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 »  Home  »  Opinions  »  Kosovo needs a conclusion, not a new beginning
 »  Home  »  Politics  »  Kosovo needs a conclusion, not a new beginning
Kosovo needs a conclusion, not a new beginning
By Joe Foley | Published  08/1/2007 | Opinions , Politics | Unrated
The future of Kosovo must be decided
Kosovo needs a conclusion, not a new beginning

July 31, 2007 - 18:34 CET | By Agron Bajrami

[Op-ed: Croatians, called Janjevci, live in Kosovo as well. See links below]

EUOBSERVER / COMMENT - Russian intransigence on the question of Kosovo's political status has sparked yet another round of empty and time-consuming discussion on whether independence is the best and only solution for the 10,000 km square territory with 2.2 million inhabitants.

While Western democracies, notably the US and EU, are now officially standing behind the "supervised independence", proposed by UN Kosovo status envoy Martti Ahtisaari, this solution has been "frozen" due to Moscow's veto-threat.

Russia's stance has prevented the UN Security Council from adopting a resolution that would open the way to implement the Ahtisaari Plan.

The whole incident is increasingly becoming a showdown between former Cold War enemies, while the actual Kosovo status issue is serving as an appropriate context in the new West versus Russia political-thriller.

But, the fact that most of the rest of the world - including Arab and Muslim world, African, Asian and Latin American nations - agrees with the Ahtisaari recipe for Kosovo should only make it crystal clear what the real issue is here and exactly who is spoiling the chances to have a functional, peaceful and long-lasting solution in place: It's the Kremlin.

Under the banner of protector of international order and supporter of the "downtrodden" Serbia, Moscow is using the Kosovo issue to flex its muscles and reclaim its lost stature from the Soviet times as a world superpower.

These moves by President Vladimir Putin were totally unexpected in the corridors of power in Washington, Brussels, London, Berlin, Paris and Rome.

And that seems to be the only reason why the Western reaction towards Russia's stance has been so quiet, defensive and confused. They are still unsure what to make of Putin's repositioning: is it a bluff or a scheme to divide (and therefore rule) Europe and redistribute the sphere of interest.

Nevertheless, in what seems to be the last chance to bring Russia on board,the West has decided to offer 120 additional days of talks, in a bid mainly designed to show that every alley has been explored before accepting that independence will have to be reached using the more complicated route for now dubbed the "unilateral" declaration of independence.

It is in this context that additional voices are being heard. But these voices that try to put the entire blame for Kosovo's plight on western powers are unjustified for many reasons.

They argue that the only way forward is to actually forget all that has been done until now; declare the whole western Kosovo policy of the last 20 years a failure, and start a new search for a solution, something that would last for years.

But this view, apart from being unjust for the more than 2 million people actually living in Kosovo - of whom 90 percent want independence is undermined by poor arguments.

Here are the reasons why.

First, while nobody could be against a process that would deliver an agreed Prishtina-Belgrade solution, the truth of the matter is that the possibilities for a negotiated solution are exhausted. There is nothing left that Prishtina could offer that would make Belgrade accept independence, just as there's nothing that Belgrade could offer that would make Prishtina agree to remain under Serbian sovereignty.

Second, the reason why the latest effort to find a realistic and fair solution to the problem, the 14-month UN process led by Mr Ahtisaari, failed to produce an agreement was Belgrade's refusal to engage in the process and subsequent refusal to accept the compromise proposal.

Russia's backing meanwhile, has effectively armed Belgrade with veto power in the UN security council

Third, the Ahtisaari Plan is a true compromise solution. While it does provide for independence of Kosovo from Serbia, it also provides the maximum individual and community rights for minorities in Kosovo, especially the Serbs, who in this plan are the most favoured community of them all. The plan gives lot of power to local authorities, while it also foresees special relations for Kosovar Serbs with Serbia.

And, finally, the core of the plan is the continuous international military and civilian presence to oversee and guarantee the implementation of the provisions. This is hardly the description of a fully independent and sovereign state.

Fourth, although nobody is proposing it officially, the unspoken Serb-Russian idea behind the new talks is not to bring back Kosovo within Serbia, but to have it divided along ethnic lines.

But, what would this solution, actually mean? It would mean a road that would destabilize the entire region, since the division of Kosovo on ethnic lines, in the minds of those Albanians that would go for it, includes the Preshevo Valley in Southern Serbia, and would certainly give rise to similar appetites among the Serbs and Croats in Bosnia, and Albanians in Macedonia and Montenegro.

Fifth, while it is simply untrue to portray the international community as being solely responsible for the situation in and around Kosovo, it is true that the West was frequently too hesitant to take the bull by its horns in Kosovo.

It is also a fact that both Albanians and Serbs feel disappointed by the international community's policy in Kosovo. But they do so for opposing and irreconcilable reasons: Albanians, because they think the independence is their just right and should be delivered without delay, most Serbs ecause they think Albanians are being given a territory that does not belong to them.

Fundamentally, Russia and Serbia are opposed to the Ahtisaari plan because the proposed solution cares more for the people, and less for the territory.

That is also why the democratic world must put an end to this story by following the Ahtisaari line - implementing the solution that is made for the benefit of the people and not for territorial myths.

(The writer is editor-in-chief of Koha Ditore, Kosovo's biggest daily newspaper)

Formatted for CROWN by Marko Pulji
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