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EU's Kosovo Mission In Doubt After Rejection Of UN Proposal

Doris Pack: "The mission is not neutral or impartial."
(RFE/RL) -- The fate of the European Union mission in Kosovo is once again in doubt after officials in Pristina on November 12 rejected revisions they say will threaten the territorial integrity of their newly declared state.

The deployment of the EU's EULEX mission has been eagerly awaited in Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in February.

The 2,000-strong mission -- comprising police, judicial, and customs officials -- was envisioned to take over from UNMIK, the United Nations mission that has helped govern Kosovo as a Serbian province since 1999.

But the EULEX deployment is now in doubt after Kosovo officials dismissed adjustments to the mission -- proposed by the United Nations -- that appear to make concessions to Belgrade.

Six-Point Plan

The amendments, outlined in a six-point plan drafted by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on November 10, proposes a two-track chain of command for police forces in Kosovo, which is home to both Albanians and minority Serbs. While Albanian police would operate under the EU's auspices, Serbian police in northern Kosovo would remain under UNMIK supervision.

Kosovar Albanian officials call the plan "unacceptable," saying it violates the fledgling country's sovereignty and territorial integrity. But Western officials are urging Pristina to accept the Ban proposal, saying the planned deployment of EULEX in December may be in jeopardy if all sides fail to strike an agreement.

The new proposals are a strategic victory for Belgrade, which continues to reject Kosovo's secession and prefers UNMIK's "status-neutral" stance on Kosovo.

Doris Pack is a member of the European Parliament and the chair of the body's commission for the southwest Balkans. Speaking to RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service, Pack said she had not seen the full context of Ban's six-point plan. But she said the EULEX mission is designed to protect the interest of Kosovar Serbs and should not meet with objections from Belgrade.

"The mission is not neutral or impartial," she said. "The EULEX mission is there to do some very important things in favor, especially, of the Serbs living there. So they aren't neutral -- they're in favor of people living in Kosovo. The EULEX mission is not there to recognize independence, or not to recognize it. Independence recognition is up to [individual] nations. Most of the EU member states have recognized it. Others not. But all of the member states have been in favor of sending the mission."

Influence From Russia

Officials in Kosovo say retaining a role for UNMIK leaves the entire administration of Kosovo open to influence from Russia, which has a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. Moscow is a strong backer of Belgrade and strenuously objects to Kosovo independence.

Pack said the EU is engaged in negotiations with the UN and remains flexible. But she suggests there is one demand that EULEX will not accept -- indicating Ban's plan may need to be renegotiated.

"The red line is that the EULEX mission has to be deployed in the whole of Kosovo. That is it," Pack said. "And it should fulfill the objectives for which we've sent them. It's our taxpayers' money which is in this mission, and I think they should fulfill what we asked them to do. These are lawyers, these are the staff of administration, these are policemen. So I think everybody knows what is their duty, and that's what they have to do."

UN Secretary-General Ban was due to discuss the status of his proposal during a Security Council session on November 11. That session was postponed at the request of two unspecified permanent members and has been tentatively rescheduled for November 14.

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