By Linda Karadaku
Kosovo is in the final stages of implementing the Comprehensive Settlement Proposal (CSP) and will start to prepare the end of supervised independence and the closure of the International Civilian Office (ICO) by the end of the year, the International Steering Group (ISG) said on Tuesday (January 24th) in Vienna.
The ISG said it has endorsed a twin-track strategy that includes the continuation of the ICO’s work with the country’s government and institutions to complete the remaining tasks.
“We look forward to continuing to work with the government … to develop a substantial level of legitimate, transparent, functioning local government,” ICO spokesperson Christian Palme told SETimes.
According to the ISG, “this will require Kosovo institutions to implement specific measures to reinforce CSP principles — such as decentralisation, community rights and cultural heritage — which are necessary for supervised independence to end,” the group said at Tuesday’s meeting.
The second part of the strategy includes a package of amendments to Kosovo’s constitution and the relevant primary legislation necessary to end the ICO mandate.
The amendments “would remove all elements of international supervision from the constitution, to ensure it reflects CSP principles of enduring centrality to Kosovo.”
The ISG also emphasised “its commitment to Kosovo’s territorial integrity within its existing borders.”
“The ISG urges Serbia to … withdraw its police, security, and other state presences, and support efforts by international actors and the institutions of Kosovo to promote the rule of law,” the group said.
Kosovar Centre for Security Studies senior researcher Mentor Vrajolli told SETimes that forcing Belgrade to take a more constructive role will make it easier for the rule of law to function in Kosovo, and would accelerate the transfer of power from international actors to the country’s authorities.
“In the northern part of the country, neither the Kosovo Police, nor the Kosovo Security Force will be able to undertake their security and defense duties for some time. Therefore [KFOR and EULEX] are expected to remain in Kosovo,” Vrajolli said.
Many citizens are eager about the move.
“I believe our institutions are able to govern without foreign supervision. [But] from now on, regarding the governance of the country, there will be no possibility to [blame] somebody else — citizens will know who is responsible for anything that happens,” Pristina resident Valdet Rexhepi told SETimes.
But some, like Mile Jovanovic, an electrician in Mitrovica, are sick of all the bureaucracy. “It is enough talking, there is just talking and nothing else. It is not important any more where we live. What is important is to have basic things for life,” Jovanovic told SETimes.
The ISG plans to meet later this year to review the progress made towards implementing the CSP, and will then finalise the timetable for ending supervised independence and closing the ICO.