Belgrade, EULEX react to local Serbs' decision

Ministry for Kosovo State Secretary Oliver Ivanović has said that "decisions on cooperation with EULEX will be made by a future government of Serbia".

Source: Tanjug

The official of the outgoing government spoke late on Monday to add that "local authorities in northern Kosovo are not entitled to decide on such matters".

Ivanović was reacting to a decision reached by the "crisis headquarters" of the town of Kosovska Mitrovica to until further notice deny passage to members of the EU mission, EULEX.

The official cautioned that each next step taken by the municipal assembly would have to be balanced in order not to narrow the next government's room for maneuver.

"It is understandable that Serbs in northern Kosovska Mitrovica feel fear and anxiety, which the municipal assembly is trying to articulate, but what its representatives should know is that, regardless of latest developments, the decision on cooperation with EULEX is not made by the municipality, but by the future government," Ivanović told Tanjug.

"Of course, EULEX should not act beyond the scope of its mandate, and it should be status neutral according to (UNSC) Resolution 1244. If not, EULEX will not have cooperation with the Serb population," he added.

The announcement of opening an administrative office of the Kosovo government in the north is an unnecessary provocation which will cause great tensions in an already unstable environment, Ivanović noted.

"I believe that the announcement is intended to cause a quick reaction of local Serbs, which will then divert attention away from major problems. Then everyone will talk about the consequences, that is the conflict, and not about what caused that conflict," Ivanović said.

He stated that, according to information he has, the municipal crisis headquarters was formed by the municipal assembly and that it includes all institutions in Kosovska Mitrovica which can make contribution in a situation which is qualified as quite tense and uncertain.

"EULEX was not exposed in recent developments, but the mission must face the fact that it had jeopardized its credibility with its previous conduct and that it is now harder for it to find an interlocutor among the Serb population. No international mission, especially not the one that should implement law and order, can count on success if it does not have close cooperation with local inhabitants," Ivanović stressed.

The crisis headquarters of the municipality of Kosovska Mitrovica decided on Monday that EULEX be denied passage in northern Kosovska Mitrovica until further notice.

"EULEX officials will be denied free movement in northern Kosovska Mitrovica until further notice. Any attempt to enter the area by force or clear the barricades will be seen as open aggression and the responsibility for potential consequences will be on those who initiate such actions," the headquarters stated.

EULEX also reacted to the news out of Kosovska Mitrovica to state that it is necessary to restore permanent and unconditional access to northern Kosovo in order for the mission to be able to carry out activities related to the rule of law.

Spokesperson Anne Blanksma told Tanjug on Monday that EULEX' stance is unchanged and that permanent and unconditional access to northern Kosovo should be established.


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