Examination of Witness (Questions 263-279)|
13 JANUARY 2005
Q263 Chairman: Ambassador Eide, may I
welcome you most warmly to the Committee and thank you for coming
specially to us at our invitation. You are a distinguished Norwegian
diplomat. You currently are your country's Ambassador to NATO.
Your career has focused mainly on international organisations.
After the riots in Kosovo last year you were appointed by the
Secretary-General to look specifically into the future of Kosovo.
You produced your report in July. The Secretary-General has said
in terms that he accepts the key recommendations which you made,
and I think it is fair to say that other governments too have
warmly commended the work you did at that time. Just to prepare
the ground before other colleagues come in, can I ask have you
been able to keep in touch with developments in Kosovo since your
intensive period in the summer of last year?
HE Eide: Mr Chairman, first of
all, thank you very much for inviting me to come and have this
meeting with you. I am very honoured to be here. Of course, I
do have another job. As you said, I am now Norway's Permanent
Representative to NATO, so I had to return to that after my few
weeks in June-July May on this particular assignment. As you will
understand, the last few months have been taken up by Afghanistan,
Iraq and other issues related to NATO. I am somebody who has been
for many years interested in the Balkans and have tried to follow
developments as much as possible. I have also tried to keep track
of what is going on in Kosovo, but, of course, not at the same
intense level as during those weeks.
Q264 Chairman: You clearly have kept
in touch with developments. You made a series of recommendations
last July. I notice, for example, that one of the points you made
was, "The Serbs understand that they cannot and should not
remain outside the political process". Alas, following that
the Serb community in Kosovo boycotted the election. Has that
development or any other caused you to amend any of the conclusions
you reached in the recommendations you made?
HE Eide: Let me put it this way.
I do think that many Kosovo Serb leaders also were deeply disappointed
that there was not a unanimous recommendation from Belgrade in
favour of participating in the elections. Why have they not re-entered
the political structures and the political process? I think it
is very hard for the Kosovo Serbs to do that without feeling that
they have Belgrade behind them. I feel that they hesitate when
it comes to doing that without feeling that there is that backing
present. At the same time I do think that they also look at the
situation with regard to what is happening in the key areas that
affect them, such as reconstruction, decentralisation, etc I think
it is regrettable that they have not chosen to re-enter the political
process and we try to say to them all the time, and I was able
to say that to the leaders in Belgrade only a few weeks ago, that
there is no other way than for them to re-engage; the process
as such in Kosovo is not going to stop because they stay out of
the process and therefore the only way of protecting the interests
of the Kosovo Serbs and their own interests in the processes that
will follow is to re-engage.
Q265 Chairman: That said, you made a
number of recommendations both in terms of managing the interim
and also the longer-term future. Do you still hold, as you did
last July, to those same recommendations or do you wish to refine
any of them?
HE Eide: I hold to those recommendations.
I believe that what I tried to do was to develop what I saw as
a comprehensive strategy leading from what are the immediate steps
that need to be taken and a strategy that would include the question
of the future status. That kind of strategy is still required
and I do also believe that the Special Representative on the ground
of the United Nations, Soren Jessen-Petersen, is really basing
himself and his work on that kind of strategy.
Q266 Sir John Stanley: Ambassador, would
you agree as far as final status is concerned that ultimately
there can only be one of two options: either Kosovo is going to
have to remain under some form of ultimate international government
or it will have to be an independent nation state? Do you agree
that in the long term there is an inescapable choice between those
HE Eide: I believe that is fair
to say. I have said also in the report that it is unthinkable
that Belgrade will in the future have authority over Kosovo and
that Kosovo will be governed, I did not say by Pristina but from
Pristina, with the EU in the lead international role, and I believe
that to be the case.
Q267 Sir John Stanley: Do you agree or
not that the likelihood of the international community, whether
through the EU or the UN, wanting on a permanent basis to have
responsibility for Kosovo is really almost inconceivable? They
will not want to have that as a permanent responsibility. Do you
agree that is correct?
HE Eide: I agree absolutely.
Q268 Sir John Stanley: Therefore, that
being the case, it would indicate that the only viable long-term
answer to the status problem must be that Kosovo sooner or later,
in whatever timescale, does emerge as an independent nation state?
HE Eide: I cannot see any other
option in the long run, the long run not being that long.
Q269 Sir John Stanley: You just anticipated
my next question. Could you give us your view, if that is what
all the logic points to and you have confirmed it, that is that
the ultimate final status will be Kosovo as an independent nation
state, as to the timescale in which this needs to be achieved,
bearing in mind the very crucial point you made in your report
that "seen from internal Kosovo perspective, the longer we
wait the more would the frustration in the Kosovo majority population
HE Eide: I still believe that
to be true, of course, that the frustration will increase. There
will, of course, be a mid-year review next year with regard to
standards and how to proceed from there. I really do hope that
there will be an outcome from that which will be sufficient for
us to say, "Yes, we have now to initiate a process of identifying
the status", not saying, "Now we start the status negotiations",
but the process of identifying the status. How long that process
will be and what shape it will take will, of course, be a matter
which the international community will have to look at when we
Q270 Sir John Stanley: Given the rising
tide of frustration (and that was brought home to us when we as
a committee visited Kosovo) and potential for instability that
that could create, do you think that for the whole process to
achieve an independent nation statehood for Kosovo five years
is a reasonable timescale? Do you think 10 years? What would be
your own personal view with your background of having explored
it with your report?
HE Eide: Sir John, I think we
are here talking about two or three issues. There is the process
of identifying status and then the implementation. I think the
process of discussing and negotiating the final status will have
to be rather shorter, which could pass through several phases,
which would then I believe culminate in some kind of conference
like the one we had in Dayton or Rambouillet. Before that there
will of course have to be a process of preparing for such a conference.
When that has been done I believe that there will have to be a
transition period where Kosovo is not given full powers as a nation
state from the very outset but that the international community
will have to decide about the duration of a transition period.
During that transition period, of course, certain powers would
have to be vested in the international community. I believe that
if you say five years that would not be an unreasonable timetable.
Q271 Chairman: The five years mentioned
by Sir John?
HE Eide: Yes. I think that would
not be unreasonable. Much longer than that would be difficult.
What does that mean? I think the international community would
have to prepare itself to stay and be present in Kosovo for a
period much beyond that, but now I am talking about the intermediate
period before the date when the final powers, so to speak, are
transferred to Kosovo authorities.
Q272 Mr Chidgey: Ambassador, if I can
carry on to a degree with that theme and particularly concentrate
on standards before status, which you highlight in your report,
I want to draw attention to your contention that the current process
has proved ineffective. If I may quote from your report, you say
that there is a growing recognition that the standards before
status approach is untenable in its present form and must be replaced
by a broader policy where standards implementation takes Kosovo
in an orderly way from the present through future status discussions
and into a wider regional and European integration process. I
have two particular questions and then a general one. In your
report you argue for a broader standards policy. Is there a risk
that this policy shift could leave the minorities unprotected
and result in Kosovo's independence before the achievement of
HE Eide: Here is the original
standards implementation, 119 pages. When looking through this
there is a great number of details and small points that will
have to be implemented no doubt at one stage, but what I felt
was that this process, which is so crucial, was developing into
a bureaucratic process and not a political process, and that therefore
we had to say to ourselves, "What are the priorities at this
stage in order to move Kosovo forward?". I therefore argued
for a prioritised standards process before and after status, which
means certain standards have to be fulfilled before final status
can be given and then we will have to continue with the standards
implementation until Kosovo then is integrated into a wider European
Q273 Mr Chidgey: That begs the question,
Ambassador, which standards will be the priorities?
HE Eide: From my point of view
it was obvious that following the events of March those standards
relating to the safety and security of the minorities were the
key standards. We have to try and concentrate (and there are some
elements of that in all standards) on those aspects that relate
to that and that the Kosovo Albanians must understand that without
this, and this is what I saw as the immediate challenge, it will
be very hard to proceed.
Q274 Mr Chidgey: Thank you, Ambassador.
That is very helpful. My general question relates to the experiences
that I certainly discovered on our return to the Western Balkans
recently. It seemed there was a general concept, and I would call
it a sort of collective clutching at straws, in the attitudes
of many of the people that we met in the sense that they seemed
to have a concept in their minds that membership of the EU would
solve all these problemsthe economy, the security issues,
the development, the identity if you like, of Kosovo within the
international scene, but at the same time there was no recognition
of the requirement to satisfy the Copenhagen criteria which we
apply to every applicant's status sometimes more effectively than
others, you might argue. There seemed to be a complete lack of
any recognition of the rigour of that process going from an aspiration
to being accepted as a potential applicant to going through the
acquis, to becoming a member. I have to say that this is
like trying to wave a magic wand or whatever. There was no reality
in their political appreciation. What is your perspective on this?
HE Eide: I agree completely with
you. I think there is, not only there but across the Balkans,
an impression that EU membership and NATO membership will solve
things for them and if we can only get there that is it. There
is less enthusiasm for the nitty-gritty and the work that has
to be done in order to move forward. It does not surprise me.
I do not think they have been exposed to the requirements; they
do not understand what the requirements are, and therefore I believe
also that much more of a dialogue between the European Union and
Kosovo and Belgrade and others is also required in order to create
a better understanding of what the process really is and the fact
that this is not going to solve everything, that they have to
take their share of the job. Also, I must say, much of the solution
lies in the regional integration and regional co-operation. Much
of the economic progress that they need has to be fostered from
within the region, not only from links to the wider Europe.
Q275 Mr Chidgey: How do you feel that
we in the EU can initiate the beginning of that understanding
of acceptance of responsibility?
HE Eide: I am of the view that
unfortunately several international organisations have not played
their role to the full yet both with regard to Kosovo and to other
parts of the Western Balkans. I do think in particular with regard
to Kosovo that the approach of the EU, and the OSCE for that matter,
has been a little bit sporadic, that there is a lack of what I
would see as a clear strategy, perhaps also a hesitation with
regard to moving more vigorously into the job, which I can understand.
Of course, also, the mechanisms that we have in place within the
EU, which you know much better than I, for obvious reasons, not
coming from an EU Member State, are such that they are naturally
developed with regard to sovereign states and not an area like
Kosovo without any status. I do believe that some more imagination
needs to be produced and that a more robust and constant EU engagement
is required to bring Kosovo forward. With that I am thinking of
concrete projects but I am also thinking of assistance with regard
to capacity building, putting in advisers where that is possible,
engaging more and also seeing to it that the population in Kosovo
can see that there are prospects, that there is hope. Because
when you see today a population where 55% are under 30 years old
and 60% are unemployed then you are facing serious trouble. The
longer we wait with regard to doing something more vigorous the
greater the burden will be along the road that we will all have
to carry. I would appeal strongly for a more robust, less ad-hocish
and less sporadic engagement from some of these international
organisations and I think the EU obviously is the big magnet in
this respect, but not exclusively the EU.
Q276 Mr Chidgey: You feel that the politicians
and the administrators in Kosovo would be prepared to accept that
more rigorous intervention by foreign organisations?
HE Eide: I think they would understand
that they have to accept it. They have to accept that with greater
engagement comes more responsibility and that if there is to be
a bigger carrot there also has to be an acceptance that they have
to be helped along the road. We have to get away from this client
atmosphere that we so often have found to a state where politicians
understand that they really have to shape up and take the responsibility.
Unfortunately, the March events and the first few couple of months
after that showed that they were not able or willing to do that,
and that is very sad.
Q277 Mr Illsley: Ambassador, on the question
of final status in response to Sir John Stanley you said that
eventually the idea of some form of independence for Kosovo would
probably be inevitable in the longer term. Given that last year
the Serbian minorities within Kosovo boycotted absolutely the
elections and assuming that they would look upon a final status
of Kosovan independence as something that they would not wish
to see and perhaps not like to live under, is there a danger that
by accelerating the process towards a final status we could see
an exodus of the Serbian minorities heading back towards Belgrade,
back into Serbia or out of Kosovo altogether?
HE Eide: There is a risk of that
occurring but do you not also believe that if we do the opposite,
if we wait and wait and wait, the frustration that exists and
that will grow could push the Serbs in exactly the same direction?
That is why when I made my recommendations I said that while raising
the question of the status has so far been seen as too dangerous,
I think it is now too dangerous to leave aside. However, it has
to combine with what are the priority standards, and that is seeing
to it that we do everything we can in order to enhance security
for the minorities and carry out a sensible process of establishing
local and central government, seeing to it that return and reconstruction
take place. I think we are moving along that road but without
that work taking place now then of course a discussion of future
status will entail more risk. We are faced with two situations
which may both potentially lead to the same result.
Q278 Mr Illsley: We are damned if we
do and damned if we do not?
HE Eide: Exactly. There is no
good moment for raising the status issue.
Q279 Chairman: Can you help on this?
The Secretary-General welcomed your recommendations. How have
the Russians responded, particularly because of their link with
HE Eide: Chairman, there has been
more of a reluctance perhaps on the Russian side with regard to
accepting moving into the process of the future status of Kosovo
than there has been among the others. There has been more insistence
that all standards have to be fully implemented before we can
go into that. There has been a different approach taken by the
Russians than by the other members of the Security Council.