Police from the European Union law and justice mission in Kosovo (EULEX) have set up two customs control points in Serb dominated north Kosovo. Customs is again in place after one year when angry Serbs burnt down and pushed to nearby river the border posts in reaction to the Albanian majority’s declaration of independence from Serbia. Same time United Nations’ mission (UNMIK), EULEX and International Community Office (ICO) are twisting arms who will start talks on the realization of the six-point plan drafted by the UN. Separatist province’s local politicians are again bystanders only struggling between themselves about illusory administration of disputed puppet state.
With Albanian authorities having little control in Serb-inhabited areas that back onto Serbia proper, no efforts at rebuilding were made until this weekend. Kosovo has said it has lost millions in customs taxes in that period, as goods from Serbia entered freely and without any sort of control in these two points. EULEX spokesman Karin Limdal told Balkan Insight that while control have started, this doesn’t mean that the northern customs points are functioning normally, as EULEX only registered the goods, not asking people to pay customs tax. (Source BalkanInsight.com February 2nd 2009).
Foreign Minister of Serbia Vuk Jeremić who has invited UNMIK chief Zannier to Belgrade in order to start talks on the realization of the six-point plan. Under the plan, the Kosovo Serbs will be granted broader autonomy in the areas of justice, police and customs. UNMIK spokesman Alexander Ivanko said on Sunday in Priština that before these talks begin, UNMIK must define its role in the dialogue, since authority in the three fields of discussion—courts, police and customs—have already been transferred to EULEX who’s field officers btw were twirling their thumbs over half an year while waiting permission even to go north Kosovo. “The UN and UNMIK will have a role in these talks, but it must be defined what kind of role it will have exactly, because the authority in the three main fields has been transferred to EULEX,” Ivanko told Radio Free Europe. (Source Serbianna February 2nd 2009).
More about six-point-plan in my article “UN adopts 6-point-plan for Kosovo – bye bye independence experiment”.
Kosovo’s local financial authorities have also other problem than non payment of custom taxes because Serbia and Bosnia are both blocking the import and transit of goods stamped with the seal of the Kosovo Customs authority, insisting that UNMIK and not Pristina should represent Kosovo in regional and international affairs, including the regional CETFA free trade agreement. Kosovo authorities have said the blockade is unacceptable because Serbia, Bosnia and Kosovo all signed the CEFTA agreement, which stipulates the free movement of goods and services throughout the Balkans. However the agreement is signed by UNMIK on behalf of Pristina. Since their declaration of independence, Kosovo Albanian want to denigrate UNMIK’s role and insist to be the sole representatives of „the Republic of Kosovo”, while Serbs imperatively stick to UNSC Resolution 1244, which stipulates that Kosovo can only be represented by UNMIK . (Source KosovoComrpomise January 31st 2009)
Many players in small sandbox
Besides UN/UNMIK and EU/EULEX there is also European Union High Representative in Kosovo Pieter Feith who simultaneously leads International Community Office wondering his role with coming talks. Same time Nato-troops (KFOR) tries to keep ethnic tensions moderate, OSCE do not know its role nor length of its mission’s mandate in Kosovo, EU delegation office, few influential foreign liaison representatives an of course sc. Kosovo government which does not recognize the whole six-point-plan and thinks that Kosovo institutions have no obligation to respect it. (Source Serbianna February 2nd 2009).
It shows amazing creativity to establish this kind organizational nightmare in one tiny province and more amazing is that after nearly nine years of international administration and capacity building and squandered billions of Euros both the administration and the situation on the ground are beneath all criticism.