Kosovo: UNMIK Flexes Muscles Over Former HQ

resizer25UNMIK has reminded EULEX that under resolution 1244 it remains in control of its former headquarters in central Prishtina, now the home of EULEX police.

Senior officials at the UN mission wrote to EULEX following rumours that the EU rule-of-law mission was planning to hand UNMIK’s former headquarters to Kosovo’s Ministry of Justice and other organisations.

EULEX has used the buildings as its police headquarters since last October after UNMIK moved to new offices in Fushe Kosove.

Under the terms of the transfer of the city centre complex, EULEX must hand the compound back to UNMIK if it decides to move out.

Christophe Lamfalussy, senior spokesperson for EULEX, told Balkan Insight: “I can confirm that there has recently been an exchange of letters between UNMIK and EULEX about the building which is now the EULEX police HQ in the centre in Prishtina.

“UNMIK wanted to know if it was true that we intended to hand this building to other organisations, including the Kosovo Ministry of Justice. We just have replied that it is not our intention.”

UNMIK spokesman Russell Geekie said: “There was indeed an exchange of letters in which UNMIK requested and received clarification of EULEX’s intentions regarding the former UNMIK main headquarters.

“Under a memorandum of understanding between EULEX and UNMIK, EULEX has the right to use the premises and is responsible for its day-to-day management and maintenance. However, UNMIK has oversight authority for the property.”

Under the UN Security Council resolution 1244, UNMIK is the manager of all public property which has not been privatised.

It is a matter of heated debate whether the resolution is still in force since Kosovo’s declaration of independence and the introduction of its constitution.

Following pressure from Russia, Serbia’s ally on the Security Council, the six point plan agreed by the UN in November 2008, which allowed EULEX to deploy across Kosovo, kept 1244 in force, with UNMIK as the highest authority.

But Kosovo’s government argues that 1244 is no longer applicable since the adoption of the Ahtisaari package.

The Serbian Ministry of Defence claims to be the owner of the former UNMIK headquarters in Pristina.

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