Consolidating independence and peace in Kosovo
Author: Martin Wählisch
Originally Published at Peace and Conflict Monitor on: 02/10/2010
Towards judicial reforms, regional security
and European integration
“Uncle, it is done – Bac u kry!” Two years
after the separation of Kosovo from Serbia in February 17, 2008, this slogan in
honor of UÇK commander Adem Jashari appears back in people’s memories. Europe’s
youngest country celebrates its second anniversary of independence, having a
history of war behind it and further challenges ahead.
Secured by 10,000 NATO-KFOR soldiers and
assisted by about 2,000 police officers, judges and prosecutors from the Rule
of Law mission EULEX, Kosovo enters its future with a perspective towards the
European Union and the hardship of expediting economic developments.
With regard to international diplomacy,
Kosovo is in a limbo. So far 65 countries, among them major Western powers,
have recognized the unilateral secession. The rest of the world, including
Russia, China and India, considers the region to be part of Serbia. Belgrade
claims that the line in the North of Kosovo dividing both territories is not a
border, but just a boundary. Most recently, the International Court of Justice
at The Hague was tasked to give its opinion about the alleged violation of
Towards becoming a free country
Kosovo’s internal peace is still fragile, but
stabilizing. Recent announcements by Prime Minister Hashim Thaci about changes
in the cabinet sparked discussions over the matter whether the current coalition
government will survive. Though, both leading parties renewed their commitment
to continuing their efforts. After the local elections in last autumn, complaints
about widespread irregularities aroused. Nonetheless, it had been the first
free municipal ballots ever after the independence.
Indeed, there are issues of internal reform
which need to be tackled as the improvement of the judicial system. The
difficulty is not a lack of well composed laws – due to international
consultancy the majority of them are on the most modern standard worldwide. Courts
regularly suffer from a deficit of staff. Many posts for judges and prosecutors
have not been filled yet because of the ongoing vetting process. Additionally,
positions in public service are less well paid than in business companies or
abroad, which makes it not attractive for the large diaspora to come back and
rebuilt the country.
So far, most international organizations have
been reducing their presence. Nevertheless, the situation remains complex: KFOR,
the UN, OSCE and EULEX have to be status neutral, but somehow need to deal with
the official Kosovo government. The UN Security Council’s Resolution 1244,
which placed Kosovo under the administration of UNMIK, is valid until the
permanent members of the Council reach a collective understanding about
Kosovo’s territorial integrity.
The most powerful man in Kosovo is the US
Ambassador, some people say. Key for the country’s development will be that the
people of Kosovo truly put themselves into the driver’s seat without too great
interference from the outside.
Journey and challenges ahead
Seven yellow letters decorate the place right
below Jashari’s picture at the Palace of Youth & Sports in Pristina: „New
Born“. However, the question about ‘What makes a country a country?’ is still
present in practical problems: So far, Kosovo has to use the area code of Monaco
and Slovenia for its mobile communication network, as the International
Telecommunications Union could not find consensus to designate digits for
Kosovo. If you type in Pristina while booking a flight, most likely Serbia will
appear as your destination. Lately, activists started a campaign on Facebook to
get Kosovo accepted in the list of countries. Miss Kosovo was elected as the
world’s third most beautiful woman, but the UEFA cup refuses a participation of
Kosovo until it is accepted as a member of the United Nations.
The current currency in Kosovo is the Euro,
which indicates where the journey might go to. The country does not mint coins
of its own yet, but pushes hard towards the European Union. The call for visa
liberalization is an issue constantly brought forward by the Kosovo government.
The European Union is divided having Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Slovakia and
Romania not acknowledging Kosovo as a state. The same time, Serbia formally
applied in December 2009 to join the EU, but is finding its path also blocked
by the Kosovo question.
The first week of February, the Kosovo
government announced plans for a major highway running from the south through
the whole country to a crossing point with Serbia. Much has to be done to pave
the way for this path. With highest hopes, this new road could become a sign
for internal reconciliation, regional integration and local consolidation of
peace in the Balkans.
Bio: Martin Wählisch, currently based in Pristina, is Senior Researcher at the Center for Peace Mediation at the European University Viadrina, Humboldt-Viadrina School of Governance.