UNMIK’s Kosovo Albatross : Tackling Division in Mitrovica
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Three years after its establishment, the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) has not established a safe and secure environment, the rule of law or a meaningful civil administration in north Mitrovica. The city's continuing de facto partition, with parallel structures run by Belgrade operating north of the river Ibar, is a black mark on the international community's record in Kosovo. It calls into question Serbia and the FRY's commitment to regional stability and undermines UNMIK's credibility with ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.
UNMIK and the NATO-led KFOR troops must act vigorously to establish their jurisdiction in Mitrovica. Otherwise local actors will draw the lessons that the international community will bow to force or the threat of force; that UN Security Council Resolution 1244 can be altered by local defiance; and that the final status of Kosovo, or at least parts of it, can be settled through violent means.
The Serbs of Mitrovica have become pawns in the nationalist game played by Belgrade and hostages to organised crime. Meanwhile the continuing lack of clarity about the international community's objectives allows hard-liners among ethnic Albanians to play on fears that the secret aim is partition, both of Mitrovica and of the entire province.
The international community must demonstrate that it has a clear strategy for overcoming Mitrovica's division, and above all that it has the will to solve the problem.
This report proposes that it adopt a multi-track approach that combines pressure on Belgrade to honour its obligations in Kosovo with vigorous action to ensure the rule of law in Mitrovica and an innovative offer to the city's Serbs of integration into local government structures.
To the International Community:
Take seriously the problem of Mitrovica, and Belgrade's contribution to destabilising the city, and ensure that Belgrade implements its commitments in good faith by applying pressure equivalent to that used to secure cooperation with the Hague Tribunal (ICTY).
- Deny the FRY (or its successor) membership in the Council of Europe and NATO's Partnership for Peace and an EU Stabilization and Association Agreement until it cuts support for parallel structures and cooperates with UNMIK's efforts to establish civil administration in the province.
- Condition direct international donor support for Serbia's budget on Belgrade cutting off its financial support for parallel structures in north Mitrovica and Kosovo.
- Commit to the integrity of the municipality of Mitrovica, and UNMIK's administrative and policing authority including a multiethnic Kosovo Police Service (KPS) contingent and eliminate all support for parallel structures.
- Apply the benchmarks for the rest of Kosovo equally in Mitrovica and seek to ensure that the rule of law, security for minority communities, and transparent and effective public institutions extend to north Mitrovica.
- Negotiate before the October 2002 municipal elections an agreement between north Mitrovica and the Municipality that outlines the terms of services to be provided to the former, clearly identifies its responsibilities to facilitate delivery, and establishes for a one-year interim period a specially administered area in north Mitrovica to oversee the implementation of this service agreement.
- Set up a coordinating committee, composed of Serb representatives from north Mitrovica, Albanian representatives from the municipality and UNMIK representatives, to oversee the process.
- Ensure buy-in from the Kosovo Albanian leadership by publicly stating plans for north Mitrovica and working with the province's Provisional Institutions of Self Government.
To UNMIK Police:
- Arrest, with KFOR support, members of the Serb "Bridgewatchers" where sufficient evidence of criminal activity exists, and conduct a parallel crackdown on general criminal activity in north Mitrovica.
- Introduce the Kosovo Police Service (KPS) into north Mitrovica, rejecting Serb demands for a separate uniform but allowing some training in the North provided that any classes there are multiethnic and that most training remains at the Police School.
- Rotate the French KFOR unit out of Mitrovica as part of the command rationalisation process.
- Support UNMIK by overseeing dissolution of parallel structures, monitoring the boundary between Serbia and Kosovo, and ensuring security for UNMIK activities in the north of Kosovo and Mitrovica.
To the Kosovo Serbs:
- Commit publicly to a service agreement with the Mitrovica municipality, recognise the integrity of the municipality and the right of return of all communities.
To the Kosovo Albanians:
- Acknowledge publicly through the service agreement the equality of Serbs living in the North, their special circumstances, and the right of all communities to return, and ensure that Serbs are treated equally.
Pristina/Belgrade/Brussels, 3 June 2002