European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo
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The European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo, EULEX Kosovo, is a deployment of European Union (EU) police and civilian resources to Kosovo. This Common Security and Defence Policy mission is the international civil presence in Kosovo operating under the umbrella of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) established by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244.
Serbia and a number of countries had initially strictly objected to the mission and supported UNMIK, demanding approval by the United Nations Security Council, which was rendered in late 2008. After signing a 5-point plan between Serbia and the UN, the UN SC approved the addition of the EULEX as an assistance mission subjected to the UNMIK, rather than outright replacing it, which would be technical in essence and not address the Kosovo status question, also rejected the Ahtisaari plan which the EULEX had originally supported.
The mission includes around 3,200 police and judicial personnel (1,950 international, 1,250 local), and began a four-month deployment process on 16 February 2008. In September 2012, the Kosovo Assembly voted to extend EULEX's to 2014. In April 2014, the Kosovo Assembly once again voted to extend EULEX's mandate, this time until June 2016.
In 2013 "an international panel of judges from the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo" convicted 5 people for illegal organ trade.
Composition and deployment
A 1,800 to 1,900 strong mission was approved by the European Council on 14 December 2007. This was later increased to 2,000 personnel due to an increase in expected instability due to a lack of an agreement with Serbia. It consists of police officers (including four anti-riot units), prosecutors and judges - hence focusing on issues on the rule of law, including democratic standards. The size of the mission means Kosovo is home to the largest number of EU civil servants outside of Brussels. Chief of the mission is French General Xavier Bout de Marnhac, who replaced Yves de Kermabon on 15 October 2010. He is accountable to the European Union member states.
The final decision on the mission was planned to be taken on 28 January 2008. This was postponed due to concerns over possible negative effects on the second round of the presidential election in Serbia on 3 February 2008 and the possible signing of the Stabilization and Association Agreement with Serbia on that date. The officially voiced reason for the postponement is the lack of a legal basis (through a UNSC resolution or something similar) for the mission. A Joint Action was approved on 4 February 2008 and the final decision was made on 16 February 2008. A joint action is a method of implementing the Common Foreign and Security Policy, and are binding on member states.
Spain does not take part in EULEX mission, since legal questions over how it replaces the UN administration have not been answered. In June 2008, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Ángel Moratinos told a meeting of European Union Foreign Ministers in Slovenia that Spain will not send its contingent to the EULEX mission until there has been a formal transfer of powers from the United Nations.
The EU has been divided on whether to recognize an independent Kosovo (for individual member states' stances on recognising Kosovo, see map to the right) without international and Serbian approval. The agreement was seen as ensuring the unity of the EU on the question, however the Presidency announced it would not amount to recognition of an independent Kosovo.
The EU has stated its mission will be legally based on United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244, which introduced the international rule of Kosovo in 1999. However, the EU force, which was previously planned to be convered by Security council's approval of Ahtisaari proposal, has not received a new U.N. Security Council mandate due to the opposition from Russia. Russia specifically blocked transfer of U.N. facility to the EU mission. Serbia also views the mission as an EU recognition of an independent Kosovo.
In November 2008, the EU accepted the demand of Serbia not to implement the plan of Ahtisaari through EULEX and to be neutral regarding the status of Kosovo. On the other hand EULEX will be accepted by Serbia and the UN Security Council.
The Kosovo Parliament is expected to ratify Kosovo's first bilateral agreement with the EU on 7 September 2012, extending the mandate of the EU rule of law mission, EULEX, till June 2014.
On 25 August 2009, the EULEX mission was subject to violent protests, resulting in the damaging of 28 EU vehicles. Three Kosovo police officers were injured in the clashes which resulted in 21 arrests by the Kosovo police. The attack was organised by a group called Vetëvendosja ("Self-Determination") in reaction to EULEX's police cooperation with Serbia and its actions in Kosovo. There is resentment towards the EU mission for exercising its powers over Kosovo while mediating between the state and Serbia. Policies concentrating on crisis management, rather than resolution, as well as the pursuit of ethnic autonomy and its overly broad mandate over Kosovo's governance is at the stem of the discontent with the EU mission.
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Special Investigative Task Force
In spring 2011, EULEX, with the full support of all 27 EU Member States, decided to set-up a Special Investigative Task Force with the view to further the investigation into the allegations contained in the Council of Europe report of Dick Marty, in particular, about alleged organ theft by KLA.
In October 2014, British EULEX prosecutor Maria Bamieh, demanded a corruption inquiry against some of her colleagues, after she became aware that a senior civil servant at the Kosovan health ministry, held in prison after corruption charges, discussed his case with her superiors. Ms Bamieh, who claims to act as a whistleblower, cites several cases of corruption, dating back to 2012. She was suspended on October 24th.
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- About SITF
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