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Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

24.09.10: Kosovo in New York - 0 views

  • After Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov took his turn among a succession of heads of state and government to have talks with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the start of the General Assembly’s new season, the UN’s news service said that Kosovo had topped the agenda, specifically the prospects for talks between Belgrade and Priština.Given hopes in diplomatic circles that on the sidelines of the General Assembly talkfest, an arrangement could be brokered to open negotiations between Serbia and Kosovo, the topic of the Borissov-Ban discussions was hardly a surprise – especially given Bulgaria’s desire to take the lead in helping to get the Western Balkans on an even keel.
  • These developments all preceded what many hoped would be a turning point in New York – a scheduled September 23 meeting between EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and  Tadić, at which – or so it was hoped – there would be some agreement on starting an EU-brokered set of talks between Belgrade and Priština, including a starting date for the dialogue.On September 20, Ashton met Kosovo prime minister Hashim Thaçi. Media in Priština said that Thaçi had told Ashton that Kosovo was prepared to talk to Serbia about matters of mutual interest, but with the issues of Kosovo’s status decidedly off the agenda.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

10.09.10: Internal discussions in Serbia on UN adoption of Kosovo Resolution - 0 views

  • Belgrade has praised the UN General Assembly's adoption of a resolution on Kosovo that calls for dialogue between the state and Serbia. Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic said the decision on Thursday night was an important move as it ended the process Serbia had started by requesting a legal opinion from the International Court of Justice, ICJ, on Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence.
  • Some opposition parties in Serbia were quick to label the adoption "a defeat and shame for the Serbian people". Dragan Todorovic from the opposition Serbian Radical Party, SRS, called Thursday's adoption the "most shameful and hardest hit" that Serbia had suffered in its history. "Everyone who watched the session could see how Serbia has lost Kosovo, for which it has been fighting for generations in only one way," Todorovic told Balkan Insight.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

08.09.10: EU should facilitate Kosovo-Serbia talks, show new muscle - 0 views

  • A rare combination of events offers the EU the opportunity to help Serbia and Kosovo resolve their differences, establish relations and unblock their paths to further European integration. The 22 July International Court of Justice (ICJ) opinion that found Kosovo's declaration of independence violated no international law or UN Resolution, a September discussion in the UN General Assembly on Kosovo, an invitation to mediate by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton, and unprecedented domestic support for Prime Minister Hashim
  • Possibly, it only wants talks that discuss Kosovo's status, inherently delaying other countries' decisions to join the 69 states that have already recognised. But this delaying tactic is not going to work, and there will be no EU facilitated dialogue if Serbia does not accept to sit down with Kosovo as an equal. The encouraging news is that some high level officials in Serbia seem to recognise this. They are interested in moving forward with their EU candidacy and feel Kosovo as an albatross holding them back. They want to find mutually acceptable solutions with Pristina which could pave the way for recognition.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

31.08.10: EU tells Serbia to give up Kosovo 'last battle' - 0 views

  • Serbia has tabled an initiative to push through a resolution in the UN General Assembly declaring unilateral secession by Kosovo as "unacceptable". But major EU countries warned Belgrade that it should seek solutions to its problems in Brussels, not New York. Beta agency, EurActiv's partner in Serbia, reports.
  • Unhappy with the International Court of Justice's ruling that Kosovo's independence declaration did not violate international law (EurActiv 23/07/10), Serbia has taken the issue to the UN, hoping for a more sympathetic approach from its members to the issue of territorial integrity. The draft resolution calls for fresh talks on all outstanding issues, but also condemns Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence. Belgrade plans to get it adopted at a session which starts in mid-September. As reported by international agencies, the EU has warned Belgrade that insisting on the resolution could harm relations with Brussels and eventually its aspirations to join the EU.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

30.08.10: Serbia open to EU compromise on Kosovo - 0 views

  • Cracks in Serbia's long-uncompromising position on Kosovo appeared on the weekend as President Boris Tadic said his country is open to discussing a compromise over its UN General Assembly resolution. In July, following a ruling by the International Court of Justice that Kosovo's 2008 unilateral declaration of independence was not in violation of international law, Belgrade submitted a resolution with the General Assembly declaring "unilateral secession is not an acceptable way to solve territorial issues" and calling for a "mutually acceptable solution to all open issues".
  • Last week, German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle bluntly told Serbia: "Kosovar independence is a reality," and: "The map of southeastern Europe has been laid down and completed." He also suggested that Belgrade's acquiescence on this fact was necessary before Serbia could join the EU, despite five existing member states refusing to recognise the breakaway region.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

19.11.08: 'Balkan wars' move to UN court - 0 views

  • Battlefields are no longer the place to solve conflicts in the Balkans. In recent days and weeks, several bilateral conflicts involving countries in the region, which are also hindering their EU accession prospects, are moving to more dignified surroundings: the International Court of Justice at the UN.
  • Background: The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations (UN). It was established in June 1945 by the Charter of the United Nations and began work in April 1946.  The seat of the court is at the Peace Palace in The Hague (Netherlands). Of the six principal organs of the United Nations, it is the only one not located in New York .  The court's role is to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted to it by states and to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorised United Nations organs and specialised agencies.  Although the UN International Court of Justice's opinion is advisory, without binding effect, it nevertheless remains that the authority and prestige attached to the court's advisory opinions, especially when the organ or agency concerned endorses that opinion, means that its decisions are often sanctioned as such by international law. 
  • In a very short timeframe, several conflicts between Balkan countries have been referred to the UN's highest court.  In the first of a recent string of lawsuits, Serbia tested the legality of Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence before the Hague Tribunal in October (EurActiv 09/10/08), while on Monday (17 November), Macedonia instituted proceedings against Greece after its neighbour long-time foe had blocked its NATO bid over a name dispute (EurActiv 02/04/08).  Yesterday (18 November), Croatia won the right to sue Serbia for genocide after the court ruled that it had the legal power to decide on the case. In return, Serbia indicated that it would sue Croatia for war crimes. 
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  • Olli Rehn, the EU enlargement commissioner, recently expressed regret over this practice, adding that he would prefer to see bilateral issues solved in a bilateral framework (EurActiv 06/11/08). 
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

17.11.08: Kosovo still opposed to EU police mission, PM says - 0 views

  • Pristina is still opposed to the compromise deal between Serbia, the European Union and the United Nations on the deployment of EULEX, the EU's police and justice mission in Kosovo, and its stance will not change, Kosovo's prime minister, Hashim Thaci, said on Sunday (16 November). "Kosovo will not change its position. It is the points of this plan that need to change. We have a state position and we will defend that position until the end," Mr Thaci was reported as saying by Serbian news portal B92.net.
  • Under pressure from Belgrade, the UN presented a revised six-point plan to Kosovo leaders last week, under which EULEX would be neutral regarding Kosovo's status and would enter the Serb-dominated parts of Kosovo. Pristina considers that the revised proposal clashes with its interests, however.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

16.06.08: Western Balkans on EU agenda - 0 views

  • After a re-run of the general election in Macedonia and the entry into force of Kosovo's new constitution on Sunday, EU foreign ministers will convene today (16 June) to review the situation in the neighbouring Western Balkans.
  • Ministers will likely welcome the peaceful re-run of parliamentary elections in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on Sunday, just two weeks after ethnic violence marred the first elections on 1 June. 
  • While Kosovo is not on the foreign ministers' agenda, it is unlikely that they will be able to avoid the topic, after the fledgling state's constitution entered into force on Sunday.  The EU is also poised to take over policing and justice tasks from the United Nations after the UN's Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last week put forward proposals to "reconfigure" the activities of the UN Mission UNMIK to allow the EU to deploy its contested EU-Lex police mission there (EurActiv 29/05/08).  "It is my intention to reconfigure the structure and profile of the international civil presence [...] enabling the European Union to assume an enhanced operational role," said the secretary general in letters to Kosovo and Serbian leaders.  But the handover, which is foreseen in Kosovo's constitution, remains strongly opposed by both Serbia and Russia, who insist that the EU mission is illegal because it has not been approved by the UN Security Council. 
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

13.06.08: EU and UN to work side-by-side in Kosovo mess - 0 views

  • The EU's police and civil administration mission for Kosovo, EULEX, is set to start work side-by-side with the existing UN mission, UNMIK, in a legal and organisational mess surrounding Kosovo's struggle to establish independence.
  • A new UN resolution drafted in 2007 was to see UNMIK cede powers to the government of an independent Kosovo, supported by the 2,200-strong EULEX police and customs force and overseen by an EU special representative and his International Civilian Office. Russia blocked the new UN resolution but Kosovo declared independence unilaterally on 17 February, creating the current situation in which just 20 of the 27 EU states have recognised Kosovo independence and just 300 EULEX officials have so far been deployed.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

29.05.08: EU, UN in talks to share leadership of Kosovo mission - 0 views

  • The legal problems encountered by EU-Lex, the EU mission in Kosovo, could soon be solved, with diplomats currently in talks over plans to share the leadership with UNMIK, the United Nations peace-keeping mission.
  • Background: The EU decided in February 2008 to deploy a 2,200 strong 'Rule of Law' mission to Kosovo under the name 'EU-Lex Kosovo'. Its deployment has already started, after having been delayed for both technical and political reasons.  The initial objective was for EU-Lex to take over from UNMIK, the civilian mission established in the Serbian province following the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1244 in June 1999. But Serbia and Russia strongly protest against EU-Lex, because this mission has not been endorsed by the UN Security Council (EurActiv 16/04/08). The objective of setting up an EU mission in Kosovo is highly political. The EU has ambitions to take over the post-crisis management of a territory on European soil. It previously failed to do so in 1999 when it had to resort to NATO to stop the ethnic cleansing and acts of extreme violence perpetrated by the regime of Slobodan Milosevic. 
  • Under plans originally foreseen by the EU, the 2,200 strong EU-Lex mission would eventually replace UNMIK as the leading rule-of-law mission in the new-born state of Kosovo.  But faced with rejection from Serbia and Russia, which have both challenged the mission's legal legitimacy, diplomats are now drawing up plans for the two missions to co-exist under joint command.  The solution would provide the EU with a face-saving trick, according to diplomats who were speaking to EurActiv on condition of anonymity. This is because UNMIK has already been accepted by Serbia and Russia, which has a permanent seat at the UN Security Council. 
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

03.04.08: Kosovo constitution approved by EU - 0 views

  • The European Union has given its blessing to Kosovo's constitution, saying it is in line with the international standards that Pristina committed itself to when declaring independence from Serbia on 17 February.

    "Kosovo will have a modern constitution guaranteeing full respect of individual and community rights, including those of Kosovo Serbs," Pieter Feith, an EU special representative who is chairing an International Civilian Office there, was cited as saying by AP.
  • The constitution is expected to come into effect on 15 June - around the time when the European Union's mission, known as EULEX, is supposed to take over authority from the United Nations.
  • The aim of EULEX, consisting of over 2,000 personnel, is to help the Kosovo authorities in all areas related to the rule of law, in particular in the police, judiciary, customs and correctional services. However, it is still uncertain when exactly the transfer of power will take place, as the move lacks UN approval. Its top body, the Security Council, is divided over the issue, with Russia - Serbia's key ally - being the main opposition force.
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