Pristina, 2 April 2008 – The European Union Special Representative in Kosovo, Pieter Feith, on Wednesday approved the draft constitution for Kosovo, which unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in February.
“Kosovo will have a modern Constitution guaranteeing full respect of individual and community rights, including those of Kosovo Serbs, under the rule of law. The right to local self-government is firmly anchored in the Draft Constitution,” Feith said in a statement.
Feith, who also acts as the International Civilian Representative for Kosovo, is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the Kosovo status settlement proposal drafted by UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari.
The proposal of Ahtisaari is the framework for the draft constitution. According to Ahtisaari’s proposal, Kosovo should be a state but under international supervision, to ensure the protection of minority rights and respect for the rule of law.
Feith said in the statement that the constitution provides comprehensive rights for members of communities as well as effective guarantees for the protection of the national, linguistic and religious identity of all communities.
“On this basis, I believe the government and all the citizens of Kosovo can move ahead to build a sustainable, multi-ethnic society that is a home for all,” said Feith.
Feith’s approval opens the door for the 120-seat Kosovo parliament to formally approve the constitution by mid April.
The constitution is expected to come into effect on June 15 this year, when the EU Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) of some 2,000 policemen, judges and advisers is scheduled to take over authority from the UN mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) that has been in charge since the end of the war in 1999.
However, without a new UN Security Council resolution in sight, it is far from certain there will be smooth transition from the UNMIK to EULEX.
Russia opposes Ahtisaari’s proposal and threatens to block it at the UN Security Council. But the United States and most EU member countries recognized Kosovo as a state and agreed to deploy the EULEX to implement Ahtisaari’s proposal under EU leadership.
The EU mission has veto power over decisions of the Kosovo authorities that affect the implementation of the Ahtisaari settlement.
Serbia has rejected Ahtisaari’s proposal and Kosovo’s independence, calling on Kosovo Serbs for a boycott of the EU mission in areas of Kosovo where they live.