Yesterday, the 15th of June, Kosovo’s Constitution entered into effect. Although this was a large step toward statehood, it can be interpeted as mainly symbolic, since many issues have yet to be decided. The implementation of the Constitution means that the duties of the UN will be transferred to the government, while the EU mission to Kosovo (EULEX) will serve law and order functions. KFOR will remain to provide security at the borders, but it is understood that the UN must leave in order to provide room for the transition to EULEX.
However, the UN has stated that because of tensions in Mitrovica (the divided part of northern Kosovo) the UN will not yet leave, fearing a security vaccuum will develop. This is partially due to the fact that the Serb enclaves in Mitrovica and Gracanica do not recognize Albanian authority and state they will form their own assembly to govern Serb majority areas. This situation aggravates ethnic tensions and bodes ill for the Kosovo government’s administration of the territory. Furthermore, Kosovar Serbs are boycotting or abandoning the Kosovo Police Force (originally the Kosovo Police Service), which is one of the few multi-ethnic institutions in Kosovo.
Peter Feith, the EU’s envoy to Kosovo stated, “There could be a problem in implementing our plans if we do not have acceptance in Serb communities in Kosovo. Much will depend on whether we have a new government in Belgrade that is EU-friendly,” (“Tension Mounts as Kosovo Constitution Takes Effect”, International Herald Tribune, 15 June 2008).
These complications are futher exacerbated by the fact that Russia and Serbia deem the EU Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) illegal, as neither Serbia or Russia have recognized Kosovo’s independence. Serbia and Russia further claim that the deployment of EULEX is illegal because the mission has not been approved by the UN Security Council, unlike UNSCR 1244–which provides the mandate for UNMIK’s (the United Nation’s Mission in Kosovo) administration of Kosovo.
Serbia and Russian have attempted to block EULEX’s deployment to Kosovo, while UN Secretary General (Ban Ki Moon) offered a plan in which the EU Mission would deploy underneath the UN mandate. Serbia and Russia reject Ban Ki Moon’s plan and therefore UNMIK must remain in place until the issue is resolved. However, UNMIK’s presence causes problems as well, since Kosovo’s Constitution states that the UN will turn over its duties to the Kosovo government.
“We now have a situation with one lame-duck authority and its successor unable to take over,” said Alex Anderson, Kosovo project director at the Pristina branch of the International Crisis Group, an independent, nonprofit organization. “This risks unraveling key institutions like the police and judiciary and undermining a fragile democracy,” (“Tension Mounts as Kosovo Constitution Takes Effect”, International Herald Tribune, 15 June 2008).
Currently, only one in seven of EU personnel is currently in place. It is believed that the 2,200 EU personnel involved in the judicial mission will be deployed by October.
Posted By Nicole Slezak
Posted Jun 16th, 2007