Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Kosovo is restless again

Anna Di Lellio, Monday 31 August 2009

The international community's policy of 'supervised independence' is looking ever more untenable

Under the "supervised independence" obtained in February 2008, Kosovo is restless again. The institutional architecture that oversees the Republic of Kosovo – an international civilian representative (ICR), the EU rule-of-law mission (Eulex), and the UN mission (Unmik) – always looked delicate. It is now beginning to crack.

For the first time since March 2004 the deep-seated public disaffection for the international presence in Kosovo is coming to the surface. Five years ago violent riots redirected the escalating Albanian frustration with the UN protectorate against the Serb minority. Then as now, officials misread early signs of tension.

Last week the Vetevendosje (Self-determination) movement damaged several Eulex cars. The spark for this action was a "protocol on police co-operation" signed by Serbia and Eulex. Eulex badly needed the agreement. It was supposed to establish the rule of law and public order. Instead it has faced local Serbs' violent obstruction in the northern region of Kosovo, and has done neither. Kosovo government officials did not appreciate what they believe is a breach of sovereignty. It did not help that the Serbian minister for Kosovo, Goran Bogdanovic, said in an interview that the protocol is evidence that Kosovo is Serbia.

It is very worrisome that a movement such as Self-determination, not so long ago committed to peaceful tactics of protest, has now embraced violence. More worrisome is that most Albanians who wholeheartedly condemned Self-determination's actions share the same deep contempt for the international presence in Kosovo. They see it as arbitrary and undemocratic. They have a point.

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