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Justice and security: The Civilian Operations Commander concludes visit to Kosovo

02.12.2021

On 1 December, the Civilian Operations Commander Francisco Esteban Perez concluded a three-day visit to Kosovo, which included meetings with Prime Minister Kurti, Minister of Internal Affairs Sveçla, General Director of the Kosovo Police Mehmeti, Acting Director of the Institute of Forensic Medicine Goga, as well as representatives of the international community, the Kosovo justice system and the civil society. During the visit, the Civilian Operations Commander also met with EULEX staff, who briefed him about the Mission’s ongoing activities.

 

EULEX’s monitoring of the judiciary was the focus of the Commander’s meeting with Kosovo’s Prime Minister, Albin Kurti, who expressed his appreciation for EULEX’s work noting how the Mission’s mandate has evolved in response to changing conditions in Kosovo. The Commander reiterated the commitment and readiness of the European Union, in particular EULEX, to continue supporting Kosovo’s rule-of-law institutions in areas such as fight against corruption and organized crime.

 

(Photo credit: Office of the Prime Minister)

During his visit, the Civilian Operations Commander furthermore met with the Minister of Internal Affairs, Xhelal Sveçla, and the General Director of the Kosovo Police, Samedin Mehmeti. Their talks focused on the security situation in Kosovo, EULEX’s role as second security responder and the recent deployment of the Mission’s Formed Police Unit to Bërnjak/Tabalije and Rudnica/Jarinjë Common Crossing Points in a reconnaissance role at the request of the Kosovo Police and in response to rising tensions in northern Kosovo. They also discussed EULEX’s monitoring and advising support to policing activities.

He was also hosted by the Acting Director of the Institute of Forensic Medicine, Flutra Goga, who underlined EULEX’s invaluable contribution to the Institute’s work to determine the fate of missing persons. EULEX experts work shoulder to shoulder with the Kosovo counterparts at the Institute of Forensic Medicine to shed light on the fate of missing persons by offering expertise and advice in the identification of potential clandestine graves and the exhumation and identification of victims from the Kosovo conflict.

During his visit to Mitrovica, the Civilian Operations Commander had a chance to exchange views on EULEX’s facilitation in the implementation of the EU-facilitated Justice Agreement and its Agreed Conclusions with the President of the Mitrovica Basic Court and the Head of Appeals Section. After having successfully facilitated the integration of Kosovo Serb judges, prosecutors, and support staff in the Kosovo justice system, EULEX continues to support and advise the President of the Mitrovica Basic Court and the Head of the Court of Appeals Division in Mitrovica in this area.

While in Mitrovica, the Civilian Operations Commander also visited EULEX’s Base, where he attended a crowd-and-riot-control exercise by the Mission’s Formed Police Unit, which consists of 105 Polish Police Officers, as well as a presentation on EULEX’s work in facilitating the implementation of the IBM Technical Protocol and other IBM-related issues.

The Civilian Operations Commander concluded his visit to Mitrovica with a walk on the main bridge over the Ibër/Ibar river.

In Pristina, the Civilian Operations Commander briefed Ambassadors and Heads of Office of EU Member States and Third Contributing Countries in Kosovo about his visit. Together with the Head of EULEX, he also jointly met with the Head of the EU Office/EU Special Representative in Kosovo, the Officer-in-Charge/Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for UNMIK, and the KFOR Commander and exchanged views on the current political, security and rule-of-law situation in Kosovo, as well as the cooperation among international actors on the ground.

The Civilian Operations Commander furthermore met with civil society representatives to get their input and view on rule of law in Kosovo. An increased focus on monitoring of environmental crimes and a continued active role by the Mission in following the implementation of the government’s ambitious rule-of-law agenda were among the topics raised by civil society representatives. Civil society representatives expressed appreciation for EULEX reaching out more to civil society in general and being as transparent as possible about the Mission’s ongoing work.

Moreover, during his visit to Kosovo, the Civilian Operations Commander was also briefed about EULEX’s Monitoring Pillar and Operations Support Pillar work by the Mission’s management team.

While visiting EULEX’s Support Compound, the Civilian Operations Commander was briefed about the operational and logistical support of the Mission to the Kosovo Specialist Chambers/Specialist Prosecutor’s Office, as well as mission support activities, including the work of the Medical Unit, which provides primary and emergency medical support for EULEX staff members and members of the international community in Kosovo.

Finally, the Civilian Operations Commander also held an online town hall meeting will all EULEX staff members, thanking them for the good work performed by the Mission in strengthening the rule of law in Kosovo.

Background: The Civilian Operations Commander leads the eleven civilian CSDP Missions deployed in Europe, Africa and the Middle East employing currently around 2,000 staff. In this function, the Civilian Operations Commander is also the Director of the Civilian Planning and Conduct Capability (CPCC), the directorate of the European External Action Service serving, with a staff of about 100, as the operational headquarters of the civilian CSDP Missions.