Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Third Report

5 Kosovo

97. The independence of Montenegro could present a precedent for Albanians in Kosovo who demand their independence from Serbia, although Kosovo can as yet only claim de facto independence from Belgrade; the international community has governed Kosovo since the end of the 1999 war with Yugoslavia. The FCO said in its submission to the inquiry: "In June 1999, UN Security Council Resolution 1244 (UNSCR 1244) placed Kosovo under interim UN administration, provided by the UN interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK), pending a process to determine its future status. UNMIK's role since then has been to establish a secure environment with the assistance of the NATO Kosovo Force (KFOR) and build self-governing institutions to ensure conditions for a peaceful and normal life for all inhabitants of Kosovo."[126] The question of Kosovo's final status, however, will come under discussion in mid 2005, and Kai Eide, who wrote a report on the question for the UN Secretary General, told us that he could not see any outcome of the final status negotiations other than Kosovo's independence.[127]

The March riots

98. Kosovo's profound economic difficulties and bouts of inter-ethnic violence, mainly by Albanians against Serbs, have marred the international administration's record. Serious riots took place on 17-19 March 2004—leaving 19 dead, over 1000 injured and driving 4100 from their homes—in the wake of unsubstantiated accusations that Serbs had chased Albanian children into a river where they drowned. The FCO stated in its submission: "Violent clashes in Mitrovica (North Kosovo) between Kosovo Albanians and Kosovo Serbs triggered inter-ethnic violence elsewhere in Kosovo…Violence was also directed at UNMIK and, for the first time, KFOR. Our assessment is that the violence was not part of a wide pre-meditated strategy to target minorities or the international presence. Rather, extremists exploited an opportunity to mobilise people in demonstrations over the death of the children to co-ordinate further attacks across Kosovo."[128]

99. In consequence, international policy towards Kosovo has come under discussion. The report commissioned by the UN Secretary General and written in July 2004 by Kai Eide commented on the damage caused by the riots: "If there is insufficient progress, it will be very hard—if not impossible—to repair the damage caused by the March violence…The international community is today seen by Kosovo Albanians as having gone from opening the way to now standing in the way…It is seen by Kosovo Serbs as having gone from securing the return of so many to being unable to ensure the return of so few."[129] Kai Eide's report set out a programme of action to counteract the combined effects of high rates of unemployment, animosity between the ethnic groups, and a growing hostility towards UNMIK, by restructuring the international administration in two stages and reforming the previous system of 'standards before status'.

100. We conclude that continued action to resolve the tensions in Kosovo is essential if the international community is to establish effective state institutions and to reduce the poisonous atmosphere of ethnic hatred in Kosovo.

The structures

Reform of UNMIK

101. UNMIK governs Kosovo through four pillars; they are:

The Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) administers UNMIK. Currently Denmark's Soren Jessen-Petersen, who replaced Harri Holkieri after his resignation for health reasons in May 2004, holds the post. KFOR, a 36,000 strong NATO military force headed by French General Yves de Kerambon, provides security in Kosovo.[131]

102. The March 2004 riots raised serious doubts about UNMIK's administrative effectiveness. Misha Glenny described UNMIK as a government which "frankly has been lamentable in its failure, its economic record is simply unspeakable…It has alienated the population,"[132] while Professor Pettifer wrote that the March riots "highlighted a number of serious failures in the current governance and security structures set up by the international community in 1999."[133] We heard in Pristina that allegations of corruption plague UNMIK.

103. In his report to the UN Secretary General, Kai Eide suggested a restructuring of UNMIK. He wrote:

A restructuring of UNMIK is unavoidable, to re-energize this mission, bring its various components more closely together and concentrate on key priorities in a more organized way. Particular attention should at this stage be given to highlighting community issues, reflecting pressing challenges. However, a complete overhaul would at this stage be counterproductive…An immediate streamlining and realigning of UNMIK—maintaining the pillar structure—should be undertaken first, to be followed by preparations for a major restructuring, which would have to take place next year and be prepared in early 2005. With the future status question approaching, the UN should prepare for a gradual reduction of its presence to be accompanied by a parallel increase in the EU and a continuation of the OSCE presences. The pillar structure would then be eliminated.[134]

The Minister endorsed Kai Eide's recommendations. He told us: "I think the recommendations certainly go in the right direction."[135]

104. The process towards transfers of competences is moving forward, according to Professor Pettifer: "This is happening, this has been happening actively for at least 18 months. After all, part of the UN central headquarters moved out of Pristina well over a year ago and these things are being handed over. You are also getting a much more self-confident society. People do not, as they did in the summer of 1999, spend time thinking too much about what UNMIK tells them. UNMIK is rather like the weather; it is there, sometimes it is good, sometimes it is bad, but it is going on in the sky somewhere above us."[136] The transfer of responsibilities, however, does raise concerns about the capacity of Kosovo's institutions to deliver generally for all its citizens, particularly in the economic sphere given the widespread problem of corruption, and should not take place in a precipitate manner in response to short term security concerns.

105. We conclude that reform of UNMIK is necessary to satisfy growing discontent with its performance, most particularly in the economic arena, and we support Ambassador Kai Eide's suggestion of a two stage reform. However, we recommend that the Government urge UNMIK not to rush a transfer of competences if the indigenous capacity for administration is not in place.

The political arena

106. The Provisional Institutions of Self-Government (PISG) and the SRSG share the responsibility of governing Kosovo. Under the terms of UNSCR 1244 the areas listed under Chapter 8, including foreign policy, security and the protection of minorities, fall to the SRSG, while the areas under Chapter 5, including health, education, environment, and spatial planning, fall to the PISG.[137] The PISG is a governing coalition forged after the elections on 23 October 2004, which left the Democratic League for Kosovo (LDK), with 45% of the available seats in the Kosovo Assembly—short of the necessary majority.[138] The LDK joined with the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK); a coalition government under AAK leader Ramush Haradinaj now holds power.

107. These elections were especially important because of the international community's determination to speed the transfer of responsibilities in Kosovo. Kai Eide argued in his report to the UN Secretary General: "Our demands to the Kosovo leaders and population for taking responsibility for creating a stable and multi-ethnic society will only succeed if they are combined with an increasing degree of ownership of this society." His report states:

A plan should therefore be drawn up on the following outline: powers and competencies that are not inherently attributes of sovereignty could be gradually transferred with guarantees for proper implementation, if they have not already been transferred; regarding powers and competencies that are not attributes of sovereignty, but—under the circumstances—have been placed under the authority of the SRSG, a concept of "shared powers and competencies" could be introduced; and powers and competencies that are clearly attributes of sovereignty, for as long as resolution 1244 (1999) remains the legal framework for Kosovo, should remain within the sole power of the SRSG, but with a meaningful process of consultation, co-operation and co-ordination institutionalised between the SRSG and the PISG.[139]

108. However, two controversial questions cast shadows over the legitimacy of any transfer of power or process of consultation. Firstly, the increasingly hard line taken by elements of the Albanian political elite has resulted in the election of a man under investigation by the ICTY. An indictment of Haradinaj for war crimes by the ICTY raises the serious prospect of civil unrest in western Kosovo, and could contribute to the burgeoning sense of disillusion with the international community and lead towards instability in Southern Serbia and Northern Macedonia. Kai Eide commented on the situation. He told us: "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…Of course it prolongs an atmosphere of political uncertainty in a situation where we need something completely different."[140] The government in Belgrade has made clear it will not deal with Prime Minister Haradinaj, because he is also under investigation by the War Crimes Panel of the District Court in Belgrade. The Serbian government issued a statement saying: "We can ask with full justification what kind of message [Haradinaj's] election is sending to the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija, to the Republic of Serbia and the State Union, the region and the rest of world, and in particular what kind of message is being sent to the international administration in Kosovo and Metohija?"[141]

109. The second problem is that Kosovo's Serb population boycotted the October 2004 elections. Responding to calls by Vojislav Kostunica, Serbia's Prime Minister, not to vote, less than 1% of Kosovo's Serb population took part in the elections—only 82 people out of a population of about 130,000.[142] Dr Whyte told us that the boycott means "that local Serbs have effectively given the mandate to Belgrade to negotiate on their behalf rather than to their own locally-elected officials."[143] He went on: "I would say we have now got a situation where the Kosovo Albanians have supported a very firm and robust line and where the Kosovo Serbs have clearly placed their faith in Belgrade rather than in their local representatives."[144] Kai Eide also told us: "I think it is very hard for the Kosovo Serbs to [re-enter the political structures] without feeling that they have Belgrade behind them…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."[145] In consequence, the political climate is not very conducive to an effective transfer of competences, despite the clear need to pass responsibilities on.

110. We conclude that Kai Eide's proposals to transfer competences to and broaden consultation with the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government are sensible and could reduce local resentment of the international community in general and UNMIK in particular. However, we also conclude that the recent events such as the selection of Ramush Haradinaj as Prime Minister and the Serb boycott of elections for the Kosovo Assembly have further polarised the political climate in Kosovo and could damage efforts to transfer responsibilities in a peaceable manner. We recommend that the Government work to strengthen moderate political forces in Kosovo, perhaps by fostering ties with political and civil society organisations in the United Kingdom and throughout Europe.

111. One means to ensure acceptance of the transfer of powers is to strengthen local government. Kai Eide's report stated: "The violent events of March have demonstrated the urgent need to give the Serb minority greater authority over local administration in areas with a more concentrated Serb population. A political and institutional framework must be established, aimed at guaranteeing their continued presence in Kosovo. This process of decentralization is also closely linked to the return process."[146]

112. Misha Glenny endorsed Kai Eide's proposals and told us that Serbs played a major role in local government. He said: "They serve on the municipalities as deputy mayors…They will come out and vote for these local councils because they feel they have a stake."[147] In this context, projects such as the Gnijlane/Gjilan-Presevo-Kumanovo-Trgoviste (GPKT) project, managed by the East West Institute, which brings local representatives or schoolchildren together across ethnic and political boundaries in particular districts of Southern Serbia, Kosovo and Macedonia, contribute greatly to inter-communal understanding.[148]

113. However, political differences amongst the Albanians still present an obstacle to decentralisation of government. Kai Eide told us: "I think that within the Albanian leadership 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 Serbs what they need to have in order to have a sustained presence in Kosovo. I am not sure 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 of course…is that this pressure will slowly disappear."[149]

114. We conclude that decentralisation of government is an excellent way to increase trust in Kosovo's institutions. We recommend that the Government work to support Kai Eide's proposals, and provide support for schemes improving inter-communal relations at a low level such as the Gnijlane/Gjilan-Presevo-Kumanovo-Trgoviste (GPKT) project. We also recommend that the Government along with its EU partners maintain pressure on the Kosovo leadership to devolve government to the lowest level.


115. The question of decentralised government ties directly to the security of Kosovo's minority Serbs. The riots of 17-19 March 2004 revealed the vulnerability of the Serb community, as well as broader weaknesses in the security situation in Kosovo. According to the International Crisis Group, the riots "opened up giddy new possibilities [for the Albanian population]. The level of hostility to UNMIK so unnerves its staff—particularly with the UN's Baghdad experience in mind—that the possibility of a final push to tip the mission into closing down and evacuating has become imaginable. UNMIK and KFOR are now operating in something akin to hostile territory."[150] However, the atmosphere has improved since March 2004.

Kosovo Force (KFOR)

116. The International Crisis Group report also stated that KFOR nearly lost control of Kosovo in March.[151] The Minister described the problems KFOR faced, telling us that "KFOR troops were not adequately prepared at that time for riot controls. We had examples of some contingents having to open with heavy machine gun fire because they had no experience, no training, and no planning for riot control."[152] However, the international community has made great efforts to improve the security situation in Kosovo since the March riots. Kai Eide's report stated:

KFOR has launched a process of improving its performance, while postponing a planned restructuring of its forces. Most important in that respect is KFOR's efforts aimed at improving the flexibility of its forces and at enhancing its ability to carry out riot control operations. Furthermore, KFOR has resumed protection of religious and cultural sites and established Mobile Observation Teams to maintain closer contacts with the population. Closer liaison between and co-ordination between UNMIK Police and KFOR has been established and intelligence gathering has been improved. KFOR and UNMIK Police, including the Kosovo Police Service (KPS), have also undertaken joint exercises.[153]

117. We heard in Pristina that many of the national caveats—constraints on the operation of forces such as orders that forbade troops to act in a crowd control capacity without permission from the capital of the relevant state—no longer limited the deployment of troops. The Minister told us: "KFOR's modus operandi has changed; the 'caveats'…that a lot of the military contingents there used to have, have now been lifted so KFOR soldiers can operate."[154] Ms Pierce added that KFOR also now has a "dedicated tactical reserve" where previously the commander had to request additional troops in the event of a crisis.[155]

118. Kai Eide also endorsed the security improvements since March. He told us: "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, 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 in closer touch with the community, which is what you really need."[156] He added that plans to reduce KFOR's numbers were on hold. The March riots, therefore, have led to reforms which should enhance KFOR's effectiveness, although the force must still prepare for any eventuality.

119. We conclude that the March riots revealed major deficiencies in the security arena. However, we commend the work of the international community since then to reduce the number of national caveats and the adoption of a system of reserves for KFOR, and we recommend that the Government continue its work to reduce the remaining caveats on troops. We also recommend that the Government encourage its NATO partners to prepare KFOR for any eventuality which may provoke further instability in Kosovo.

The Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC)

120. Another security question is the role of the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC). The KPC is a civil emergency force of 3,000 active members and 2,000 reservists, and includes former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which emerged from the peace negotiations brokered in Kumanovo in 1999. However, we heard in Pristina that the KPC lacks coherence, that its men have little to do and that it answers only to the SRSG, not the PISG. The ethnic make up of the KPC is also a major concern. Biljana Radonjic, Assistant Director of Civilitas Research, wrote that "minority participation in Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC), a civilian emergency organisation, should be larger than ten per cent."[157] Currently, minorities comprise 4% of the KPC.[158] If the KPC is to emerge as the nascent army of a new republic in the event of negotiations on Kosovo's final status, then the arguments for the establishment of a multi-ethnic and well-trained army are strong.

121. We asked the Minister about the KPC. He told us: "We want to see it become more professional; we certainly want to see it develop its ethnic base. Mr Petersen [the SRSG] adopts this point of view and so does the Commander of KFOR. Some of our other partners there do not, and one of the difficulties I have…is that this is not a British-led or British-controlled operation; we have to get agreement in New York, we obviously have to get it from our partners in Europe and we have to bear in mind the position in Belgrade."[159]

122. We conclude that the international community must do more to develop the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC) into a modern, democratically accountable force with minority representation. We recommend that the Government call on its partners in NATO to turn the KPC into a force complying with NATO standards, and to provide both finance and personnel for training.

The Kosovo Police Service (KPS)

123. The Kosovo Police Service (KPS) is another crucial element in the maintenance of security. We heard in Pristina that the UNMIK police consists of 6500 local and 3500 international officers, run from 17 police stations across Kosovo. The FCO told us: "UNMIK's ultimate aim is to train the Kosovo Police Service to a level where they can replace UNMIK in their current duties and meet European and international policing standards."[160] However, the March riots provided a series of lessons for UNMIK police. A report by the International Crisis Group claimed that while the locally recruited Kosovo Police Service (KPS) acquitted itself well despite a lack of orders, the international contingent's multinational make up lessened its effectiveness.[161] Kai Eide told us: "The differences in culture [amongst the national contingents], 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."[162] A more coherent approach, perhaps by handing responsibility for policing to one or a few states, could improve delivery on the ground.

124. Chief amongst the lessons learnt from March, according to Kai Eide's report to the UN Secretary General, was that there "is an urgent need to train and equip KPS to carry out civil disturbance operations. Plans have existed for nearly 3 years for the training of a limited KPS contingent. Equipment has also been promised for this purpose…A multi-ethnic and well-trained KPS will be in a better position to conduct riot control and combat violence than international police officers. Training and equipping such units must therefore receive immediate attention."[163]

125. Professor Pettifer appraised the work of UNMIK police. He told us: "The facts are that the murder rate in Pristina is actually lower than that of Stockholm and the crime rate as a whole is not bad on things like muggings, rapes, all the serious crimes. This is a real achievement for UNMIK police. The problem is that of political assassinations, which remain frequent."[164] We also heard in Pristina that the local police lack investigative capabilities and that training officers in the relevant skills would take time, although Kai Eide's report praised the Kosovo Police Service School run by the OSCE as a genuine contribution to Kosovo's governmental capacity.[165]

126. The role of minorities—particularly Serbs—is a particularly delicate issue for the KPS. Bilijana Radonjic of Civilitas Research wrote: "Kosovo…requires an element of positive discrimination for minority representation in the Kosovo Police Services (KPS) to be fair. The participation of non-Albanian minorities in KPS should be about 20 per cent, which is twice their current share of the population, but also slightly larger [than] 15 per cent—a representation target set by the UNMIK."[166] We heard in Pristina that 8% of the police are Serbs and 15% are women; minorities comprise 15.5% of the force in total, pointing to the KPS as a multi-ethnic success. Kai Eide told us: "I believe it is developing as a rather efficient multi-ethnic police force…[In 2000] at the final ceremony of one of the police school classes there was booing from the parents and friends every time a Serb policeman's name was listed by the director of the school. I think we have moved beyond that."[167]

127. The FCO told us that the United Kingdom has about 100 police deployed in Kosovo, mainly in an executive policing function. However, the United Kingdom has withdrawn its contingent from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). We asked the Minister why the United Kingdom had reduced its contribution to policing in Kosovo. He told us: "The invitation, the request [for police in Kosovo] was sent out to all Police Forces…But we are in the hands of Chief Constables; I cannot oblige them ... The plain fact is that there were not officers for the funding."[168] Karen Pierce added that the Chief Constables wanted to help in principle, but "it is more a manpower issue rather than a funding one, which is why we do have retired officers in those places."[169]

128. We conclude that policing is of the utmost importance for Kosovo's stability, for the region and for the EU, but that much work needs to be done before Kosovo can stand alone. The Government and its UN partners must increase their contribution to policing in Kosovo, by working towards a more coherent international policing effort; one means to do so might be for fewer states to focus on policing efforts, on the same line as building capacity in the customs service. We also commend the work of the OSCE police training school to establish a multi-ethnic police force, but stress that much needs doing, such as training local police officers in modern investigative techniques and ensuring Serb participation.

Human trafficking

129. The effectiveness of the police is especially important given the problem of human trafficking in Kosovo. The FCO wrote in its submission on the subject: "In the past five years, Kosovo has become a major destination and transit country for trafficked women and girls forced into prostitution. The majority of these victims are trafficked from elsewhere in South East Europe, particularly Moldova and Romania. Passage into Kosovo is achieved primarily from Serbia as well as from Macedonia."[170]

130. The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) wrote in a report in July 2004: "Trafficking in women and girls is now the third source of income after arms and drugs for the Kosovar-Albanian mafia network… Hundreds of young local Kosovar women and girls are bought and sold, some directly by their families, and managed by criminal organisations specialising in this type of crime."[171] The IOM said in its report that numbers tracked in Kosovo had declined, but argued that the declining figures were because of changes in the structure of trafficking rather than improving conditions.[172]

131. As part of an effort to tackle the problem, UNMIK established a Trafficking and Prostitution Investigation Unit (TPIU) in 2000, comprising 26 international and 21 Kosovan officers, which operates under the UNMIK Police Headquarters; its responsibilities overlap with the Kosovo Organised Crime Bureau (KOCB), the Central Intelligence Unit (CIU) and the UNMIK Border Police. TPIU manages prosecutions and works in conjunction with the Victims Advocacy and Assistance Unit (VAAU) in the Department of Justice, which provides interpretation, and psychological, medical and shelter support for victims.[173] The TPIU conducted 2047 raids in 2003 but charged only 60 people with trafficking. The United Kingdom has provided the CIU with many of its personnel, who are trained intelligence specialists, and has invested £0.5 million in surveillance equipment for the KOCB.[174]

132. However, TPIU's efforts are not proving very successful according to Amnesty International. The latter's memorandum said that "even after women and girls have escaped their traffickers or have been 'rescued' by police, many are subsequently vulnerable to violations by law-enforcement, criminal justice and immigration agencies", and that international peacekeepers contributed to the demand for prostitution.[175]

Impunity for traffickers and a failure to protect the rights of trafficked women in Kosovo has been, in part, allowed to continue because of the failure of the international community and the Kosovo Authorities [PISG] to work effectively with each other—or the relevant international and domestic NGOs—to coordinate responses, often appearing to compete with each other for resources and control.[176]

133. We asked the Minister about the problem. He told us that "trafficking of women through Kosovo, through the Western Balkans generally, is one of the focal points of our work with our hosts in Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine and generally in South East Europe."[177]

134. We conclude that the trafficking of women and girls both to and through Kosovo is a major problem, and that while the UNMIK initiatives are welcome, they do not go far enough. We recommend that the Government work with the EU, US and UN to establish a unified strategy on trafficking in women and girls, and that it encourage UNMIK and KFOR to treat any links to trafficked women and girls by its personnel with the utmost severity. We also recommend that the Government increase its contribution to schemes for victims of trafficking, such as offering financial support to refuges and NGOs in Kosovo dealing with the problem.

The economy

135. The overriding problem in Kosovo is the state of the economy. A report by the Economic Strategy and Project Identification Group says that the Kosovo economy suffers from severe structural problems. "Massive international support to Kosovo has had an effect similar to what the discovery of oil might have had. Without raising the productivity of the work force, producing goods competitive at home or abroad or changing the nature of a backward rural economy, Kosovo could afford massive imports…This situation could not last."[178]An IMF report in March 2004 also pointed to the growing stagnation of employment and the prospects of yet further hardship; 36,000 young people come onto the labour market each year, while the reduction of emigration to the EU is shrinking the value of remittances. Unemployment lingers at about 60%.[179]

136. Kai Eide's report described economic prospects as bleak and made the point that Kosovo had always received subsidies from the more prosperous republics. He also told us: "If you go back to the 1980s…there was also 40 or 50 per cent unemployment in Kosovo while there was in Slovenia almost full employment, where Kosovo survived on resources being transferred from Slovenia and Croatia. So the outlook is not particularly encouraging."[180] We heard in Pristina that the problems facing the economy are manifold. They include endemic corruption in the publicly owned enterprises (POEs), slow movement on the privatisation process by the UN authorities in New York for fear of legal challenges, and a corrupt and undeveloped judicial system. Professor Pettifer told us that "economic crime is all pervasive, for three reasons. It is partly because of very high unemployment. Secondly it is because of where Kosovo lies: as a central point on the transnational route, particularly of heroin, from the East to Europe…Thirdly, there is a very anti-authoritarian political culture in the Kosovo-Albanian world which was built of years of resistance to regimes like that of Milosevic; co-operation with the police does not come easily."[181]

137. The stalled privatisation process is one hindrance for the economy. Commenting on the problems of privatisation, Kai Eide's report says:

While privatisation is widely considered as the centrepiece of UNMIK's economic strategy, it still remains only a part of the economic development and certainly not a panacea…However, privatization has become a symbolic issue and a sign of unfulfilled promises by UNMIK.[182]

Another issue is the question of remittances which previously played a central role in Kosovo's economy. Misha Glenny told us that a "reason why the economic growth is negative [in Kosovo] is that there is further pressure from refugees from Western Europe being sent back to Kosovo because they no longer want to be maintained by the host country, and that means a reduction in remittances, which are very, very important for the Kosovo economy."[183] Dr Whyte also criticised the EU's visa regime.[184]

138. When asked about the return of Kosovans from the United Kingdom, the Minister told us that we "need to have more Kosovans in the [diaspora], those who fled into exile because of the brutality of the Milosevic years, going home, and that is certainly the active view of other European countries."[185] However, the return of refugees, whether voluntary or involuntary, is undoubtedly reducing the remittances on which Kosovo relies. A scheme which allows Kosovans to work for limited periods in the United Kingdom whilst avoiding the possibility of permanent settlement might maintain remittance flows and secure sources of scarce labour, particularly in areas of seasonal work; it would also be of benefit to Kosovo to have available trained manpower from returning migrants. We heard earlier of a Home Office scheme on these lines presenting opportunities for people to work on short term limited contracts so as to prevent the establishment of a right of settlement.

139. The international community can also help to develop Kosovo's economy with efforts such as the training of police skilled in dealing with fraud and economic crime, training qualified accountants, and reforming civil law and the judicial system. The United Kingdom and the EU could also support development by prioritising access for people from Kosovo to scholarships. The success of the Kosovo customs system, which we heard in Pristina brings in about 70% of central government revenue, underlines how effective expert contributions—in this case by the United Kingdom—can reap rewards.

140. However, Kai Eide's report made clear that the fundamental issue facing Kosovo's economy is the question of final status. It stated: "A solution to the question of final status will change the economic prospects and create opportunities for a more comprehensive economic development strategy."[186] Until the resolution of the final status issue, Kosovo's economy will not profit much from development assistance or from any foreign direct investment.

141. We conclude that the state of Kosovo's economy is a source of intense political discontent, and that its problems in part stem from doubts about Kosovo's final status. We also conclude that other serious problems, such as an ineffective judicial system, endemic corruption, a scarcity of skilled professionals and the reduction of remittances from Western Europe retard the growth of Kosovo's economy. We recommend that the Government promote EU and UN schemes to revitalise Kosovo's economy, offer expanded scholarship opportunities to Kosovans, and increase its contribution of personnel to train people in Pristina, in areas such as accounting and the policing of economic crime.

Resolving the problem

142. At the heart of the tensions which led to the March riots is the question of Kosovo's final status. The FCO wrote in its submission: "The violence this year…highlights that the uncertainty over Kosovo's future status is a source of instability in Kosovo, and potentially throughout the region."[187]

143. Assessing the necessity of movement on final status, Kai Eide stated in his report:

Seen from an internal Kosovo perspective, the longer we wait, the more would the frustration in the Kosovo majority population increase. The economic situation would deteriorate further. The lack of a political perspective—clear future—would be felt even more intensely than today…If the international community cannot now convince Kosovo Albanians to do their utmost to deliver and give Serbs the reassurances they need, then we may face two unpleasant options: either to be drawn into status discussions without having created more stable conditions for the minorities or postponing status discussions while seeing a constant increase in tension between the majority and minority populations. None of these would serve the interests of Kosovo or of the international community.[188]

He went on to argue that the UN should launch a process to resolve the status issue, first by exploring the perspectives of states with an interest in the process, and then by more concrete steps aimed at negotiations on final status.

144. Professor Pettifer underlined the urgency of the status question. He told us: "The events of the last year have shown that Kosovo is now irreversibly on the path to independence, but there is little sense that the international community has a policy to bring this about. The danger of the current situation is that the time of initial decision is not far away, in 2005, and an unenviable series of political options exists. Anything short of full independence is unacceptable to the vast majority of Kosovo Albanians, and if it was openly refused there is a real possibility, perhaps likelihood, that Kosovo would become rapidly ungovernable…The de facto policy followed recently has been to allow the transfer of competencies without antagonising Belgrade unduly, but there are limits to this policy in terms of the status issue. At some point soon the [international community] is going to have to face the decision."[189] Kai Eide agreed that Kosovo was on the path to independence, although within the strategy outlined in his report, and told us that "it is unthinkable that Belgrade will in future have authority over Kosovo and [I believe] that Kosovo will be governed, I did not say by Pristina but from Pristina, with the EU in the lead international role."[190]

145. We conclude that the international community must work to resolve the issue of Kosovo's status as soon as possible, since deferring the decision will contribute to growing tensions and make the province increasingly unstable and hostile to the international community.

Standards before status

146. However, movement towards status discussions marks a significant departure from the system of 'standards before status', which was the centrepiece of UNMIK's policy before the March riots. Originally established by SRSG Michael Steiner to provide security for minorities before any decisions on Kosovo's final status, 'standards before status' required Kosovo to meet satisfactory standards of rule of law, multiethnic tolerance and democratic governance, before any assessment of Kosovo's final status.[191] In his report Kai Eide outlined how the policy should change:

A standards-base policy must focus on a set of priorities reflecting the most urgent requirements. To promote short-term progress, these priorities should be realistic and achievable as well as visible, leading to concrete results on the ground and a better climate between the majority and the minorities. After the March events, the initial focus must be placed clearly on return and reconstruction, decentralization/local government, security and standards directly supporting such priorities.[192]

147. A full evaluation of Kosovo's democratic standards will take place to determine the readiness of Kosovo for status talks starting in mid-2005.[193] Gabriel Partos told us: "If the assessment is positive, talks on Kosovo's status might, according to the tentative timetable, begin in early 2006."[194] He went on to describe the prospects for the standards review: "Unless there is a recurrence of the serious inter-ethnic violence of March this year, the expectation is that the mid-2005 review is likely to be broadly positive. One reason is that conditions have improved considerably: there are democratically-elected multi-ethnic authorities in place which have been taking on an increasing range of competencies from [UNMIK]. However, much still needs to be done to improve security for the Serb minority, most importantly to create conditions that would favour the return of Serb refugees."[195]

148. Doubts about moving away from 'standards before status' are strong, however. Biljana Radonjic said in her submission: "If the UN strategy is to buy time—start the talks and then string them out while progress is made to improve the situation on the ground—this is not the way to achieve that. The approach is both unrealistic and potentially dangerous. For a start, opening talks will be read as a sign that independence is inevitable, even if Kosovo fails to reach democratic standards. This could inflame those in the region who seek violent solutions and lead to further hostility in Kosovo, and to renewed combating in Southern Serbia and Macedonia. Also, there will be little room to draw the discussions out indefinitely. Unless rapid progress is made, the frustrations will grow again among the Kosovo Albanians. This raises the prospect of further violence and regional instability."[196] The Embassy of Serbia and Montenegro said that independence for Kosovo before the implementation of standards would lead to an ethnically Albanian Kosovo and destabilise the region,[197] and Dr Anastasakis asked whether the international community "is really geared towards creating multi-ethnic, multicultural societies…It seems to me that the way things are going is not creating a multicultural or multiethnic society but rather trying to divide them."[198] We recognise the potential problem of creating an unstoppable dynamic towards independence whilst perhaps reducing the emphasis on standards but in reality the options are limited.

149. Kai Eide played down suggestions of abandoning standards. He said that the implementation of effective standards was crucial to the situation of minorities in Kosovo, but that his reasons for advocating a change in policy were that the "process, which is so crucial, was developing into a bureaucratic process and not a political process".[199] Denis Macshane also told us that "what we are seeking to do is to maintain the emphasis on standards. We want all people living in Kosovo to do so without fear."[200] At heart, then, the question is not one of reducing the standards applicable to Kosovo, since a positive assessment of standards progress is essential for Kosovo to move towards status discussions. Gabriel Partos told us: "I think it is a more a question of focusing on those standards, streamlining them and I think this is something that UNMIK is now trying to do, make it more comprehensible to people who have not necessarily got the political sophistication to go through 140 pages of standards on this or that area and so on, but just need to have some headline notions of what needs to be on the ground."[201] The unwieldy length of the standards document was also a deterrent to effective implementation, as Kai Eide demonstrated to us during the evidence session.

150. We endorse Kai Eide's proposals for combining standards and status, and agree that a re-evaluation of the standards process is essential. However, we recommend that the international community should not let the search for stability divert efforts from establishing minority rights in Kosovo. We recommend that the Government make clear to politicians in Kosovo that the fulfilment of human rights standards is a non-negotiable condition for progress towards status discussions, and that it urge its US and EU partners to do the same.

Belgrade's decentralisation plan

151. Different parties have different visions of Kosovo's final status, as the scheme for the decentralisation of parts of Kosovo put forward by the Kostunica government in Belgrade illustrates. The European Stability Initiative assessed the plan:

[The "proper territorial organisation of the province"] would be accomplished by creating five autonomous Serb enclaves within Kosovo, co-ordinated through a joint regional assembly and executive council. The enclaves would assume broad governance responsibilities, including security (policing), education, health care, social policy, natural and mineral resources, forestry, agriculture and the management and privatisation of social property within their territory.[202]

The Embassy of Serbia and Montenegro stated in its submission that its plan is for "the safeguarding of institutional guarantees and of local self governing bodies for the non-Albanian populations, without any mention of a division of Kosovo or territorial autonomy for the Serbs."[203]

152. However, the European Stability Initiative differed in its judgement: "Though they do not say so directly, what the authors of the plan appear to have in mind is that Serbian laws would apply in the enclaves, administered by local outlets of central institutions. Although the plan uses the language of decentralisation, in fact it would place Belgrade at the centre of a highly centralised system of government."[204] Such a scheme raises the prospects of parallel governmental structures in Serb majority areas which answer to Belgrade, and ignites fears of partition. This would present a serious risk for the Kosovo Serb community, since the majority live south of the Ibar river.

153. We asked the Minister about the Serb plan. He told us: "I have said that we welcome any proposal from Belgrade that moves us forward, but I have equally said to colleagues in Belgrade that we do not need West Bank type settlements in Kosovo—we cannot have people in Kosovo owing a single allegiance to Belgrade, paying taxes under the control of agents in Belgrade."[205] Kai Eide also welcomed the Serb proposals but adhered to his strategy, saying: "There are many good things to say about the Serb plans…and certain aspects of it also I do not find difficult to accept, but I do believe that the process which is under way now…is the right way to go."[206]

154. However, the implications of the scheme could be severe. Professor Pettifer outlined the threat the partition of Kosovo may pose in a region full of states with secessionist minorities, saying that the Albanians might reopen conflict in Macedonia and the Presevo valley issue in the event of a partition.[207] Misha Glenny went further and told us that the scheme was impracticable: "I cannot see how the idea of partition or the idea of creation of enclaves is going to work, and the reason for this is…you have to start this operation by moving up to 40,000, 45,000 Serbs physically from disparate parts of Kosovo into these enclaves…We went there in order to support multi-cultural solutions in Kosovo and south eastern Europe, and we will be presiding over the transfer of population out of the territory where they live into another territory."[208]

155. We conclude that the scheme for decentralisation put forward by Belgrade would result in an unacceptable transfer of population and could result in effective partition of Kosovo. We recommend that the Government press on its interlocutors in Serbia that their contributions must take into account the interests of the local population, as well as the views of Pristina and the international community.

An expanded EU role?

156. Kai Eide's report outlined the longer terms prospects for Kosovo. His report stated:

As we approach the end of resolution 1244 (1999), the UN will gradually reduce its presence and its tasks, culminating with a handover at one stage of its authority to new and permanent institutions established under the political settlement. Residual responsibilities will have to be assumed by regional organisations. To that end, the EU will have to strengthen and widen its presence significantly…With the end of resolution 1244 (1999), Kosovo will probably be governed from Pristina, with the EU assuming the lead role. The establishment of a High Representative's Office in Pristina should be encouraged. With this in mind, the EU should now start reshaping its policy towards Kosovo.[209]

The growing magnetism of the EU in the region makes such a policy appear entirely logical, especially if Serbia moves forward on the path towards EU integration. Kai Eide went further in outlining the process. He told us 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, and during that transition period, of course, certain powers would have to be vested in the international community."[210]

157. Yet we heard in Pristina that UNMIK officials have concerns about 'changing horse in mid-stream' and raised doubts about the popularity of the EU in Kosovo. Professor Pettifer also cast doubt about the ability of the EU to take the a lead role in the Balkans. "The United States is the only outside power the ethnic Albanians and Bosnia Muslims trust and without US leadership in the region stability cannot be assured. Despite years of painstaking effort, the European Union has yet to throw off the heritage of past political failure and psychological dependence on a model of the Balkans based on centralism with inscribed predominance for Serbia."[211] Kai Eide also told us that the EU policy in Kosovo had proven somewhat sporadic to date.[212] However, Brussels will retain an increasingly crucial role in the process because of geography and the process of enlargement, while closer policy co-ordination within the EU would address Kai Eide's concerns.

158. Any progress is entirely dependent on an effective dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, which is currently at a risible level.[213] Misha Glenny commented on the parlous state of dialogue, and then described one scheme to improve it by appointing an envoy mandated solely to Pristina and Belgrade, "so that there is some form of communication. At the moment there is nothing."[214] The Minister told us that he urged his counterparts in the region to talk, but that Belgrade often put forward proposals without consultation in Pristina. Without dialogue, progress on status will be difficult; it is surely in their mutual interest.

159. We conclude that Kai Eide's proposal for increasing the role of the EU while the UN scales back its operations in Kosovo is a good way forward, provided the EU establishes a more cohesive policy towards Kosovo. We also conclude that such a process must include the United States, given its popularity amongst Albanians, and take great consideration of Kosovo Albanian and Serbian political sensibilities. We recommend that the Government urge its partners in Brussels to formulate a long term plan for expanding the EU's role in Kosovo, and in particular to outline how it intends to advance this work when it holds the Presidency of the EU in the latter half of this year. We also conclude that any resolution of the status issue must emerge from a dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina and we recommend that the Government work with its partners to establish a channel of communication between the two parties, perhaps by establishing a EU or UN accredited diplomat as an envoy between the two cities.


160. We conclude that success in Kosovo is crucial to stability in south eastern Europe, and that the international community must tread a delicate path between the claims of the various parties in order to resolve the status issue. We further conclude that it is unrealistic to expect the international community to continue to shoulder the responsibility of governing Kosovo indefinitely and we agree with Kai Eide that Kosovo is on the path to independence. We recommend that the Government acknowledge this reality and work with its international partners to bring about an independent Kosovo with full safeguards and protection of the rights of the Serb minority.

Ev 94 Back

127   Ev 110 Back

128   Ev 94 Back

129   "Even in eager Kosovo, nation-building stalls", Christian Science Monitor,22 September 2004 Back

130   United Nations Mission in Kosovo, Back

131   "France takes NATO reins in Kosovo", International Herald Tribune, 2 September 2004 Back

132   Ev 51 Back

133   Ev 14 Back

134   Kai Eide, The Situation in Kosovo: Report to the Secretary General of the United Nations, June 2004 Back

135   Ev 74  Back

136   Ev 24 Back

137   Ev 95 Back

138   "Serbs' boycott leaves shadow over Kosovo polls", Financial Times, 25 October 2004,  Back

139   Kai Eide, The Situation in Kosovo: Report to the Secretary General of the United Nations, June 2004 Back

140   Ev 114 Back

141   Ev 134 Back

142   "Kosovo Serbs hail boycott as triumph", Institute for War and Peace Reporting, 29 October 2004 Back

143   Ev 46 Back

144   Ev 45 Back

145   Ev 108 Back

146   Kai Eide, The Situation in Kosovo: Report to the Secretary General of the United Nations, June 2004 Back

147   Ev 51 Back

148   The GPKT project operates in Kosovo, Southern Serbia and Macedonia, and is run by the East West Institute based in Brussels, see Back

149   Ev 114 Back

150   International Crisis Group, Collapse in Kosovo, 22 April 2004 Back

151   Ibid. Back

152   Ev 73 Back

153   Kai Eide, The Situation in Kosovo: Report to the Secretary General of the United Nations, June 2004 Back

154   Ev 73 Back

155   Ev 75 Back

156   Ev 112 Back

157   Ev 95 Back

158   Ibid. Back

159   Ev 81 Back

160   Ev 96 Back

161   International Crisis Group, Collapse in Kosovo , 22 April 2004 Back

162   Ev 112 Back

163   Kai Eide, The Situation in Kosovo: Report to the Secretary General of the United Nations, June 2004 Back

164   Ev 25 Back

165   Kai Eide, The Situation in Kosovo: Report to the Secretary General of the United Nations, June 2004 Back

166   Ev 140 Back

167   Ev 112 Back

168   Ev 79 Back

169   Ibid. Back

170   Ev 92 Back

171   International Organisation for Migration, Changing patterns and trends of trafficking in persons in the Balkan region, July 2004, p 52 Back

172   Ibid. p 53 Back

173   Ev 92 Back

174   Ibid. Back

175   Ev 147 Back

176   Ibid. Back

177   Ev 77  Back

178   Economic Strategy and Project Identification Group, Towards a Kosovo Development Plan, August 2004 Back

179   Ibid.  Back

180   Ev 114 Back

181   Ev 25 Back

182   Kai Eide, The Situation in Kosovo: Report to the Secretary General of the United Nations, June 2004 Back

183   Ev 51 Back

184   Ev 43 Back

185   Ev 78 Back

186   Kai Eide, The Situation in Kosovo: Report to the Secretary General of the United Nations, June 2004 Back

187   Ev 94 Back

188   Kai Eide, The Situation in Kosovo: Report to the Secretary General of the United Nations, June 2004 Back

189   Ev 15 Back

190   Ev 108 Back

191   "Even in eager Kosovo, nation-building stalls and briefing from FCO", Christian Science Monitor, 22 September 2004 Back

192   Kai Eide, The Situation in Kosovo: Report to the Secretary General of the United Nations, June 2004 Back

193   Ev 132 Back

194   Ev 2 Back

195   Ibid. Back

196   Ev 139 Back

197   Ev 131 Back

198   Ev 45 Back

199   Ev 109 Back

200   Ev 75 Back

201   Ev 9 Back

202   European Stability Initiative, The Lausanne Principle, 7 June 2004,at Back

203   Ev 131 Back

204   European Stability Initiative, The Lausanne Principle, 7 June 2004,at Back

205   Ev 77 Back

206   Ev 111 Back

207   Ev 14 Back

208   Ev 52 Back

209   Kai Eide, The Situation in Kosovo: Report to the Secretary General of the United Nations, June 2004 Back

210   Ev 109 Back

211   Ev 16 Back

212   Ev 110 Back

213   Ev 51 Back

214   Ibid. Back

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Prepared 23 February 2005