28 June 2010 - PROGRESS HOSTAGE TO POLITICAL BLOCKAGES IN KOSOVO, BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA, NATO PARLIAMENTARIANS HEAR IN BALKANS
Fifteen members of the parliaments of nine NATO countries visited Kosovo and Bosnia Herzegovina June 21-24, 2010.
In Kosovo, the delegation met with local leaders including President SEJDIU and Prime Minister Hashim THAÇI, as well as Kosovo Assembly leaders including Assembly President Jakup KRASNIQI, and members of various Committees. The delegation also met with Orthodox Bishop Teodosije at the Gracanica Monastery.
The delegation was briefed by KFOR Commander Lieutenant General Markus J. BENTLER, and exchanged views with international officials from the International Civilian Office and the OSCE, and the heads of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo and of the EU Rule of Law mission (EULEX).
A visit to the Gazimestan Monument – a sensitive site only recently transferred to Kosovo Police protection – provided an opportunity to review handover arrangements currently being executed; and a series of briefings in the ethnically divided town of Mitrovica revealed the challenges remaining in the north of Kosovo.
The delegation took away a sense that Kosovo was making progress, if haltingly, in a difficult situation. Major challenges persist, particularly in the north of Kosovo, where establishing effective rule of law has remained elusive. The disagreements between Pristina and Belgrade on the status of Kosovo continued to hamper cooperation on what would elsewhere be purely ‘technical’ matters. Corruption remains pervasive throughout Kosovo, although recent EULEX initiatives were beginning to bear fruit. KFOR’s role was universally praised, although both local and international officials warned against early or uncoordinated withdrawals. Several interlocutors suggested that the upcoming advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice could have a positive effect on the current political blockages.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the delegation met with two of the three members of the Presidency; Parliamentary leaders; two Deputy Ministers of Defence, and the Chief of Joint Staff of BiH Armed Forces. The delegation also met with Norwegian Ambassador Jan Braathu from the NATO Contact Point embassy; and the leadership of NATO HQ Sarajevo, EUFOR, the OSCE Mission, and the High Representative’s Office.
Members of the delegation were struck by the political paralysis plaguing the country’s institutions; more than one senior official suggested the country was ‘dysfunctional,’ with its constituent entities disagreeing on fundamental questions of what the state should look like. This dynamic has prevented necessary constitutional reform.
The notable exception pointed to by local and international officials alike was the defence sector: one multi-ethnic Ministry and one military had successfully been created, with significant support from NATO institutions. While the country had conditionally been offered deeper cooperation with NATO through a Membership Action Plan, it remained unclear whether the requirements NATO imposed were likely to be met in the near future. Further significant political initiatives were unlikely during the lead-up to general elections in October.
A detailed report will be available shortly at http://www.nato-pa.int.
 “Accordance with International Law of the Unilateral Declaration of