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Serbs in Kosovo worried about EULEX departure (Blic)

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Nearly 2 000 police officers, judges and prosecutors who worked for the EULEX mission in Kosovo in the past 10 years are withdrawing from Kosovo, and their responsibilities will be taken over by Kosovo institutions. Some Blic interlocutors point out that the gradual departure of KFOR soldiers can be expected, after which the space opens up for the formation of the Kosovo army and the completion of the Kosovo’s independence.

Today’s Blic writes that few Serbs in Kosovo can positively assess the work of EULEX in the last 10 years. On the contrary, the impression for the most is disappointing. The return of property to the Serbian community, arrests for war crimes, crime and corruption, the reduction of inter-ethnic conflicts … These are all competencies of the EU mission, and little has been accomplished, Blic writes.

Nevertheless, the announcement itself that a part of the international forces, whatever they have been, are to leave Kosovo in a month, bring concern for the security of the remaining Serbs, and especially those in the enclaves.

Goran Bogdanovic, the former minister in Kosovo, says the decision on the departure is very bad, although some of them will remain as advisors.

– They will not have executive powers, that is, a judicial and police. This is a bad sign, since this implies that the EU considers that in Kosovo there is no need for the presence of the international community in the extent it is now. There are also talks on departure of KFOR soldiers, and this opens the door to the formation of the Kosovo Army. Obviously the initiatives related to this have been initiated by someone’s blessing and not just the US – Bogdanovic says.

Asked whether the Serbs after the departure of the EU mission should worry about their security, Bogdanovic says that they can be protected by Serb policemen within the Kosovo Police.

– In the Kosovo Police there are 10% of Serbs, and 96% in the north of Kosovo. Something similar is in Gracanica, Strpce … If they are not able to protect Serbs, then they should not be there, he replies.

Rada Trajkovic, president of the European Movement of Serbs from Kosovo, told Blic that she did not feel more secure with EULEX, except in psychological terms.

– As long as there is an international presence in Kosovo, we count that independence is far from reality. Any departure of international institutions from KiM will open up space for the speedy departure of those who are left. This causes a sense of insecurity and a motive for the departure of Serbs who still live in Kosovo – says Trajkovic.

She points out that all of what was expected of the most expensive EU mission (annual cost of about 100 million euros), namely the establishment of the rule of law and the isolation of those involved in corruption, ended infamously.

– A part of EULEX members, even the very top, has fallen into the trap of well-organized people from criminal militancy and corrupt affairs. The money that the EU citizens have set aside to educate us, the elimination of the corruption, is compromised, and representatives of that mission have become involved in corruptive behaviour – says Trajkovic.

On the other hand, Igor Simic, deputy and spokesperson of the Serbian List, believes that the departure of EULEX and the formation of a Kosovo army should not be mixed, and that one with the other has nothing to do. Simic adds that this EU mission has not met the expectations of Serbs in Kosovo.

– Often, when the rights of Serbs were endangered, its officials remained silent, moreover, they sent distorted picture to Brussels with their reports, in which they talk about the progress of Kosovo institutions. Their judiciary turned out to be catastrophic by rejecting cases of crimes against Serbs, but whatever the mission it was, it was better to have it than to leave the impoverished provisional Kosovo institutions without any control – says Simic.

He adds, however, that the EULEX mission should not be allowed to end without decision of the UN Security Council, and that the EU should not allow EULEX to violate status neutrality by delegating the powers that were delegated by the UN.

“Every change in the EULEX mission requires the EU to seek Belgrade’s consent, which has given its consent to the approval of the EULEX deployment in Kosovo and Metohija,” Simic says.

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