The head of the EU mission in Kosovo reiterates that political will from Belgrade and Pristina is necessary to improve the situation in the north.
By Petrit Collaku
Xavier De Marnhac, head of the EU rule-of-law mission in Kosovo, EULEX, said in an interview for BIRN’s weekly show “Life in Kosovo” that he is interested in expanding the rule-of-law in the disputed northern part of Kosovo.
In the meantime, however, the mission is focusing on preserving political stability there.
De Marnhac was criticised by Kosovo’s government when he said last month that the northern part of Kosovo, which is majority Serb and largely controlled by Belgrade, should be part of the ongoing dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade, launched in Brussels in March.
Top Kosovo officials have also recently asked the mission to expand its presence in the disputed north, where the Pristina government has little control.
De Marnhac said that the mission is in a difficult position in the north, considering the complicated political environment. He added that the ‘mission’s work would become more difficult if security in the north worsens.’
“Don’t you think that the mission’s work would be more difficult if the situation in the north is tense and difficult?” De Marnhac said in the interview for “Life in Kosovo”.
He reiterated that there is a need for political will between Pristina and Belgrade in order to reach better solutions for the north.
“If all actors are not ready to be engaged, there will not be any solution of the situation,” he said.
He said that the mission continues to collect evidence in criminal cases in the north even though there is a lack of cooperation with the Serb community there.
“You cannot find criminals without information from the community,” he said adding that EULEX is continuing to lead operations in the north and that more arrests will be carried out there.
“There will be more arrests because this process is continuing,” De Marnhac said.
EULEX police arrested a man in northern Kosovo who is suspected of involvement in organised crime on May 17, an operation that prompted dozens of Serb businessmen to block a main road in the region for several days, demanding his release from custody.
De Marnhac said that progress was reached with Belgrade authorities during his visit at the beginning of June.
“We achieved progress but I will not tell you what progress because this is not the right place to tell,” he explained.