Accidentally or intentionally, a letter from former US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Hayle on the withdrawal of the UNMIK mission from Kosovo coincided with the adoption of laws in the Kosovo Assembly, which will allow Pristina to form its own army, writes today Belgrade-based daily Blic.
The Pristina authorities have come a step closer to the goal of their armed forces, and thus, as they hope, another symbol of their sovereignty. Adding the US position, delivered to the Serbian public by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew M Palmer, who said that US supports the transition of the Kosovo Security Forces (KSF) into the army, things from the Pristina side seem to move in the desired direction, assesses this Belgrade daily.
It was precisely because of this, a question raised on whether the US could “push out” UNMIK from Kosovo, and whether Haley’s letter was just one step towards “clearing a space” for the Kosovo army.
For the time being, the answer is negative, and the reason for this is, above all things, that the process of removing UNMIK from Kosovo cannot bypass the UN Security Council, and therefore the potential Russian veto. Namely, the UNMIK mission in Kosovo is present precisely thanks to UNSC Resolution 1244 and its removal would require the adoption of a new resolution.
– It cannot be clearly stated that the letter by Nikki Hayle represents the new political position of the United States. In a broader sense, the US seems to have no foreign policy, that the State Department is in the hands of inexperienced and incompetent secretaries, while professionals leave, and at the same time a small group of adventurers in the White House are improvising political moves without a clear plan. It is therefore difficult to predict which statement will be reflected in the policy plan and how long will last any policy that has been announced, says Erik Gordi, a professor of political and cultural sociology at London’s UCL, for daily Blic.
According to his judgment, only the UN can declare the mandate of UNMIK invalid and, although probability is a bit higher if the US suggest, such a proposal can hardly pass without a valid reason, such as that the danger to citizens’ safety no longer exists.
– Since this is not the case, and since Serbia has already expressed its opposition to that move, most likely this proposal will not even come to the voting. The whole case points to the dependence of Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo on international support, as well as on the danger of hasty moves by influential states, and therefore points to the need for co-operation between Serbia and Kosovo – said Gordi.
If the UN eventually passes a new resolution envisioning the abolition of UNMIK, this mission will cease to exist in Kosovo. Although it is a mission whose powers and staff have been reduced to a minimum for years, it will continue to exist while Resolution 1244 is in force, says Stefan Surlic, PhD student at the Faculty of Political Science (FPN).
He says that he would not link the move of the US directly with the formation of the Kosovo army, but believes that it is about “the desire of the US to reduce its forces in Kosovo to a minimum, and to give local forces greater responsibility, and also before the final agreement with Belgrade, to show that Kosovo has rounded its independence. “
Dusan Janjic from the Forum for Ethnic Relations says that Resolution 1244 does not have to change if Belgrade and Pristina reach a legally binding agreement, because then, he says, the UN GA will merely state that the job is done, so the resolution does not mean anything.
“The UN Security Council is not necessary at all for this story,” he said.
A similar stance has and Daniel Serwer, professor of Washington University Jones Hopkins and an expert on the Balkans, who primarily sees the move of the US as “part of the general strategy of the United States to reduce the engagement of United Nations peacekeeping missions”. However, he also explains that the withdrawal of UNMIK from Kosovo without an agreement on the final status would probably require a new UN Security Council resolution, and that its adoption would depend on Russia.
The former UN Ambassador Pavle Jevremovic reminds that the mandate of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo has been defined as helping to establish conditions for the peaceful and normal life of all citizens of Kosovo and the stability of the Western Balkans region. UNMIK is a status neutral, civilian mission. It once numbered 15,000, and today it has about 380 members.