Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (S / 2021/861) – Serbia
I. Introduction and mission priorities
1. This report is submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) by which the Council established the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and requested the Secretary-General to report to regular intervals on the execution of its mandate. The report covers UNMIK activities and related developments from March 16 to September 15, 2021.
2. The Mission’s priorities remain the promotion of security, stability and respect for human rights in Kosovo and the region. In pursuit of its objectives, UNMIK continues its constructive engagement with Pristina and Belgrade, all the communities of Kosovo and regional and international actors. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Kosovo Force continue to play their role under resolution 1244 (1999). The European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo continues its presence in Kosovo, in accordance with the statement by the President of the Security Council of 26 November 2008 (S / PRST / 2008/44) and the report of the Secretary-General of 24 November 2008 (S / 2008/692). United Nations agencies, funds and programs work closely with the Mission.
II. Main political and security developments
3. Following the parliamentary elections held in Kosovo on February 14, in which the Movement for Self-Determination (VetÑvendosje) obtained a parliamentary majority, the main political developments were the formation of the new government and the resumption of the facilitated dialogue. by the European Union between Belgrade and Pristina. The legislator elected the leader of VetÑvendosje, Albin Kurti, Prime Minister of Kosovo on March 22 and Vjosa Osmani (leader of the âGuxoâ initiative) as President of Kosovo on April 4. Ms. Osmani is the second woman in Kosovo to hold the post of President. With the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic still hitting Kosovo hard, the new government has prioritized restoring the resulting health, social and economic consequences. While the new government recognized calls from international actors to prioritize the EU-facilitated dialogue, the two high-level meetings held under the auspices of the European Union revealed greater differences between the parties.
4. The government led by VetÑvendosje, formed with the support of all the caucuses of the non-majority communities of the Kosovo Assembly, with the exception of the Serbian List Party, is made up of a Prime Minister, three deputies Prime ministers, two of whom are women, and a cabinet of 15 ministries, 5 of which are headed by women. Despite an initial controversy over the Serbian List insisting on more than one ministerial portfolio and referring the case to the Constitutional Court on March 29, the composition of the government reflects an increased representation of non-majority communities. For the first time, the Bosnian community in Kosovo is represented at Deputy Prime Minister level and three ministries are headed by representatives of the Serbian List and of the Egyptian and Turkish communities in Kosovo. At the end of the reporting period, the Constitutional Court had not rendered a decision on the referral of the Serbian List and Belgrade had objected to the party’s reduced representation in government compared to previous legislatures.
5. The Democratic Party of Kosovo, the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo and the Serbian lists boycotted the April 4 election of President Osmani, which received a total of 71 votes in favor and 11 abstentions. The required quorum of 80 deputies present (out of a total of 120) was only reached after 3 individual deputies from the opposition parties broke ranks to participate in the session alongside VetÃ«vendosje, from the Guxo initiative , the Democratic League of Kosovo and the multi-ethnic group caucuses of other non-majority communities.
6. On May 17, Prime Minister Kurti presented to the Assembly his government program, with the management of the COVID-19 pandemic as the main priority of the government, followed by the fight against socio-economic problems, in particular unemployment, and by reform of the justice system. Along with plans to achieve 60% vaccination of the population by the end of 2021, the program provides for the creation of a fund to facilitate foreign investment and a new process for verifying judges and prosecutors. In its first 100 days, the new government took steps to tackle allegations of misconduct in the civil service, which led to the Kosovo Assembly’s dismissal of the boards of several state-owned companies , including Radio Television of Kosovo, and other public institutions. The layoffs drew criticism from opposition parties, who saw them as politically motivated. Regarding relations with Belgrade, the new government pledged to “do everything possible to achieve mutual recognition” and guarantee the principle of “reciprocity” and expressed its intention to take action against Serbia before the Court. international justice system for alleged crimes committed in Kosovo, including an allegation of genocide.
7. The period under review was also marked by an intensification by Pristina of its efforts to broaden its engagement on the international scene and in multilateral forums. On May 21, the government of Kosovo approved an agreement on the freedom of movement of citizens and third parties which provides for visa-free travel between and among Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia. . The agreement, which requires the approval of the Kosovo Assembly, was one of the outcomes of the regional meeting of interior and security ministers held in Skopje on October 16, 2020, as part of the Berlin process. The Kosovo government, however, continued to oppose the “mini-Schengen” initiative launched in October 2019 by the leaders of Albania, North Macedonia and Serbia, which was renamed when they took over. meeting in Skopje on July 29, the initiative “Open Balkan”. , with the aim of creating a free economic space and a single labor market by 2023. Pristina considers that the initiative does not offer equal status to Kosovo and undermines the common regional market agreement, which was signed by all the leaders of the region, including Kosovo, at the 2020 Sofia summit as part of the Berlin process aimed at achieving the free movement of people, goods, services and capital in the region , based on European Union standards.
8. As soon as it took office, the government also began to prepare for the resumption of the dialogue facilitated by the European Union with Belgrade. In May, in an attempt to reach consensus on the government’s position in the dialogue, Prime Minister Kurti held consultative meetings with opposition leaders, including the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo and the Democratic League of Kosovo. Both sides expressed support for the negotiations, provided that the territory, constitutional order and unitary character of Kosovo are preserved. The Democratic Party of Kosovo did not participate in the consultative meetings but declared its support for the continuation of the dialogue. For its part, the Serbian List expressed concern that the new authorities in Pristina are unwilling to accept the previous agreements reached within the framework of the dialogue facilitated by the European Union.
9. On June 15, following consultations with political parties, President Osmani announced that the next municipal elections would be held on October 17, 2021. This announcement was preceded by the dismissal of the chairman of the electoral commission for â irregularities âobserved in the first parliamentary elections held on February 14, a decision which drew criticism from opposition parties and civil society organizations in Pristina.
10. An increase in tensions and a number of reported incidents were noted during the reporting period, particularly affecting the Kosovo Serb community and Serbian Orthodox religious and cultural sites. Following numerous allegations of harassment, intimidation and theft, a Kosovo Serb woman who returned to GjakovÃ« / Äakovica on June 9 was placed under the protection of the Kosovo police. On August 9, a Kosovo Serb was reportedly attacked by three unknown men in the municipality of Novo Brdo / NovobÃ«rdÃ«. Other reported cases involved physical assaults on a Kosovo Serb boy in the village of GojbulÃ« / Gojublja, Vushtrri / VuÄitrn municipality, by a group of young Kosovar Albanians on July 1 and against another Kosovo Serb in GraÃ§anicÃ« / GraÄanica by Kosovar Albanian men on April 13. A total of 15 incidents affecting religious and cultural sites of Kosovo Serbs, including theft, property damage and hate graffiti, were also recorded during the reporting period. On July 21, the Pristina Magistrates’ Court convicted a Montenegrin citizen of “inciting discord and intolerance” for allegedly chanting Serbian nationalist slogans during a Serbian Orthodox religious rally in Kosovo on June 28 on the occasion of Vidovdan (Saint Vitus). The individual was banned from entering Kosovo for five years and sentenced to six months’ imprisonment or payment of a fine. His arrest sparked protests in Podgorica and was condemned by the Serbian Government’s Office for Kosovo and Metohija.
11. On 17 July, the Ministry of Interior and Public Administration announced that 11 residents of Kosovo (6 men, 1 woman and 4 children) had been repatriated from the Syrian Arab Republic to Kosovo. The special department of the Pristina Court of First Instance placed the six men in detention and the repatriated woman under house arrest on suspicion of “organizing and participating in a terrorist group”. The ministry also announced that all returnees had received appropriate medical treatment.
12. From August 29 to September 3, the Assistant Secretary-General for Europe, Central Asia and the Americas visited UNMIK. He met with government officials, city leaders, international actors and representatives of civil society in Pristina, Mitrovica and Belgrade and expressed United Nations solidarity and support for efforts to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, to strengthen human rights and the rule of law and promote confidence-building and inter-community reconciliation.