EU launches Kosovo police mission
A whole lot of euphemisticÂ gobbledegookÂ from the heroin & narco republic in the Balkans from the BBC
*Â Charles Martel Defeated: A Grand Mosque for Tours
*Â BelgiumÂ arrests 14 Al Qaeda suspects (scroll down)
The European Union has launched its mission to strengthen the rule of law in Kosovo, after months of delay.
Nearly 2,000 officials are taking over police, justice and customs duties from United Nations staff.
Serbia rejected Kosovo’s declaration of independence in February and still regards Kosovo as one of its provinces, but it has accepted the new EU mission.
The UN will leave Kosovo after more than a decade in charge, retaining only a small political role.
Eulex is the EU’s biggest-ever mission and will operate across all of Kosovo. The 1,900 international officials will be supported by about 1,100 local staff.
The EU will oversee the running of the police, the courts and the customs service.
The aim is to help the authorities deal with corruption and organised crime.
Eulex deployed peacefully to the main Serbia-Kosovo border crossing on Tuesday and traffic to and from Serbia continued as normal, the BBC’s Nick Thorpe reports from the scene.
The customs post at Jarinje was set ablaze in February by Kosovan Serbs angry at Kosovo’s declaration of independence.
But now the blue EU flag flutters there, with Belgrade’s blessing, our correspondent says.
Eulex was supposed to have started months ago but it was plagued by delays and opposition from Serbia.
Belgrade has now accepted the plan, however many Kosovo Serbs are still unhappy that the UN is leaving
The EU police say they are neutral on the status of Kosovo and are keen to show that they can deploy whenever and wherever they wish, our correspondent says.
About 20 Eulex officials entered the court building in the mainly Serb north of Mitrovica – a flashpoint town in the past, where Serbs and Albanians are separated by the Ibar River, the AFP news agency reports.
The mission is a huge test for the EU, says political analyst Lulzim Peci.
“If you succeed here, then you can prove to be capable to be engaged in other crises. But if you fail in Kosovo… then you lose credibility for overseas operations,” he says.
There have been protests by some of the majority ethnic Albanians, who believe that too many concessions have been made to Serbia.The Eulex deployment is expected to be complete in a few months’ time.
Eulex police spokeswoman Karin Limdal told BBC News that Eulex activities would include war crimes investigations, tracking down missing people and measures to curb people trafficking.
The UN mission, Unmik, has been in charge in Kosovo since 1999 – the year that a Nato bombing campaign triggered a withdrawal of Serb forces, who had been widely condemned for human rights abuses.
Nearly 16,000 Nato-led K-For troops remain in Kosovo, maintaining security.
Eulex has personnel from 26 EU member states as well as from five non-EU countries, Ms Limdal said. France and Italy are providing the biggest police contingents.Â
The BBC’s Helen Fawkes sees indifference and scepticism as the EU takes over Kosovo policingÂ
From kingdom to Kosovo split in 80 yearsÂ
Belgium detains al-Qaeda suspects
* Is it “round up the usual suspects?”
Fourteen people arrested in Belgium on suspicion of plotting to free a convicted al-Qaeda member from jail have been released without charge. Â (December 2007)
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Police do not know if the EU summit was to be the target of an attack
* Hard to believe, so I guess we’ll take it with a grain of salt. So far the Belgians haven’t managed to arrest Â a bus full of french fries…
Belgian police say they have detained 14 people suspected of being members of the al-Qaeda network.
They include a man believed to have been about to launch a suicide attack, officials said.
Federal prosecutor Johan Delmulle said police did not know where the suspected suicide attack was to have targeted.
The detentions come as a two-day European Union leaders’ summit was due to start in the Belgian capital, Brussels, on Thursday afternoon.
Other Euro News:
Ireland whacked into submission (made to vote again)
A total of 242 police officers carried out 16 raids in Brussels and one in the eastern city of Liege, officials said.
Mr Delmulle said the suspects could have been targeting Pakistan or Afghanistan, “but it can’t be ruled out that Belgium or Europe could have been the target”.
The man suspected of planning the suicide attack had “received the green light to carry out an operation from which he was not expected to come back” and “had said goodbye to his loved ones, because he wanted to enter paradise with a clear conscience,” Mr Delmulle quoted investigators as saying.
“This information, linked to the fact that the EU summit is being held in Belgium at the moment, left us with no choice but to intervene today,” he added.
The police investigation, described as the most important anti-terror inquiry in Belgium, targeted an alleged group of Belgian Islamists believed to have been trained in the Afghanistan and Pakistan region, officials said, according to the AFP agency.
The BBC’s Jonny Dymond, in Brussels, says the investigation that led to the detentions appears to have been at least a year old.