posted on Mon 20 Aug 2012 11:22 AM
Kosovo Debate

On Tuesday morning (21 August), the Council will hold its quarterly debate on the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). The Special Representative and head of UNMIK, Farid Zarif, is set to brief Council members during the open session and present the Secretary-General’s most recent report (S/2012/603). Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dačić is expected to speak, accompanied by Foreign Minister Ivan Mrkić. (In the past, President-elect of the General Assembly and former Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremić has represented Serbia during these debates.) Kosovo will be represented by Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi. It is unlikely that Council members will push for any outcome in the wake of the debate.

Council members seem particularly interested in hearing from Prime Minister Dačić, who assumed his position on 27 July. (The EU-led dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina has essentially been on hold in recent months while a new Serbian government was formed.) Council members will be keen to hear the new government’s statements on the problematic implementation of agreements between Serbia and Kosovo, such as the one allowing for the participation of both Belgrade and Pristina in regional meetings.

The Secretary-General’s report of 3 August addresses a number of recurring issues which Council members are likely to consider, some of which were raised in consultations on 17 July. Several Council members have noted that the latest UNMIK report seems to be more critical of the Kosovar authorities than in the past and will be keen to hear Zarif’s analysis of recent developments. For example, in reporting on an incident on the Serbian St. Vitus Day holiday on 28 June, the report indicated that Kosovo police officers may have responded with disproportionate force and that there may have been “deficient operational planning” in a separate incident on the same day. In addition, the report calls into question the Kosovo police’s “institutional capacity” to manage tensions.

Another issue likely to be a focus of Council attention is the role of Pristina’s institutions in northern Kosovo, which is predominantly inhabited by Kosovo Serbs. Since 6 July, an administrative office run by the Kosovo authorities has been operating in north Mitrovica, although many Kosovo Serbs see it as illegitimate. The report observes that outreach by the Pristina institutions towards the population in the north is essential but also expresses concern about UNMIK funds earmarked for northern Kosovo being used to support the office run by Pristina. This matter plays into the wider issue of the end of Kosovo’s “supervised independence” and the Kosovo authorities’ position that Kosovo ought to be treated as other sovereign states.

Traditional divisions in the Council among permanent members are likely to emerge during the debate on Tuesday. Among the elected members, there is again likely to be concern from some about the reported attacks on minorities, particularly against Serbs in Kosovo, and the issue of the apparent reduction in returnee numbers. Others, including those who are involved in the NATO-led Kosovo Force and involved in EULEX, are likely to refute some of the accusations concerning attacks against Serb interests in Kosovo and emphasise the positive and responsible role that EULEX is playing on the ground.

On the recurring issue of organ trafficking, some members might allude to insufficient information on the EULEX Special Investigative Task Force’s investigations (the annex to the latest UNMIK report contains one page on this issue). If the matter is raised, there are likely to be familiar arguments presented on both sides. On one hand, there is seemingly a minority on the Council who believe the matter should come under UN auspices and, on the other, members who consider that these serious allegations are already being appropriately and impartially dealt with and that the ongoing investigation should be allowed to run its course.