by Svetlana DJURDJEVIC-LUKIC
Even though the possibility of Haekkerup's departure from Kosovo was suggested following the successfully held parliamentary elections in November it was vigorously denied immediately after Haekkerup's departure to a winter vacation. The very publishing of the decision at the time of the combined Christmas and New Year's holidays, as well as the fact that the agreement regarding the failure to renew his contract was made at least 15 days prior to the its expiration for the simplest of tasks, let alone tasks involving the administration of the largest United Nations operation for which serious consultations are necessary, are sufficient reason for speculation regarding the possibility of different motives on the part of the serious Dane.
In parallel with the official praise of all relevant international factors ranging from the State Department spokesman to the European Union to NATO where, despite this, it was not possible to get a specific comment in connection with Haekkerup, an international dimension to events exists in theories that the UN chief of administration offended Albanian protectors overseas who want to withdraw from the Balkans as soon as possible and turn over Kosovo to the local Albanians, and in stories that he provoked dissatisfaction of his colleagues in UNMIK and Western diplomats through his bureaucratic approach including strict adherence to regular office hours and a lack of energy and enthusiasm for more decisive steps. According to one of the local tabloids, Haekkerup's shortcomings were reviewed at NATO headquarters with the help of Nebojsa Covic!
Persons on the Serb side who contacted most with Haekkerup, Rada Trajkovic and Nebojsa Covic, although reserved, obviously are relatively satisfied with their cooperation and not overly happy to have to start again from scratch and become acquainted with a new representative of the international community. The foreign policy advisor to Federal Republic of Yugoslavia President Vojislav Kostunica, Predrag Simic, in an interview with NIN expressed the opinion that Haekkerup had a restrictive approach towards Serbs, while Dusan Janjic, the coordinator of the Forum for Ethnic Relations, said that Haekkerup "corrected the course of a ship veering heavily towards the Albanian side and thus returned the international community to the role of an objective intermediary".
The majority of the people interviewed by NIN believe that Haekkerup's work can for the most part be considered successful because in an atmosphere of lack of a clear strategy by the international community towards Kosovo he created a constitutional framework which does not exclude any final solution for Kosovo, including independence and integration, secured participation in the administration for the non-Albanian communities and held elections.
Dr. Karin Von Hippel of the Center for Defence Studies at Kings College in London, until recently an UNMIK official herself, believes that Haekkerup realized what he had planned in the previous year and that he did not wish to sacrifice his personal life for a longer term. John Hulsman of the American Heritage Foundation also rejects the conspiracy theory. "After the elections UNMIK found itself at a turning point since the next phase requires long-term dedication to the inclusion of local political factors in the execution of government."
Haekkerup, namely, after the conclusion of the elections, decisively led the first session of the newly elected Kosovo parliament and then also refused to mediate in the negotiations of the three largest political parties of the Kosovo Albanians, believing the election of the president and government of this newly established autonomy to be the responsibility of local figures.
Confronted with a clear demonstration of all pending problems, Haekkerup withdrew at a moment when previous success still had not been seriously brought into question. This might not be as important if there did not exist a certain doubt with respect to the views of the United States and the European Union with respect to further moves in Kosovo.
While Andrew Lloyd, the head of the British mission in Kosovo, has declared 2002 to be the year of dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade and another high European official in an interview with NIN claimed that "we worked especially closely with Haekkerup and the Belgrade leadership in achieving the joint document which is a great success for all sides involved", the commentator of the U.S. propaganda service for Eastern Europe, Radio Free Europe, Patrick Moore, believes that "the greatest damage Haekkerup has done to the stability of the region was to give Belgrade a vote in Kosovo affairs".
In combination with the already known U.S. plan for reduction of presence in the Balkans and the European fear of Kosovo as a source of criminal activity and a bottomless barrel with respect to funds for establishment of a viable economy, different approaches are always a possibility. For now the Americans are leaving the position of UNMIK head to the Europeans, retaining the position of deputy with, of course, inescapable active participation when the decision regarding the final status of Kosovo is to be made. According to Susan Manuel, Haekkerup's deputy, American diplomat Charles Breshaw is presently in New York where intensive consultations regarding the new head of Kosovo administration are taking place, which is "also an urgent matter for the secretary general, since the situation in the field is delicate, due to the stalemate between the political parties and given that the meeting of the joint high level task group foreseen by an agreement between Haekkerup and Covic is scheduled for January 18." Susan Manuel expects that the name of Haekkerup's successor will be made public by the end of January.
There is a possibility that the UN will send some experienced administrator from its headquarters in New York as an interim solution in order to gain time. Depending on this appointment, it will become possible to make further forecasts with respect to further directions of development of the mission itself. There is a view that a high level diplomat is no longer necessary as the administration will be increasingly turned over to the local population. However, the local UNMIK head has enormous powers, including annulment of the decisions of the Kosovo parliament and amendments of the constitutional framework, which requires strong authority.
For now, American and British diplomats together are trying to do what Haekkerup avoided - to convince the Albanian leaders to cooperate. In the interim, without an UNMIK head, an OSCE mission head and new organs of government, incidents continue to take place.
"Haekkerup is leaving for personal reasons. All speculation with regard to his departure is inaccurate. It's not true that he, unlike Kouchner, was close to the European concept of resolving the problem of Kosovo, was fairly critical of U.S. policy and that this is the reason why he supposedly had to leave. Germany and the international community were very happy with his work. He succeeded in organizing elections in Kosovo including the participation of the Serb voters, which is very significant for the process of stabilization and reconciliation.
The question has been posed regarding his replacement. Will it be Michael Steiner?
"I cannot tell you this. Germany has requested that Haekkerup's replacement be a German. Mr. Steiner is qualified for this job and he is certainly being considered; however, Germany also has other people who are qualified for [this position]. Such decisions need to be harmonized with other partners in the European Union and in this I do not expect any problems. Afterwards the German proposal will probably also be accepted by the United States."