EULEX facing mixed welcome

While the Kosovo Serbs see no reason to hasten the EULEX mission's deployment, the Albanians hope it will assuage inter-ethnic tensions.

Source: B92, Beta

EULEX officials begin assuming their duties and powers from UNMIK in Kosovo on Tuesday, and they are due to deploy throughout the province.

This would fulfill one of the conditions of the Kosovo institutions.

Serbs in northern Kosovo say that a certain amount of time is needed to see for themselves that EULEX representatives are acting neutral vis-à-vis the province’s status.

100 EULEX officials will be deployed on the first official day of the mission’s mandate.

EULEX Chief Yves de Kermabon said that a few police officers and border police would be stationed at the administrative crossings in northern Kosovo set alight just after Kosovo’s unilateral independence declaration in February.

A number of police officers will also be stationed outside the court in Kosovska Mitrovica.

Nebojša Jović, the president of the Serb National Council in Northern Kosovska Mitrovica, believes that there is no need to rush with the EULEX deployment, and that that mission should work with UNMIK.

“It wouldn’t be wise for EULEX to rush with the deployment in majority-Serb regions. Our state has, in a certain manner, accepted, and we may, in a certain manner in agreement with our state, accept EULEX,” said Jović.

“But, I think an UNMIK presence is essential until then so that the Serb people can finally trust in the good intentions that EULEX should be truly status neutral and that peace should be established throughout the region,” he said.

In Jović’s view, it is necessary to establish the protection mechanisms that EULEX will offer the Kosovo Serbs.

Priština lawyer Azem Vlasi says that the Kosovo Albanians’ view is that EULEX should work on the basis of the Kosovo Constitution and the Ahtisaari plan.

“The mission will undoubtedly be for the well-being of all Kosovo’s citizens and institutions, a contribution to Kosovo’s preparations for European integration,” said Vlasi.

Serbs in northern Kosovska Mitrovica oppose EULEX and cooperation with its officials.

EULEX officials’ first task will be to explain their mission to people, while its ultimate goal is to transform Kosovo into a multi-ethnic society.

De Kermabon stressed that there are still a number of unsolved cases, which is one of the reasons why the Serbs should speak to EU mission representatives.

EULEX will address the issue of the most serious ethnically-motivated crimes committed against the Serbs, such as the murder of the Stolić family in Obilić and the murder of children in Goraždevac.