It seems that the appointment of key international negotiators for Kosovo will be one of the key issues for Brussels and Washington over the first two or three months of the next year, Zëri writes.
Many uncertainties continue to accompany the announcement that in mid 2005, after a comprehensive assessment of priority standards, international process for resolution of Kosovo status could be initiated, notes Zëri. The paper adds that as the name of the announcement suggests, there will be an international process and not an International Conference, even though the latter would constitute the final act of the process in question.
If in the period between 1998-99 the Contact Group fully led the international efforts to attain peace and a provisional agreement, at present, coordination between UNMIK, UN SC and CG with a first-hand role of UN SG Kofi Annan, is imposed. In fact, Annan cannot have the same role in any other international crisis similar to the one he has in Kosovo.
Based on well-informed diplomatic sources Zëri claims in a front-page editorial that the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, intends to be directly involved in the process of resolving of Kosovo’s final status as of next spring, when he is expected to appoint his envoy (or envoys) to lead the process. This would mean that the SRSG cannot have the new post or be Annan’s representative for the status matters.
If there is respect of the way in which the international administration is organized in Kosovo, it could be assumed that a diplomat or a politician from an EU country would be appointed as a chief-international negotiator with an aide delegated by Washington, Zëri points out.
Negotiations on Kosovo status are therefore expected to be quite complex and bearing in mind the experience of the times of war, an equal footing between US and EU negotiators might be imposed. The leading role of Washington is considered, both in Prishtina and in Belgrade, as unavoidable if one wants to see a successful end to the process of status resolution.
Kosovars assume that Washington would be a key factor assisting them, while Serb politicians hope to gain concessions from the Kosovar side precisely because of the Washington’s closeness to Albanians. However, it is not very clear as to how the second Bush’s administration will proceed with Kosovo and the Balkans in general after the two main policy-makers for this region, Colin Powell and Mark Grossman, have resigned from their posts with State Department.
According to the sources within American diplomacy, the paper claims that it is possible that President Bush will appoint a special envoy for the Balkans (if not only for Kosovo) who would be below the diplomatic rank Grossman had.
However, as things stand now, it is difficult to expect that this US envoy would have the same level of responsibilities as the EU envoy.
If, on the other hand, both envoys are to be appointed by Annan, then the complex nature of the status process could imply partnership between EU and USA chief-negotiators, writes Zëri. The paper goes on to note that while in mid-January EU will start thinking about status and about having its representative in negotiations, this issue could be addressed in USA later on, to give the second Bush administration more time to nominate its representatives.