EU Special Representative in Kosovo Pieter Feith: New phase in Kosovo with ICJ decision

EU Special Representative in Kosovo Pieter Feith said that Kosovo is on the threshold of a new phase.

Speaking in Washington on Tuesday, the Dutch diplomat, who also heads the International Civilian Office (ICO) in Priština, added that the ICJ’s opinion may encourage Belgrade and Priština to solve technical issues together.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is currently deliberating the case forwarded to it by the UN General Assembly at Serbia’s request. The court is looking at the legality under international law of the unilateral secession declaration made by Kosovo’s ethnic Albanians more than two years ago.

“We are on the threshold of a new phase,” Feith said at the U.S. Institute of Peace. “No one can predict the details of the ICJ opinion, but we are determined to make sure that Kosovo and Serbia, as well as the rest of the region, use it as a foundation for future progress.”

Feith pointed out that the ICJ’s non-binding opinion, which he expects to be given at the end of July, will not change the fact that so far 69 states have recognized the independence of the southern Serbian province, but it can encourage Kosovo and Serbia to be more fully engaged in the solving of technical issues.

When asked about the possible partition of Kosovo Feith said that his general position was to “never say never”, which was why he would not rule out this possibility, but he added that the chances of that scenario playing out were “minimal”.

“I believe that there is a broad consensus, not only in the U.S. but also in the EU and among the member states that have not recognized Kosovo’s independence, that this would be undesirable,” Feith stressed.

He pointed out that the “Serbian parallel structures of authority” in northern Kosovo were one of the reasons for concern, adding that in seeking a solution to this problem one should avoid and prevent violence and do everything so that Kosovo would not remain a frozen conflict.

According to him, without abolishing “parallel institutions” there can hardly be any progress towards the Euro-Atlantic integration.

Feith underscored that there was “a lot of local resistance in northern Kosovo, but that violence will not be used”. He said he expected that after May 30, when the elections for the Serbian municipalities in Kosovo will be held, the situation would “settle down”.

Feith is on a four-day visit to the U.S. for consultations in Washington.

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