Monday, April 02, 2007

European Parliament and EU foreign ministers demand supervised sovereignty for Kosovo

On Thursday (29 March) European Parliament came in 319-268 support for independence of Kosovo. Dutch green MEP Joost Lagendijk deserves a boulevard named after him in Pristina.On

Friday EU foreign ministers did the same thing.

MEPs demand supervised sovereignty for Kosovo
29.03.2007 - 17:41 CET By Renata GoldirovaEUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS -

Members of the European Parliament have adopted a report demanding that the disputed province of Kosovo be granted "supervised sovereignty."

It is the strongest expression of EU pro-independence feeling yet, with the European Commission and member states remaining shy of such a strong term.

319 MEPs on Thursday (29 March) voted in favour of having a clear label on post-status Kosovo, while 268 - mainly from Greece, Cyprus, Spain, Romania and Slovakia - were against.

The vote comes just days after UN envoy Martti Ahtisaari proposed "supervised independence" for the territory, which is currently a province of Serbia administrated by the UN.

Dutch green MEP Joost Lagendijk, who drafted the report, expressed his satisfaction over the fact that the European Parliament chose to send an unambiguous signal to EU capitals, while saying it is the "first step" to a "united Europe" over the Kosovo issue.

He stressed that if the EU fails to act as a bloc, Russia will "cleverly" use member states' divisions as an excuse to postpone or veto the UN decision on future status of Kosovo.

The EU will face a key test for its united stance on the issue on Friday (30 March), when foreign ministers are due to discuss Kosovo's future at a meeting in the German city of Bremen.

Some member states - notably Slovakia, Spain and Greece - remain against Kosovo being put on the road to independence. Slovakia has recently emerged as a vocal opponent of independence, with its parliament this week adopting a declaration saying "the future status of Kosovo must respect Serbia's legitimate demands." Bratislava currently has a seat in the UN Security Council - the body entitled to carry the ultimate decision on Kosovo.

According to the Slovak declaration, "the possibility of negotiations has not been exhausted", while "the full and unsupervised independence of Kosovo is not in the interest of the region".

On the other hand, EU enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn stressed that the essence of decision on Kosovo is European unity. "We must continue to support president Ahtisaari and his proposal with consistent determination in the UN Security Council", he said.

Brussels believes that only a united European front could get Russia and China on board, as both Moscow and Beijing have objections to supervised independence.

Earlier today, Moscow confirmed its "principled position against imposing on the sides any kinds of scenario, so that a solution is worked out that would be acceptable both to Belgrade and Prishtina," according to a statement from the Kremlin.

The EU's takeover plan unveiled

Meanwhile, an internal report by EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and commissioner Rehn has revealed the bloc is well-advanced in planning to replace the 3,000-strong UN administration that has been running Kosovo since 1999.

According to the document, it will take roughly 120 days for the UN to hand over responsibilities to the EU, press reports say. "

The transition period could also be highly sensitive in political and security terms... There could be interest of extremist groups on both sides in provoking security incidents and inciting members of communities to leave Kosovo", the Financial times quotes the Solana-Rehn report.

Mr Rehn speaking to the European Parliament on Wednesday (28 March) also revealed a few details on the operation in post-status Kosovo - which constitutes the EU's largest civilian crisis management mission ever.

The EU's overall presence in Kosovo is likely to run to the order of 1,500 to 2,000 international staff, including police officers and judges, while early estimates suggest that international grant assistance of up to around €1.3 - 1.5 billion may be required for the first three years after the status is implemented."

At the EU foreign ministers' meeting on Friday (30 March), I will stress that resources cannot come from the EU budget alone. EU Member States and our international community partners must share the responsibility", Mr Rehn said.


EU Pushes for Kosovo Independence, Overcomes Internal Divisions
By James G. Neuger and Mark Deen

March 31 (Bloomberg) -- European Union foreign ministers pushed for independence for the disputed Serb province of Kosovo, trying to forge a united front against a possible Russian veto.

Spain, Slovakia and Greece became the last EU countries to fall in line behind independence for the southern Serb province, which has been under international control since NATO's bombing campaign drove out Serb troops in 1999.


``It's never the case that all European partners have the same opinion in advance,'' German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told a press conference after chairing an EU meeting in Bremen, Germany today. ``That's how it is in the Kosovo question.''
EU officials said papering over the cracks is vital to prevent Russia, a longstanding ally of Serbia, from wielding a United Nations Security Council veto that would destabilize the Balkans.


``We're talking to the Russians without succeeding so far in bringing about a visible change in the Russian position,'' Steinmeier said.


A Kosovo settlement would be the final act in the breakup of Yugoslavia after the civil war of the 1990s. It is also the key to future EU membership for Serbia, the largest ex-Yugoslav republic and the slowest to embrace the EU.


``We have no exit strategy, we have only an entry strategy as regards Kosovo and the whole region of the western Balkans,'' EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said.

Region's `Challenges'


The EU has turned a peaceful settlement in the Balkans into a test of its own foreign-policy credibility, a decade after a divided Europe had to rely on the U.S. military to stop the Yugoslav bloodshed.


``European unity? I don't think that's the problem,'' Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said. ``The problem is challenges in the region, which are seriously underestimated so far. I'm worried about that.''


Spain had voiced concern that formally splitting off Kosovo from Serbia would give fresh momentum to the Basque separatist group ETA.


In its biggest civilian crisis management mission ever, the EU will dispatch experts and police to supervise the settlement and estimates the cost at 1.3 billion euros ($1.7 billion) to $1.5 billion euros for 2008-10.


The U.S. will provide around 380 million euros, leaving the EU and other donors to pick up the rest of the bill. Also in dispute is what to do about Kosovo's share of Serbia's external debt, estimated at 840 million euros, about a third of the province's gross domestic product.


50% Unemployment


Initially buoyed by an influx of international aid personnel after the 1999 cease-fire, Kosovo's economy has since stumbled. It shrank in 2002, 2003 and 2005, and the official unemployment rate is now over 50 percent.


The UN proposal would grant Kosovo the hallmarks of statehood such as a central bank, an army and a flag, while providing protections for the roughly 200,000 Serbs living in the mostly ethnic Albanian province of 2 million.


The proposal's author, Finnish diplomat Martti Ahtisaari, told the Security Council this week that ``the only viable option is independence'' after Serbs and Kosovars failed to reach a negotiated settlement.


Opposition to a final break with Kosovo unites the two parties set to form the next Serb government, one led by President Boris Tadic and the other by Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica. The parties face a May 14 deadline to form a government after elections in January.


To contact the reporter on this story: James G. Neuger in Bremen at jneuger@bloomberg.net




7 comments:

Anonymous said...

lookin awesome!!!!!

Anonymous said...

just wait, The fun will be in the Security Council

Tina Kalaj said...

The UN Security Council (UNSC) met behind closed doors Tuesday (April 3rd) to discuss UN special envoy Martti Ahtisaari's Kosovo status plan, marking the start of a decisive phase in efforts to resolve the issue.

"This is an important day because it starts a process," Ahtisaari said Tuesday. "I wouldn't like to say that this is a marathon, but it may be at least a 10,000-metre run."

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the EU Presidency and the United States have expressed their support for Ahtisaari's proposal, which recommends internationally supervised independence for the Serbian province. Kosovo's Albanians, accounting for 90% of its population of 2 million, have also accepted it.

Belgrade, which insists on retaining some degree of sovereignty, has rejected the plan. Addressing the UNSC closed-door session on Tuesday, outgoing Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica reiterated his country's offer to grant Kosovo "substantial autonomy".

Speaking to the press after the session, he said the Ahtisaari plan "has not been accepted by the Security Council". He reiterated Belgrade's call for new negotiations and the appointment of a new mediator.

But Britain's UN Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry, who currently presides over the Security Council, said the Serbian prime minister's remarks were "entirely erroneous". He dismissed the suggestion that a new mediator is being sought.

"There was considerable support among member states for [Former Finnish] President Ahtisaari's proposals," Jones Parry told reporters, noting that the 15-nation body would decide soon on whether to visit Belgrade and Pristina, as Russia has proposed.

"I will expect further discussions this month. I don't think it's likely there will be an early presentation of a Security Council resolution," he said. He added that the six-nation Contact Group – consisting of Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and the United States – is likely to begin drafting a proposed resolution within weeks.

Kosovo President Fatmir Sejdiu also attended Tuesday's meeting, but could not address the Council for protocol reasons. He told reporters later that "unfortunately we have exhausted all possibilities of a negotiated agreement".

The acting US ambassador to the United Nations, Alejandro Wolff, said granting Kosovo supervised independence "is the only option really available", though he noted a need for "more information and education" showing why Ahtisaari's plan is the right way to proceed.

French Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere also voiced support for the UN special envoy's proposal for Kosovo and cautioned against any attempts to delay a decision on its final status.

"What is at stake is the stability of Europe and this is the completion of the process of the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, so it's a very specific situation," the French envoy said. "To keep the status quo is not an option. It would be even dangerous."

Slavko Cernovic said...

Attack on elderly Serbs reported in administrative zone with Kosovo
04/04/2007

BELGRADE, Serbia -- An elderly Serb family in the Medvedja village of Velika Braina, situated just on the administrative line with Kosovo, was attacked on Tuesday (April 3rd) by a group of ethnic Albanians coming from the Kosovo side, according to Serbian media. The three assailants reportedly beat 74-year old Branislav Zdravkovic and his sister, Draguna Cvetkovic, before stealing their livestock.

Rasim Ljajic, head of the government co-ordination body for Southern Serbia, condemned the incident and demanded that UNMIK police and KFOR tighten security in the administrative zone. (Politika - 04/04/07; RTS - 03/04/07)

CoE's Davis visits Belgrade

Anonymous said...

There are goimng to be sporadic incidents such as these, we can't go running to the CoE every time someone is killed and blame it on ethnic divisions. It's going to take tiume for the wopunds to heal, the same ones taht the Serbs set in place.

Anonymous said...

PRISHTINA, Kosova

Parliament voted almost unanimously Thursday (April 5th) in support of the UN-sponsored plan that would grant supervised independence to the province. Some 100 lawmakers backed the blueprint drafted by former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, one voted against it, and 19 were absent. Serbs have been boycotting the legislature since ethnic riots in March 2004. The deputies adopted a statement that praised the plan as "a balanced and right solution … in accordance with the will of the people". Parliament also welcomed the international community's plan to maintain a civilian and military presence until Kosovo is able to meet all provisions of the Ahtisaari plan.

In Belgrade, Vuk Jeremic, foreign policy adviser to President Boris Tadic, denounced the resolution as "a unilateral act" that was not helpful to the search for a solution. (Dnevni avaz - 06/04/07; AP, KosovaLive, RTK, Tanjug, RTS - 05/04/07)

Anonymous said...

TIRANA, Albania -- Foreign Minister Besnik Mustafaj has again explicitly dismissed the potential for a so-called "Greater Albania" scenario or a future Albania-Kosovo union. In an interview with the Austrian press, Mustafaj reiterated that his government would seek no change to the current borders, if Kosovo becomes independent from Serbia. He added, however, that the government in Tirana is committed to forging close relations with Pristina. (Albanian News, Shekulli-10/04/07; UPI, Xinhua - 09/04/07)