EU officials replace U.N. in Kosovo

Dec. 10, 2008 at 9:54 AM
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PRISTINA, Kosovo, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- European Union officials are taking over from the United Nations in sensitive areas of Kosovo despite objections of ethnic Serbs, EU officials say.

EULEX, the EU mission in Kosovo, says it has been moving the first of 1,900 police, customs agents, judges and prosecutors into Kosovo this week after a reluctant Serbia, which mistrusts the EU, reached an agreement with U.N. negotiators last month, The Times of London reported Wednesday.

Analysts say their biggest challenge will be to combat ethnic divisions as well as the rampant smuggling of people and drugs through Kosovo en route to Europe. Kosovo's courts are also staggering under a backlog of cases as well as from endemic corruption, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has said.

The Times said Kosovo remains tense after declaring independence from Serbia in February. Although more than 50 countries -- including most of the EU -- has recognized its independence, Kosovo is still stuck in legal limbo because Serbia ally Russia has vowed never to recognize its independence.

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