EU mission in Kosovo signs police cooperation protocol with Serbia
PRISTINA, Serbia, Sept. 11 (Xinhua) -- The European Union mission in Kosovo signed on Friday a protocol on police cooperation with the Serbian Interior Ministry, said EULEX spokesman Christophe Lamfalussy.
The protocol, which had been signed by the Serbian Interior Ministry, would go into effect eight days after the signature of the EU Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX), Lamfalussy said.
The protocol, which was strongly opposed by Kosovo institutions and civic society, defines EULEX cooperation with Serbian authorities in fighting all forms of crimes in Kosovo, such as trafficking of persons, arms and narcotics, organized crime and all other illegal activities across borders or the administrative boundary.
The protocol was signed after exchange of letters, the Serbian Interior Ministry said, noting that it has been announced earlier that the document was approved by both parties.
Serbian Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Ivica Dacic said earlier on Friday that there would be no official signing ceremony, and that EULEX and the Serbian Interior Ministry would simply state through diplomatic channels whether they accept what had been agreed earlier.
Dacic said that the Serbian Interior Ministry cooperates with EULEX on the basis of the UN Security Council Resolution 1244, UN Secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon's report and the six-point plan.
EULEX, which started on Dec. 9 last year officially implementing its two-year mandate in Kosovo, is designed to replace the UN mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) with some executive powers in judiciary, custom and police although the UNMIK will remain in Kosovo to deal with issues concerning ethnic Serbs.
Kosovo President Fatmir Sejdiu and Prime Minister Hashim Thaci met urgently after the protocol signature was made public.
They said in a joint statement that Kosovo is not involved in technical arrangements between EULEX and Serbia on the field of police cooperation.
"Such arrangements don't and couldn't have any effect in the Kosovo's independence, sovereignty and integrity," said the statement.
Despite the protocol, they claimed Kosovo institutions and its citizens would closely cooperate with EU institutions and its mission in Kosovo in the future.
Kosovo's Self-Determination Movement condemned the agreement.
On Aug. 26, Self-Determination activists damaged in the provincial capital Pristina 28 EULEX vehicles, demonstrating their refusal to announcements of the EULEX protocol with Serbia.
A breakaway province of Serbia, ethnic Albanian-dominated Kosovo unilaterally declared independence in February 2008. However, Serbia has vowed it would never recognize Kosovo's independence, regarding the move illegal and in contrary with international law.