Examination of Witness (Questions 280-299)|
13 JANUARY 2005
Q280 Chairman: Is that approach such
that there might be a danger of Russia obstructing mid-year discussions
on the future?
HE Eide: I do not dare to speculate
on that. We will have to see how positions evolve in light of
the progress that we can manage to make in Kosovo. I do not dare
to speculate on what the future Russian position may be in that
Q281 Chairman: And Washington?
HE Eide: In Washington I feel
that there has been general support for the recommendations that
I made. There has been, I must say, a strong underlining of the
fact that what I called a prioritised standards process must not
lead to us putting less emphasis on the standards, not scrapping
the standards policy; that was certainly never my intention.
Q282 Chairman: I want to clarify one
or two matters before I call Sir John. In your recommendations
you rule out partition, you rule out any continuing relationship
with Serbia, and that would mean, for example, rejecting the proposals
by the Serbian Government for a decentralised local government
structure bringing together the Serb communities within Kosovo?
HE Eide: If the Serb plan means
bringing together all these areas in one contiguous region then
I would certainly do that.
Q283 Chairman: Not contiguous but having
groups which are responsible for key elements and, I suspect,
therefore looking towards Belgrade.
HE Eide: I think the process that
is now under way, which means to identify certain pilot projects,
like municipalities where the Serbs have more control over their
own fate and their own situation, is the right way to go. There
are many good things to say about the Serb plans, the concerns
we share, and certain aspects of it also I do not find difficult
to accept. However, I do believe that the process that is under
way now with regard to identifying pilot projects such as Gracanica
and others is the right way to go.
Chairman: In response to Mr Chidgey you
referred to government in Pristina or from Pristina but not by
Mr Chidgey: It was from but not in.
Q284 Chairman: The formula was what?
HE Eide: I said that it should
be governed from Pristina with EU in the leading international
role, which does not say, of course, how important should that
role be. Where is the emphasis? Obviously, as we discussed, there
will be a transition period where after a while "from"
will become "by".
Q285 Chairman: In that transition period,
rather like the bucket and the well principle, the UN role would
decrease and the EU role would increase?
HE Eide: I would find that a sound
way of proceeding, yes.
Q286 Chairman: But not excluding other
organisations like, for example, the OSCE?
HE Eide: Chairman, I think the
OSCE would have a very useful role to play in Kosovo for a number
of years also after the end of the future status process. Here
I come back to what I said about the European Union. I do believe,
unfortunately, that the whole process, for instance, of capacity
building, where the OSCE plays an important role, the Council
of Europe and others, is an area where the international community
has not come far enough in developing what I would say is a robust,
lasting policy. We see so many weekend courses, seminars, conferences,
where representatives of Ministries and politicians and bureaucrats
are invited to attend in a number of countries. I believe that
we need more of what, for instance, we see in the Kosovo Police
School, which is an institution that has been established by the
OSCE outside Pristina, which has carried out a constant series
of training courses for the police and has built up a very good
police service. That police service is an example of what we should
do in other areas. It is difficult but it is doing good and it
Q287 Chairman: Is it your view that the
European Union is prepared to accept this enhanced role, particularly
in the field of capacity building? How has Brussels responded
to your package of recommendations?
HE Eide: Chairman, the meeting
rooms that I normally attend in Brussels are in another organisation,
as you know. What happens in the corridors of the EU is hard for
me to judge but I would be very pleased if I could see evidence
on the ground of a firmer long-term strategy. I do not see that
Q288 Chairman: You do not see that?
HE Eide: I do not see that today.
I think there is a significant amount of hesitation and perhaps
also confusion about how to move forward with regard to Kosovo.
It is not easy because it is not a sovereign state. It is something
else, something still undefined, where it is very difficult to
engage with the mechanisms that have been established for sovereign
Q289 Sir John Stanley: March last year
demonstrated that the security situation in Kosovo is much more
fragile and potentially more explosive than I think a lot of people
thought. I think it spells possibly a growing degree of complacency
about the security of the position in Kosovo. I would just like
to go through the three main security components with you. Could
we start with KFor? Could you tell us what you think should take
place within KFor by way of improvements dealing with the security
position in Kosovo?
HE Eide: Sir John, since this
is an area that I know better than most other areas. I think we
have gone through a comprehensive process of identifying where
the shortfalls were. They had to do with national caveats put
on national contingents. I have been positively surprised to see
how much of that has been removed and the fact that today I think
we are better equipped to handle that kind of situation than we
were before, not only with regard to national caveats but also
in the way we operate on the ground with mobile observation teams
patrolling constantly, trying to get closer in touch with the
community, which is what you really need. It is not only a question
of technical intelligence; it is also a question of contact with
the communities. I think that has improved significantly. I think
also the relationship between KForKPSand
improved significantly since that happened. Finally, we have postponed
a previously planned restructuring of KFor because there is a
general understanding, which was also confirmed at the Ministerial
meeting which took place in December, that we cannot at this stage
restructure or reduce our presence on the ground and cannot do
that for some time
Q290 Sir John Stanley: Thank you. That
is very encouraging. The national caveat issue is one that we
very much pursued when we were in Kosovo and our colleague, Ms
Gisela Stuart, was particularly following that whilst we were
there. Can I now turn to the police, starting with the UNMIK civilian
police? Can you tell us what improvements you would like to see
as far as they are concerned when they are dealing with their
HE Eide: The UNMIK police consists
of more than 40 nations. Having been myself head of the UN operation
in Bosnia in 1997 and the beginning of 1998, which was basically
a police operation with 2,000 police officers from more than 30
states, I can assure you that that is not an easy operation to
lead. The differences in culture, in the way of performing on
the ground, are significant. That also makes it very difficult
to train and supervise and monitor and teach the local police
on the ground in a uniform way how to proceed. I am not, I must
say, aware of specific steps within UNMIK with regard to the improvement
of their performance but they have, of course, also established
much tighter links with KFor and with KPS in order to react more
quickly and more efficiently to situations of that kind should
they occur again. The next question you ask probably relates to
Q291 Sir John Stanley: I was going to
do that, yes, so please continue. What about KPS and improvements
HE Eide: There I must say I believe
improvements have taken place and are constantly taking place.
There were, as I have indicated in my report, plans worked out
by the Director of the Kosovo Police Service School to establish
riot control units in the KPS quite some time ago. The offers
were there for training, the offers were there for equipment but,
for reasons of priority probably, little had been done in order
to bring that forward. What is happening today is that we are
moving forward on that and three special police units have been
established with the specific purpose of being able to handle
riot control situations. That is ultimately where we have to go
and where KFor should push the KPS to go. It cannot be a KFor
role forever to do riot control and policing operations, nor can
it be the task of an international police force consisting of
more than 40 different nations. It has to be the responsibility
of the Kosovo Police Service. We have made progress in that area
over the last few months.
Q292 Sir John Stanley: How successful
do you feel the efforts have been to try and ensure the KPS is
multi-ethnic force with some degree of Serbian representation?
HE Eide: I cannot recall precisely
how big they are, I think it is around 15%, but please take that
with a pinch of salt. Should it be more? Yes, it should be more.
What is important is that they engage. I believe it is developing
as a rather efficient multi-ethnic police force. I think the situation
has changed rather a lot since I was there as Chairman of the
OSCE Council in 1999-2000. At the final ceremony of one of the
police school classes there was booing from parents and friends
of Kosovo Albanian policemen every time a Serb policeman's name
was listed by the director of the school. I think we have moved
beyond that. I would like to applaud the efforts that have been
made by Steve Bennett, the director of the school who came in
and built this up. He really took charge of the whole thing. He
was a man who said, "I'm going to stay the course. I'm going
to be here until I can say that this is a police force that can
handle the situation." That is the kind of attitude and approach
we need in other areas.
Chairman: Mr Mackinlay is a member of
the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and so I suspect that will be
music to his ears.
Q293 Andrew Mackinlay: I am concerned
about the impact of the United Kingdom and other Western European
governments forcibly repatriating many refugees back to Kosovo.
We have had some evidence to suggest that the remittances of people
who are in the West are important to the families in Kosovo. I
think we were told in broad-brush terms that there is something
like 80% male unemployment, although it is difficult to gauge
precisely what unemployment there is in Kosovo. What do you think
about that? Do you think that the Western European countries,
including my own, should perhaps have a more accommodating position
on allowing people to live here and have legitimate employment?
HE Eide: Mr Mackinlay, this is
a debate that takes place in a number of Western European countries,
including my own. I am not quite sure if it falls within my remit
to pronounce on issues that I believe in my country and other
countries are issues of internal political controversy.
Q294 Andrew Mackinlay: I understand.
In four years' time it is highly probable that there will be a
"velvet divorce" between Serbia and Montenegro. What
impact will that have on the political situation vis-a"-vis
the way forward on Kosovo bearing in mind it is an integral part
of Serbia? I do not think many of us here consider it will ever
be in the same political unit outside of the European Union with
Serbia, but that is the position. Does a "velvet divorce"
with Montenegro aggravate the situation, is it neutral or does
HE Eide: This whole question of
Serbia and Montenegro adds to the political burden in the political
landscape in Belgrade and complicates the situation further there.
That is also why I have said it is so important that we spend
more time having a constant political dialogue with Belgrade and
being in touch with their leaders. They do have a significant
number of challenges ahead of them. I believe it is important
in this situation that the dialogue we have with Belgrade is solid
and constant. I believe that there has been a tendency to pay
insufficient attention to that dialogue and I think that is wrong.
It is not helpful on Kosovo issues or other issues that may occur
over the next few years. I would strongly appeal to all to try
to see to it that the trust and confidence that is required to
move into difficult processes vis-a"-vis Belgrade are there
and that Belgrade also feels that the incentives that may be available
to others are also available to Belgrade. There is the difficult
question of the Hague tribunal. The Hague Tribunal is there and
it is there with regard to NATO, it is there with regard to the
EU, but I believe that even within the framework of that conditionality
there is much we can do in order to bring Belgrade into more of
a dialogue with us.
Q295 Andrew Mackinlay: When we met your
deputy in the region I can remember raising with him and his colleagues
an incident where the Serb Orthodox Church had declined European
Union monies to restore buildings which had been damaged because
they were laying down who the re-builders should be and saying
that it should not be Kosovo Albanians and that was a cause of
considerable concern to us. Has that attitude changed or is it
one which is endemic in these areas where there are Serb communities
within Kosovo? Are they shunning help to restore that which has
been destroyed or laying down conditions which would be unacceptable?
HE Eide: I believe that is still
the situation, although I am not following this day to day, that
we are not moving ahead with regard to the reconstruction of
churches, monasteries and other religious monuments that were
damaged during the March violence. I think that is a great pity
because these are also buildings that represent the identity of
the people who we want to live there.
Q296 Andrew Mackinlay: Has it been their
choice not to proceed? One has to ask whose fault it is. I would
not want that to be said in evidence against Kosovo Albanians
if it is the case of there being international money available
but the conditions being unacceptable to the international community.
HE Eide: It seems the money is
available but the Serb Orthodox Church has stalled the reconstruction.
I think it is always very difficult to make judgments on this
because when you are on the ground you find out that there are
layers after layers of reasons and arguments. I do not want to
make simplistic judgments but I do think it is a great pity that
we have not been able to move forward. We have been able to move
forward on the reconstruction of houses to a significant extent,
I may say.
Q297 Chairman: Is that for the same reasons,
HE Eide: We have made progress.
Chairman: You have made progress.
Q298 Andrew Mackinlay: One final question.
Last week there was a cause of anxiety because there was an incident
which had all the chemistry, it would seem, for the same kind
of situation which triggered the March riots. From what you have
said, but I wanted to confirm this, although there was that incident
last week that caused some concern that has been successfully
contained, as it were? Would that be correct?
HE Eide: There was a very tragic
situation when a young boy was shot dead and, as you said, it
was contained. I think there is greater awareness today in Kosovo
and in the region that one should do what can be done in order
to avoid new turbulence occurring. I think there is also on the
Kosovo Albanian side a certain nervousness with regard to what
the consequences of new turbulence could be. We have to keep the
pressure on, I must say, in order to see to it that they stay
on the right course and that they try to do whatever they can
do to prevent new violence from occurring and also do what they
can do in order to make progress on the reconstruction, return,
etcetera. I raise that because I am not quite convinced that it
is the case today. I think within the Kosovo Albanian leadership
also there are different views. I do not think that everybody
is equally convinced that we have to move forward, for instance,
on the decentralisation and the development of local government
which gives the Serbs what they need to have in order to have
a sustained presence in Kosovo. I am not sure that even among
the leading politicians that that is a view deeply held and we
can only see to it that this happens if we keep the pressure on.
What worries me as the months go by is that pressure will slowly
disappear and we will return to the situation that we were in
earlier where the push for progress disappeared.
Andrew Mackinlay: I apologise I was a
little bit late but have we asked or are we going to ask about
the Prime Minister of Kosovo?
Chairman: No, by all means raise that.
Q299 Andrew Mackinlay: The new Prime
Minister of Kosovo is seen by Belgrade as a war criminal. There
is talk about an indictment. Do you have an indication as to the
timetable of when that uncertainty will be resolved or indeed
what the impact would be on the body politic of Kosovo? We cannot
wish this away. There is this thing hanging over us and we are
not going to see you again for a little while, I guess, so I wonder,
to the extent you are able, if you would just take us around that
particular issue which is a cause for some concern. I realise
I am asking you to crystal-ball gaze to an extent.
HE Eide: First of all, I think
it is very unfortunate that we are in a situation where week after
week month after month we are talking about whether this person
will be indicted or not. It is a rather unusual situation and
an unfortunate situation. Of course it prolongs an atmosphere
of political uncertainty in a situation where we need something
completely different. It has created a situation where there is
more political confusion in Pristina than we need and there is
more political confusion in Belgrade than we need for the moment,
and that complicates the whole process of moving things forward.
I will not be able to look into the crystal ball and say when
this matter will be brought out of the way but we all hope that
period will be as short as possible before clarity is established.
May I also say that I do believe that in the situation we are
in now, clearly the best situation would be to see to it that
there is political unanimity among the Kosovo Albanian leaders
as they move closer to a process of status definition. How that
can be done will be up to the special representative on the ground,
but I think that we have to keep that in mind, that the more clarity
and the more unanimity we can have among the leaders in Kosovo
and the Kosovo Albanian leaders today, the better it will certainly
be for the status process that will lie ahead of us.
1 Kosovo Peacekeeping Force. Back
Kosovo Police Service. Back
United Nations Mission in Kosovo. Back