Friday, January 5, 2007

Serbia Requests Postponement of Status

Serbian President Boris Tadic has requested the UN postpone it's revelation of special representative Ahtisaari's proposal for the status of Kosovo until a government is formed following the elections. Tadic stated that proposal may not be "very favorible for the Serb side" and that the formation of the governemnt should only take a couple of weeks. The elections are scheduled for the 21st and Ahtisaari is expected to make his announcement as early as the 26th. The revelation of Ahtisaari's plan was already postponed from the end of 2006 to after the Serbian elections in fears that a non-favorable solution for the Serbs would cause a rise in the popularity of ultra-nationalism in Serbia. Although the "radical" nationalist party in Serbia is already expected to win approximately 31% of the vote where other parties would take significantly smaller percentages of the vote. I seriously doubt that the month long delay has any real impact on the elections as there already has been plenty of talk by UN, EU, and contract group representatives stating basically that Kosovo should have some sort of conditional independence. Ahtisaari caused a great deal of anger in Serbia when he stated that Serbs were guilty as a nation for the occurences in Kosovo.
Following the elections, Ahtisaari will present the proposal to the Serbian and Kosovo authorities and I believe the Contact Group. After both sides have time to submit their input, Ahtisaari will take the proposal the Secretary General and then to the Security Council sometime in March. The road to finalizing the status will not be easy once the proposal is announced. A win-lose situation will not be acceptable and a win-win situation is very difficult to foresee. The UN has been hoping to complete liquidation of the mission by the end of 2007 and turn over authority in Kosovo to the local and EU representatives. We will see how things progress over the next few months!

In other news, the former director of the Pristina airport has been charged in a "bribes for jobs" scandal. One might recall that UNMIK was criticized by UN auditors, the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), of failing to halt widespread fraud and corruption at the airport. SRSG at the time, Soren Jessen-Petersen, denied the claims stating that he did not have the authority to investigate the dealings at the airport. Back to the scandal though, Ian Woollett, the director between 2003-2005 is accused of accepting bribes from local businessmen in exchange for employment at the airport. Two employees were let go in May 2006 in connection with the scandal. The charges come at the conclusion of the two-year investigation following the criticism from OIOS.