EULEX actions at the gates in northern Kosovo from 16 September
15. September 2011. | 14:25 23:49
Source: Emg.rs, Tanjug
EULEX Kosovo will carry out customs and police operational work at Gates 1 and 31 (Jarinje and Brnjak) from 16 September. This will be in line with EULEX’s executive mandate.
In effect, this means EULEX will help implement the agreement regarding customs stamps reached in Brussels on 2 September in the framework of the EU facilitated Dialogue.
The agreement on the customs stamp was the last missing piece that is needed to relaunch a proper customs system, which we are eager to do. Kosovo became a single customs area under UNMIK in 2000 and has been regarded as such by the EU ever since.
The agreement, which has nothing to do with status, is about taking a big step towards the rule of law in Kosovo, which is in the interest of all communities.
The absence of the functioning customs system throughout Kosovo has allowed illegal activity to develop freely, especially but not exclusively in the north of Kosovo. Now we will be much better equipped to deal with this. It is an important step forward, and populations on all sides will benefit.
The customs operations at the gates will be conducted by qualified customs experts from EULEX, in the presence of Kosovo customs officers.
EULEX calls on all citizens to support these measures in order to improve the rule of law for everyone.
The details of the measures include:
- The Bërnjak/Brnjak crossing point will be open for personal traffic and non-commercial goods, as well as for commercial traffic and commercial goods. Imports of commercial goods through Bërnjak/Brnjak have to be cleared at the South Mitrovicë/Mitrovica Customs Terminal.
- Until the proper infrastructure has been installed, the Jarinjë/Jarinje crossing point will be open only for personal traffic and non-commercial goods.
- All commercial goods that are subject to excise taxes (such as alcohol, cigarettes and fuel) have to be cleared at the Merdar/Merdare crossing point or at any other Crossing Point authorised for commercial traffic.
EULEX Deputy Head :Customs to be established as of Friday
EULEX and Kosovo authorities will establish a customs office at the Jarinje and Brnjak administrative crossings in northern Kosovo as of September 16, and EULEX will collect customs duties, EULEX Deputy Head Andy Sparkes confirmed for the Serbian language Frankfurt-based daily Vesti.
Belgrade knew about this, and no one should be surprised, he said.
Sparkes calls on all sides to behave responsibly, adding that, in case of announced blockages, KFOR and EULEX could assess that the closing of crossings is necessary, which, as he said, is not in the citizens' best interest.
The agreement on customs stamps reached in the dialogue on September 2 (in Brussels) is important for the improvement of regional relations and securing the flow of goods in accordance with the European practices. The EU now expects the trade embargo will be lifted, the EULEX official said.
According to Sparkes, the EU and the Kosovo authorities discussed the process of implementation of the agreement reached in the dialogue, the aim of which is to take a step forward in the freedom of trade and improve the rule of law.
The plan should prevent smuggling and improve security in Kosovo's customs zone. The operational work will be done by EULEX, in line with its mandate, and there will be a mixed presence at the northern crossings, said Sparkes, adding the intention is to start implementing the plan presented by the Kosovo authorities on September 16.
He explained EULEX will collect money from the customs, and transfer it into Kosovo's unified budget.
The EU has continually been, and will continue to be in constant contact with Serbian partners, at all levels. This step of implementing the agreement reached in the dialgue should come as a surprise to no one. The EU completely understands the concern of the Serbin side, but urges everyone to act responsibly, Sparkes said.
Reminded that he himself said several months ago that nothing can be accomplished through violence and against the will of the people in the north, Sparkes said that when it comes to implementing the rule of law, it is indeed very hard to do if the community is against you.
But this is about controlling the crossings in a customs zone. If there are going to be widespread road blocks, or similar moves which are being threatened, that the people should keep in mind it might be necessary for KFOR and EULEX to close the crossings, which is not in the people's interest, he concluded.
Ban worried about the announced establishment of customs
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Thursday he was deeply concerned about recent statements concerning the establishment of customs control in the north of Kosovo and the consequences that this could have on peace and stability on the ground.
He said at a news conference that he received a letter from the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia Vuk Jeremic, asking that necessary action be taken in this respect, and recalled that the Security Council was convened on the occasion.
Ban called on everyone to refrain from unilateral actions which could lead to escalation of tensions in the region.
He also urged the authorities in Pristina and Belgrade to continue their dialogue under the auspices of the EU, to take into account its earlier successes, and to take steps to apply in practice the agreements achieved so far.
Ban also urged them to make every effort to avoid escalation of tension and confrontation and to prevent any violence in northern Kosovo.
He said that UNMIK works closely with all parties to find a way forward and ensure that stability, security and peace are maintained in Kosovo, as he also expects from the international presence in the province.