EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Kosovo Albanian society showed welcome maturity in recent months as it reacted calmly to the indictment for war crimes of Prime Minister Haradinaj and the anniversary of the March 2004 riots. However, Kosovo Albanian politics remain fractious and worse. Mutual distrust between the two leading parties, President Rugova's Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) and Hashim Thaci's Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), is distracting politicians from seeking a consensus position for the approaching negotiations on final status. Recent weeks have seen an escalation in tension between them so bitter that it risks spiralling into killings. It is vital that the international community, as it assesses Kosovo's readiness for final status talks, use the next important months to do a great deal more to help build institutions for genuine self-government. Otherwise, Kosovo is likely to return to instability sooner rather than later and again put at risk all that has been invested in building a European future for the Western Balkans.
Even though the international community is beginning to move Kosovo toward some form of independence, the escalation of internal political conflict and the April 2005 murder of former Prime Minister Haradinaj's younger brother show that serious risks of instability remain. Kosovo Albanians' present peace with the international community is highly conditional, resting on renewed optimism about imminent movement on final status and upon some progress in consolidation of a sense of ownership of institutions resulting from the more vigorous and effective government that Haradinaj ran before he was forced to step down and answer charges in The Hague. Most areas are calm, but Haradinaj's home municipality of Decan is a tinderbox, full of angry armed groups, and isolated from the rest of Kosovo. The next security watershed will be the Tribunal's decision whether to grant bail so the former prime minister can return home while awaiting trial.
Forced into opposition by the coalition of Rugova's LDK and Haradinaj's Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK), the PDK, the main successor of the Kosovo Liberation Army, may prefer to derail the government rather than act responsibly by helping to forge a joint position on final status. Whether its politicians can cooperate over the next months will have far-reaching consequences for Kosovo's ability to function as a state once the current heavy international presence is converted into a lighter monitoring mission. There is a real prospect of a ruinous factionalism similar to that which has developed in Albania.
Kosovo's rival parties have to work consciously to avoid this scenario or they will bear responsibility for the failure to consolidate statehood. The UN Mission (UNMIK) has a responsibility too -- transfer of power and preparation of Kosovo for final status must go beyond a mere letting go of its six-year holding operation. It must use the period leading up to and including negotiations on final status to take the vigorous action necessary to pave the way for genuine self-government. UNMIK has put aside its inertia but appears to be following more of an escape strategy than a state-building strategy. Much of the work being rushed through at present to get a result in the mid-year standards review is of questionable quality, not likely to stand the test of time. Problems that will come back to haunt Kosovo like toleration of widespread corruption and of powerful, unaccountable partisan political intelligence agencies are being swept under the carpet rather than addressed.
1. UNMIK should adopt a more credible and open information policy regarding security matters, in particular by moving vigorously to close down the political party intelligence structures about which it has been claiming it has no knowledge.
2. Kosovo's political party leaders should cooperate with police investigations, notably:
(a) President Rugova should respond to police requests to interview him about the 15 March 2005 bomb attack against his motorcade; and
(b) PDK leader Hashim Thaci and General Secretary Jakup Krasniqi should provide evidence and witnesses to substantiate the dossier of accusations against LDK officials they gave to UNMIK.
3. The International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) should consider granting pre-trial release of former Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj as a contribution to Kosovo's security and adopting release conditions that permit him to continue delivering constructive messages, such as that delivered at his brother's funeral, that help maintain social peace.
4. UNMIK, the government and civil society should launch joint initiatives in Dukagjini, and Decan municipality in particular, to draw the disaffected home area of former Prime Minister Haradinaj more fully into the mainstream of debate on Kosovo's final status, stem KLA-FARK feuding and support the rule of law.
Respecting Final Status Preparations:
5. The Contact Group (France, Germany, Italy, Russia, UK, and U.S.) and the UN Security Council should convert their demand for Kosovo's provisional government to begin implementation of decentralisation prior to final status talks into a requirement for the political parties to agree on comprehensive decentralisation proposals as part of the final status negotiations.
6. UNMIK and the major diplomatic liaison offices in Pristina must provide the political will, momentum, and resources for Kosovo Albanians to form and utilise a special commission such as the Political Forum proposed by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General (SRSG), Jessen-Petersen, to develop detailed positions on final status. That commission:
(a) should be run by an able, non-politically aligned Kosovo technocrat, include representatives of each of the main Kosovo political parties, and develop realistic proposals likely both to command political consensus and stand up in status negotiations; and
(b) have its proposals subject to Kosovo Assembly approval.
Respecting Kosovo's Political System:
7. The PDK must accept that it lost the October 2004 election and its priority is now to win the trust of a greater number of voters by working constructively to develop Kosovo's final status agenda and credible alternative government capacity and policies (rather than soliciting a government role from the international community and smearing LDK ministers).
8. Donors and European Union bodies and member states in particular should extend technical assistance to the main opposition parties to enable them to present an informed challenge and alternative proposals across the entire spectrum of government policy, and offer longer term funding to nurture civic activist groups.
9. UNMIK should correct the wayward course of the Assembly to enable it to become Kosovo's main forum for constructive political debate, including by:
(a) the SRSG using his power to dismiss those who obstruct democratic functioning;
(b) reinforcing the Assembly monitoring run by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) pillar of UNMIK and institutionalising a direct link for it to the SRSG's Office; and
(c) setting clear new minimum expectations for the regularity of plenary sessions and observance of procedures by the Assembly leadership.
10. UNMIK should institute much more vigorous and pro-active auditing oversight of both central and municipal government.
11. UNMIK should put reform of the closed list election system on the agenda so as to enable establishment for the next general election of a mixed system of party lists and territorial mandates, or of territorial multi-member constituencies.
Pristina/Brussels, 26 May 2005