1.12.2011, Pacefare, Say WHAT?
Posted in Balkans, European Union - 1 December 2011 by Daniel Serwer, pacefare.net
Across my desk yesterday came this policy brief, in which the Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies in Belgrade appeals to the international community "to consider our invitation to Serbian authorities to release citizens of northern Kosovo from the mandatory presence at the barricades disguised as a compulsory service".
Say WHAT? Serb citizens of northern Kosovo are being obligated by the local authorities (who report to Belgrade, not Pristina) to man the barricades as “compulsory service”? I’ll be glad if someone can tell me definitively that this is not true, that in fact they do it purely out of (misguided) personal passion and commitment. But otherwise it is pure outrage. If the organs of the Serbian state, established in contravention of UN Security Council resolution 1244 on the territory of Kosovo, are requiring citizens to man protests against those charged with implementing 1244, we are truly beyond the realm of the reasonable. That is not behavior worthy of a European state, or of one that aspires to be a candidate.
The barricades in question have been blocking roads in northern Kosovo, where the local population is resisting the authority of NATO, EULEX and Pristina, fearing that they will enable collection of customs duties at the Serbia/Kosovo boundary/border.
That is certainly something they intend to do, and should do. As Ambassador Rosemary Di Carlo said at the UN Security Council Tuesday: we echo the Secretary-General’s call for KFOR to continue its efforts to ensure freedom of movement throughout Kosovo. This Council has affirmed that Kosovo is a single customs space. This is fully in accordance with Security Council Resolution 1244 and was a key point in the Secretary General’s November 2008 report on UNMIK, a report that the Council welcomed in its presidential statement of November 26, 2008. Kosovo therefore has the right to control its borders and uphold rule of law in full cooperation with the international community. It cannot be considered unilateral action for Kosovo to enforce its customs controls. Moreover, Kosovo also coordinated its activities with the international community, including KFOR and EULEX.
It is time for Belgrade to end behavior that puts its own aspirations for European Union membership, which are supposed to be decided December 9, seriously in doubt.