07 October 2022
On 6 October EU Member States’ representatives at the Brussels-based Committee for Civilian Aspects of Crisis Management (CivCom) and officials from the European External Action Service concluded their two-day visit to the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX).
The visit aimed at taking stock of the Mission’s work in Kosovo and at gaining a deeper understanding of the rule-of law and the security situation on the ground. It included meetings with representatives of Kosovo authorities and civil society organizations, EULEX’s international partners, as well as representatives of EU Member States in Kosovo.
The Head of EULEX, Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, welcomed the guests at EULEX’s Support Compound in Fushë Kosovë/Kosovo Polje and provided a general overview of the Mission’s mandate and work. The CivCom Chair, Gábor Tóthi, expressed the interest of the delegates to better understand the operational situation in Kosovo and thanked the Mission for the hospitality.
The Committee’s representatives received an in-depth briefing about the Mission’s work by EULEX’s Head of Operations Support Pillar, Tomi Salosyrja, who presented the tasks covered by this Pillar, explaining the synergies with other Mission elements, especially the Monitoring Pillar.
At the end of the morning, the delegates moved to the Mission’s Headquarters in Pristina, where EULEX's Head of Monitoring Pillar, Benny Jensen, gave a briefing about the role, organizational structure, and activities of the Monitoring Pillar, which covers the entire chain of the criminal justice system.
The Chief of EULEX’s Case Monitoring Unit, Hubert van Eck Koster, presented the work done by his unit in assessing, through robust systemic and thematic monitoring of selected cases, the functioning of the Kosovo judiciary in terms of procedural, legal and human rights compliance.
The Chief of EULEX’s Correctional Unit, Ritva Vahakoski, explained how the Mission supports the Kosovo Correctional Service’s efforts to develop a professional senior management team through monitoring, mentoring and advising.
In the afternoon, the Head of Press and Public Information Office and Spokesperson, Ioanna Lachana, presented the Mission’s communication strategy and the results achieved in the last three years.
In the afternoon, the delegates met with the Chair of the Kosovo Prosecutorial Council, Jetish Maloku, the Chair of the Kosovo Judicial Council, Albert Zogaj, the Chief of the Kosovo Special Prosecution Office, Blerim Isufaj, and the President of the Kosovo Supreme Court, Enver Peci, to discuss the key challenges of the rule of law in Kosovo.
Meetings with the Kosovo institutions continued with an in-depth discussion with the Deputy Minister of Justice, Nita Shala, who highlighted the priorities of the ministry, with a specific focus on the internal vetting procedures and the prevention of gender-based violence. Shala praised the role of the Mission in providing practical recommendations aimed at improving the rule of law in Kosovo through its monitoring activities.
The delegates also met with the Minister of Internal Affairs, Xhelal Sveçla, who elaborated on the security situation on the ground, including in northern Kosovo, and presented the priorities and the work of the Kosovo Police in the fight against criminality and corruption.
Afterwards, the delegation had an open conversation with civil society representatives, namely with the Executive Director of the Kosovo Law Institute, Ehat Miftaraj, with the Executive Director of the Humanitarian Law Centre Kosovo, Bekim Blakaj, and with the Project Manager of New Social Initiative, Milica Andrić Rakić. The civil society representatives highlighted the challenges - both at a systemic and at a practical level – that all communities in Kosovo are facing while accessing justice and highlighted the importance of transitional justice.
At the end of the first day, the delegates attended a working dinner, during which they were briefed by the Head of the EU Office in Kosovo and EU Special Representative, Tomáš Szunyog, and by the KFOR Commander, Major General Ferenc Kajári.
On the second day, the delegation visited the Kosovo Institute of Forensic Medicine (IFM), where they received a briefing from IFM’s Acting General Director, Flutra Goga-Bajrami, IFM’s Deputy Director from EULEX, Javier Santana, and EULEX’s Forensic Anthropologist, Luísa Marinho, on the activities and operations completed by EULEX and its local counterparts in the area of missing persons. The delegates also took a tour of the anthropology and archive room at the IFM.
After the IFM briefing, the guests moved to EULEX’s premises in Mitrovica, where they attended a crowd-and-riot-control exercise by the Mission’s Formed Police Unit and KFOR, Kosovo’s second and third security responder respectively.
EULEX’s Freedom of Movement Senior Adviser, Henri Clement, and the Customs and IBM Senior Adviser, Alan Wilson, gave a presentation on EULEX’s work in facilitating the implementation of the IBM Technical Protocol and on the latest developments in the area of freedom of movement.
In the afternoon, on the way to Rudnica/Jarinjë common crossing point, the Lithuanian delegate of CivCom honored the memory of Audrius Šenavicius, EULEX’s Customs Officer from Lithuania who was killed in the line of duty on 19 September 2013.
At Rudnica/Jarinjë common crossing point, the delegates saw the implementation of the license plate sticker regime.
The CivCom delegation concluded their visit with an official reception co-hosted on behalf of the Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union by the Chargé d’ affaires of the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Pristina, Pavel Bílek, and by the Head of EULEX. The reception was attended by Kosovo’s Prime Minister, Albin Kurti, the Minister of Internal Affairs, Xhelal Sveçla, as well as representatives of local institutions and EU Member States.
CivCom is the committee tasked to advise the Political and Security Committee on civilian aspects of crisis management and is composed of representatives of EU member states. It prepares planning documents for missions, makes recommendations to the Political and Security Committee, and deals with the development of strategies and concepts for civilian crisis management and for civilian capabilities.