Friday, April 27, 2007

The EU has long lost its leverage in Kosovo: By Aleksandar Mitic

[This article is published in the European Voice 26 April - 2 May 2007]

The EU is facing risks over Kosovo: there is a stalemate in the UN Security Council, a division within the EU and not a slight sign of Serbia accepting Martti Ahtisaari's plan on cutting Kosovo away from it.

The special UN Security Council mission to Kosovo will undoubtedly see what has been largely downplayed in the "pinkish" reports drafted by Pristina-based UN chiefs: only 5 percent of the 220,000 Serbs expelled by Albanian extremists from Kosovo have returned, while Serbs living in the shameful, heavy-guarded enclaves lack freedom of movement and express mostly fear and mistrust.

This could also be a good eye-opener for Brussels. The EU has greatly lost in leverage in the last several months: the Kosovo Albanians look at Washington to lead a diplomatic "blitzkrieg" on their behalf, while Serbia and the Kosovo Serbs have found in Moscow a reliable partner ready to oppose an imposed secession.

One thing is now clear: there will be no UN Security Council resolution based on the core of Ahtisaari's proposal because there is simply no agreement on why Kosovo should be the first case in the 62-year long history of the UN in which the body legitimizes a dismemberment of a member country.

Repeating the senseless mantra about Kosovo's "uniqueness" will not fly, while warning about Kosovo Albanians going ballistic if they do not get what they want only reinforces the argument that they are not ready for self-governance let alone statehood.

Ahtisaari's proposal is unfortunately by no means a compromise, unless your definition of a compromise involves a shameful trade off: human rights for territory.

Respect for international law, for recognized borders of Serbia and for the need of the Kosovo Albanian majority to rule itself would get the UNSC to adopt a resolution, the EU to stay united and take its responsibilities in Kosovo. This will bring Pristina and Belgrade firmly on the road to the EU.

Otherwise, it is back to square one on the thin line.


John R. said...

Does Serbia's alliance with Russia imply that Serbia will not continue its pact towards NATO membership?

Aleksandar Mitic said...

Not necessarily. It is certain that an imposed solution against the will of Serbia or any other forceful solution would definitely block this process, but we're far from that and everyone - including NATO - believes there should be a UN SC resolution. Now, that involves a compromise -- which Ahtisaari's plan is certainly not.

Anonymous said...

Would Serbian succumb if the UN SC adopts a resolution granting Kosovo independence? Would Serbia leave UN membership then?

S. Harms said...

Of course Serbia would not give up their UN membership... it certainly would have no hope of ever joining the EU if it started withdrawing from the international community in such a way.

My personal opinion is that Ahtisaari's plan is the only solution left. Long, drawn-out negotiations have turned up nothing and are not likely to do so even if they continue for an extra 6 months.

If the goal is maintaining peace and stability in the region (and I don't see why it wouldn't be), then the ethnic Albanians must be given some form of independence; a return to pre-1999 circumstances would cause chaos and partition is just as risky a precedent as is granting secession to Kosovo.

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