Pristina – The EU’s law-and-order mission, EULEX, will have a small presence in the Serb-dominated north of Kosovo when it launches on December 9, says a mission spokeswoman.
Karin Limdal told the BBC that the European Union mission will be present at six police stations and the court in the Serb-dominated northern half of the tense, ethnically-divided town of Mitrovica.
Limdal added she was optimistic about support from the local population despite ongoing confusion over the powers and authority of EULEX.
Brussels’ top EU envoy to Pristina, Pieter Feith added EULEX needs stronger national support from Kosovo, otherwise the mission will end up failing.
Feith warned the failure of this mission will be a backwards step for Kosovo.
“EULEX is not here to prompt partition. It will be neutral towards Kosovo’s status, but will work with the institutions,” said Feith, without referring which institutions he is referring to.
Kosovo’s political authorities insist that EULEX will have the full support of Kosovo, even though it is being deployed under the United Nations six-point plan, which Pristina has resisted.
Pristina has urged the mission to take the responsibilities in accordance with Kosovo’s Constitution and the blueprint for Kosovo’s independence as drafted by former United Nations envoy, Martti Ahtisaari.
Kosovo Serbs are apparently reluctant to accept the deployment of the EU’s new law-and-order mission, EULEX, despite Belgrade’s willingness to give the mission the green light, according to a leader from Kosovo’s Serb-dominated north, Nebojsa Jovic.
“We will not physically resist their (EULEX’s) arrival, but we ask them to postpone their decision to deploy in the north for a while,” he said. Read more: Kosovo Serbs ‘Not Ready for EULEX’
Last Wednesday the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted Ban’s report on wrapping up the world body’s mission in Kosovo and begin the handover to a EU mission. Read more: UN Approves EU Kosovo Mission
The six-point plan for the deployment of EULEX, as Ban’s recommendations are called were initially opposed by Kosovo, which unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in February and has been recognised by most European Union member states, because the plan is based on UN Security Council Resolution 1244.
This resolution, passed at the end of the 1998-1999 conflict between Serb forces and Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority, refers to Kosovo as Serbia’s southern province, not as an independent state.
Serbia insists that the EU cannot deploy a new civilian mission in Kosovo to replace the UN administration unless the mission is neutral in status and does not put into action the Ahtisaari plan.
Belgrade also insists that the mission must be confirmed by the UN Security Council, in which it has a strong ally with veto power – Russia.
The plan envisages the gradual replacement of the administrative UN mission in Kosovo, UNMIK, which has been in the province since 1999, with an EU civilian mission of police and court officials.
Pristina had presented its own rival four-point plan which calls for the deployment of EULEX, according to the plan stated in Kosovo’s independence declaration, the Kosovo constitution, and the Ahtisaari plan.