Kosovo asks for end to UNMIK mission

23/08/2013

Kosovo Foreign Minister Enver Hoxhaj told SETimes that all conditions have been met to bring a new UN Security Council resolution for Kosovo.

By Linda Karadaku for Southeast European Times in Pristina -- 23/08/13

photo

A UNMIK force patrols in 2008 in Mitrovica. Kosovo officials are asking the UN to end the UN mission, but Serbia officials oppose the suggestion. [AFP]

Kosovo officials have started to ask for concrete steps to end the United Nations mission in Kosovo, UNMIK, and change UN Resolution 1244 that laid out the basis for the international mission.

But a decision on the request and any changes to UNMIK's role would have to be made by the UN Security Council, which includes members Russia and China that are opposed to Kosovo's recognition. Serbia, which has never recognised its breakaway republic's independence, would also oppose such an effort.

Kosovo Foreign Minister Enver Hoxhaj told SETimes that the mission should be ended.

"We believe that all conditions have been met and that the Security Council should take a decision, bring a new resolution and finish the UNMIK mission in Kosovo as this (mission) is not usable any more. It is unnecessary and I am very sure that the UN can use the budget it has at its disposal for Kosovo in countries that are facing a crisis,” he said.

Hoxhaj said UNMIK can be transformed into a partner of the Kosovo membership to the UN.

"It is the time to start a debate on such a direction and to see the possibilities – political, legal and procedural – on how this mission should be concluded in Kosovo," he said.

UN spokeswoman Morana Song declined comment, other than noting that such a decision would rest with the Security Council.

Hoxhaj said the Brussels agreement reached this year between Serbia and Kosovo, in which Serbia accepted Kosovo's territorial integrity, should be a factor in any UN deliberations on the issue. Kosovo also starts the negotiations this year for the signing of a stabilisation and association agreement with the European Union.

UNMIK has had an important role in Kosovo since forming in 1999, Hoxhaj said, but its usefulness is approaching an end.

"We have said it several times and we will insist that UNMIK concludes its work in Kosovo and Kosovo becomes a member of the UN and a member of the UN system," Hoxhaj said.

Belgrade officials have said that the mission should stay intact to protect Serbs in Kosovo.

"All institutions that maintain a status neutral stance constitute a problem for Pristina because it is hoping for recognition of independence by the international community and Serbia as well," Aleksandar Vulin, head of the Serbian office in Kosovo, told Tanjug on August 16th.

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"UNMIK is an organisation that still has the biggest legal relevance for Serbia, and in keeping with the UN Security Council decision and the situation in the field, UNMIK is also the head of all international organisations," in Kosovo, Vulin added.

Seb Bytyci, executive director of the Balkan Policy Institute, said it is unlikely that the UN will change UNMIK's role.

"It is difficult to think that a resolution that gives an end to UNMIK can come out without dealing with the issue of the status of Kosovo. If Russia changes its approach towards Kosovo, that would be possible, but it does not seem on the horizon. And also, the chances to have this issue put on the agenda of the Security Council are small, taking into consideration the international crisis in other regions, especially in the Middle East," Bytyci told SETimes.

How should the UN respond to Kosovo's request to end the UNMIK mission? Leave a comment in the space below.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
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