Serbs draw line in the sand by opening an office in North Mitrovica

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.


5 thoughts on “Serbs draw line in the sand by opening an office in North Mitrovica

  1. “regarding Kosovo’s territorial integrity” ….”the only competent authority to administer justice: UNMIK”.
    YOU MUST BE JOKING, talking about territorial integrity of what? Perhaps Kosovo was a sovereign state and was Serbia a province within it? and ¿competent authorities? only to oversee assaults against serbs. Ridiculous. Just now I am going topreparemyself to defend the “territorial integrity of my house and its surroundings” (including the backyard).

  2. Dear Aruba,

    When I said “the only competent authority to administer justice” in Kosovo is UNMIK, I certainly was not “joking.” “Competent” authority is actually a legal definition or term of art, referring to the only legal authority to govern and administer justice within Kosovo. I didn’t mean “competent” in the way you are referring.

    All of this, far from being a “joke,” was the agreement and the language of the resulting Resolution 1244 after Serbs were defeated by NATO. By putting in a government office within Kosovo, Serbia is violating the agreements and the resulting Resolution 1244, as no one other than UNMIK can do such a thing. You may have forgotten this, but Serbia lost the power to administrate Kosovo in the legal sense once the UN took over with NATO.

    You can certainly prepare yourself to defend the “territorial integrity” of your house. That is your business. But your argument — to the best that I can decipher one — rests on a faulty premise and fails even before it starts.

    Thank you for visiting my blog. Respectfully, I suggest you broaden your reading to more than


    Mr. Cheeseburger 9000

  3. You should broaden your own understanding.

    UN Security Council Resolution 1244 calls for a return of Serb administrative and military personnel to Kosovo, while recognizing that province as a continued part of Serbia.

    Serbia is the legally recognized successor state to Yugoslavia, with Kosovo having been part of the Serb republic in Yugoslavia. Kosovo is still recognized as a part of Serbia.

    Regretfully, it’s the stance of leading Western governments which is attempting to override UN Security Council Resolution 1244

  4. Dear Mr. Averko,

    Thank you for your tip but I understand it well.

    I’m not sure whether you are arguing two different things. With regard to independence, 1244 arguably provides a barrier to that.

    With respect to who has administrative control over Kosovo, that is certainly without question: UNMIK, NATO, and KFOR. Yes, you are right, there is language in 1244 about Kosovo technically being part of Serbia. But what is beyond question is that any “return” of Serb administrative and military personnel to Kosovo is not automatic. Agreements need to be made with the prime administrative body, which as I note, is UNMIK. The opening of the office violates 1244. Just like if the Serb army decided to come and make a visit to Kosovo. 1244 doesn’t justify that, no matter how you read it.

    Mr. Cheeseburger 9000

  5. 1244 calls for a return of Serb administrative and military personnel to Kosovo. SHOW where it disqualifies it in the matter you claim.

    By leap frogging over that point, some influential Western forces are essentially hijacking 1244.

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