Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Comments on the “Future of Kosovo”: by Goran Svilanovic

Goran Svilanovic is the ex-foreign minister of Serbia and Montenegro. Currently he is an MP in the Parliament of Serbia, Chair of the Working table I for Democratisation and Human Rights of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe and a member of the International Commission on the Balkans. This blog entry comments on the previous entry “The Future of Kosovo” , by Srdjan Cvijic.

1. Having read your text, I cannot clearly grasp position you take regarding the future status of Kosovo. Without a clear position, the text has no value. The time of general arguments has passed, what we need now is a concrete solution to the problem. To arrive at such a solution, we must be clear on how we can solve this issue, and clearly elaborate what this solution will look like in legal and political terms. When we do that it is bound to hurt [politically]. Catchphrases lost all usefulness apart from that of political propagandising.
2. The idea of The International Commission on the Balkans, of which I am a member, is not, as you argue, to use Kosovo to pay for future Serbian EU membership. On the contrary, the idea is that only if both Serbia and Kosovo are moving towards EU membership, can Serbia satisfy its interest in retaining a modicum of control over happenings in Kosovo. If Kosovo does not move towards EU membership, there will be nothing to guarantee that the province’s current Serbian population will be able to remain and nothing to protect other Serbian interests. This is the crucial difference between our [The International Commission on the Balkans] idea and your interpretation.
3. Belgrade has no position regarding Kosovo, and lacks the courage to deal with this issue. This may change after future elections.
4. Can the Serbs accept that Kosovo becomes a third unit in the Union of Serbia and Montenegro? Leaving aside, for the moment, the position of the [Kosovo] Albanians, no one in Serbia has given a clear answer to this eventuality. Let’s say that the previous scenario materializes and that Kosovo does become a third unit in the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro. Will this be just another step on Kosovo’s road towards independence? To answer this question, we should consider the current state of the Union of Serbia and Montenegro: a considerable part of the political spectrum considers this Union to be nothing more than step towards independence for Montenegro. Finally we must ask: can Montenegro bear to become a third, junior, utterly irrelevant [vis-à-vis Serbia and Kosovo] partner in such a relationship?
5. In the final analysis, if you think that partition is what buys Serbia’s consent to Kosovo’s independence (I did not quite understand if this is what you are advocating or not), I will make only two remarks. That was indeed the position of the Zivkovic government [The government of Zoran Zivkoic was formed after the murder of the Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic in March 2003. Zivkovic’s government stayed in power until the beginning of 2004 when the new government led by Vojislav Kostunica was formed]. Kostunica’s government abandoned this position and proclaimed a policy of not accepting the partition. As far as I know, this is now the explicit position of the Serbian Prime Minister Kostunica. In this sense, it is in full accordance with the position of the EU. Thus, the motivations of the Serbian government are not those that you indicated. Rather, the reason is that the partition of Kosovo, despite the fact that it would satisfy many appetites in Serbia, inevitably means that the Albanians get the same thing in the South of Serbia [Serbia proper, referring to the Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac municipalities with the great percentage of Albanian population] (I pointed this out in an interview with Monitor, a Montenegrin weekly magazine). Whatever the status of Mitrovica end up being [North Mitrovica: Serbian majority city in the North of Kosovo] will determine the status of the south of Serbia. In addition, the same goes for the 6 municipalities in Backa [North of Serbia, part of the autonomous province of Vojvodina bordering Hungary largely populated by the Hungarian ethnic minority]. The Hungarian minority would demand the same status as the Serbs in Mitrovica or the Albanians in Presevo and Bujanovac. Think about these arguments and you will understand why this government has abandoned the idea of partition.

Goran Svilanovic (translated from Serbian by Srdjan Cvijic)

All words between "[ ]" are added by the translator to facilitate the reading of the text.

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