Thursday, October 06, 2005

Kosovo: The wheels grind on

Oct 6th 2005 | PRISTINA
From The Economist print edition
A “frank” report clears the way for negotiations on Kosovo's future

ON OCTOBER 4th, a long-awaited report on the status of Kosovo was handed to Kofi Annan, the UN secretary-general. By December, UN-sponsored talks are expected to start on the future of a territory which is still bitterly contested between ethnic Serbs and Albanians. With most observers expecting the talks to lead to Kosovo's independence, there is, or at least there should be, a sense of history being made; in the words of the province's UN boss, a “moment of truth” is looming. But the political mood in Pristina, the province's tawdry capital, is more sullen than jubilant.

Kosovo has been administered by the UN since fighting ended in 1999, though officially it remains linked to Serbia. Almost all its ethnic Albanian population—over 90% of the total—want independence, but Serbia refuses to agree. In the past few years, the UN has ceded some power to a local assembly, which most Serb politicians boycott. Most Kosovo Serbs still live in enclaves, some of which have to be protected by foreign peacekeepers.
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The report—described by aides to its Norwegian author, Kai Eide, as a “very frank piece of paper”—will excoriate Albanian leaders for failing to protect Serbs and other minorities, and Serb politicians for refusing to act constructively in Kosovo's politics. It is also expected to recommend that talks on Kosovo's future status begin as soon as possible.

The man tipped to lead the negotiations is Martti Ahtisaari, a former Finnish president. After a round of shuttle diplomacy, he will probably draft a document on the province's future status which will then be put to Serb and Albanian leaders for consideration.

Until a few months ago, Serb officials were wildly unrealistic in their demands; they are now inching towards reality, although they are still not quite there. They now say that as long as Serbia retains sovereignty over Kosovo, and that its Serbs have autonomous areas, the province can be otherwise self-governed. In practice, they may have to concede quite a lot more than that.

Meanwhile, Kosovo's Albanian leaders are in disarray, perhaps underestimating the rearguard action that the Serbs may mount to stop the province seceding.The record of the local government is weak and it suffers from a whiff of scandal; also its president, Ibrahim Rugova, is gravely ill with lung cancer.

Against this unpromising background, most diplomats in Pristina reckon the territory is heading for “conditional independence”. This would mean Kosovo being fully self-governing, and endowed with some trappings of independence, like a seat at the UN, yet with certain limits on its elected authorities. That would create a situation similar to Bosnia, whose international overlord is entitled to fire any local leader who breaks the terms of the Dayton peace settlement.

Yet even with those provisos, it is hard to imagine Kosovo Serbs and Albanians agreeing on their province's future status. According to one plausible scenario, the Serbs will refuse to negotiate any agreement leading to Kosovo's independence; but the UN security council may impose this anyway. On the Albanian side, an increasingly loud voice is that of a former student leader, Albin Kurti, who wants instant independence and mass protests against the looming negotiations. Much of Kosovo is decorated with his slogan: “No negotiations. Self-determination!”


Anonymous said...

"...but the UN security council may impose this anyway"

Are we thinking of the same UNSC? The one with France, China and Russia?

China supporting the independence of a breakaway province?

Kofi Annan and the US do not a security council constitute

Anonymous said...

China doesn't care about the "breakaway province" of Kosova.

Don't try and compare Taiwan to Kosova. Taiwan is China, Republican China, but China nevertheless and it will always be China.

Kosova is not Serbia.

See you in Brussels.

Anonymous said...

Bravo Albin Kurti!

Thank you Kurti & Co. for telling to the world the views and the feelings of the vast majority of the Kosovar people.

Peace and Independence!

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised this blog hasn't published this op-ed from IHT which pretty much laid out exactly what is going to happen (Rupelj the CiO of the OSCE said this back in january when the contact group was planning this process out)

Anyway, this is pretty much the deal and Serbia is being given no clout in the proceedings because of the ethnic cleansing. So they are just going to have to breathe deep and swallow. As will the kosovars because although I agree with Kurti that the UN doesn't have accountability (go back to Wood's piece in the Times earlier this week.) they will have to stay on a bit longer and phase out gradually to build up the economic base of this province. Actually they should hand over a good deal of their functions to the EU and let them handle it because I think UNMIK really screwed up in terms of creating a solid,safe Kosova meaning that without economic development after independence things will get worse in a hurry.

And China cares a lot about breakaway provinces. They not only have Taiwan but tibet to contend with as does Russia with Chechnya. This sets a precedence in which a lot of people from the Western Sahara to Taiwan can take to heart. I think they all should have independence as well as Kosova but there you go...And France will support independence.

Anonymous said...

This Albin Kurti, he will get many people killed with such politics. So either he is dumb or evilly cynical.

Anonymous said...

Albin is the only one that knows what he is doing... trust me.

Don't you think his protests haven't sped up the process??

Anonymous said...

Yes, France will support independence of... Serbia.

Anonymous said...

Kurti has been breaking the law in Kosovo/Kosova for the past six months and has been arrested several times for doing so. I know because I work here. Storming into a police station in any other Country (Provinces included thank you) and spray painting the inside will get you jail time for sure but not for Albin. The Kosovo Police Service are too scared to follow through with this because they are being controlled by the International Police Officers working in the Main Headquarters Building. These people have never left their desks and have no idea what it is like to work the road as a real policeman. The American Deputy Commissioner is married to a local Albanian girl (half his age - easy to remain neutral????), another American in the transition unit married his language assistant and continues to get $60,ooo for half year extentions (tax free) and a British Officer (Hello Locke my friend!) is sleeping with his language assistant. Germans get sent home for socializing with the locals but not anyone else. Pillow talk is very serious conversation and can make you believe a whole story without hearing both sides of it. The American Police Officers here are back stabbers but I know why they are here.....they never made it back home. Read their resumes if you don't believe me. This is the result when these people are put in charge....scared, worthless police on the streets. It gets better......
The SRSG made a speech to the Security Council in New York a couple of months back and stated that the Kosovo Police have a public disorder unit "in place" to react to public disorder like the riots in March of 2004. They still don't have one as of TODAY. Sure, a thousand police have been through the class but they have no equipment and no joint training whatsoever. I hope the shit hits the fan tomorrow so all the "big-wigs" at MHQ can go home with thick mud on their faces!!!!! Do the research for yourself and let me know if I'm not telling the truth.