Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Serbia admits it will use organ trafficking"case" for diplomatic offensive against Kosovo

Hague Cooperation Council head Rasim Ljajić: Serbia will "enter a diplomatic offensive in all international forums".

Serb President Tadić: " Kosovo will be viewed differently" as a result of the report. "He also expressed hope that such an investigation would shed the light on the creation of the co-called state of Kosovo."


Goes to show Serbia is not interested in Justice, but in scoring political points.What country in the world freely admits that they will try to score political points out of a possible crime? That means the investigation was done in such a way as to produce the needed results. This strategy is well known in the western circles and it doesn't fly.

I would be happy to see anyone involved in such a crime be sent to the slammer for the rest of his life, but let's not kid ourselves- there is not a single shred of evidence to support the claim that organ extraction was done at this house or let alone Thaci was involved in it. This must be one of the most investigated case in the whole of Balkans without a single shred of forensic evidence [ a.k.a bodies on the freezer trucks dumped in the river] which lends credence to the theory that it's done for political purposes.

Serbia, enjoy your political limelight for the next few weeks, but when you are done with that, give it a shot and see if you can find some of the 1500 Albanians who are still missing from the war.I know that's not going to help you score political points, but it might, just might help justice prevail for the families of these people. These are real people with real names, real birthdaysand actual faces, not some phantom creatures once seen living in colored houses.

Ferik F.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Wikileaks cables- Kosovo: Ambassador Dell: Kosovo celebrates second anniversary with success and challenges

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SUBJECT: KOSOVO CELEBRATES SECOND ANNIVERSARY WITH SUCCESSES AND
CHALLENGES

PRISTINA 00000084 001.2 OF 005


SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED - PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY.

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Kosovo celebrated the second anniversary of its
independence on February 17. These two years have seen political
stability that has allowed the country to create legitimate new
institutions, including the Constitutional Court and the Kosovo
Security Force, and to start fulfilling its Ahtisaari Plan
obligations, such as decentralization. Challenges remain, and
Pristina and the international community must focus on moving the
country towards eventual membership in the Euro-Atlantic
institutions that will act as a guarantor of Kosovo's viability and
security. Progress towards European Union membership and a role
within NATO will require a concerted focus on building institutions,
strengthening the country's system of justice, protecting its
multi-ethnicity, and developing its economy. In each of these
fields, Kosovo has been active in laying foundations for progress.
However, we cannot ignore that work remains. Political parties need
to move beyond their regional bases for support and cooperate better
in pursuit of national goals. The GOK, with more effective support
from EULEX, needs to build on its initial reforms in the justice
sector and intensify its anti-corruption efforts. Pristina, with
the help of the international community, wants to replicate the
success of decentralization in southern Kosovo that empowers Serb
communities and extend the same hope to northern Kosovo, where
Belgrade maintains an illegal stranglehold on municipal governance.
The GOK must use its string of economic reforms and privatizations
as a springboard to motivate private-sector growth. Eventual
membership in the European Union and other Euro-Atlantic
institutions will mitigate the challenge that Kosovo's small size
poses. The largest threats to this agenda come both from Belgrade
and the risk that Brussels will not use its influence there to
compel Belgrade's greater cooperation in allowing Kosovo to develop
and strengthen. END SUMMARY

KOSOVO AT TWO YEARS
-------------------

2. (SBU) The Republic of Kosovo turned two years old on February 17.
It has been two years marked by a number of successes. Most
notably, we have seen peace and government stability. Kosovo has
taken responsibility for ensuring its own democracy with elections
that it ran on its own for the first time since the end of the
conflict. Serbs in southern Kosovo participated in these elections
and are starting to accept that their survival runs through Pristina
rather than Belgrade. More Serbs, in fact, cast ballots in Kosovo's
municipal elections in November 2009 than in the illegitimate
parallel elections for local Serbian institutions that took place
throughout the year. New institutions, like the Constitutional
Court, are standing up and starting to earn respect as legitimate
bodies. Internationally, Kosovo has secured membership in both the
World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, and recognitions of
Kosovo's independence now stand at 65 countries. At the
International Court of Justice, Kosovo (supported by many in the
international community, including the United States) presented a
strong case to challenge Belgrade's contention that the country's
independence fails to accord with international law, and we expect
that even an ambiguous opinion from the Court will open the door for
more states to recognize the country's independence.

3. (SBU) In short, Kosovo has much to celebrate on its independence
day. We must not forget, however, that Kosovo is a nascent state
that still confronts challenges. Its stability is laudable, but
its political scene is fractious as inexperienced political parties
tend to elevate narrow interests above national goals. The legacy
of conflict and socialism has weakened its institutions, and its
economy remains a work in progress. Kosovo continues to look to the
international community for guidance, and it sees in this advice a
path that will lead to eventual membership in the Euro-Atlantic
community of nations, an end-goal that will act as a guarantor of
the country's independence, viability, and stability. In helping
Kosovo ultimately realize both European Union and NATO membership,
we need to focus our efforts in fostering the state's institutions,
developing the rule of law, promoting its multi-ethnicity, and
strengthening its economy.

BUILDING INSTITUTIONS

PRISTINA 00000084 002.2 OF 005


---------------------

4. (SBU) Kosovo's two largest parties -- the Democratic Party of
Kosovo (PDK) and the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) -- have
coexisted in stable government since national elections in November
2007. This stability has allowed the GOK to focus on several
post-independence institution building projects: embarking on
decentralization, standing up the Kosovo Security Force (KSF), and
creating the Constitutional Court, among others. The results have
been positive. We have seen Serbs turnout in large numbers to elect
Serb candidates for mayor and municipal assemblies in the new,
Ahtisaari-mandated, Serb municipalities. The KSF has broken ties
with the legacy of the Kosovo Liberation Army and is showing a
commitment to becoming a multi-ethnic force with its new pan-Kosovo
recruitment campaign. The Constitutional Court has earned
legitimacy as the final arbiter of elections-related disputes.

5. (SBU) The stability allows us to focus on critical economic
projects -- like the New Kosovo Power Plant and the privatization of
the state telecom, Post and Telecom of Kosovo -- with a stable
government partner focused on work rather than campaigning. It also
gives us time to encourage Kosovo politics to move beyond its
post-conflict paradigm, when all parties focused on independence to
the exclusion of other considerations. Left-right policy dimensions
do not yet exist here. The large political parties have not yet
developed policy platforms that extend beyond reaffirming promises
to their core supporters. The LDK still sees itself as the
standard-bearer for late President Ibrahim Rugova. The PDK and the
Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) are outgrowths of the KLA
and continue to appeal to regional support bases. These lingering
identities too often obfuscate priorities and encourage leaders, at
times, to forget that national interests must take precedence.

IMPORTANCE OF THE RULE OF LAW
-----------------------------

6. (SBU) On February 16, President Sejdiu appointed new Supreme
Court judges and prosecutors. This action builds on a years-long,
continuing process of vetting for professional competence judges and
prosecutors. The vetting process involves both Kosovo and
international community arbiters, and the GOK's full acceptance of
the results shows a commitment to developing an independent
judiciary that will start to fill the gaps that exist in Kosovo's
rule-of-law institutions. A similar process of interviews and
testing went into the selection of the Constitutional Court justices
last year, and we have seen this court grow in legitimacy over the
past several months. It has already had its own minor Marbury v.
Madison moment, exercising unchallenged authority over legislation
that controls the funding of the state radio and television
broadcaster. Although the ruling has invited critics and
controversy, none of these critics has questioned the role that the
Court has played. This is a significant step in shoring up the
independence of the country's judicial institutions.

7. (SBU) There remains a need for more progress. In January of this
year one of Kosovo's most widely read newspapers noted in an
editorial that Kosovo's system of justice needs deep reform. The
GOK, too, recognizes that it faces a challenge in developing its
legal institutions, and the Prime Minister has adopted a legislative
strategy for the year that prioritizes the rule of law. It is a
strategy that will modernize and reform the court structure,
invigorate the country's prosecutorial ranks, and create an
institutional foundation where objectivity has an opportunity to
flourish. Concurrent with this legislative strategy, the GOK --
with more active assistance from EULEX -- will need to strengthen
its anti-corruption efforts, a difficult challenge in a country this
small, where businesses often claim a political patron. Despite the
inherent difficulties, our institution-building efforts must
prioritize the rule of law and the fight against corruption. The
public needs to feel confident that laws apply to everyone. EULEX
needs to step up its activity and deliver long-promised arrests of
high-ranking corrupt public officials, or we run a risk that our
rule-of-law reforms will fall flat and leave the public with a
perception that the government is little more than a kleptocracy.

A MULTI-ETHNIC STATE

PRISTINA 00000084 003.2 OF 005


--------------------

8. (SBU) Kosovo has made a strong start in fulfilling its promises
under the Ahtisaari plan to empower Serb communities. Serb mayors,
following municipal elections in November 2009, now hold office in
the new municipalities of Gracanica, Klokot, and Ranilug. In
Strpce, a pre-existing municipality where the Serb majority refused
to participate in the November 2007 elections, a new legitimate Serb
mayor has taken significant steps to undo the influence of the
illegal parallel municipal government that answers to Belgrade. In
Pristina, the central government is devolving more authority to all
municipalities, giving local residents a louder voice in shaping
their communities' future. Most refreshing is that that the GOK
continues to focus on these Serb communities, providing them with
significant new resources in the 2010 budget that will allow them to
strengthen the new municipal structures and develop their
infrastructure.

9. (SBU) In northern Kosovo the challenges surrounding integration
are greater. Belgrade's legitimacy outstrips Pristina's in the
northern municipalities of Leposavic, Zubin Potok, and Zvecan, but
it may not be as unchallenged as Belgrade would like us to think. A
municipal preparation team (MPT) is now working in the planned new
municipality of North Mitrovica, which will hold a special election
later this year to select its inaugural government. This MPT is the
GOK's first step in building on the success of its decentralization
efforts in the South. It has adopted a comprehensive approach to
the North that entails an incremental "hearts and minds" campaign to
win greater support from northern Serbs to work with Kosovo
institutions. The illegal parallel institutions that control the
North are little more than fronts for organized crime, and the
region has become stagnant. The Serbs north of the Ibar River
consistently point to the absence of the rule of law there, and this
could prove to be the tool that begins their acceptance of Pristina
-- if the GOK and EULEX, together, can make meaningful progress in
shutting down the criminal networks that dominate throughout the
North. Pristina can offer hope, but it cannot achieve success on
its own. The Europeans need to contribute. EULEX needs to crack
down on organized crime, and Brussels must use the lure of EU
integration to compel Belgrade to play a helpful role in returning
law and order to northern Kosovo. Pristina cannot return hope to
the North if the international community will not stop Belgrade from
interfering in the region's development.

ECONOMIC REFORMS AND PRIVATE SECTOR GROWTH
------------------------------------------

10. (SBU) At the central level Kosovo has laid a strong foundation
for economic reforms. In recent months the Assembly has adopted a
debt law that sets rational limits on the amount of debt that the
country can incur and should allow Kosovo to pursue a sovereign
credit rating that will permit it to finance its development. The
IMF has provided guidance on a Central Bank law that will both
strengthen the institution and open opportunities for more
development assistance. And, the GOK is demonstrating an ever
improving control of its budgetary process, delivering a
comprehensive and reasonable 2010 budget to the Assembly that
prioritizes critical needs. Amid these steps, privatization
continues. The GOK hosted a pre-bid conference for representatives
from three pre-qualified consortia interested in entering into a
public-private partnership for the Pristina Airport which we expect
will attract a 100 hundred million Euro investment, with a contract
awarded in April. Further cause for optimism is on the near horizon
with the upcoming privatization of the Kosovo Energy Corporation and
development of a new 500MW power plant that will put an end to the
rolling blackouts that still affect the country. When this plant
comes online, industry will find a more inviting environment for
setting up business.

11. (SBU) These important steps do not mask Kosovo's current
economic woes that leave many Kosovars without work. With an
unemployment rate of greater than 40 percent, the economy is
suffering. There is little industry, the private sector is
underdeveloped, and the country's greatest natural resource --
lignite -- is underutilized due to a dilapidated power
infrastructure. At present, the government remains the primary

PRISTINA 00000084 004.2 OF 005


engine that drives the economy, a model that is not sustainable.
Government contracts for road-building projects help to provide
temporary employment, but they do not offer the longer term economic
stability that the country requires. In the coming years, both the
government and the international donor community need to redirect
their efforts towards projects that will spark greater dynamism and
diversity within the private sector. The central reforms that have
occurred -- and will continue throughout the rest of the year --
provide hope that Kosovo will soon feature a strong economic
framework where private sector growth will necessarily follow.

EURO-ATLANTIC INSTITUTIONS
--------------------------

12. (SBU) Kosovo's small size presents a challenge for its survival,
a challenge that the international community can help surmount with
its Euro-Atlantic institutions. The lure of these institutions --
in particular, the European Union and NATO -- are tantalizing
opportunities that focus the attention of the GOK. With a small
population where family and klan ties provide dominant affiliations,
Kosovo is susceptible to corruption that will retard development.
On the security front, Kosovo is currently a NATO protectorate, but
those forces are beginning to withdraw, and Kosovo leaders are
wondering whether or not the small (no more than 2500 active members
according to the Ahtisaari Plan) and lightly armed Kosovo Security
Force (KSF) can fill the void that KFOR will leave. The antidote
for both of these problems is membership within the European Union
and NATO, and this Euro-Atlantic orientation is the primary issue
that unifies the country's dueling political forces around a core
national vision.

13. (SBU) Prime Minister Thaci, daily, expresses his commitment to
readying Kosovo for EU consideration, and he regards the next
European Union Progress Report on Kosovo, due in June, with a mix of
anxiety and optimism. He wants to show the electorate that his
leadership is bringing Kosovo closer to Brussels, and he wants to be
the person who brings EU visa liberalization to Kosovo. Over the
longer term, the country needs EU membership as an outlet for its
young workforce and as a unified market for exports. It also needs
to define its future relationship with NATO. Every Kosovar desires
full membership in an institution second only to the United States
in the hagiography of Kosovo's recent history. The limitations that
the Ahtisaari Plan places on the Kosovo Security Force are going to
prove contentious over time, especially once KFOR withdraws
completely. Without an agreed and viable connection to NATO, we run
the risk that unofficial militias will again develop out of fear
that the country is unable to defend itself from aggression.

COMMENT:
--------

14. (SBU) Kosovo's independence has been a success story. The worst
fears -- large scale population movements and outbreaks of violence
-- following February 17, 2008, never materialized. The political
scene, while fractious, works together on the big issues, like
decentralization and establishing new institutions. The
international community and the Kosovars, themselves, can feel good
about the positive steps that have occurred over the past two years,
but we cannot ignore the challenges that remain. With each passing
day we need to see the GOK take more responsibility for securing the
country's future -- more activity on lobbying for recognitions, more
temperate political debate, greater respect for the rule of law, and
a concerted focus on national interests -- but there remains an ever
present role for the international community. Pristina cannot yet
extend its authority across its entire territory. The International
Steering Group on February 8 gave its blessing to a comprehensive
approach that will bolster Pristina's presence in the North, but
this approach will also require international support. Indeed, each
of the steps towards Kosovo's eventual membership in the European
Union will require international attention, and we need to make sure
that Brussels gives Pristina the same consideration that it pays to
Belgrade. Above all, the progress that Kosovo makes in overcoming
the challenges it confronts should play the determining role in the
country's qualifications for European Union and NATO membership. We
need to keep the GOK's focus squarely on its responsibilities while
reminding our European partners that they too have a role to play.

PRISTINA 00000084 005.2 OF 005


END COMMENT
DELL

Wikileaks cables- Kosovo: Ambassador Dell: Strategy for Northern Kosovo an important step in the right direction

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DEPT FOR ASSISTANT SECRETARY PHIL GORDON FROM THE AMBASSADOR

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/14/2019
TAGS: PGOV PINR PREL KV
SUBJECT: KOSOVO: STRATEGY FOR NORTHERN KOSOVO AN IMPORTANT
STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION

Classified By: Ambassador Christopher W. Dell for Reasons 1.4 (b), (d).

1. (C) Phil - I know that you are seeing Robert Cooper on
Tuesday, February 2, among other things, to discuss Kosovo
and the strategy for northern Kosovo. Integrating Kosovo
Serbs into Kosovo society and preserving the country's
territorial integrity is central to Kosovo's and the region's
long-term stability and has been a core U.S. policy objective
since 1999. In November 2009, we had a breakthrough that
ended ten years of Belgrade-imposed stalemate when thousands
of Serbs in southern Kosovo took part in Kosovo municipal
elections. We want to replicate that success in the north
and end the stalemate that has left Kosovo's future
uncertain. That fundamentally is what the so-called northern
strategy is about. We want to coax the population into
greater cooperation with Pristina, not to impose outcomes on
them.

2. (C) Currently, we have a growing, if still somewhat
fragile, consensus within the international community in
Pristina that the time is right to end the years of drift on
the north and to alter the dynamic of a hardening partition
between the north and the rest of Kosovo. In part, this is
sparked by the new willingness among Kosovo Serbs to engage
with Kosovo institutions. It also stems from Belgrade's
increasingly aggressive actions in the north (e.g., seizure
of the Valac electrical substation; unilateral appointment of
Serb judges to illegal parallel courts) that have underscored
to representatives of the international community on the
ground the risks of continuing to do nothing. For ten years,
we told the Kosovars to trust us -- "let us handle the
situation, and we will protect you" -- and now the government
of independent Kosovo is increasingly asking us when we are
going to make good on that commitment. KFOR is drawing down
(in six months NATO could take a decision to cut its forces
in half). We need to take advantage of a unique opportunity
that has crystallized and act now while we still have a KFOR
presence capable of handling any contingency.

3. (C) Belgrade has reacted vehemently to the northern
strategy. I think this intensity is rooted in the concern
that any positive momentum in the north will undermine
Belgrade's likely post-ICJ strategy: push to reopen status
talks and formalize the emerging de facto partition of
Kosovo. Furthermore, Belgrade has shrewdly judged that
raising the specter of confrontation rattles our EU partners
and is an effective tactic for derailing the strategy
altogether. Cooper will likely reflect this anxiety with
you, but I do not sense that this concern is nearly as strong
within the local Quint (with the exception of Italian
Ambassador Michael Giffoni, who spent ten years on Javier
Solana's staff, where the Brussels bureaucrats have long been
anxious about taking any difficult decision on the north).
With this in mind, I recommend that you stress three points
with Cooper. First, the northern strategy is not radical.
Much of it restates what the international community, in
general, and the EU, in particular, are already committed to
doing. Second, it provides a vehicle for constructively
channeling the GOK's ambitions for the north and takes
advantage of Prime Minister Hashim Thaci's readiness to offer
inducements to northern Serbs who engage with Kosovo
institutions. Third, we now have legitimate Serb partners
(elected by fellow Serbs) who are ready to help us in the
north. These are the elements of a soft approach, which is
the northern strategy's leading edge.

4. (C) We should expect Belgrade to challenge all elements of
the strategy and to misportray the strategy as hard and
confrontational. Serbian Ministry for Kosovo State Secretary
Oliver Ivanovic has already declared that Pristina is
promoting conflict. This is not the case. There is no
interest here in conflict (not among the Quint and the ICO,
nor within the GOK), but the current situation is untenable
and deteriorating. The aim is to stop the rot in the north
and create the positive momentum there that we need to secure
our long-term policy objectives: a secure and stable Kosovo
and a Serbia focused on its EU future, not old ambitions and
grievances. We need to start the process now, and we should
not allow Belgrade to use threats of confrontation as a veto
to block progress.

5. (C) You can tell Cooper that the northern strategy offers
incremental, but fundamental, steps necessary to getting the

north right. We know, however, that there will be difficult
challenges that pose risks. For example, EULEX must get
serious about rolling up organized crime networks in the
north that feed the parallel structures and make the current
situation unsustainable. The northern Serbs are the first
victims of these thugs, and there is a growing body of
reports that they would welcome a change if EULEX can deliver
it. We must, also, deal with the blatant theft of Kosovo
property that has allowed Serbia to, in effect, seize the
northern power grid in Kosovo. Dealing with these issues
will require hard choices and fortitude. Our message to
Cooper should be that we want to coordinate and consult with
Brussels every step of the way. This process, after all,
only works if Brussels makes clear to Belgrade that its EU
future depends on real cooperation on Kosovo. In recent
meetings with Boris Tadic, both Angela Merkel and Nicolas
Sarkozy reportedly emphasized that Serbia's path to Brussels
runs, in part, through constructive relations with Pristina.
This is the perfect message. Brussels needs to repeat it --
regularly. We, of course, are also ready to consult with
Belgrade, as well, and to offer them the opportunity to
engage constructively. Where we part company with some
within the EU, however, is in not being willing to accept
that we must have Belgrade's agreement before taking any
steps.

6. (C) I need to emphasize the importance of this moment.
Failure to act soon means losing northern Kosovo and will
re-open the Pandora's Box of ethnic conflict that defined the
1990s. Fortunately, our European partners increasingly
recognize this. My British colleague here confirms what Stu
has also heard -- that there is a greater degree of
commitment and resolve in member capitals than may be the
case in the Commission and the Council officialdom in
Brussels. Even there, though, initial anxieties over the
strategy appear to be easing as they look more carefully at
the content and less at the rhetoric.
DELL

Wikileaks cables- Kosovo: Ambassador Dell: Success in the North key to a sucessful KFOR drowdown

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Wednesday, 27 January 2010, 15:44
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 PRISTINA 000044
SIPDIS
DEPT FOR EUR (SCE, ACE, RPM)
EO 12958 DECL: 01/27/2020
TAGS PGOV, PINR, PREL, MARR, KV
SUBJECT: KOSOVO: SUCCESS IN THE NORTH KEY TO A SUCCESSFUL
KFOR DRAWDOWN
REF: A. 09 PRISTINA 509 B. 09 USNATO 409 C. BELGRADE 0003
Classified By: AMBASSADOR CHRISTOPHER DELL FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D)
1. (C) SUMMARY: While skirmishes and security incidents may be rare from day to day, an impending frozen conflict in Northern Kosovo remains the greatest threat to a safe and secure environment (SASE) in Kosovo in the near and medium terms. Fortunately, a constellation of factors exists that could reverse ten years of rot in Northern Kosovo and avoid letting this region become a frozen conflict. An impressive level of international consensus exists to address Northern Kosovo issues, and international actors and the GOK have agreed on a Northern Strategy to do just that. KFOR, at its current robust “Gate 1” force posture of 10,000, can play an important role, deterring extremists both north and south, as this strategy is implemented. As decisions are made on progress to “Gate 2” (5,000 troops) and beyond, the best way to operationalize the NAC’s central condition for successful drawdown -- maintenance of a safe and secure environment, with a threat level assessed as low -- will be success in this Northern Strategy. Benchmarks for this success include replacement of illegal parallel structures with legitimate Kosovo bodies, the establishment of robust rule of law institutions, the re-establishment of customs controls and revenue collection, and the re-establishment of legal, normalized electrical services and billing under KEK control. END SUMMARY
NORTHERN KOSOVO REMAINS THE BIGGEST THREAT TO SASE
--------------------------------------------- -----
2. (C) We have argued (ref A) that to achieve the conditions-based drawdown of KFOR troops agreed by the North Atlantic Council (ref B), it is crucial both to build local security capacity and address existing security threats now, while KFOR’s force posture remains robust. Northern Kosovo -- home base for illegal Serbian parallel structures and a region rife with smuggling and organized crime -- remains perhaps the greatest threat facing Kosovo in the short and medium terms. Kosovo institutions have exercised little control there since 1999, and practically none since riots after Kosovo’s independence in 2008. The result has been a zone where customs collection is essentially on an “honor system,” courts don’t function, international police all but fear to tread, and the only municipal governments are those elected by the Republic of Serbia in polls held in direct contravention of UNSCR 1244. Lack of activity or even access by Kosovo authorities in Northern Kosovo is a constant irritant for Kosovo’s leaders and the country’s majority Albanian population, and it represents for both the very real threat of the partition of Kosovo -- a reversal of ten years of USG policy and a grave threat to stability in Kosovo and the Western Balkan region. A series of recent statements by Belgrade’s leadership has established that the ultimate partition of Kosovo is, at a minimum, one of the policy options Belgrade has in view (ref C).
NORTHERN STRATEGY AN OPPORTUNITY
--------------------------------
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3. (C) For much of the past ten years, pursuit of our strategic goal of a stable, democratic, multi- ethnic Kosovo has taken a back seat in the North to tactical concerns of avoiding demonstrations and clashes. Fortunately, there is a growing consensus in the international community that the time is now to reverse this trend. Embassies of the major European powers, the U.S., the International Civilian Office and the European Union Rule of Law Mission EULEX have agreed on a Northern Strategy to displace the illegal parallel structures, introduce legitimate, legal GOK structures, and increase the presence and improve the performance of rule of law institutions (customs, police and courts) in Northern Kosovo. The GOK has accepted this strategy as its own, and has pledged budget resources toward its implementation.
4. (C) That this international and local alliance for action in Northern Kosovo comes while KFOR remains at a robust presence of roughly 10,000 troops is fortunate. The Northern Strategy (septel) has been designed to incentivize participation in GOK structures, not to impose them by force. That said, local forces, including Serbs and Albanians who benefit from the current near lawless environment, could attempt to use violence to disrupt attempts to collect customs duties or reopen courts. KFOR at 10,000 will play an important, if ancillary, role in this strategy to ensure Kosovo’s long-term stability and territorial integrity. At 10,000, KFOR remains capable to respond to multiple, simultaneous incidents. KFOR’s ability to respond with overwhelming force to multiple provocations will itself serve as a valuable deterrent. As recently as January 26, Serbian State Secretary for the Ministry of Kosovo and Metohija Oliver Ivanovic raised the specter of violence, arguing it is the inevitable outcome of the Northern Strategy. Whether meant as a warning, or simply to rattle the less committed elements of the International Community, Ivanovic’s statement was a useful reminder that some Serb elements consider such threats and tactics as legitimate. A strong KFOR is the best deterrent to extremists on either side of the River Ibar.
ACHIEVEMENTS IN THE NORTH ARE PRACTICAL SASE BENCHMARKS
--------------------------------------------- ----------
5. (SBU) While a robust KFOR is important to the success of the Northern Strategy, the implementation of the strategy is an opportunity for KFOR, a roadmap to a successful drawdown to deterrent presence. In our view, the central condition established by the North Atlantic Council for KFOR’s eventual drawdown to deterrent presence is “maintenance of a safe and secure environment (SASE), with a threat level assessed as low.” In the past, we have been all too quick to assess the durability of Kosovo’s threat level based on the presence or absence of security incidents on a daily basis. Depending on a definition of SASE as the absence of security incidents risks masking a disturbing reality -- Northern Kosovo can be, at the same time, both free of security incidents and a frozen conflict in the making, at risk of partition. A Northern Kosovo like this, as it is today, is a far cry from stability, and is in fact an engine for future instability in Kosovo and the wider Western Balkan region.
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6. (SBU) As the NAC debates the move to “Gate 2” (5,000 troops) and beyond, we would argue that the time is ripe to move from a negative operationalization of security, based on the absence of incidents, to a positive one. Such an operationalization would establish realistic, observable measures of success in reversing a decade of erosion in Northern Kosovo and establishing Kosovo’s authority throughout its territory. Such benchmarks should include:
-- successful establishment of the decentralized municipality of North Mitrovica;
-- re-establishment of collection of customs revenue at Gates 1 and 31, as part of a single, Kosovo-wide customs regime;
-- the staffing of the Mitrovica District Court with ethnic Serb and Albanian judges recognized by the Kosovo justice system;
-- enhanced EULEX police presence in Northern Kosovo, and the full integration of Kosovo Serb members of the Kosovo Police (KP) in Kosovo Police structures;
-- the replacement of illegal parallel municipal authorities in Northern Kosovo with, legal, legitimately constituted Kosovo bodies;
-- the arrest and prosecution of major organized crime figures; and,
-- the normalization of electric power distribution and billing throughout Northern Kosovo by KEK, according to UNMIK law and regulation.
STATUS NEUTRAL, NOT VALUE NEUTRAL
---------------------------------
7. (C) Some may protest that the establishment of such benchmarks represents a break with KFOR’s status neutral stance. This is patently untrue. In no case do the benchmarks listed above violate UNSCR 1244, the source of KFOR’s mandate, and in most cases -- like electricity and local self- government -- success in these benchmarks would represent a re-establishment of the UNSCR 1244 regime, respect of UNMIK laws and UNMIK regulations. In the end, this is true status neutrality. What some would request, only taking positions and actions which are equally acceptable to Belgrade and Pristina, isn’t status neutrality, but rather value neutrality. This is neither in KFOR’s interest nor in Kosovo’s, and was never USG policy in the region.
COMMENT
-------
8. (C) For ten years, stability in Northern Kosovo has been defined as merely the lack of conflict. Today’s KFOR, at “Gate 1” levels of 10,000 troops, presents our best opportunity to define stability properly, as success in addressing Kosovo’s most vexing security threat: Northern Kosovo as an emerging frozen conflict. Success in the Northern Strategy -- including reintroducing Kosovo structures to this region, and eliminating illegal Serbian parallel structures -- represents our best chance for a peaceful, stable Kosovo governing within the
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full extent of its recognized borders, and KFOR’s surest roadmap to a successful reduction in troop strength to “Gate 2” and beyond. DELL

Wikileaks cables- Kosovo: Scene setter for the visit of Vice President Biden

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Saturday, 09 May 2009, 13:02
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PRISTINA 000183
SIPDIS
CORRECTED COPY
DEPT FOR D, P, EUR (FRIED, JONES)
NSC FOR HELGERSON, OVP FOR BLINKEN
FOR THE VICE-PRESIDENT FROM THE AMBASSADOR
EO 12958 DECL: 05/09/2019
TAGS PREL, PGOV, UNMIK, KV
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR THE VISIT OF VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN
TO KOSOVO, MAY 21, 2009
PRISTINA 00000183 001.2 OF 002
Classified By: AMBASSADOR TINA KAIDANOW FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D)
1. (C) Mr. Vice President: You last saw the President and Prime Minister of Kosovo in Washington during their first meetings with the new Administration in February, just after the one year anniversary of Kosovo’s independence. That meeting proved a huge boost for a Kosovo public anxious to be reassured of the continuing support of the United States, and your visit here will further encourage Kosovo to understand that it has the strong backing it needs, but must take the initiative on its own to pursue democratic and economic development in a way that meets the demands of its citizens.
2. (C) As Kosovo’s leaders told you then, they have emerged at the end of a long and arduous journey with independence achieved, but many serious challenges ahead. Their accomplishments in the last 18 months and longer -- in fact throughout the difficult status determination period -- are admirable and should be recognized. At our urging, Kosovo leaders have taken the high road and largely ignored the seemingly unendless provocations lobbed their way by successive regimes in Serbia: violence in Kosovo’s north sanctioned by Belgrade, the destruction of customs operations on the border with Serbia, Serbian support for parallel governing institutions and parallel elections, the continuing refusal of Belgrade to permit Kosovo Serb participation in multi-ethnic municipal administrations or in Kosovo’s police and security forces, a Serbian trade embargo on Kosovo’s exports, the insistence on raising a case against Kosovo’s declaration of independence in the International Court of Justice, and -- lately -- efforts by Belgrade to target prominent Kosovo figures for prosecution in Serbia and extradition from any Western country where they may travel. Though the pro-Western government of Serbian President Boris Tadic is an improvement on its predecessor in many ways, the general parameters of Serbia’s Kosovo policy remain unchanged under the single-minded focus of Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic and his Foreign Ministry cohort.
3. (C) The need to deal with the flow of problems stemming from Belgrade’s policy has cost us and the Kosovars. It opens the Kosovo leadership to venomous opposition accusations that the government is not doing enough to establish its own authority in response to these Serbian moves, particularly in Kosovo’s north, and it distracts from the real requirements of responsible governance in Kosovo -- expanding economic growth, eliminating corruption, and enhancing the transparency and effectiveness of major social institutions. Indeed, the north has become a proxy battleground for two differing visions of the region’s future: for Serbs and for Belgrade (notably for President Tadic himself, who has spoken openly in the past of his thinking), it represents that part of Kosovo most likely to be retained by Serbia in a partition scenario as a precursor to Serbia’s accession into the EU, while for ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, retention of the north remains the symbolic key to proving Kosovo’s legitimate sovereignty. The fragile EU rule of law presence inserted triumphantly last December in the north and elsewhere in Kosovo is no match for this political minefield, and we can expect regular ethnic confrontations -- with attendant casualties, including among international peacekeepers -- until such time as either side accepts the futility of its ultimate aims in the north.
4. (C) With close to 2000 EULEX police, justice and customs functionaries in Kosovo, the European Union should have an overriding interest in a stable relationship between Kosovo and Serbia, and indeed recent months have seen an ongoing dialogue among EU representatives and the governments in Pristina and Belgrade designed to press for practical progress on a variety of issues of importance to both sides. The talks, however, have limped along without much to show; full resumption of customs operations on the northern border is months away, assuming Belgrade ever gives the go-ahead, and Serb police remain outside the Kosovo Police structure in Kosovo’s south despite ample time (and full salaries paid by the Kosovo government) for their reabsorption. EU visitors from Brussels tell us that they “lack leverage” with Serbia (more accurately, they lack leverage with the five EU states that do not recognize Kosovo) and, despite the obvious imperative of gaining Belgrade’s cooperation to ensure the success and momentum of the EULEX mission, they seem to have
PRISTINA 00000183 002.2 OF 002
abandoned any attempt at real leadership to push for concessions. We can already sense a strong degree of “Kosovo-fatigue” among our European counterparts which, coupled with the palpable sense here in the region that Europe has given up on further expansion, could prove a bad combination in providing the necessary EU-inspired incentives for further advancement in Kosovo.
5. (C) In the economic realm, Kosovo must find a way to deal with its moribund and budget-consuming energy sector if it is to attract investment and avoid popular unrest due to rolling blackouts. International organizations and donors -- the World Bank, the IMF (which Kosovo will join after a successful board vote this May), the European Commission, the U.S. and others -- must do a better job of coordination and providing effective guidance to the Kosovars, who lack the relevant experience and are often subject to mixed messages which do little to sketch out a clear way forward. The clearest example of this is in the energy arena, where the World Bank has taken a position on the development of Kosovo’s vast lignite deposits at odds with most of the other donors and stakeholders.
6. (C) All this, without question, makes continuing American leadership and support to Kosovo that much more imperative, in every sense possible -- political, technical and military. The need for KFOR to remain present in Kosovo, especially in the north but in other mixed ethnic areas as well (for example in Kosovo’s east and south where USKFOR has its area of responsibility and where the majority of Serbs live), cannot be overstated. Recent moves by some allies to depart Kosovo in a fashion uncoordinated through NATO bode ill for KFOR’s future effectiveness; that will be especially apparent if, as we anticipate, the French downsize their presence in Mitrovica and the north later this year.
7. (C) Kosovo is, thus far, a success story. Still, any of the factors we have enumerated -- continued Serbian pressure, counter-productive reactions from volatile political elites in Kosovo, EU vacillation and weakness, mounting territorial-cum-political tensions in the north, premature NATO withdrawal, or, maybe most serious, failure to secure a strong economic foundation for Kosovo’s future -- could create obstacles to Kosovo’s enduring survival. Kosovo is looking to the United States -- and to you, Mr. Vice President, as a known friend and long-time champion of human rights and dignity in the Balkans -- to assert yet one more time (and, yes, the continual reassurance is necessary under circumstances like those elaborated above) that we will be here for the long run to help get Kosovo through the difficult times ahead.
8. (C) But the quid pro quo, and one we must insist on with increased frequency and volume, is an acceptance of Kosovo’s own responsibilities -- in governance, in outreach to its non-majority communities, and in getting beyond the provocations from Serbia to focus on Kosovo’s future. Kosovo has been steeped in Serbia-related mayhem for too long; real maturity will come with the wisdom and ability to see beyond. You will carry this message in your meetings with leaders, in your address to the Assembly, and in your very appearance in Kosovo at this critical time. KAIDANOW

Wikileaks cables- Kosovo: Kaidanow's take on EULEX

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Wednesday, 08 April 2009, 17:27
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 05 PRISTINA 000148
SIPDIS
DEPT FOR INL, EUR/SCE
NSC FOR HELGERSON
EO 12958 DECL: 03/14/2019
TAGS PGOV, PINR, PREL, KV
SUBJECT: KOSOVO/EULEX: AT FULL OPERATING CAPABILITY, BUT
NOT WITHOUT PROBLEMS
Classified By: Ambassador Tina S. Kaidanow for Reasons 1.4 (b), (d).

1. (C) SUMMARY: On April 6 the European Union’s rule-of-law mission in Kosovo, EULEX, declared full operational capability (FOC). Four months after its initiation, EULEX can claim some significant successes, including a complete and violence-free roll-out of the police component; the reopening of the problematic Mitrovica courthouse and hearing of a case, the first since violence closed the court on March 17, 2008; and establishing its customs presence at border crossing points Gates 1 and 31 with Serbia. However, the EULEX police component’s low profile and its limited executive authority, the absence of control over its judges, and EULEX unwillingness -- or inability -- to clarify the question of applicable law continue to dog the rule of law mission’s ability to do its job effectively. All of these problems are compounded in the Serb-majority north, where EULEX has yet to reinforce its authority with the local populace. Success also requires that Serbia play a constructive role in dealing with EULEX on a technical level to solve practical problems while keeping the UN firmly outside the process -- an outcome we wish Brussels would underscore with Belgrade in a far more decisive manner. END SUMMARY
POLICE

2. (C) EULEX’s Police component, with 1654 total staff (international and national), comprises by far the largest share of EULEX’s 2507 person presence in Kosovo. EULEX Police enjoyed some success when the Formed Police Units (FPUs or specialized riot police) responded to tense situations in January and March in the divided flashpoint city of Mitrovica. However, the EULEX Police component has remained largely invisible in day-to-day operations. This is largely due to a different mandate that EULEX sees for its police officers compared to how UNMIK Police operated. Where UNMIK Police possessed wide-ranging executive authority and were visible to the public throughout the country, EULEX Police focus primarily on monitoring, mentoring, and advising (MMA). EULEX headquarters tells us that this MMA role necessitates that its officers work most closely with the Kosovo Police on management functions, and this work requires primary staffing at the station level.

3. (C) American officers assigned to the Police component have expressed some frustration regarding this hands-off approach and the absence of executive authority when operating in the field. Officers in the Strengthening Department operating in Mitrovica and at border gates, for example, have no executive authority to enforce laws or make arrests for visible criminal violations committed in their presence. They can only perform their MMA activities, and acting outside of this mandate could expose individual officers to disciplinary action -- for example, responding with force to an agitated and threatening individual at a border crossing -- for exerting unlawful executive authority. As a result, EULEX refuses to deploy officers from the Strengthening Department to situations where they might be compelled to act in self-defense -- the very situations where an international presence would be most beneficial.

4. (C) As an example, March protests over power cuts in the eastern Serb enclave of Silovo/Shilovo (Gjilane/Gnjilane municipality) initially saw no EULEX police officers respond due to their absence of executive authority. U.S. officers assigned to work with Kosovo Police (KP) officers in station-level management positions in the region convinced KP commanders to visit the scene, thus creating a rationale for the U.S. officers to monitor the commanders’ performance in the field. At the same time, these officers exposed themselves to personal jeopardy by leaving what EULEX calls their primary workplace, the police station.

5. (C) As it stands now, there is a large gap in EULEX’s police activity. The Special Police Department provides in extremis crowd control and riot suppression and currently
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deploys the bulk of its 455 FPU officers in the Mitrovica region. The Strengthening Department assigns officers to monitor, mentor, and advise at the station-level across the country. However, due to its lack of executive authority, EULEX has little role to play in emerging situations not yet requiring an FPU response -- situations that might benefit from the presence of international police officers whom local residents may regard as more objective and professional than KP officers.

6. (C) EULEX Police’s Executive Police Department (EPD) does possess authority to conduct investigations into organized crime cases and incidents where political interference undermines the rule of law, but EULEX tells us that this activity is limited due to insufficient equipment. Without surveillance or wiretap equipment, EPD officers cannot conduct effective investigations.
JUSTICE

7. (C) The EULEX Justice component enjoys some success in the solid mentoring relationship it has developed with Kosovo judges and prosecutors. Feedback has been positive and cooperation with USG programs in these areas has been very good. Cooperation with EULEX Justice at the headquarters level has also been good, and weekly meetings, which include other international stakeholders including the International Civilian Office (ICO) and the European Commission (EC), have helped ensure a tighter, more unified message on the range of legal issues. Significantly, EULEX has occupied the Mitrovica court house and has begun prosecuting cases. Though Serbs in north Mitrovica initially protested EULEX’s presence, seeing the organization as a tool of the Kosovo government and independence, EULEX was able to conduct a prosecution against two Serb defendants in March that resulted in acquittal on charges of felony robbery. But continued confusion within EULEX on applicable law has detracted from the success of this proceeding. The judges chose to apply UNMIK law, arguing that the offenses occurred while Kosovo was under UNMIK jurisdiction. EULEXXXXXXXXXXXXX failed to clarify the question of applicable law with both the judges and the GOK prior to beginning the case. We expect the court to issue a written judgment on or about April 10, which could prompt an unhappy response from Kosovo leaders and media (a point we have made repeatedly to EULEX top officials).

8. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX

9. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX It’s also apparent that the rigidity of EULEX’s prosecutorial structure, with international prosecutors assigned to specific courts or prosecutor’s offices and case transfers among prosecutors necessary when a case moves to another court or jurisdiction, hampers quick and effective action.
CUSTOMS

10. (C) The EULEX Customs component has developed a strong mentoring, monitoring, and advising role with the Kosovo Customs Service and has gradually increased its activities since EULEX initiated operations on December 9, 2008. Coordination between Customs Head of Component Paul Acda and Kosovo Customs Director Naim Huruglica, stemming from their previous cooperation under UNMIK, is especially strong and transparent.

11. (C) Eight EULEX Customs staff are working at the Kosovo Customs Service headquarters, including the Customs Head of Component, his deputy, two media relations personnel, and four expert advisors working directly with relevant Kosovo Customs departments in revenue operations, law enforcement, legal, and finance and administration. EULEX Customs also has 18 personnel working as mobile customs units (six teams of three people), plus one team coordinator, monitoring all customs border posts. The mobile units group is based at a separate Kosovo Customs building located in Fushe Kosove/Kosovo Polje, just outside of Pristina. These units are fully staffed but are experiencing some equipment shortages, including phones, radios, cameras, GPS equipment, etc.

12. (C) The EULEX Customs Reinforcement Task Force has a staff of 22 internationals out of a planned 33, with no local staff deployed to date. This group first operated on a 9-to-5 basis in northern Kosovo in December 2008, and commenced 24/7 operations in mid-January 2009. On February 1, 2009, EULEX Customs officials began registering commercial goods entering through the two northern gates (1 and D31), data which had gone unrecorded since protesters destroyed the gates in February 2008. The registration process entails collecting basic information about shipments, such as company name, type of goods, value and quantity, to share with customs officials at the inland Mitrovica customs clearance terminal, and vehicles entering these gates receive instructions to proceed to the inland terminal. These are essentially the same procedures that were in place prior to independence (February 2008), except that EULEX officials are not yet withholding personal documents from drivers -- such as a passport or driver’s license -- as a guarantee that the driver will present the goods for clearance at the Mitrovica terminal.

13. (C) Full customs procedures will not restart at Gates 1 and D31 until the gates undergo repair and receive specialized inspection equipment. Possible next steps toward
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reestablishing full customs controls will include building customs offices at the northern gates, establishing freight forwarding and bank offices, installing cameras that connect directly to the main customs operations center in Pristina, and acceptance of customs duties at the gates. Some of these steps, such as installing cameras and collecting duties, are likely to spark political sensitivities in the north, with threats emanating regularly from northern Serb hardliners about the violent response that will ensue if customs is fully restored. EULEX Customs also needs clarification on which customs law applies in the north -- UNMIK or Kosovo -- in order to begin collecting customs duties at the two northern gates. Discussions on how to rectify this legal dilemma are on-going in the context of “practical issues” consultations between EULEX and the Belgrade and Kosovo governments. EULEX Customs has recommended adding an additional 20 international and 10 local staff in the north to cover eventual revenue collection at Gates 1 and D31, which would take the Customs component to fully operational status.
EULEX BEYOND FOC

14. (C) EULEX’s policy chief Dominique Orsini on April 2 told us that Full Operating Capability (FOC) is a military term in vogue and in use because of former French General Yves de Kermabon’s influence and reflects only that EULEX has sufficient personnel to fulfill its mission. While EULEX declared FOC on April 6, it does not mean that EULEX’s activities or its mandate have grown to meet Kosovo’s requirements for EULEX’s mission. Orsini told us that EULEX is actively considering how to improve its performance and told us that other participant countries and the UN have also noted the gap in policing left by the limited executive authority that EULEX police officers possess. EULEX is considering creating a very limited cadre of civilian affairs officers that might be able to respond to emerging situations, providing on-the-scene international voices working with Kosovo Police to help quell local tensions. Visiting EU CIVCOM representative Kim Friedberg told the Ambassador on April 7 that this was under active consideration for the north, though the very next day EULEX HOM de Kermabon denied to the Ambassador that this civilian or political component would do anything more than simply “coordinate” among EULEX elements and possibly other international actors operating in the north. Confusion obviously still exists on the methodologies EULEX will employ to overcome some of these “gap” issues.

15. (C) Orsini is also less confident that EULEX will resolve the applicable law question. As long as only 22 of 27 EU member states recognize Kosovo, EULEX will be unable, according to Orsini, to develop a consistent policy that identifies Kosovo law as the only legal system operating here. He added that Madrid and the other four non-recognizing capitals complain to Brussels each time a routine report even suggests that EULEX is venturing beyond the bounds of status-neutrality and straying from its mandate under UNSCR 1244, and Brussels, in turn, notifies EULEX headquarters of its offense. (At the recent EULEX ceremony marking the opening of their new headquarters and reaching FOC, no Kosovo flag was displayed, though all EU member state flags -- including that of the UK, which recently announced its withdrawal of most of its EULEX contingent -- were prominently featured. No U.S. or Turkish flag was flown, either.) We expect that this confusion will continue to plague both justice and customs operations in the North, and it will become an ever more vocal bone of contention among Kosovo Albanian political forces and the local media.
COMMENT

16. (C) EULEX has had some successes -- its deployment, de Kermabon’s receptiveness to our counsel, its effective response to violent outbreaks in Mitrovica, and a growing number of concluded court cases, including a war crimes conviction against a Kosovo Albanian that carried a 17-year
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prison sentence. Its cautiousness in hewing to status neutrality and defining its mission as purely technical, however, is a serious limitation. Right now EULEX is a stabilizing influence, helping to provide law and order in the absence of international consensus on Kosovo’s status, but it could quickly become immobilized by its inherent political limitations.

17. (C) EULEX must take a more active role in helping Kosovo resolve practical issues that fall within its legitimate mandate on customs, justice and police issues; this will obviously require an active dialogue with Serbia -- but without the UN presence in negotiations that convinces the Kosovars that these talks are just a continuation of the abortive “six point” discussions that almost led to a breakdown of stability in Kosovo last November. If EULEX -- the biggest and most ambitious ESDP mission to date -- is to succeed, it needs to make progress on the critical issues of the north, but that progress will only come if Brussels applies equal pressure on Belgrade and Pristina, rather than acceding to Belgrade’s political demands and alienating their Kosovo counterparts. Thus far the jury is still out on whether the EU will show the necessary degree of political leadership, but we will continue to urge a balanced and vigorous approach, as well as a more robust operational posture in Kosovo’s north. End Comment. KAIDANOW

Wikileaks cables- Kosovo: Scene setter for the visit of Kosovo President and PM to Washington

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Monday, 23 February 2009, 17:24
C O N F I D E N T I A L PRISTINA 000077
SIPDIS
DEPT FOR S, P, EUR (FRIED, JONES)
NSC FOR HELGERSON, OVP FOR BLINKEN
FOR THE SECRETARY AND THE VICE-PRESIDENT FROM THE AMBASSADOR
EO 12958 DECL: 02/14/2019
TAGS PREL, PGOV, UNMIK, KV
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR THE VISIT OF KOSOVO PRESIDENT
SEJDIU AND PRIME MINISTER THACI TO WASHINGTON, FEBRUARY 26, 2008
Classified By: AMBASSADOR TINA KAIDANOW FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D)

Monday, 23 February 2009, 17:24
C O N F I D E N T I A L PRISTINA 000077
SIPDIS
DEPT FOR S, P, EUR (FRIED, JONES)
NSC FOR HELGERSON, OVP FOR BLINKEN
FOR THE SECRETARY AND THE VICE-PRESIDENT FROM THE AMBASSADOR
EO 12958 DECL: 02/14/2019
TAGS PREL, PGOV, UNMIK, KV
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR THE VISIT OF KOSOVO PRESIDENT
SEJDIU AND PRIME MINISTER THACI TO WASHINGTON, FEBRUARY 26, 2008
Classified By: AMBASSADOR TINA KAIDANOW FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D)

¶1. (C) It has been a difficult but in many ways successful year since Kosovo declared its independence on February 17, 2008. Though we spent much time planning for the possibility of large-scale population flows after the declaration and took precautions lest the independence move sparked outright conflict between Kosovo and Serbia, none of this has taken place. Instead, with our strong support and encouragement, Kosovo has weathered a series of provocative and sometimes violent actions taken by Serb hardliners, demonstrating through patience and restraint that it is a responsible member of the international community and an eager aspirant for eventual inclusion in Euro-Atlantic institutions. Kosovo has a modern constitution, has passed laws to protect its minorities, and is looking to build a sustainable economic base through development of its energy sector and other private investment. Acknowledging Kosovo’s achievements, 55 of the most important countries in Europe and elsewhere have recognized Kosovo, though the pace of recognitions has been slowed by Serbia’s unfortunate decision to refer the question of Kosovo independence to the International Court of Justice. Kosovo is working to expand the group of recognizers, and would appreciate the assistance of the new U.S. administration in convincing friends and allies -- particularly in the Islamic world -- to come on board.


¶2. (C) Kosovo’s temperate line is in many ways due to the leadership of President Sejdiu and Prime Minister Thaci, two men of very different backgrounds and political sentiment who chose to make common cause at a critical time for Kosovo. The two formed a coalition government just prior to independence, an arrangement that has held steady despite historical animosities and considerable mistrust between their two parties. This visit and your visible endorsement of Kosovo’s moderate approach will help fend off growing domestic criticism -- from dissatisfied members of the governing coalition and from the vocal opposition -- that Kosovo leaders have not been assertive enough in establishing control over Kosovo’s rebellious Serb-majority north or defending against Serbian encroachments on Kosovo sovereignty.


¶3. (C) And those encroachments will likely persist, even under the pro-European government of Serbian President Tadic in Belgrade. The previous Serbian government under Prime Minister Kostunica engineered a policy of full ethnic separation in Kosovo, physically intimidating local Serbs into abandoning jobs in Kosovo’s once multi-ethnic police force and municipal administrations. Serbia held its own illegal municipal elections in Kosovo despite warnings from the UN that such a move violated UNSCR 1244 and moved rapidly to emplace parallel institutions in Serb-majority areas throughout Kosovo. Serbia also backed open violence by the thuggish and criminalized Serb leadership in Kosovo’s north, which ordered the destruction of two northern border gates and the subsequent March 17, 2008 attack on UN and KFOR peacekeepers.


¶4. (C) While Tadic has made significant steps on key issues of importance to the West, including on ICTY commitments, he has pursued a policy in Kosovo not materially different from that of his predecessor. Serbia continues to assert the authority of parallel Serb municipal authorities throughout Kosovo, sowing the seeds of potential conflict in areas where Serbs and Albanians live side by side. Tadic’s Serbia has refused to restore customs operations at the two northern gates, resulting in a rash of smuggling and organized crime in northern Kosovo. No local Serbs have yet been permitted by Belgrade to return to Kosovo institutions. While Tadic and his foreign minister Jeremic (the mastermind of Belgrade’s Kosovo policy) finally bowed to European pressure to accept the deployment of an EU rule of law mission (EULEX) throughout Kosovo, they have resisted engaging in discussions with EULEX on the resolution of practical issues including customs and police, insisting instead that the UN impose Belgrade-crafted measures -- the so-called “six points” -- to effectively separate Kosovo’s ethnic Serbs from its majority population. Should these six points be implemented in the way Belgrade foresees, Kosovars worry that partition could once again become a viable reality.


¶5. (C) The Kosovo government remains prepared to engage in quiet diplomacy with Serbia via EU mediation, and has held open those positions in the police and public sector that

were once occupied by local Serbs in anticipation of any signal from Belgrade to the Kosovo Serb community that they are free to resume a more collaborative approach. You can impress upon Sejdiu and Thaci once again the imperative to maintain outreach to their minority communities and implement fully those obligations they undertook to the Serb population under the plan developed by UN Special Envoy (and Nobel laureate) Ahtisaari.


¶6. (C) Kosovo’s challenges are not limited to the political and security realm. Last year’s Donors Conference saw over $1.5 billion pledged in support of Kosovo, but the momentum of Kosovo’s economic development and its attractiveness to international investors -- particularly in the energy field, where Kosovo’s huge lignite deposits can be transformed over the next decade into a reliable domestic supply of electricity as well as an export commodity -- will ultimately depend not on the largesse of donors but on the government’s own credible pursuit of its economic objectives, something you can stress in your discussions with them. They will also need to avoid the serious pitfalls of cronyism, corruption and political patronage in public appointments; the recent selections of solid professionals to lead their intelligence agency and the ministry of the Kosovo Security Force (the small, NATO-trained civil response force) gives at least some cause for hope in this regard.


¶7. (C) Sejdiu and Thaci may reaffirm their conviction that U.S. troop contributions in Kosovo remain essential, particularly since U.S. forces alone are trusted enough by Serbs and Albanians to maintain peace in one of the most volatile parts of Kosovo. Kosovo leaders will also express their belief that only the United States can provide the kind of lasting leadership in Kosovo and the region that is necessary for prolonged stability. Frankly, we agree. While many in the EU and most notably the “Quint” countries were vigorous in supporting Kosovo’s independence, the intensified problems we predict as a consequence of Belgrade’s intransigence -- especially those surrounding Kosovo’s north, where Serb extremists have shown their readiness for continued confrontation -- could easily lead some queasy Europeans to back away from their commitments over time and settle for a partition-like outcome that has been adamantly opposed by Kosovars of all political persuasions. The United Nations, as well, though “reconfiguring” and downsizing its presence here, has shown a negative tendency to retain certain important authorities, under pressure from Belgrade and Moscow. If Kosovo is to succeed as a long-term proposition -- and it most certainly can -- our sustained engagement is necessary to bolster European resolve, bring Belgrade to a more realistic sense of its equities in peace and stability, and take a firm line with the UN on further reducing its presence in Kosovo. These meetings in Washington will help reinforce the sense that Kosovo is moving forward and imbue Kosovo’s leadership with a renewed sense of confidence as they prepare to face the many challenges ahead. KAIDANOW