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02 Aug 12 EULEX to Leave Kosovo in June 2014

Kosovo's Government has announced that EULEX's mandate will end on June 15, 2014, and that Brussels has agreed to this timeline.

Fatmir Aliu BIRN Pristina

The EU’s rule of law mission to Kosovo, EULEX, will withdraw from the country in June 2014, and the transitional period should begin this September with the lifting of the country’s supervised independence, Kosovo’s government announced on Wednesday.

The Deputy Prime Minister, Hajredin Kuci, told reporters that three phases are foreseen before EULEX ends its mandate in Kosovo, and that details have already been discussed through negotiations with Brussels.

“An exchange of letters will take place between President Atifete Jahjaga and the EU’s Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton, and these letters will later be adopted by the Parliament as a bilateral agreement between Kosovo and the EU,” Kuci said.

Since Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia in February 2008, 89 states, including 22 EU Member states, have recognized the country.

EULEX was launched in June 2008 under the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy, to assist and support the Kosovo authorities with the rule of law, namely the judiciary, police and customs services.

Four years later, the Deputy Prime Minister Hajredin Kuci has explained how the Kosovo’s government sees EULEX phasing out.

“The first phase should begin in September this year, and last until March next year. The second phase will run from March to September 2013, and the last phase will run from September 2013 to June 15, 2014, when the mandate of EULEX in Kosovo is scheduled to cease,” Kuci said.

The International Steering Group, a group of 25 states which has overseen Kosovo ever since it declared independence from Serbia in 2008, announced on July 2 that Kosovo would become fully independent in September 2012.

“We negotiated with EULEX, regarding how its mandate can be prolonged after the end of the supervised independence of Kosovo, and this is what we agreed,” Kosovo’s Deputy Prime Minister said.

EULEX is the largest civilian mission ever conducted by the EU, and comprises around 3,200 staff. The mission was first proposed in the blueprint for Kosovo's 'supervised independence', devised by the former UN envoy to Kosovo, Martti Ahtisaari.

Belgrade and Moscow both rejected the plan, arguing that only the UN was empowered to administer Kosovo on Belgrade’s behalf, according to UN Security Council Resolution 1244.

The UN resolution which was passed at the end of the 1998-1999 conflict between Serb forces and Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority, still technically remains in force.

Serbia has never conceded the legitimacy of the European Union mission in Kosovo.

 

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