229. The next stage in political development
is for there to be elections in Kosovo. But there are difficult
issues to confront beforehand. These include how all those entitled
to vote can be registered, how Kosovo can be encouraged to develop
"normal" political parties, and what competencies the
elected bodies should have.
230. It was clear from our discussions with Kosovo
Albanian political leaders that the political groupings in Kosovo
are based around personal and family allegiances and not ideology.
The OSCE has been active in trying to build up the parties and
is encouraging expectations of normal political life in the electorate.
Initiatives such as the Citizen's Forum, the Political Party Service
Centre and the formulation of regulations for political party
registration and operation are described in the UN Secretary General's
Dr Jones Parry told us that the Kosovan political parties were
"something of a disappointment, but they need to be encouraged".
Certainly it is important to develop loyalties beyond the family,
village and clan.
231. Dr Jones Parry drew attention to the work
of the Westminster Foundation, which we also endorse.
The Westminster Foundation for Democracy has proved to be an effective
means of supporting in a practical way the development of pluralist
democratic institutions overseas. It told us that it had been
able to move swiftly to address the issues arising from the Kosovo
conflict, and had begun to implement two projects in Kosovoone
to support political parties, and the other to support young people's
political and civil initiatives.
Other ideas are being considered, and we understand that the Foundation
has applied for extra-budgetary financing from the FCO. One area
of particular importance is the involvement of women in political
life. Women's representation in Kosovan political life has traditionally
been weak. Emphasis has been placed by Dr Kouchner on this. This
is brought out in the March report of the UN Secretary General
which refers to "efforts ... to place women in positions
of leadership with JIAS both at central and municipal levels".
We did, however, hear of some disappointment by women's organisations
in Kosovo that UNMIK appeared to be concentrating on increasing
women's participation in NGOs as a substitute for participation
in the political process. There are many other areas where the
work of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy could bring enormous
benefit at little cost. We recommend that the FCO consider
special funding to support the work of the Westminster Foundation
for Democracy to promote the full involvement of all the people
of Kosovo in its political life.
232. Registration has been taking place in Kosovo
since March 2000. Those who are classed as "habitual residents"
are eligible to be registered, with an habitual resident defined
as a person who fulfils one of these criteria: (a) having been
born in Kosovo (b) having at least one parent born in Kosovo,
or (c) having resided for at least five successive years in Kosovo.
The term "habitual resident", of course, avoids any
presumption about citizenship. The right to vote will be restricted
to habitual residents who are able to prove residence on 1st January
1998. Any person entitled to vote who is presently resident outside
Kosovo will be able to vote by post, and the UN has requested
the help of the Serb and Montenegrin authorities in registering
Kosovo Serb voters who are at present displaced to Serbia and
Montenegro. The March Report of the UN Secretary General suggested
that conditions had been attached to cooperation by Serbia.
We were also told by Father Sava at Gracanica that extremist Serbs
were calling for a Serb boycott of the elections, in order to
undermine them. They argue that participation in the elections
would legitimise Serbia's loss of Kosovo. We are well aware that
there will be profound difficulties in ensuring the Serb participation
in the elections which will give them full legitimacy. Nevertheless,
if only the Kosovo Albanians take part, it will be useful to have
an indication of the levels of support for the various Kosovo
Albanian political parties.
233. UNMIK believes that municipal elections
can be conducted approximately three months after voter registration
is complete, though, as the UN Secretary General stresses, "the
primary precondition for the conduct of registration and elections
is the freedom of voters to participate without harassment or
While we were in Kosovo it was suggested that elections could
take place in September or October 2000. There has been slippage
in this timetable since 1999. When Dr Jones Parry gave evidence
in November 1999, he expressed the hope that elections could be
held "by the end of the spring" and told us that "at
least at the local level we need those elections ... by about
August"though he acknowledged the difficulties involved.
We recommend that the British Government encourage UNMIK to
ensure that the conditions for holding local elections are met
as soon as possible, providing material assistance as necessary.
234. The elections to be held in 2000 will be
local elections. There are disadvantages in hastening elections
at a national level. Dame Pauline Neville-Jones told us that "it
would benefit the extreme ... if we go bashing down the road of
elections too fast."
The Foreign Secretary also emphasised that local elections would
be "quite creative in terms of the politics of Kosovo"
because of the accountability and responsibility it would give
He clearly favoured a gradual approach, and he told us that municipal
elections were "going to be a difficult enough task to organise
and to get under way and to hold on a free and fair basis before
we start thinking about anything wider of a province-wide character."
Although he told us that he did not rule out elections to the
KTC, he was "not sure" that he would "be enthusiastic
in the immediate future for elections to a body which did not
itself have responsibility because that seems to me to run the
risk that you end up with a body that, because it is not responsible
for what is happening in Kosovo, does not itself have to be realistic
in what it demands."
There was, however, some local support for elections to the KTC
to be held simultaneously with the local elections. This should
not be ruled out without serious consideration.
235. All the Kosovo Albanian political leaders
whom we met expected elections for a Kosovo Parliament and President
to be held, though there was a division of opinion about whether
local elections should be held before Kosovo-wide elections (and
Hashim Thaci told us that it was more important to resolve the
situation in Mitrovica than to hold elections). There is some
work to do, however, before the terms under which a constituent
assembly can be elected are agreed. The Rambouillet proposals
included detailed provision for an Assembly with what the Foreign
Secretary described as "remarkably over-generous representation
for the Serb population".
Although Dr Rugova for one told us that he would be prepared to
agree to special protection for national minorities, this is one
of the difficult areas where decisions are yet to be taken. There
is also the very difficult issue of the future status of Kosovo
which a national body would undoubtedly wish to discuss, and which
poses a number of difficult questions for the international community.
We turn to these next. We endorse the Foreign Secretary's view
that there should be no undue haste in calling elections to a