|Source: Hektor Pustina/Associated Press
Kosovo, a southern province of Serbia and Montenegro, has seen deep conflict between its Serbian and ethnic Albanian population. In 1974, the Yugoslav constitution granted Kosovo, then part of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, autonomous status. In 1989, amid rising breakaway movements throughout Yugoslovia, Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic revoked Kosovo's autonomy, a step that deepened Serb-Kosovar differences.
The majority Kosovar movement favored non-violent political action, but a separatist movement called Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) came to the fore, receiving arms and funds from Albania and (later) from the US and German intelligence services, while the Russians backed the Serbs. The KLA attacked police and government installations as well as Serb civilians. As Serbian government forces struck back, they committed atrocities and the Kosovar population began to flee in large numbers.
Several international efforts to broker a peace plan failed. Western nations demanded major concessions from Belgrade, including free passage of NATO military forces into Kosovo. When Milosevic rejected these demands, NATO bypassed the UN and began a 78-day bombing campaign, leading to an increase in the flow of Kosovar refugees. This "humanitarian intervention" was marred by NATO's inability to ensure the safety of innocent civilians. The NATO bombardment eventually forced Milosevic to withdraw troops from Kosovo in June 1999.
The UN established a Kosovo Peace Implementation Force (KFOR) and an Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), asserting administrative control over the province. In 2003, the UN established a set of basic conditions for the political future of the territory and insisted that the Kosovo administration meet these benchmarks before discussing the territory's "final status" - that is, would it achieve independence or would it become an autonomous region within Serbia and Montenegro.
In 2007, the UN issued the Ahtisaari Plan, which suggested "supervised independence" for the province. The Plan contained provisions for Kosovo's own constitution, flag, anthem and army, as well as guaranteeing the religious and linguistic rights of ethnic minority Serbs. However, both Belgrade and Kosovo rejected this attempted compromise.
On February 17, 2008, Kosovo unilaterally declared independence. While the US, UK and France supported the decision, stating the unique nature of Kosovo's case, the move divided the Security Council. Russia and China argue that the unilateral declaration of independence undermines the United Nations and is illegal under international law.
UN Document | Articles UN Documents
In this report to the Security Council, Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon concludes that the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) must change its mandate in order to adapt to Kosovo’s declaration of independence. With the inception of the new constitution on June 15, 2008, political power will rest in the hands of the Kosovo Albanian majority, and Ban fears tensions will increase with the Serb minority. Ban urges the European Union and UNMIK to ensure the rule of law and increase policing efforts to attain peace and security.
In this report to the Security Council, Secretary General Kofi Annan concludes that Kosovo has fallen behind in its effort to promote a stable, multiethnic society. Annan’s grim assessment of Kosovo’s progress is based on eight UN-established benchmarks, most of which the Balkan region has failed to fully implement. Kosovo Serbs remain excluded from the political process, while few are allowed to return to homes they abandoned during the Kosovo war. In addition, the discussions on Kosovo’s future political status have proven difficult as Serbians and ethnic Albanians refuse to budge from their positions.
Following its historic visit to the Balkans, the Security Council released this report, detailing the current situation in Kosovo. While the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) has made substantial progress in civilian policing, and in encouraging participation in the 17 November elections, the Security Council remains worried about the return of Kosovo Serb refugees to their homes in the embattled province.
Though Kosovo declared its independence in 2008, Serbia still does not recognize Kosovo as a state. However, as the International Court of Justice has asserted Kosovo’s right to declare its independence, more countries are now establishing diplomatic relations with Kosovar authorities. Nationalist and populist movements, as well as ethnic problems, still undermine the Balkan region’s stability and the Serb-Kosovar dispute fuels existing tensions. But Serbia will probably have to reconsider its position on Kosovo, as the Serbian government has expressed its will to become a member of the EU. (Open Democracy)
Kosovo declared its independence in 2008, which Serbia still strongly rejects. The region’s stability remains fragile, especially in Northern Kosovo, where a majority of ethnic Serbs live and oppose Kosovo’s independence. Despite the EU’s mediation as the two entities aspire to EU membership, an incident at the end of July has reignited tensions between Serbs and Kosovars. While the US role remains unclear regarding the situation in the Balkans, the EU fears that the situation between Serbia and Kosovo may worsen and contribute to destabilize the entire region. (Guardian)
Following the release of a Council of Europe report in December, pressure is mounting for an investigation into allegations of organ trafficking by members of the Kosovo Liberation Army. Lamberto Zannier, the head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) has called for an investigation, which was supported by members of the Security Council and the representatives for Kosovo and Serbia. How the investigation will be conducted is yet to be determined. With the exception of Russia and Serbia, the majority favor an investigation by the European Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo, rather than an independent international investigation. (Reuters India
The legal status and political situation of Kosovo remains at issue one year after its self-proclaimed independence. Serbia, which considers Kosovo’s declaration a violation of its sovereignty, asked the UN General Assembly to refer Kosovo’s legal status to the International Court of Justice. The author argues that relations between Kosovo and Serbia have improved over the last year, but that Serbia’s recognition of Kosovo is still far away. (openDemocracy)
A NATO led security force will replace the civilian Kosovo Protection Corpse (KPC). Former UN special envoy, Martti Ahtisaari, implemented this plan to deal with the Kosovo status issue. NATO’s Kosovo Security Force (KSF) will not be a fully fledged army but will include 2,500 active members and will initially be responsible for crisis management and protection of civilians. The force will be lightly armed, multi-ethnic and operating under civilian control. (Southeast European Times
EULEX, the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo replacing UNMIK, started to operate in December 2008. Kosovo expects EULEX to annul parallel Serb governmental structures in the north of the country, whereas Serbia expects EULEX to protect the Serbian population in other parts of Kosovo. Contrary to UNMIK, which recognized Serbia’s sovereignty over Kosovo, the EU mission is neutral towards the country’s independence. (International Relations and Security Network)
On December 9, 2008, EULEX, the European Union Mission Rule of Law, will start to bring Kosovo's legal institutions in line with European standards. However, the deployment of EULEX may increase the division between Serbs and Albanians, as the Mission wants to remain neutral towards Kosovo's independence, which Serbia rejects. In addition, Kosovar Serbs fear that EULEX will fail to protect their rights, since the Mission has only limited access to northern Kosovo, which has a Serb majority. (Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty)
The EU Rule of Law Mission (Eulex) faces delayed deployment because Serbia and Kosovo cannot agree on the conditions under which the mission will operate. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon wants the UN mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and Eulex both to instruct an autonomous police force for Serb-majority areas. Ban also proposed that international officials operate custom controls at the border between Serbia and Kosovo. Whereas Serbia backs the UN-designed plan, Kosovo rejects it, claiming that it breaches Kosovo’s sovereignty, since the country wants to regulate police and custom issues itself. (Guardian)
Russia continues to point to Security Council resolution 1244, which stipulates that only the UN may administer Kosovo, in order to block any changes in the mandate of UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). Russia, together with Serbia, rejects the transfer of authority from UNMIK to the new EU mission (EULEX), a move they call illegal because the Security Council has not approved it. Russia and Serbia fear that having an EU mission administering Kosovo signals an official European recognition of Kosovo as an independent nation, which both Moscow and Belgrade oppose. (Der Spiegel)
In this report to the Security Council, the Secretary General highlights the challenges of the seemingly obsolete UN mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). With Kosovo’s independence, the new government can now take over UNMIK’s administrative role. But, Kosovo Serbs do not support independence and tensions continue to rise, forcing the UN to remain as a buffering presence. Ban Ki-moon argues that the EU must have a military presence in Kosovo to prevent armed conflict and ensure the rule of law as UNMIK transfers power to Pristina.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has not been able to transfer the peacekeeping responsibilities of UNMIK to the European Union because Russia and Serbia are blocking any Security Council resolutions that would legalize such action. Ban declared that he would restructure UNMIK in order for the UN to gradually leave the region by the end of 2009, but Russia and Serbia claim this move would be illegal. Russia’s unexpected support for Serbia and the UN’s desire to close the “last chapter” of the Balkan conflicts have left Ban and the Security Council at an impasse. (Christian Science Monitor)
The European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX), which will supervise Kosovo’s independence, seeks to replace the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). This Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty article argues that Russia pressures the UN not to transfer power to EULEX since Russia does not recognize Kosovo’s independence.
This article states that since unilaterally declaring independence, Kosovo has become a “bargaining chip in a series of overlapping games for political power.” Russia has used the issue of Kosovo to secure lucrative oil and gas deals with Belgrade. Similarly, Serbia encourages partition for Serb speaking parts of Kosovo, yet uses the “Kosovo problem” to gain concessions from the European Union. The article concludes that: “all of these games are conducted at the expense of the Albanian and Serbian citizens of Kosovo, who would certainly trade them for some kind of hope for their future.” (Guardian)
This Guardian article suggests that the unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo is illegal, and damages the multilateral settlements of disputes at the UN. The author explains that independence has been justified at the Security Council by a narrow analysis of human rights within the province, and an explanation that the Serbs effectively lost sovereignty of the area when the United Nations (UNMIK) entered Kosovo in 1999. However, the article argues that these justifications do not take into account similar human rights violations against Serbs in the province, and that the presence of UNMIK derived from an illegal use of force by NATO.
This Guardian article highlights the artificial nature of the new self-declared country Kosovo. The EU plans to appoint an International Civilian Representative with the ability to “correct or annul decisions by the Kosovo public authorities.” NATO has 16,000 troops on the ground and the new country shelters a US military camp. The author argues that this postmodern state will in practice be nothing more than a “US-EU protectorate.”
The UN Security Council remains divided over Kosovo’s declaration of independence, this Inter Press Service article states. Permanent members Britain, France and the US support the move, while China and Russia are strongly opposed. Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin criticized the US and European Union for a selective approach to the question of self-determination noting that “they sound as if they have never heard of the Palestinians [or] Western Sahara.” Churkin also warned that unilaterally bypassing international law for political expediency would undermine the foundations of the United Nations collective security system.
The breakaway province of Kosovo has unilaterally declared independence from Serbia, sparking opposition from both Serbia and Russia within the Security Council. The province has been under a mandate of the United Nations since 1999 and is currently policed by 16,000 NATO troops. In an emergency Security Council meeting, Vitaly Churkin, Russian Ambassador to the UN stated that Kosovo’s declaration violated previous UN resolutions and that any independence was “null and void” under international law. (International Herald Tribune)
The incumbent President Boris Tadic has defeated nationalist challenger Tomislav Nikolic in the Serbian election by a projected 2.6 percentage points. The election puts the President on a collision course with Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, who threatens to sever relations with the European Union over the “looming secession of Kosovo.” The pro-Western Tadic has advocated for stronger ties with Europe, despite the EU’s support for Kosovan independence. (Guardian)
Kosovo could declare independence following the Serbian presidential election on February 3rd states this Reuters
source. EU ministers are expected to mandate the deployment of a 1,800 police force to the area next month, which will replace the existing UN transitional authority. Although both the US and EU support the independence plan, Serbian ally Russia has blocked Kosovo’s autonomy at the Security Council, warning that a secession will cause chaos in the Balkans.
The UN Security Council remains divided on whether or not to concede Kosovo’s independence. Serbia, backed by Russia, states that an unilateral independence would violate the Council’s resolution 1244 as well as the UN Charter. Serbia also claims it will respond with legal, diplomatic and economic sanctions. Meanwhile, Western countries, like the US and UK, support Kosovo’s president Fatmir Sejdiu claim that soverignty is a principle of self-determination. The EU and the US show willingness to back Kosovo’s Ahtissari plan for “supervised independence.” (Reuters)
Members of the UN Security Council agreed that Fatmir Sejdiu, president of the semi-autonomous province of Kosovo, could speak at the Council’s meeting on the Troika report. Russia and Serbia opposed the decision and stated that Kosovo cannot declare itself independent without a Security Council resolution. The Council’s division on the subject shows that no concrete outcome will prevail from this meeting. (Reuters)
The Troika group reported to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that the Kosovo talks had no results. Neither Serbia nor Kosovo want to compromise, making the issue of independence more difficult to resolve through negotiations. Both parties agreed to delay the Security Council statement until after the report debate scheduled for December 19, 2007. US envoy Frank Wisner believes that the Ahtisaari’s Kosovo plan for internationally-supervised independence remains a possibility. (B92)
In early 2007, Kosovo’s independence seemed inevitable as both the US and the EU made it clear they would support a declaration of independence. But, after almost a year, independence appears less likely as Russia is opposing Security Council recognition of Kosovo. Moscow has many reasons to back Serbia, says this Los Angeles Times article. Russians share a cultural bond with the Serbs and they want to reassert their regional authority. But most importantly, Moscow is afraid of Kosovo creating a precedent for the Chechnyans and other Russian minorities.
The talks between Serbia, Kosovo and the Troika group still remain in a “deadlock.” Kosovo’s Prime Minister, Hashim Thaci announced that Kosovo will unilaterally declare itself independent in 2008, even without Security Council recognition. Thaci wants acknowledgment and support from the US and the EU to ensure a peaceful process. Russia, a Serbian ally, opposes the decision and wants the Security Council to have the final decision. Russia already vetoed a previous Council resolution on Kosovo’s separation from Serbia. (Associated Press)
After intense negotiations, the Troika group (US, EU and Russia) will deliver a report about Kosovo to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on December 10th 2007. The Albanian majority wants Kosovo, a UN protectorate since 1999, to become independent, but Serbia only offers partial autonomy. Troika mediators suggest a “neutral status” but according to Joachim Ruecker, the UN’s peacekeeping chief in Kosovo (UNMIK), an agreement appears “slim.” (Southern European Times)
Leaders of Serbia and Kosovo have been attempting to negotiate a peaceful co-existence, with the help of Contact Group Troika (Russia, US and EU). Serbia proposes an autonomous Kosovo state within the state of Serbia, but Kosovo prefers an independent two state status with national minority rights for Kosovo Albanians. Although the Troika mandate expires on the 10th of December 2007, Russia stated “there should be no deadline” in determining Kosovo’s future. Serbia’s ally in the region, Russia, supports Serbia’s sovereignty to oppose Kosovo’s independence. Troika will deliver a report to the UN Secretary General, who will update the Security Council. (Itar-Tass)
Amidst Russian hints that it would veto a resolution leading to independence for Kosovo, the European and US sponsors withdrew the plan from Security Council consideration. They feared that forcing a veto could lead to insecurity in the region. The resolution endorsed the Ahtisaari plan, which calls for Kosovo independence but also for the protection of the ten per cent Serbian minority there. In light of Moscow’s opposition, a contact group comprised of Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and the United States will discuss Kosovo’s future during a specified period of 120 days. All but Russia maintain their endorsement of the Ahtisaari plan. (International Herald Tribune)
US army and UN veteran Edward P. Joseph accuses Russian President Vladimir Putin of delaying a vote on UN Envoy Martti Ahtisaari’s plan for Kosovo’s independence. In order to accelerate a UN decision on Kosovo’s final status, Joseph urges US President George Bush to force Moscow to veto Ahtisaari’s plan and then pressure NATO and the EU to pursue an independent solution. But, sidelining UN policy in the Balkans yet again will detract from the legitimacy of a NATO or EU solution. (International Herald Tribune)
This International Herald Tribune article reports that discussions on the future of an independent Kosovo are at an impasse. The article warns that the unlikelihood of a UN agreement anytime soon is having repercussions in Kosovo, which include violence and the rise of politically extreme groups and is threatening the region’s fragile stability. The US and Europe assured Kosovo Albanians that they will have their own country, but Serbia insists that the territory should remain its province. Meanwhile, Russia says it will not let the UN impose independence against the Serbs' will.
Following the completion of a Security Council fact-finding mission to Kosovo requested by Russia, the Council is soon to vote on Kosovo’s independence. The US and the European powers want Martti Ahtisaari’s plan to be implemented as soon as possible, but Russia calls for renewal of negotiations between Serbs and ethnic Albanians. Daniel Fried, US Assistant Secretary of State, says that “Kosovo is going to be independent one way or another.” (New York Times)
UN Envoy for Kosovo Martti Ahtisaari talks of “independence” for the first time in the plan for Kosovo â€“ his previous plan gave rights paving the way for statehood, such as the nation’s right to its own constitution and army, but fell short of recommending full independence. The UN Security Council is to vote on the new plan which would grant Kosovo full independence with initial supervision by the international community. At the moment, Serbia’s position is backed by Russia, whilst the US and the EU support Ahtisaari’s plan. (Associated Press)
While the United States, Britain, Germany, France, and Italy are pushing for the adoption of Martti Ahtisaari's plan for Kosovo by mid 2007, Russia calls for more talks between Serbia and ethnic Albanians on the plan that both sides have rejected. Remi Dourlot, spokesman for Ahtisaari, says that talks between the two parties have been exhausted, whereas Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin says that pushing for an immediate solution is unhelpful.(Reuters)
Serbia has rejected Martti Ahtisaari’s proposals for the future of Kosovo by an overwhelming majority. The outright rejection suggests that Kosovo’s future will have to be imposed by the UN Security Council as Serbia is unlikely to compromise. Serbian President Boris Tadic said that the plan “violates the essential principles of the UN charter that guarantees inviolability of internationally recognized states.” Belgrade has offered broad autonomy for Kosovo, but Kosovo Albanians demand complete secession. (Associated Press)
Both Serbs and ethnic Albanians reject United Nations mediator Martti Ahtisaari’s plan that gives Kosovo semi-independence. The ethnic Albanians are dissatisfied that the plan does not give them the full independence that they believe they won in 1999 and which subsequently many Western diplomats have promised them. The Serbs feel that their religious homeland is being given away and describe the proposals as “anti-Serb and pro-Albanian.” (Reuters)
The United Nations mediator Martti Ahtisaari is privately discussing his recommendations for the final status of Kosovo with representatives of the “Contact Group” as well as with the Serbian and Kosovo governments. His proposals would allow the region to declare independence from Serbia, but the area would be under continued international supervision. Subject to Security Council approval, the former province could have the right to enter into some international agreements and join world organizations as a sovereign state as well as eventually having its own army. NATO troops are set to stay, whilst another international organization with executive powers over the new state will replace the UN mission there. (New York Times)
The UN Special Envoy for Kosovo, Martti Ahtisaari, has decided to postpone his presentation of Kosovo’s final status proposal until January 2007, after the Parliamentary elections in Serbia. The delay of the decision on the province’s future follows the adoption of a new constitution in Serbia asserting that Kosovo is an integral part of the country. Reacting to the delay, Kosovo leaders threatened to unilaterally proclaim the province independent. This World Politics Watch article argues that action or inaction on Kosovo's status risks “sparking outbreaks of potentially violent nationalism.”
Following a statement by the UN special envoy for Kosovo that no agreement exits on Kosovo’s final status, experts anticipate delays in the announcement of the province’s future. The UN envoy urges the UN Security Council to take a stand on the issue. Some observers warn that the uncertain status of the disputed province heads to possible renewed violence between Serbs and Albanians Kosovars. (Balkan Investigative Reporting Network)
While UN-led negotiations on Kosovo attempt to determine the status of the province, Serbia has adopted a new constitution asserting that Kosovo remains an “integral part” of the country. Experts fear that if Serbia does not agree to Kosovo’s independence, tensions between Albanian and Serbian communities will turn into conflicts. The UN-administered province has again become a battleground for renewed ethnic violence between Albanians and Serbians. (New York Times)
In the light of increasing violence in Kosovo, the Security Council met to discuss the status of the province. Secretary General Kofi Annan’s special envoy on the status talks calls for the creation of municipalities with Kosovo-Serb majorities to encourage the return of Serbs to the province. Yet, as Serbs have been the target of violent attacks, their overall return process has slowed down. (UN News)
In the absence of a breakthrough after nearly seven months of talks about the future of Kosovo, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan calls for “more flexibility” from both Serbian and Kosovar leaders to reach an acceptable solution. Annan urges respectively Serbian and Kosovar communities to cooperate rather than impede the efforts towards a peaceful future for the province regardless of its status. (Southeast European Times)
The first meeting between Serbian and Kosovar Presidents since NATO bombing in 1999 has cast doubt upon the likelihood of reaching a negotiated settlement on the status of Kosovo. Although Belgrade purports to accept any settlement short of full independence for Kosovo, the province’s leaders reject any arrangement other than statehood. Despite the symbolic and political importance of Kosovo to Serbians, failure to achieve a consensus on the region’s future will likely result in the UN backing conditional independence for Kosovo. (Los Angeles Times)
Members of the UN Security Council appear to be leaning towards allowing Kosovo to separate from Serbia and to become an independent nation. The UN has been in control of Kosovo, still part of Serbia, since Serbian forces withdrew following NATO bombing in 1999. However, some countries are worried that the breakup, coming so soon after Montenegro voted for independence from Serbia, could encourage separatist movements elsewhere. (Taipei Times)
Back to the top