[JURIST] The European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) [official website] formally began operations [EULEX press release] Tuesday. EULEX is a civilian mission under the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) replacing the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) [official website]. EULEX will assist and support Kosovo [JURIST news archive] authorities in the areas of police, judiciary, and customs. Approximately 1,400 internationals, including more than 1,000 police officers and an additional 500 local support staff are being deployed. A spokesperson for the US State Department said Tuesday that the US is "committed to EULEX's mission to strengthen rule of law institutions throughout Kosovo to the benefit of all communities, and to promote Kosovo's territorial integrity and stability in the region." The hope is that EULEX will help resolve ongoing conflicts [B92 report] between ethnic Albanians and Serbs and stabilize local government.
Kosovo controversially seceded from Serbia [JURIST report] in February, and its new constitution [text] went into effect [JURIST report] in June. Although Serbia now accepts EULEX, both Serbia and traditional ally Russia initially condemned it [JURIST report] as illegal. Russia previously rejected Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia, warning that such unilateral action without the approval of the UN sets a dangerous precedent for "frozen conflicts" around the world.