This Friday, 28th October 2005, together with other three authors I will be presenting our White Paper on Kosovo, “WHY IS DECENTRALIZATION IMPORTANT FOR KOSOVO STATUS TALKS?”, on a special seminar at the Italian Senate. The seminar is co-sponsored and organized by the Parliamentary Assembly of NATO and the Italian delegation to the NATO PA.
The White paper is not directly dealing with the issue of Kosovo’s future status, but it insists that decentralization, although linked with the status talks, should be dealt with separately from these talks. Moreover, the White Paper advances the claim that both decentralization projects of the Serbian and Kosovo Albanian side should be considered in order to reach the final compromise outcome.
In the mean time the UN Security Council on Kosovo was held last week. Serbia reiterated its position, best illustrated in the formula, “more than autonomy, less than independence”, when referring to Kosovo. Kosovo Albanians, on the other hand, ask for unconditional independence and some of them warn that renewed violence in the Province might take place if Kosovo is not to be granted sovereignty very soon.
In a recent article for the Foreign Affairs, Charles A. Kupchan, a clear advocate of Kosovo’s independence, somewhat provocatively (unlike other advocates of the independence of the Province - e.g. Ineternational Crisis Group), called for the Partition of the Province (for the Serbian North of Kosovo to remain with Serbia) and asked the International Community to change its attitude in this regard. As arguments in favor of such position, the author pointed out, Kosovo Albanians are not able to control the Serbian dominated North of the Province. Moreover, the UN SC will not be able to impose Kosovo’s independence on Serbia, due to the fact that Russia and China might oppose to such action. To those who fear that such an outcome might cause further disintegration of territories of other countries of the region (Macedonia, South Serbia, possibly even attempts to establish an autonomy for the Hungarians in the North of Serbia’s Province of Vojvodina), Kupchan assures that partition of Kosovo will most likely not lead to such an outcome.
Other authoritative sources argue that top ranking Albanian officials assure that they would prefer partition than deep decentralization as recently proposed by a UN report on Kosovo Standards (Kei Eide), namely, referring to Eide’s hints of desired decentralization for Kosovo, Balkan Investigative Reporting Network says, “A Kosovo government official who did not want to be named said many Albanians would prefer to trade territory than concede such vital powers.”
I wander if this is a good solution. Once again pragmatic requirements of keeping Serbia stable and appeasing the Kosovo Albanians in fulfilling their long lasting goal of independence from Serbia, might result in the ethnic cleansing of the Serbian municipalities that do not belong to the area North of Ibar. Will some future Serbian government that agrees to the partition of Kosovo be able to present this “trade-off” as just? Peace and stability in Serbia for misery and deprivation for the Kosovo Serbs and other minorities living south of the line of division. Probably they will, because at the end of the day Kosovo does not truly matter so much to the majority of Serbs from Serbia. What especially does not matter is the destiny of several thousands of people whose villages will remain south of the line of division in Kosovo, Kupchan proposes. Once again, in the Balkans, trade off of territories comes before the sanctity of life of the individual. Maybe the lenient (but tacit) attitude towards Kosovo’s independence, at the first place, in the 1980s, was not such a good idea?