Kosovo's president and prime minister are facing international pressure to accept the UN's six-point proposal for the delayed EULEX mission.
By Blerta Foniqi-Kabashi for Southeast European Times in Pristina – 12/11/08
Kosovo President Fatmir Sejdiu (left) and Prime Minister Hashim Thaci said Monday (November 10th) that Serbia's demands for control of police, customs and justice systems in primarily Serb areas of Kosovo are "unacceptable". [Laura Hasani]
The international community is urging Kosovo leaders to accept the UN's six-point plan for allowing the EULEX mission to operate in northern Kosovo. Kosovo leaders rejected the plan -- drafted by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday (November 10th). The plan reportedly meets Serbian demands and envisions EU control of police in majority-Albanian areas and continuing UN control of police in majority-Serb areas.
Ban called on Pristina to be more pragmatic in finding a solution to reconfigure the international civilian presence in Kosovo. "I hope Pristina will understand and will act with pragmatism and flexibility," he said Tuesday.
Kosovo Parliamentary Speaker Jakup Krasniqi criticised the UN and EU pressure as anti-democratic and anti-constitutional. "Any effort to change the provisions of the constitution is doomed to failure because only the Kosovo Assembly has the right to do so. We think that the president [Fatmir Sejdiu] and the prime minister [Hashim Thaci] have done their job regarding the matter," said Krasniqi.
Deputy Prime Minister Hajredin Kuci said Tuesday that Kosovo would accept the plan if it received guarantees for the protection of its integrity and sovereignty. Opposition parties also reminded the ruling coalition that it can negotiate but that only the Kosovo parliament has the right to decide.
"The institutions of the Republic of Kosovo believe that substantial elements of this ... document in this form are unacceptable," said Sejdiu on Monday evening. "We are ready to continue our dialogue with the international community, European Union and United States to deploy the EULEX mission on the whole territory of Kosovo very soon."
Thaci said Pristina's rejection of Ban's points would not "imperil" its partnership with Western states that had diplomatically recognised the fledgling country. "Kosovo will never oppose those partners who recognised Kosovo. We have had a dialogue in the past, we have a dialogue now and we will have a dialogue in the future," he said.
The Security Council, reportedly at the request of two unspecified permanent members, then postponed its meeting Tuesday in which Ban would have reported on the status of his proposal. The planned session might take place on Friday instead.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency, also urged the Kosovo leaders to accept the Ban proposal. "The deployment of EULEX this December is in jeopardy if the UN cannot reach agreements with Pristina and with Belgrade," said Kouchner after meeting with EU foreign ministers in Brussels.
"EULEX is for the benefit of all citizens, and the European Union is ready for anything, to be present in northern Kosovo and in this way to protect territorial integrity," said Kouchner.
EULEX was to deploy soon after Kosovo declared independence nine months ago but has stalled in part because of objections from Serbia. Although hundreds of police officers and judicial personnel have arrived in Kosovo, they have yet to take over authority from the UN.
Christina Gallach, spokeswoman for EU security chief Javier Solana, said the Union hopes to reach an agreement with Pristina on the international presence by the end of the week.