Kosovo – “successful” election just first step

The EU – with US support – has helped broker a framework that puts the current frozen conflict between Serbia and Kosovo onto a path that may eventually allow further mutual accommodation. But this opportunity could be lost if any of the parties try to move too quickly. 

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By Gerard M. Gallucci

The November Kosovo elections have met the minimum standards to be considered a “success.”  Not very high turnout in most places but – after an initial bump – just over 20% in North Mitrovica.  More to the point, with some runoffs pending, Kosovo Serbs are set to win the mayor jobs in all of the big Serb enclaves including the four in the north.  This overcomes a big hurdle in Serbia’s path toward EU membership.  But much remains to be settled and done and Serbia will someday face the largest hurdle before getting into the EU, recognition.  But perhaps things may work out over time.

For now, the biggest questions concern the north:  How will the majority of northern Kosovo Serbs respond to the new elected governments?  Will Pristina seek to use the limited election “success” to push for quick advantage in the north and, if so, will the Quint allow it.  What are the borders of the new North Mitrovica municipality?  Will “customs” function on the northern boundary and, if so, where will the collected fees go?  What law will be applied in the north and who will pick the judges and police commanders?  Will northerners be forced to use Kosovo ID and license plates?  What about Trepca and Gazivoda? And, more generally, what about the Community of Serb Municipalities (ZSO)?

Most northerners did not vote and some that did reportedly were pressured to do so by Belgrade.  So it remains clear that the great majority of northern Kosovo Serbs still reject Kosovo independence or being included in any Kosovo “state.”  If a new status-neutral framework for including local government within a Kosovo-wide context is to work, it must be given space and time to evolve without interference or provocations from Pristina.  Any effort to unilaterally introduce Kosovo Albanian police, judges, customs, officials or “returnees” into the north will likely cause conflict and obstruct further progress.  Pristina efforts to dictate to local government in Serb-majority municipalities or to limit or control funding from Belgrade would do the same.  It would ease peaceful change if the EU and US would facilitate the transition of Serbian judges and police into recognized courts and the Kosovo Police without having to pass any Pristina litmus test.  Kosovo Serbs should be allowed to continue to use Serbian IDs and license plates – at least in their own communities and to cross to/from Serbia proper – as per Belgrade agreement with Pristina.  Any customs fees collected on northerners should find its way unimpeded to the four northern municipalities.

The Ahtisaari Plan offers a sound basis for handling many of the details of implementing Brussels agreements on bringing north Kosovo into a Kosovo-wide framework.  This includes the Serbian government’s focus on the establishment of the ZSO.  Despite Pristina’s insistence that it won’t accept any “federalism” or other layers of government, the Ahtisaari Plan allows municipalities to form “partnerships” complete with “decision making bodies.”  A community of Serb municipalities within Kosovo able to work together on shared local competencies, and with funding and support from Belgrade, Pristina and the international community, might go a long way toward winning gradual acceptance of the new framework.

North Mitrovica presents unique challenges and opportunities.  Its enhanced competencies could provide for it to become a vibrant hub for Kosovo Serbs throughout the territory.  As it remains the only large city with a still mixed population – including a sizable Albanian minority north – it can also provide a laboratory for demonstrating routes to reconciliation.  As such, its border should be the Ibar.

Pristina has long had designs on Trepca North and the Gazivoda hydro-dam (which also supplies water for the Obilic power plant upon which Kosovo depends for much of its electricity). But these have functioned well under local Kosovo Serb management throughout the past years and might be best left out of politics and as to be agreed between Belgrade and Pristina.

The EU – with US support – has helped broker between Serbia and Kosovo a framework that puts the current frozen conflict between the two onto a path that may eventually allow further mutual accommodation. But this opportunity could be lost if any of the parties try to move too quickly. The proper timeline for change to take place would be best figured in years and as both Serbia and Kosovo prepare more generally for EU membership. Nothing should be “imposed.”  This would be in NATO’s interest as well because peaceful change would certainly be better for everyone than any further effort to use force.

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 will serve as Diplomat-in-Residence at Drake University for the 2013-14 school year.

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

To read other articles by Gerard for TransConflict, please click here. If you are interested in responding to this article, please do not hesitate to contact us by clicking here.

 

 

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41 Responses

  1. PEN

    Both Serbia and Albanian controlled Kosovo are desperate for EU membership. Any eruption of serious violence in the north would delay or scupper that for both parties. They are fully cognisant of that fact. As you so rightly state, the Serbs of the north want absolutely nothing to do with their enemies in Pristina. And rightly so. However they are also acutely aware that they are between a rock and a hard place, and have to play ball. Hopefully the Serbs will maintain control over sensitive sites such as Gazivoda and Trepca, whilst paying lip service to the regime in Pristina. A compromise will have to be reached, because no matter how much the Albanians would dearly love the Serbs to just go away, it ain’t gonna happen.

  2. Fadil

    About your questions:

    1.Will “customs” function on the northern boundary and, if so, where will the collected fees go?
    A: Of course, into Kosovo consolidated budget. No “boundary” in the north of Kosovo but Kosovo BORDER with Serbia.

    2.What law will be applied in the north and who will pick the judges and police commanders?
    A: By April’s agreement, its very clear: laws of Kosovo have to be applied, the judges to be appointed by Kosovo institutions and commanders as well, after ZSO proposals.

    3. Will northerners be forced to use Kosovo ID and license plates?
    A: Every citizen of Kosovo must use Kosovo ID and license plates. No exclusion on this.

    4. What about Trepca and Gazivoda?
    A: Both Trepca and Gazivoda belong to the state of Kosovo and as a such must be managed by Kosovo institutions.

    5. And, more generally, what about the Community of Serb Municipalities (ZSO)?
    Everything what was agreed by April’s agreement by Kosovo and Serbia in Brussels.

    1. Trollhunter

      Dear Troll Fadil: Fortunately, you don’t speak for anyone but yourself and other marginal extremists. All of this actually needs grown-ups to decide. If Pristina was to be allowed to do what you suggest, there would be more violence.

      1. Fadil

        Troller,

        Only your reversed mind may think that using of ID’s of one, from it’s citizens, state would be “extremism”. Nevertheless, video i posted in second comment, shows that real extremists, like you, just wasted time. You should know that all illegal structures from Serbia are dismantled by April’s agreement and that must be respected. By this agreement no illegal/parallel structures of Serbia operate in the territory of Kosovo, including the north of Kosovo. Issuing of documents from the republic of Serbia for citizens of the republic of Kosovo is an illegal act and as a such will not be tolerated. Such “documents” are illegal and hence fake one and must be confiscated from security structures of Kosovo. Of course enough time will be given to the citizens of republic of Kosovo in the north so they will obtain documents of republic of Kosovo, their state.

  3. Fadil

    The video of the interview of Serbian leader in northern Kosovo, Vladeta Kostic, is very promising. As I emphasized in many of my previous comments, Kosovo northern Serbs will soon see reality in the front of their eyes and stop acting against themselves, as they did in the past. The Serbs in the north started to accept reality and think participating even in the central elections of Kosovo.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FuvIAAtnWw

    1. PEN (the fadil slayer)

      Yep, I’m sure every right minded Serb is desperate to integrate in silly little fadil’s Bantustan. Grow up, there’s a good boy. And do you have to waste so much space with your tedious YouTube and internet cherry-picking. A 7 year old could do better than that. LOL.

      1. Fadil

        Yes, I understand how much hurts some guys to see such things “from youtube”. Nothing special from functionally illiterate people as a person nicknamed PEN.

        Actually, the point is that this guy, Vladeta Kostic, is e new Serbian leader from northern Kosovo and the most interesting thing is that he and his political entity “GI Srpska” participated in Kosovo local elections and was hardly supported by Belgrade. This video is a part of interview Mt. Kostic gave to Albanian media.

        So if this guy and other Serbs in the north participated in Kosovo local elections, by Kosovo laws, and think rationally to even participate in Kosovo central elections, we can imagine the future. That future is totally different as wishes of Serbian extremists, irrational people, like a person nicknamed PEN. Such Serbian extremists are more angry with their own leaders. It is known fact and that’s why they cry all the time, offend and attack the others. Who cares on this? Let them sink in their misery.

        1. Trollhunter

          Troll Fadil,

          Congratulations for finally learning to avoid putting “key” points of your rants in CAPS. Well done.

          But you still reveal that endearing quality of ignorant arrogance by calling anyone who doesn’t wish to abandon the state into which they were born for a new, make-shift one carved out by cynical Westerners, “irrational” and “extremist.” That is not your call, person nicknamed “Fadil.”

          1. Fadil

            Troller,

            You, like your compatriot, are demonstrating functional illiteracy by the fact that you probably may not know that many of Serbs (majority of them) were born in Socialist Yugoslavia. Why the Serbs in Kosovo should not “abandon the state into which they were born” if such a state does not exist?! I don’t see any issue here. I call extremist and irrational those who attack rational people i.e Serbs in northern Kosovo who think rationally. Even those supported by Belgrade. Given that this policy is supported by vast majority of political parties in Serbia the conclusion is that only hard extremists remain in opposite side. Had many opportunities to read many Serbs calling such opposition (DSS of Kostunica and radicals) as fascist parties.

            What is very strange for me is that I see comments from the Serbs very similar to views of such parties in Serbia. But let rather see Serbian extremists sinking in their misery. If they wish so, its their choice.

    1. Fadil

      Bad time for liars in 21st century. UN Security Council, by its resolution 777 of 19 September 1992 says:

      “Reaffirming its resolution 713 (1991) of 25 September 1991 and all subsequent relevant resolutions,

      Considering that the state formerly known as the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia has ceased to exist,

      Recalling in particular resolution 757 (1992) which notes that “the claim by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) to continue automatically the membership of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in the United Nations has not been generally accepted”,

      1. Considers that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) cannot continue automatically the membership of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in the United Nations; and therefore recommends to the General Assembly that it decide that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) should apply for membership in the United Nations and that it shall not participate in the work of the General Assembly;”

      So the so called FRY (Serbia and Montenegro) WAS NOT a successor state of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and hence the so called.FRY was a fake state.

      http://unscr.com/en/resolutions/777#

      1. PEN (the fadil slayer)

        You silly little hypocrite. By your own twisted logic therefore ‘Kosova’ is a fake state! According to your own press Kosovo will never be accepted as a UN member state. I think we’ll have to start referring to you as fake fadil from fake Kosovo. LOL.

        1. Fadil

          Look you functional illiterate, nicknamed PEN. So called FRY was fake state since it is “created” by including Kosovo using force and hence contrary to Yugoslav Constitution which recognized VETO power for Kosovo. Serbian forces entered in Kosovo illegally as they couldn’t without consent of Kosovo institutions. Of course you don’t know these facts as many other functional illiterate people. What the press says is not relevant but what agreements say. Aprils agreement says that neither Kosovo nor Serbia could block each other path toward the EU. Being member of the EU would mean being also member of the UN. If Serbia makes obstruction, on what was agreed, than Kosovo has many other options i.e union with another state. Let me say that Serbia is EXCLUDED 100% from that possible union. That could be only as a LAST option for Kosovo in case of Serbian destructive behavior i.e non compliance of agreements.

          You refer to me whatever you wish as it doesn’t matter at all. I am even not debating with you but just presenting relevant evidence in the current developments and the future.

          So if Serbia wants European future, will have it but recognizing Kosovo as independent state. In any other circumstance i.e obstruction of agreements, Serbia will remain as isolated island and Kosovo will seek for solution either as an independent state or union with another state, excluding Serbia of course.

          This is what Serbian extremists know and that’s why they oppose agreements.

          Having all this in mind, the only solution is: Kosovo and Serbia, as two independent and sovereign states, should follow the path toward the EU integration by implementing standards and regulations of the EU. Serbs in Kosovo, either in the north or the south have high level of autonomy and should use it.

          1. PEN (the fadil slayer)

            For somebody who isn’t debating with anybody, you seem to spew out an awful lot of text doing just that. What the hell is a functional illiterate. The opposite of a dysfunctional literate? That sounds about right for you silly little fadil. There you go farting about union with Albania again, or is it ‘natural Albania’ the pride and joy of all you Albanian militants. And yes you’re right. Serbia is a UN member state. Something ‘Kosova’ can only dream about.

  4. Fadil

    A functionally illiterate person, in this case, is a person, like you PEN, not showing anything important but just megalomaniac approach by insulting everything else but Serbs i.e Albanians or westerners.

    As I said, no need to debate with extremists like person nicknamed PEN, but when such people tell rubbish the reaction is needed so people will have proper arguments and proper view of things. It is not Serbia to block Kosovo at the UN but its does Russian federation, which is sucking everything is valuable in Serbia, for free. Its OK, Serbia can do that and continue being sacked from Russia but as Americans said that Russian veto doesn’t help so much. Kosovo as an independent state, recognized by 55% formally by other UN members and some 70% de facto, can make easily good decisions.

    I didn’t mention Albania as a part of solution but yes, it can be if extremists in Serbia still think like person nicknamed PEN. Kosovo will not loose anything in this regard but Serbia and the Serbs of Kosovo in particular.

    So OK, Kosovo “can dream” for UN membership but Serbia will dream the EU and Kosovo can continue UN membership with one of neighbor states if there is no other choice. Of course, as I said already, such membership or union EXCLUDES 100% Serbia while other options are considered.

    Kosovars hope that this not going to happen and rational reasoning in Serbia will prevail.

    1. PEN (the fadilslayer)

      Hysterical fadil, your responses are becoming ever more irrational and contradictory. You wouldn’t last one minute in a court of law! Your perverse arguments would be torn to shreds in seconds. Frankly I think you’re losing the plot. The good thing is that most reasonable people wouldn’t need to engage your fantasies, as you successfully demolish your position entirely on your own. As a westerner myself I feel no impulse to insult other westerners. As for ordinary Albanians, I have no interest in them one way or the other. What I do take exception to is idiots like you, ranting and raving about greater Albania (which has been your ultimate aim all along) and other fascist rubbish. Pretending to be a moderate, but in fact an Albanian nationalist militant.

      1. Fadil

        Who cares at all what one hysterical megalomaniac says?? From the person, nicknamed PEN, being a proud and supporter of killers of old men, women, children and infants at the breast, no one can expect any better. You are such an idiot and liar so you want to lie again here although you wrote “A corrupt tribal kleptocracy governed by a Western sponsored mafia.”

        http://www.transconflict.com/2013/10/kosovo-election-fails-311/

        So “westerners” wouldn’t do anything else than “sponsoring mafia”. You are immense hypocrite and idiotic liar. Nothing special as father of your nation, Dobrica Cosic influenced to do so. Seems like lying virus is so strong to idiots like you so none of antivirus medicals could heal you.

        As for westerners, yes, they should be criticized on how long tolerated criminals from Serbia to commit crimes in many states (Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo) and not getting punished accordingly.

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