Zëri carries the latest report published by the European Stability Initiative
(ESI) for solving the problem of Mitrovica.
“Both the international community and the Kosovo leaders must prove
their words and positions in the case of Mitrovica. The city which continues
to be divided in ethnic basis for seven years will be the place where the
guiding principles of the Contact Group – no partition, decentralisation,
returns and a multiethnic Kosovo – will be severely tested. On the other
hand, the city will also test the rhetorical commitment of the Kosovar
leadership for a multiethnic country,” said the report.
The ESI suggests the start of work as soon as possible in finding a solution
for Mitrovica, which would enable the local institutions to start work
without another provisional international administration. “In this phase,
any provisional solution would delay the timeframe of difficult decisions to
a period when the international influence will be weaker and when the
international presence there will be further downsized.
This solution implies that Mitrovica will be the hot point of Kosovar
politics. The international community must play a strong role, in fact even
strengthened, in Mitrovica in the next couple of years in two areas: security
and economic development. It must be directly involved in local government,”
According to the ESI report, the parties involved in the Vienna talks must
accept the creation of a municipality in northern Mitrovica that would
include the territory which is currently under the UN administration.
“Such a municipality should abide to Kosovo laws and regulations just like
any other municipality, including the full respect of property rights and
support for returns,” said the first ESI proposal.
The second ESI proposal suggests reaching an agreement to implement a
permanent solution for Mitrovica by testing the will of the Kosovo Government
for decentralisation and for protecting Serbs against extremist elements within
the Albanian community. In this regard, the ESI suggests that in summer this
year parallel with status talks to start transferring the authority from the UN
administration to another executive body, “so that the new municipality of
northern Mitrovica can be established before the end of the process for final
status resolution and so that it can be ready for next year’s local elections.”
The third ESI proposal suggests making it clear that UNMIK, KFOR and any
other international mission will strongly respond against any effort to use
force as a way of influencing the political fate of the northern part of Kosovo.
The ESI report also suggests that the statement of the Contact Group for
“no partition” should be followed with the deployment of more international
military troops in northern Kosovo during the talks on status, along with a
commitment that they will remain there as long as necessary during the
The report also suggests that security measures must be enforced immediately
in order to send clear signals to extremists from both sides that “violence
cannot hinder the implementation of a political solution”. “The creation of a
municipality in northern Mitrovica must not lead to a legal vacuum to the
northern part of Ibar,”said the report.
In closing, the report said that the future cooperation between the two
municipalities in Mitrovica must be based on economic cooperation as a
condition for international financial aid. According to ESI, donors should
closely coordinate their efforts and must be persistent in their work with
the Regional Agency for the Development of Mitrovica, a group that will
include representatives from the municipalities of Mitrovica, northern
Mitrovica and Zvecan.
Within the same article, the paper quotes former Kosovo PM Bajram Rexhepi
as saying that he agrees with the conclusions of the ESI that the international
community has failed in the integration of the divided city of Mitrovica. “In
general, the international community was not efficient in similar situations
wherever it encountered them. This happened in Eastern Croatia (Slavonia)
and in Mostar,”Rexhepi told the paper.
Rexhepi also said that he still hasn’t seen the ESI report, but added that based
on what he has heard there are differences between the ESI report and the
plan that he has prepared for the Kosovo Negotiations Team. “There are
conceptual differences between these plans.
The basic difference rests in the proposal for the formation of two new
municipalities,” Rexhepi was quoted as saying. “This report has similarities
with the first ESI report which foresaw the creation of two municipalities
with the definite status of a town.”