Presenting Mitrovica proposal at UK residence – research
January – February 2004
In February, another ESI proposal created waves in Kosovo. Following months of research by Kristof, Duska and Eggert, ESI could clearly show the disastrous economic trends in the disputed town of Mitrovica: North and South both survived on transfers, with shrinking populations and collapsing infrastructure.
At a special Wilton Park conference, ESI presented its analysis to Kosovo Albanian and Serb leaders. It also suggested a coherent package of measures as a way forward:
- substantial progress on freedom of movement and the return of property;
- creation of a new, multiethnic municipality of Zvecan-North Mitrovica;
- transforming the role of the Republic of Serbia from parallel government to long-term donor; abolishing remaining parallel law enforcement and judicial institutions;
- a commitment by the international community to support a multi-annual development strategy, implemented jointly by the two municipalities of Mitrovica and Zvecan.
A cartoon in Koha Ditore captured the spirit in which the proposal was received on both sides of the Ibar river: cautiously, but with great interest.
A series of briefings and presentations followed in Mitrovica, Belgrade, Pristina. The proposal was also presented to Javier Solana in Brussels and to the international community, including UNMIK head Hari Holkeri in Pristina. In early March, Kosovo Prime Minister Bajram Rexhepi and Kosovo Serb leader Oliver Ivanovic joined Minna Jarvenpaa, Kristof and Gerald to present the ESI package in Brussels. Then, tragically, riots erupted, first in Mitrovica, then across Kosovo. The momentum was lost.