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22nd May 2022

UN approves EU Kosovo mission

The United Nations Security Council on Wednesday (26 November) gave the green light to a plan by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on the deployment of an EU civilian police and justice mission in Kosovo.

Under the plan, the EU mission is to assume police, justice and customs duties from the UN, while remaining neutral regarding Kosovo's status and operating under the 1244 resolution that first placed Kosovo under UN administration in 1999.

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Details of how exactly it would operate and ultimately take over UN tasks remain to be negotiated, according to Reuters.

EULEX was established on 4 February this year as "a technical mission that will mentor, monitor and advise [in the rule of law area, specifically in the police, judiciary and customs areas] whilst retaining a number of limited executive powers."

Initially it was set to deploy shortly after Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia on 17 February, but suffered several delays due notably to Serbian opposition.

Belgrade does not recognise Kosovo's independence and still considers it a part of its territory. It had fears that agreeing to EULEX deployment would imply silent recognition of the new situation.

It had insisted that the EU mission be "status neutral," while on the other hand Pristina was angry at Belgrade's interference and insisted that as an independent state, it should take its own decisions.

Despite the two sides' divergent positions, and Kosovo's persistent opposition to a six-point plan backed by Belgrade, an agreement was reached earlier this week that both Kosovo and Serbia would accept and co-operate with the EU mission.

"What has always been a crucial condition for our acceptance of reconfiguration is a clear and binding commitment by the EU - confirmed in the Security Council - to be fully status neutral, and completely anchor its presence in Kosovo under the authority of the United Nations," Serbian foreign minister Vuk Jeremic was quoted as saying by news portal B92.net, stressing these requirements had been met.

His Kosovar counterpart, Skender Hiseni, added: "I want to assure all the nations that will participate in EULEX, that EULEX will enjoy the full support of the institutions and the people of Kosovo."

The 2,000-strong team of police officers, judges and customs officials is expected to be deployed throughout Kosovo in early December.

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