Thursday

23rd Feb 2017

Kosovo constitution approved by EU

The European Union has given its blessing to Kosovo's constitution, saying it is in line with the international standards that Pristina committed itself to when declaring independence from Serbia on 17 February.

"Kosovo will have a modern constitution guaranteeing full respect of individual and community rights, including those of Kosovo Serbs," Pieter Feith, an EU special representative who is chairing an International Civilian Office there, was cited as saying by AP.

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He added: "On this basis, I believe the government and all the citizens of Kosovo can move ahead to build a sustainable, multi-ethnic society that is a home for all."

The constitution is expected to come into effect on 15 June - around the time when the European Union's mission, known as EULEX, is supposed to take over authority from the United Nations.

Kosovo has been under UN administration since 1999 when NATO air strikes ended Serbia's crackdown against ethnic Albanians.

The aim of EULEX, consisting of over 2,000 personnel, is to help the Kosovo authorities in all areas related to the rule of law, in particular in the police, judiciary, customs and correctional services.

However, it is still uncertain when exactly the transfer of power will take place, as the move lacks UN approval. Its top body, the Security Council, is divided over the issue, with Russia - Serbia's key ally - being the main opposition force.

According to BalkanInsight.com, the New York-based United Nations is set to continue running its administration in Kosovo, unless the UN Security Council or the Serbian government change their stance.

"Pending Security Council guidance, there might be a need for UNMIK to adjust its operational deployment to deal with developments and changes on the ground in a manner consistent with resolution 1244," UN chief, Ban Ki-Moon was cited as saying.

Meanwhile, Slovenia and France have joined forces in pushing Serbia to adopt a more constructive approach, saying "one cannot aspire to join the EU while refusing to talk to its missions".

The foreign ministers of the two countries, Dmitrij Rupel and Bernard Kouchner, also urged Belgrade to "refrain from any inflammatory rhetoric or activities" that could endanger security in the region.

"Above all, Serbia should not let the Kosovo issue determine its relationship with the EU," they concluded.

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