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Kosovo advisory group urges increased effort to fight corruption

The International Steering Group for Kosovo (ISG) [official website] urged the nation to strengthen its efforts in fighting organized crime and corruption, following a meeting [press release, in Albanian] with Kosovo President Fatmir Sejdiu [official website] and Prime Minister Hashim Thaci [BBC profile], according to local media [Gazeta Express report, in Albanian]. The ISG is made up of 25 countries that have recognized Kosovo's unilateral proclamation of independence and was set up to oversee Kosovo's independence from Serbia in 2008. The announcement follows a report [text, PDF] released by the EU Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) [official website] highlighting the progress Kosovo's judiciary system has made and the challenges it still faces. ISG and EULEX both praised Kosovo's establishment of an anti-corruption task force in the Office of the Special Prosecutor of Kosovo but stated that Kosovo must strengthen cooperation and coordination between prosecutors and Kosovo Police, as well as between prosecution offices and courts. The ISG stated that development in these areas could garner more international support for Kosovo during a time when the nation's independence is not yet solidified.

Serbia opposes Kosovo's independence and has asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ) [official website] to render an advisory opinion [JURIST report] on the secession's legality. Oral arguments [JURIST report] on the advisory opinion began in December. The advisory proceedings will include arguments from 29 additional countries, including the five member-states of the UN Security Council [official website], debating whether Kosovo's unilaterally proclaimed secession complied with international law. Serbia argues that UN Resolution 1244 [text, PDF], which ended the war in Kosovo, solidified the country's boundaries, which included the southern region of Kosovo. Kosovo argues that the resolution was not meant to exclude the opportunity for secession. While Serbia is backed by the majority of UN countries, including Russia, Kosovo has the support of the US and most EU countries. The outcome of these proceedings is nonbinding but will be closely watched by countries with large breakaway regions. The reintegration of Kosovo is an unlikely outcome, but Serbian President Boris Tadic believes that these proceedings create a platform for a discussion on the overlying issue of fragmentation [BBC backgrounder] in the Balkans. The ICJ is expected to reveal its non-binding opinion in July.

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