Of all the things swirling out there, this one you may want to watch. On Monday, the Serbian Ministry for Kosovo opened a regional office in Kosovska Mitrovica. What’s the big deal, you may ask?
Well, according to 1244, the Serbs are not allowed to do that. The Serbian government is not allowed to open up “government” offices within Kosovo. The only competent authority to do that is UNMIK.
According to local news, SRSG Ruecker has not demanded that the Office close down, but promised that the decision to either do so or not do so will be made after consultations with headquarters in New York and the Contact Group. A line has been drawn by the Serbians. A line has been drawn by the UN . . . more or less.
Ruecker said, “I have confirmed to the President that UNMIK’s position is that the decision has not been made in line with the current laws and it represents a violation of 1244.”
President Fatmir Sejdiu echoed Ruecker’s statements. He stated, “On behalf of the Kosovo institutions I express the concern about a provocative act that happened [on Monday] in Mitrovica, by opening a Serbian Government office there. We share the position that it is unacceptable both for the Kosovo institutions and for the International Community, and it violates the existing regulative regarding Kosovo’s territorial integrity and the action of the international and local institutions.”
It will be interesting to see how the UN responds. This is not the first time the Serbians have done something like this. After 1999, the only courts that were allowed to prosecute defendants within Kosovo were those authorized by UNMIK or the municipal prosecutor’s offices. However, “parallel courts” started to sprout almost immediately. “Parallel courts” are courts run by the Serbian government for Serbians (mostly) and work outside the only competent authority to administer justice: UNMIK. Yet, these “parallel courts” administer justice and deliver judgments.
What has UNMIK done in response to these “parallel courts”? Essentially nothing. They exist. Everyone knows about them.
The question then is how does UNMIK’s failure to deal with the “parallel courts” affect the “consternation” by UNMIK and Kosovars over the opening of a Serbian government office within Kosovo? The other question that arises is how does the opening of a Serbian government office — at this stage — underscore the mindset of the Serbians? Are the Serbians intending to provoke a situation? It seems so.