EULEX December 2 Launch ‘Not Guaranteed’

Pristina – The EU has not decided on a definite date to launch its Kosovo law-and-order mission, EULEX, says the spokeswoman for the bloc’s foreign policy chief, Javier Solana.

“(The previously stated launch date of) December 2 is not guaranteed,” Christina Gallach said, adding that “the date will be decided in the following days.”

“However, the deployment is to happen during this week,” she added.

Meanwhile in Pristina, Victor Ruter, a spokesman for EULEX told Belgrade daily, Vecernje Novosti, that some 1,300 international officials and several hundred locals are ready to launch the European Union mission.

He also said that EULEX did not take part in the negotiations over United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s six-point plan but that this mission “maintains its mandate based on a collective decision of the 27 EU member states, adopted at the beginning of February this year.”

Last Wednesday the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Ban’s report on wrapping up the world body’s mission in Kosovo and begin the handover to a EU mission.

The six-point plan for the deployment of EULEX, as Ban’s recommendations are called were initially opposed by Kosovo, which unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in February and has been recognised by most European Union member states, because the plan is based on UN Security Council Resolution 1244.

This resolution, passed at the end of the 1998-1999 conflict between Serb forces and Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority, refers to Kosovo as Serbia’s southern province, not as an independent state.

Serbia insists that the EU cannot deploy a new civilian mission in Kosovo to replace the UN administration unless the mission is neutral in status and does not put into action the plan of former UN envoy Martti Ahtisaari – which envisages internationally-supervised independence for Kosovo.

Belgrade also insists that the mission must be confirmed by the UN Security Council, in which it has a strong ally with veto power – Russia.

The plan envisages the gradual replacement of the administrative UN mission in Kosovo, UNMIK, which has been in the province since 1999, with an EU civilian mission of police and court officials.

Pristina had presented its own rival four-point plan which calls for the deployment of EULEX, according to the plan stated in Kosovo’s independence declaration, the Kosovo constitution, and the Ahtisaari plan.

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