used like you never imagined, that you can take to the bank ;)

          1. Fadil

            Hesh R.

            Your comment doesn’t deserve at all any response but just to inform public. I don’t know where do you find 10 million of Serbs while in Serbia itself live 6.3 million of them. In B&H some 1.3, some in Montenegro and Kosovo totaling less than 8 million. With the rate of 70K lost annually, they could not wait for the end of this century to simply disappear.

            As for crime, I urge you reading this (from Serbian media): Serbs, kings of world’s underground.

            http://www.b92.net/info/vesti/index.php?yyyy=2011&mm=08&dd=17&nav_category=206&nav_id=532366

            In todays’ new (english version) on B92 you may see this “Over 170,000 jobs lost in Serbia in 2012”

            So OK we see how Serbia is “prospering”.

            As for Albania, only this year has been visited form 4.5 million tourists and the number is increasing rapidly. Vast oil reserves have been found as well as even more gas reserves. At least 2 billion barrels of reserves have been found in northern Albania and with current price its more than $200 billion, not counting other reserves of oil and 15 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The report was compiled by Gustavson Associates LLC on behalf of Manas Petroleum Corporation, which has been awarded a contact by the Albanian government to explore the north of the country for oil and gas reserves. Manas is one of Central Asia’s and Eastern Europe’s leading petroleum corporations.

            Do wee need to mention resources in Kosovo??

            So Albania and Kosovo have good or even excellent future. Albania is member of NATO and its security is not questionable. Kosovo as well since by UN SC resolution 1244 NATO is engaged in its security. Meanwhile Kosovo will become full member of NATO, the world’s most powerful military organization.

            But kosovars and Albanians in general do not threat any body. We just need peace and prosperity. Kosovo, Serbia, Albania and other states must have good relations as independent states and work together toward Euroatlantic integration.

            Nevertheless, if people like you want the war, you will have it but there is a question of your egzistence if you enter such adventure. In fact I know many Serbs who instead of wanting to die for nothing they love life.

          2. Hesh R.

            LOL Fadil, nice to see you know Serbian still. You will need to know that language for many years to come. Resources?! You think any of Serbia’s natural resources will somehow result into a stronger occupation are you mad?! Why do you think the West intervened for? Those resources will be extracted and they’ll pick up and leave. When that happens the cockroaches get crushed rather easily. There ARE 10 million Serbs in the Balkans as opposed to about 5 million Albanians. And as I said before, while the Albanian diaspora is participating in car jackings and petty crime, Serbia’s diaspora are graduating from top notch universities. Mind you, only about 40% of Serbs in the world actually live in Serbia.

            And as I said my friend, Israeli tactics need to be Serbia’s guide to handling Muslim aggression. A country such as Israel surrounded by enemies still ends up standing strong and proud. The only differences is, Serbia does not need to do too much to crush separatism, just needs to wait out Western presence. We see clearly how Albanian separatists fare when they don’t have Western involvement in their conflicts i.e. Presevo, Macedonia and Mitrovica in July of 2011 when the ROSU unit were defeated and one even murdered in Northern Kosovo i Metohija while the losers retreated to their drug induced Islamist stronghold.

  2. Fadil

    @Hesh,

    I would love to see you in debates with some of your compatriots. Just get registered at forum B92 or blic and try to say this rubbish you write here. Yes, i know Serbian perfectly (as my Serbian friends say) and I need it to communicate with Serbs. Of course in my independent and sovereign Kosovo.

    As for your threats, you may have a try why not but I am afraid what happens thereafter i.e. whether Serbia would exist anymore.

    If you count people like this just to inform you that Turkish minister of foreign affairs said that there are some 6 million Albanians only in Turkey. Of course nobody counts on them as you in very naive way believe that Serbs from diaspora will come and fight and die for something lost.

    If you believe you are Israel then nothing to discuss anymore. You are simply out of this world.

  3. PEN

    Fadil I see you’re taking on the world all by yourself again. Now who are you squabbling with this time? It must be lonely defending the indefensible. But at least you have the courage to struggle alone, unlike your gallant compatriots who I read recently beat up some Serbian schoolchildren in Kamenica. It’s a cultural thing isn’t it, though I use that word loosely. I mean beating people up. Be it pensioners or kids.There was a gang battle between Albanian thugs recently in the heart of London.That’s what I call sharing your values with the rest of Europe. Now if you expended half your energy in hauling your own out of the dark ages the rest of us may sleep more peacefully in our beds. Think about it. The great reformer fadil. You could be the next Ataturk!

    1. Fadil

      @PEN,

      I don’t know how many times to repeat. We live in 21 century and very bad time for those being propagandists. You hear about incident with a Serbian kid and you try to manipulate public as this is something that happens thousands time a day. I told you many times: there is not a single place in planet Earth without incidents as that one you mentioned. You mentioned even “battle between Albanian thugs” but what I could say about “battle between Serbian thugs” in Spain last year between members of “Zemun clan” who killed their friend and ATE him. Yes they ATE him an so showed us that they are even cannibals. So is this “a cultural thing” of Serbs to eat humans thus being cannibals???

      Of course I never say Serbs are cannibals because some Serbian criminals are cannibals. I would never mention such cases if I am not forced to do so. I mention such cases only when people like you attack so I remember you in some important things.

      I told you also as I did with this guy Hesh, go and register in Serbian forums (like B92 or Blic) and try to write as you do here and you will see whether you will be able to post more than two or three times without being banned. I am saying this because I know how many of your compatriots attack people like you. They are simply tired from extremists like you. In such case you may see who is right.

      Actually I believe you know that but you live in England (as you said) so its easy sharing “patriotism” from there since you don’t feel anything in your skin. Its very easy making the others to suffer just to please your wishes but that can take some time when people realize it.

  4. PEN

    Poor fadil, it really doesn’t take much to goad you does it. In fact you’ve proved my point with another one of your predictable hysterical rants. Tell me do you ever take your eyes off the Transconflict site. Do you take your laptop to bed with you. It hurts knowing you’re stuck in a place that isn’t quite real. That doesn’t have legitimacy. Serb gangsters eating each other. I mean really. That’s too much even for a fantascist like you. And what’s all this B92 rubbish. I often read the news on B92 and all I ever see is Albanian lunatics ranting on the comments pages there too. Oddly enough you don’t appear in that illustrious company. That is unless you use some other moniker. I mean ‘fadil’ is a bit common isn’t it. Anyway, keep it up sunshine. Keeps us amused if nothing else!

    1. Fadil

      Poor PEN, you don’t follow news of your media. So look at this: “Milana Jurišića usmrtili, samleli i pojeli” (Milan Juriric killed, grinded and EATEN).

      http://www.blic.rs/Vesti/Hronika/313500/Milana-Jurisica-usmrtili-samleli-i-pojeli

      I was always thinking you realized that from our long debate I never and ever say a SINGLE evidence without having strong facts. My mistake is just for the date of that “event’ since I thought it was last year and now realized it was this year (March 2012).

      So after I show you, and others, CONCRETE EVIDENCE, am I “fantascist” or you live in your isolated world.

      Come on, get out and see the world nut in real sense not in your IMAGINATION.

      I urge you again, try to have debate in your serious media and will see how long you can afford telling to your compatriots your rubbish.

      Now, based on this evidence can we say that “Serbs are cannibals”?? I would not say so even though some Serbian individuals may have such features.

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