Sunday

28th May 2017

Opinion

Causing damage in Kosovo

"The key concept is local ownership and accountability: the Kosovo authorities will be in the driver's seat," the boss of the EU's police mission in Kosovo, Yves de Kermabon, said in August on his vision of the EU's mandate in our country. But even Kosovar children do not believe this fairy tale any more.

In May 2008, the planning team for the EU's mission to Kosovo launched the campaign "Come to Europe," a travelling roadshow intended to promote the EU. Every night on TV, we could watch children gazing at a spectacular truck turned into a stage. Six months later, Eulex arrived.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

A decade after the war and a year and a half since the declaration of independence, rather than stable progress we have stability as progress. Eulex defines itself as a "crisis management operation," as if the crisis is here to stay and merely has to be managed. "(Re)solution," the traditional vocabulary of international missions, has been replaced by "management." Crisis management means prevention of an explosion of crisis, not elimination of the crisis or its causes.

In this way, we are constantly kept on the brink of an explosion. Rather than a post-conflict mission, where the priorities are development and justice, Eulex is a pre-conflict mission operating with a doctrine of regional stability and internal security. Its paradigm of stability subdues people's rights and negates justice. The corruption of high-level local politicians, the richest people in Kosovo, is tolerated by the international missions because the local politicians pay for this tolerance with obedience and submissiveness.

The paradigm of stability instead of development implies that Eulex has appointed itself as guardian of the two processes currently moving us away from EU integration: ethnically-based decentralisation (which is a euphemism for cantonisation) and neoliberal privatisation (where everything is sold, fast, even rich mines and profitable telecommunications businesses, in the midst of a financial crisis which has artificially decreased their value).

Eulex' "rule of law" mandate is in fact a licence to become "rulers of the law." About 1,900 Eulex officials and their families are immune from legal prosecution in Kosovo. Eulex is not accountable toward our institutions, over which it retains executive powers unlimited in scope and time.

This is clear from the EU Council's decision of 4 February 2008, which says that Eulex shall "assume other responsibilities, independently or in support of the competent Kosovo authorities, to ensure the maintenance and promotion of the rule of law, public order and security, in consultation with the relevant Council agencies." While Eulex is said to be an interim mission that will leave soon, how "soon" is unclear: Eulex mandate has no deadline.

Unmik in all but name

Eulex is nothing but the new First Pillar of Unmik (the United Nations Mission in Kosovo, a pre-independence UN mission). What was before the Unmik Police and the Unmik Department of Justice has now turned into Eulex. The asymmetric practices of Unmik, which both ruled over Kosovo and mediated between Kosovo and Serbia, are being continued by Eulex. The EU mission sits in Unmik's former headquarters, the UN's white jeeps have changed their colour to EU blue, and Unmik employees have switched to Eulex.

Meanwhile, Serbia seems to have three mid-term goals: to not recognise Kosovo's independence; to become an EU member before Kosovo; and to establish within Kosovo an autonomous Serb territorial entity, modelled closely on the one it already has in Bosnia, Republica Srpska. As an EU member, Serbia would be able to impose conditions on Kosovo's EU accession. With an internal territorial entity, Serbia would be able to place conditions on Kosovo's functionality as a state.

It was in this context that Eulex announced the signing of a protocol for police co-operation with Serbia. The protocol draft refers to the infamous "Six Point Plan" of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (which will lead to Kosovo's ethnically-based territorial partition) and UN Resolution 1244 (which confirms Serbia's sovereignty over Kosovo). The protocol calls on Eulex and Serbia to exchange police information and to meet regularly. It would remove a key obstacle for EU-Serbia visa liberalisation, but it has no benefits for Kosovo.

Open wounds

Serbia has a criminal past in Kosovo and criminal plans for Kosovo. During the last war, Serbian forces killed 12,000 people, raped about 20,000 women, deported almost 1 million people from Kosovo and expelled even more from their homes. Ten years later, 1,887 people are still missing. We fear that more mass graves will be found.

Today, the post-Milosevic, "democratic" Serbia finances illegal parallel structures inside Kosovo whose mission is to undermine our territorial integrity and sovereignty. In one example, Serb-funded vigilante groups prevent ethnic Albanians from crossing the main bridge in the town of Mitrovica. Serbia's desire to maintain power over Kosovo has with the protocol been legitimised by Eulex' "understanding."

We are not against the EU's presence in Kosovo, but we are against its loose mandate and destructive role. Eulex does not recognise Kosovo's independence, but has executive power over us. Eulex continues to legitimise Serbia's demands on Kosovo and encourages ethnic partition. The police protocol is merely the latest expression of Eulex' damaging role here. Overturning Eulex jeeps caused small damage compared to the harm caused by the mission.

Kosovo does not need more "stability." It needs democracy and development. We do not need more policemen, prosecutors and judges from the EU, but doctors, teachers, agricultural experts and engineers. We want the right to join the EU - not the EU's undemocratic rule over us.

Albin Kurti is the leader of the ethnic Albanian Vetevendosja ("Self-determination") group. Mr Kurti's original text referred to Kosovo as "Kosova" (the ethnic Albanian spelling). But this has been edited to reflect accepted international usage

Violent protests against EU mission in Kosovo

The European Union's law enforcement mission in Kosovo (EULEX) was on Tuesday the target of violent protests by Albanians opposed to the presence of the international community in the country.

Nato needs a European 2%

Europe needs to take care of its on security, but not on Trump's terms, with the 2 percent of GDP mantra flawed as a model.

Column / Brexit Briefing

Ukip's last electoral stand

Nigel Farage's anti-EU party is unlikely to win any seats at the 8 June elections. After the loss of his charismatic leadership, the party is just a rag-tag of third raters.

Respecting human rights is good business

Trade policy creates economic welfare, but it could also be an unmissable opportunity to protect the environment, human rights and ensure sustainable development across Europe and beyond.

Development serving the purpose of migration control

While the EU is sacrificing development aid to serve short-term migration interests, it is important to realise that enhanced border controls will not solve the root causes of forced migration and displacement.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFChild Alert on Myanmar: Fruits of Rapid Development yet to Reach Remote Regions
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBecome an Explorer - 'Traces of Nordic' Seeking Storytellers Around the World
  3. Malta EU 2017Closer Cooperation and Reinforced Solidarity to Ensure Security of Gas Supply
  4. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceHigh-Intensity Interval Training Is Therapeutic Option for Type 2 Diabetes
  5. Dialogue Platform"The West Must Help Turkey Return to a Democratic Path" a Call by Fethullah Gulen
  6. ILGA-EuropeRainbow Europe 2017 Is Live - Which Countries Are Leading on LGBTI Equality?
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWhen You Invest in a Refugee Woman You Help the Whole Community
  8. Eurogroup for AnimalsECJ Ruling: Member States Given No Say on Wildlife Protection In Trade
  9. European Heart NetworkCall for Urgent Adoption of EU-Wide Nutrient Profiles for Nutrition & Health Claims
  10. Counter BalanceInvestment Plan for Europe More Climate Friendly but European Parliament Shows Little Ambition
  11. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi: China's Belt and Road Initiative Benefits People Around the World
  12. Malta EU 2017EU Strengthens Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Firearms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Cost of Speaking Out: Human Rights Violations Committed in Belarus
  2. ACCABanishing Bias? Audit, Objectivity and the Value of Professional Scepticism
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Oslo Climate Declaration Focuses on Rising Temperatures in the Arctic
  4. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceAbdominal Obesity: A Causal Risk Factor for Cardiometabolic Diseases
  5. EU Green Week 2017Discuss EU Environmental Policies With Industry Experts and Thought Leaders
  6. GEN Summit 2017Join the World's Leading Media Summit for Thought-Provoking Talks and Experiences
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsTogether for Human Rights: A Year in Review
  8. Malta EU 2017EU All Set for Free Roaming Starting 15 June
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersRefugee Unemployment Biggest Drain on Public Purse, Says New Nordic Studies
  10. Dialogue Platform17,000 Women, 515 Babies in Turkish Prisons, a Report Reveals
  11. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCharlotte Hornets' Nicolas Batum Tells Kids to "Eat Well, Drink Well, Move!"
  12. ECR GroupSyed Kamall: We Need a New, More Honest Relationship With Turkey