Kosovo: Deployment of EULEXDaniel Fried, Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs
Interview With BBC Albanian Service
November 26, 2008
Assistant Secretary Fried: Let me say that today’s decision by the Security Council is a good day for Kosovo. It is a day which paves the way for the deployment of EULEX, the EU Rule of Law mission throughout all of Kosovo. An undivided, independent, sovereign Kosovo. This will pave the way in turn for a significant downsizing of UNMIK. This is, of course, part of the process we foresaw once Kosovo became independent.
EULEX will also include the United States who has never participated in an EU mission like this. We are participating in EULEX because of the importance of the mission and our commitment to Kosovo.
Now this took a lot of work. There were a lot of tough issues discussed and negotiated. The Secretary General’s report, however, made clear that the arrangements for the transfer between UNMIK and EULEX and any interim arrangements will be carried out in consultation, continuous consultation and coordination with Kosovo. Nothing will be carried out as a practical matter without the agreement of the government of Kosovo.
I applaud what the Kosovo government did in its four point statement which made clear that it welcomed EULEX deployment that paved the way for us to move ahead. The United States will continue working alongside our friends in Kosovo to see that this multi-ethnic country has a secure and safe future in Europe and that all ethnic groups have a safe and secure future in Kosovo.
This is a good day. It has been a tough process. There will be more tough things ahead. But it’s a day to congratulate the government of Kosovo for having worked successfully to see that this EULEX deployment could be agreed to be launched under good conditions.
A tough week, the last couple of weeks of diplomacy, but a good one.
I’m happy to talk further.
BBC: Thank you very much.
But the UN Security Council has adopted the presidential statement on deployment of EULEX Kosovo wide. It has been agreed by all members of the Security Council. After almost two years of a deadlock within the Security Council over the Kosovo issue, was this meeting today a step forward?
Assistant Secretary Fried: Potentially, yes.
First of all, let’s be clear. There are real differences in the Council over Kosovo. Russia has not recognized Kosovo and we think that’s unfortunate. But nevertheless, we wanted Security Council backing for EULEX deployment and for the Secretary General’s report on UNMIK which paves the way for EULEX’s deployment. And that’s what we’ve got.
I hope it foreshadows a period in which our differences over Kosovo status, the difference the United States, France, Britain, and many others on the one hand, Russia on the other, is no longer a barrier to practical cooperation. So let’s hope.
BBC: Mr. Fried, in the Secretary General report, both sides have been urged to accept the EULEX deployment Kosovo wide. Bearing in mind that this agreement is between Pristina and Belgrade, do you consider that this deployment is possible in due time?
Assistant Secretary Fried: Oh, yes, I do. First of all, Kosovo made very clear publicly and formally that it supports EULEX deployment. Serbia, I believe, has hesitated, but I think in the end they will also support EULEX deployment. In any event, EULEX will deploy. Europe is committed to this and it will happen.
BBC: The international bodies have seen the six point plan agreed between UN and Belgrade as a way forward, but it has been rejected by the Pristina officials who see it as a violation of the sovereignty.
Have you assured Kosovo leaders that this is not the case?
Assistant Secretary Fried: Indeed it is interesting and important that the Secretary General’s report noted, not only noted the Kosovar position but included the Kosovar government’s four points as part of its report.
Now this is actually in a way a success for the government of Kosovo. The government of Kosovo took a strong position, not accepting the six points, and asserted its sovereign right not to do so. It is important that the Secretary General’s report had to take this into account. It clearly stated that the reconfiguration between UNMIK and EULEX and the EULEX deployment will take place through consultations with the government of Kosovo and the authorities in Pristina. This is a real recognition of the sovereign position of the government of Kosovo.
Did Kosovo get everything it wanted? No. Neither did the United States. No government ever gets everything it wants in UN processes, but Kosovo got something. It got a lot. It’s sovereign right to reject that six points recognized, and this is a pretty important step forward.
What it means is any interim arrangements have to be negotiated and talked about, consulted about with the Kosovo government. A pretty important step forward.
BBC: Mr. Fried, leadership in Kosovo has again reiterated its position on the six point plan just before the UN Security Council meeting. If this rejection continues is there any possibility to impose the solution for EULEX and for Kosovo?
Assistant Secretary Fried: The Secretary General’s report makes it clear that there will be no imposition. In fact explicitly clear. That was the success of the Kosovo government. Nothing will be carried out without the consultations with the government of Kosovo. That’s not an imposition, quite the opposite. That is a recognition of the importance of working with the Kosovo government.
So I would say this is a demonstration of Kosovo’s independence and its sovereign right to express its opinion.
BBC: So we are not going to see the partition of the northern part.
Assistant Secretary Fried: Oh, far from it. In fact this is a blow. This decision is a blow to any of those who would want to partition Kosovo because now EULEX will deploy throughout the country in an undivided fashion. No, no. This is a step to consolidate a united Kosovo. It is a step away from this dangerous and foolish talk of partition.
BBC: But EULEX will be status neutral on the Resolution 1244 which --
Assistant Secretary Fried: Not quite, not quite, not quite. EULEX will operate within 1244 which is status neutral, but the effect of the EULEX deployment will be to consolidate Kosovo’s institutions. Everyone knows this.
BBC: Can we see any kind of a mixture of the missions? UNMIK in the north, EULEX in the south?
Assistant Secretary Fried: No. Nope. You will see EULEX deploying throughout the whole country.
The scenario you just suggested would be a problem. If we hadn’t had this successful work at the UN today you might see UNMIK remaining in the north and EULEX through the rest of the country and that would be a blow to Kosovo’s unity. But now, we have the basis for EULEX to deploy throughout the country. That’s terribly important.
BBC: Where is here? Kosovo’s constitution and Martii Ahtisaari’s plan.
Assistant Secretary Fried: Well, we think that the Kosovo constitution is a perfectly valid document. The Kosovo government’s four points referred to the constitution. The Ahtisaari plan is our model and our blueprint for going ahead. And all of this is going to happen step by step. In real life things are always complicated. But this is a good day and a good basis to move forward and I think the Europeans -- Peter Feith, the head of the EU Mission -- in Pristina, the British, French, other quint diplomats who have worked this issue have all understood that we wanted to see a united Kosovo and we wanted to move ahead together and this has been a good day.
We also, by the way, want to see Serbia able to realize its European future. It’s in everyone’s interest, it’s in Kosovo’s interest. So we’re glad that we were able to work in the end with the Serbs, with the Serbian government despite our differences.
BBC: Let me say the last question, Mr. Fried. Russian representative has drawn attention that the situation in Kosovo can trigger the destabilization in the whole Balkans. You have been recently in Kosovo.
Is there a perception that the Balkans is endangered by the independence of Kosovo?
Assistant Secretary Fried: I wouldn’t put it this way at all. I would say the unresolved status of Kosovo before independence was destabilizing. Now it’s important to consolidate Kosovo’s status.
We’ve had our differences with Russia, but here today we’ve worked together with the Russians, and that’s a good day.
BBC: Mr. Fried, thank you very much indeed.
Assistant Secretary Fried: My pleasure.