PRISTINA, Kosovo — The Europe Day in Kosovo was "celebrated" on 9th May. However, smiling faces are to find mainly at those who enjoyed the day off. The image of the EU in Kosovo is worse than ever. In particular the EU Rule-of-Law mission in Kosovo (EULEX) lacks results and faces an increasingly damaged reputation. Inactivity and ignorance are comm-only used attributes to describe EULEX in the Kosovar public opinion over the past weeks. In contradiction to its own objectives as well as to the proclaimed values of most EU member states, which sponsor this mission with 100 m Euro every year, EULEX is obviously not providing ‘Law and Order’ equally allover Kosovo.
EULEX refuses to bring back Kosovar judges and prosecutors to the district court in the north of Mitrovica. Further on it tolerates rejection against Kosovar executive institutions through the Serb population. Maybe EULEX – likewise UNMIK before – claims to implement a kind of a diplomatic sensitive approach against the left behind and already frustrated Serbs, which refuse to recognize the Republic of Kosovo as their new supreme administrative instance.
So respectful against Serbian frustrations on the one hand, EULEX still dared to hire a Romanian officer as the chief of EULEX police special forces on the other hand: Without considering the frustration of the Kosovo Albanian population, which remembers well the killings of two spectators at a peaceful demonstration in 2007. The responsible Romanian officers were said to have shot at protestors by using prohibited versions of gum bullets, containing a special iron core. The accused officers were broad out of the country, the case was not further investigated.
Regardless of all these "sensitivities", EULEX with its non-acting approach creates a legal vacuum and double standards, which none of the EU member states would allow to exist within its own borders. As an example on the very operational level, there is the habit in most Serb populated municipalities on Kosovar territory not to pay for energy, tax and telephone – excused by their rejection against Kosovar institutions. And nobody dares to use force: Whenever someone tries to cut unpaid services, a Belgrade orchestrated outrage against discrimination of suppressed Serbs blows the mind of pretended human thinking international EULEX and former UNMIK officers, the ruling class in Kosovo. Obviously the implementation and application of law and order is handled different by EULEX with respect to different ethnicities:
Current EULEX internal incidents give in addition reason for careful observers to consider a hidden racist approach. As confirmed by EULEX (later on), Kosovar Albanian staff – with intense repetition – faced heavy insult concerning their ethnicity, state and religion. Reportedly the local staff was threatened to stay calm on these cases or to "face consequences". Only after the issue leaked through to the media, and caused a strong public disagreement, EULEX took action and started an internal investigation: The French chief of the close protection unit of EULEX Head Xavier de Marnhac was fired. Further international staff members were "transferred to new duties".
The late reaction of EULEX officials raised fears that personal racist anti-pathy of international EULEX staff against Kosovo Albanians is tolerated inside EULEX structures. From there it’s not far to consider this antipathy – firstly – to be widespread as well as – secondly – to result in according contributions regarding the implementation of EULEX duties both on an operational and strategic level. Taking into account, that several EULEX officers are sent from EU countries, which don’t recognize the Republic of Kosovo (Greece, Cyprus, Romania, Slovakia Spain), may stress these fears. And so does the fact, that only Kosovars are still excluded from the process of visa liberalization.
Moreover there is the request of EULEX and its Head Xavier de Marnhac to politically negotiate above mentioned justice structures with Serbian authorities. In other words EULEX demands from the Kosovo government to kindly ask for Serbia’s permission, before operating courts with judges and prosecutors in northern Kosovo – under the administration of the Republic of Kosovo – which Serbia doesn’t recognize! Without this recognition, Serbia even can’t agree – and EULEX is aware on this. So obviously EULEX requests a ‘mission impossible’. Through this the EULEX proposal raised reasonable suspicion on the Kosovo Albanian side:
As a possible conclusion EULEX either wants to maintain an unstable situation – or it supports the return of the northern Kosovo territory back to Serbian control (and by this – innovatively – also solves the legal vacuum problematic). Just now EULEX requested to put this issue on the agenda of the EU mediated Kosovo-Serbian talks in Brussels – whereas in the weeks before representatives of the Serbian negotiation team repeatedly publicly discussed a possible division of Kosovo. Without of course offering the recognition of Kosovo’s independence – but by aiming at gradually gaining control over its lost territory and its economic values, the mines of Trepca.
Meanwhile Kosovo-Albanian politicians in unison refused this proposal. Apart from a moral approach regarding the years long terrible suppression of the Serbian apartheid regime in Kosovo, there is also a practical reason to do so: Besides a further shrinking territory and the economic future of Kosovo, the mining industry, also the main water reserves of the country are located in its northern part.
By its missing willingness to support Kosovo’s executive and judiciary branches in Serb municipalities as well as to obviously push for a division of the country, the EU with its EULEX mission leaves a doubtful impression:
Double standards, legal vacuum, alleged racism, one sided pro-Serbian partisan-ship, missing neutrality – modestly said: The EU sub-organization EULEX acts in contradiction to values of its supreme structure, the EU and its member states. Twelve years of experiencing failure in northern Kosovo was not enough. EULEX still seems to operate unprepared. Only ignorance – and hopefully not intention – may describe this behavior.
And the damage already starts: Elected representatives of the 90 percent ethnic Albanian population of the Serbian municipalities of Preshevo and Bujanovac requested to be integrated into the borders of Kosovo. Meanwhile the Kosovo-Albanian war-veteran organizations approached the Kosovar population to stop every kind of cooperation with EULEX. The Kosovo Police announced to intervene in the north from middle of May without asking EULEX – and members of the parliament of Kosovo openly accuse EULEX to closely cooperate with Serbian parallel and intelligence structures. EULEX caused a limbo.
For more opinions from Korrik Sofalia go to KON.
This article was first published on Technorati