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Europe

Pristina, Belgrade Bicker Over Extent of EU Mission

Kosovo again dismissed a revised plan for a European Union mission proposed by Brussels and the United Nations, worrying that it would threaten its sovereignty over the restive Serb territory.

Kosovo's flag

Pristina wants the European mission to deploy in all of Kosovo

Pristina has extended a "warm welcome and invitation" to the EU mission, Eulex, but only if it deploys as planned, "in the entire territory of Kosovo," Prime Minister Hashim Thaci told reporters on Wednesday, Nov. 12.

But the plan has changed after Belgrade, which continues to fight Kosovo's slide to full-fledged independence, won concessions from the West.

Eulex, a European law-enforcing presence of 2,000 police, judicial and customs officials, was to take over from a UN mission that governed Kosovo since NATO ousted Serbian forces from there in 1999.

In February, backed by the West, Pristina unilaterally declared independence from Serbia, which continues to regard the province as its territory. Kosovo is vastly dominated by Albanians, though part of its northern region has a Serb majority.

Dividing Eulex?

Thaci

Thaci wants Eulex to stick to its original mission

Backed by its ally Russia, Serbia locked the UN in Kosovo as it was under the nine-year-old mandate and eventually swayed Brussels into reshaping Eulex.

Pristina, on Monday, was offered a modified plan for a mission that would remain under UN command -- and there ultimately under Belgrade's influence -- in the northern, Serb section of Kosovo. Eulex would be run by Brussels in the rest of Kosovo.

Kosovo Albanian leaders rejected the plan, fearing it would only cement the already existing partition of the territory along ethnic lines.

Belgrade said it would endorse the plan if the mission remains under the UN's auspices and was declared neutral in regard to Kosovo's legal status.

Thaci's position caused a delay of a UN Security Council meeting on Tuesday, at which Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was due to present the modified plan and formally pave the way for the Eulex.

Disputed diplomacy

Kosovars hold the national flag

A total of 52 countries have recognized Kosovo

Ban urged the Kosovo government Tuesday to show "pragmatism and flexibility" by agreeing to the mission with a revamped framework, but Thaci maintained that Eulex operate in all of Kosovo.

"The international community understands ... that Eulex deploys in the entire territory of Kosovo," he told reporters in Pristina. "In this regard, our door has always been open."

So far 52 countries, including United States and most EU nations, have recognized Kosovo, but its full promotion in the UN was blocked by Russia, which has veto power in the Security Council.

In a bid to discourage more states from recognizing Kosovo, Serbia has filed a petition to the International Court of Justice at The Hague for an advisory opinion on whether Kosovo's declaration of independence was legal under international law.

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