Tuesday, November 29, 2005

EU divided over future status of Kosovo

29.11.2005 - 18:02 CET | By Mark Beunderman
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - EU member states are signalling disagreement on the final status of Kosovo, just as UN-led talks on the future of the territory get under way.

Diplomats indicate that several states - including the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Greece and Italy - are publicly or privately promoting their own ideas, which in some cases go beyond the EU's common position.

EU member states in June agreed that the exact future status of Kosovo should be decided in UN-led negotiations between Serbs and Kosovan Albanians, while setting out some clear EU principles that any outcome must meet.

The EU conditions include the protection of the Serb minority, no return to the pre-March 1999 status (when Kosovo was directly governed from Belgrade), and, notably, no partitioning of the territory.

However, just after UN special envoy Martti Ahtisaari started his initial talks with Belgrade and Pristina last week, Czech prime minister Jiri Paroubek suggested that partitioning Kosovo could be the best solution.

"A solution could be dividing the territory on ethnic lines. The northern part of the region would belong to Serbia, and the majority of the southern part could be given the status of an independent nation", the Czech politician said, according to press reports.

Cacophony of opinions
The Czech move - clearly in breach of EU principles - ran contrary to a previous initiative by Slovene president Janez Drnovsek, who presented earlier this month a plan promoting full independence for an unpartitioned Kosovo.

Mr Drnovsek's plan caused a row in Slovenia itself, with the country's foreign ministry publicly declaring that the president's action did "not reflect" the Slovenian government's position.

An EU diplomat said the Czech and Slovene moves were "worrying", as the EU seemed "incapable of sticking to a common position" over the issue.

Another diplomat described the Czech plea for a partition as "very dangerous".

On top of this, the president of EU candidate state Romania, Traian Basescu, last week while visiting Paris presented a proposal pleading for a type of Kosovan autonomy that falls short of independence from Serbia, which was well received in Belgrade but not in Pristina.

An EU source described the different statements coming out of European capitals as a "cacaphony of opinions."

Wariness about independence
Although most other member states have so far cautiously stuck to the EU´s guiding principles, in public at least, they have privately voiced their own views over the issue.

Italy, Spain and Greece in particular are said to be worried about what will happen if the territory is given fully-fledged independence, having been under the administration of the United Nations since the 1999 war.

Sources said Spain is "nervous" about an independent Kosovo setting a precedent for its own autonomous Basque region, something a Spanish spokesman did not want to comment on.

Both Italy and Greece are reportedly wary about endangering their close political and economic ties with Serbia, with Rome particularly fearful of a future "failed" state in Kosovo which could produce large numbers of refugees.

A Greek spokesman did not confirm Athens' particular worry about Kosovo's independence, but did highlight that Athens as a "powerful" player in the region would play an active "mediating role" between Belgrade and Pristina.

The EU has to pay the bill
The direct influence of the EU on the final status talks is likely to be limited, though not irrelevant.

UN envoy Ahtisaari, a former Finnish president, will lead the talks, probably assisted by diplomats of the Kosovo Contact Group, which is viewed by diplomats as being very influential.

A representative from the EU has a seat in this group, but its six-nation core consists of the US and Russia as well as the UK, France, Germany and Italy.

"EU members who do not have a seat in the contact group are envious about those who do", one insider said.

But an EU diplomat argued that in the end, the view of the EU as a whole can hardly be ignored, as "we will have to pay the bill", referring to a probable Brussels role in administration and military stabilisation of the territory.

Mr Ahtisaari's efforts to broker a deal will initially be limited to shuttle diplomacy between Belgrade and Pristina, with direct talks between Serbs and Kosovan Albanians not expected to start before February.

Diplomats estimate that the negotiations will last at least six months, possibly more than a year.

Politicians representing the Kosovan Albanian majority have pleaded for full independence for Kosovo, but Serbia is opposed to granting Kosovo sovereign nation status.

9 comments:

Kosovar2006 said...

As I was reading this article there seems to be more anti-independent the pro-independent Kosova.

So far(Correct me if I'm wrong):

Anti-Independent Kosova:

Serbia
Russia
China
(France!? Probably)
Czech-Republic
Spain
Goergia(who cares what they think)
Romania
Greece
Italy!?

Pro-Independent Kosova

Albania
Switzerland
Slovenia!?(IFFY)

ON our side but open minded:

UK
USA
Germany
Turkey(I think there will be pro. more albanians in Turkey then entire Albania itself)

Others

Macedonia(well cant go against because the % of albanians there)

Montenegro well the want their own

Croatia well staying on the side line not saying much

Bosnia well they have their own problems

This is I think the way contries should be looked at,Then see if we can get our Independece through peaceful means(UN)

Please any other suggestion will be great

PejaCity said...

As negotiations between Kosova and Serbia are about to begin under UN auspices, one is prompted to pose the obvious question: ‘Why is Serbia involved at all?’ Or, to put it in another way: ‘Why do Western governments assume that the wishes of Kosova’s inhabitants are insufficient grounds for recognising its independence, and that such a step requires also Belgrade’s acquiescence?’

Answers to such questions refer as a rule to Kosova being an integral part of Serbia: recognising Kosova means changing Serbian borders. The international community, the argument continues, has thus far respected the borders of the former Yugoslav republics: Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina have all been recognised within their existing borders. Recognising Kosova as an independent state without Serbia’s agreement would be a departure from past practice. Some even suggest it would violate international law. The otherwise respectable International Herald Tribune even recently published a letter from Raju G.C. Thomas in Belgrade (27 October 2005) that moved on from arguing that Kosova’s independence would violate ‘international law’ regarding ‘the territorial integrity and sovereignty of existing states’ to advocate in effect genocide against the recalcitrant Albanians.

The Western assumption that Serbia enjoys sovereign rights over Kosova, however, is as fictitious as the Serbian myth that Kosova was the cradle of the medieval Serbian state. On the contrary, Kosova’s inherent sovereignty and separate existence from Serbia is a well established legal and historical fact. By accepting Serbia as a relevant partner in negotiations over Kosova’s future, the United States and the European Union have vested it with an authority that it never enjoyed in the former Yugoslavia

To begin with, the former Yugoslav republic of Serbia was not of the same character as the other former Yugoslav republics. Unlike Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia and Montenegro, all of which were constituted on a unitary model, the Serbian republic was from its inception composed of three distinct politico-territorial entities: Serbia, Kosova and Vojvodina. These entities were constituted separately and independently from each other in the last stages of World War II (1944-5), as part of a process leading to creation of a Yugoslav federation on the ruins of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. The process began with the formation of a number of distinct politico-territorial entities in areas liberated from Italian Fascist and German Nazi armies of occupation: once established, these entities served as basic building blocks for the new Yugoslav federated state. Some of them were constituted as republics, others as autonomous regions (later provinces). Each and every one of them, however, was established formally as an emanation of the proclaimed will of their (usually ethnically mixed) inhabitants.

Kosova and Vojvodina were actually established before Serbia: Kosova in January 1944, Vojvodina in March 1944, Serbia only in November 1944. Serbia at the latter juncture did not include either Vojvodina or Kosova. It was only in July 1945 that Kosova and Vojvodina voted - autonomously and separately from one another and from Serbia - to join Serbia. Their adhesion to Serbia was sanctioned by the Yugoslav AVNOJ government in August 1945, when they were also given separate (from Serbia) representation within Yugoslavia’s federal bodies. Kosova and Vojvodina, in other words, were from the start constituent elements of the Yugoslav federation, just as the republics were. This was fully recognised by the last Yugoslav constitution, by virtue of which Vojvodina and Kosova were in all practical respects equal to the republics. Despite their formal union with Serbia, they were by the nature of their constitutions and legal status provinces of Yugoslavia, not of Serbia. Their union with Serbia was legally valid only during Yugoslavia’s existence, or as long as their populations did not decide otherwise. For just as Kosova had voluntarily joined the union with Serbia, so too it retained the right to leave it by its own will.

Four of the six former Yugoslav republics (Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia) are today internationally recognised states. Their recognition took place on the basis of two criteria: their separate status within the former Yugoslavia, and the will of their populations. Although Kosova satisfies both criteria, its international recognition has been delayed for reasons of Western Realpolitik - resting on the (clearly mistaken) premise that peace in the region can be achieved only by conciliating Serbia.

What is most extraordinary in this whole story is that while the international community treats Serbia as a state whose alleged borders should be respected, it simultaneously pretends that Kosova was not a self-governing territory within Yugoslavia and within Serbia, hence that its status remains to be determined.

"Only united as Albanian's and the faith our hero Skenderbeu gave us, we can overcome them all"

illyrianboy said...

PejaCity thanks for the analysis.

The Serbian government shouldnt be the one negotiating but the Serbia-Montenegro institutions should. Giving the Serbian government authority to negotiate the status of Kosovo is a violation of resolution 1244, at least.

Dardan said...

I can imagine the staff of the embassies of Serbia and Montenegro working overtime and utilizing every possible diplomatic and P.R. channel to discourage all the countries from recognizing Kosova's independence.

All the countries that are against the independence have invested in Serbia and would not want to jeopardize their investments by angrying Serbia. I am sure that Serbia has already threatened them.

Also:

- Russia has its own problems with seceeding provinces.
- China has Taiwan.
- Spain has the Basque separatist movement.
- Romania has a huge Hungarian population.
- Greece has Chameria and the properties confiscated illegally from the Albanian residents.
- Italy has invested in the Serbian telecom.

In addition, I am wondering what these countries' stand would be if Kosova had embassies all over the world like Serbia & Montenegro does. Embassies of Albania should help Kosova with this.

Someone (I think it was Albin Kurti) said a few weeks ago that "Serbia is worried more about its 5% of Serbs in Kosovo then Albania is about its 95% of Albanians in Kosova".

Albania should do more. That Besnik Mustafaj guy isn't doing crap. I guess we can blame this on his degree in "French Language and Literature". We need someone with a political science degree and experience, not writers to run foreign policy.

Sali Berisha, wake up... haven't you learned from your mistakes in the mid-nineties?

arianit said...

Good job PejaCity. And that's all if we're assuming that Kosova "voted to join" Serbia on its own will. The fact is that by the time Kosova joined Yugoslavia Serb forces had basically overrun Kosova and massacre-betrayals of Albanian partisans like that of Tivar were common place. Other units just before the end of the war were "sent to liberate" Vojvodina and Serb partisans were "sent to liberate" Kosova. Many of the Albanian partisans from Srem didn't get back or were accussed for breach of doctrine in the common Serb-communist way and jailed.
With the back to the wall by the FDR dealings and their soldiers "liberating other people of Yugoslavia", Albanian communists hoped that a such a technicality would save Kosova. But Serb violence won at the end.

Why Europe was recalcitrant to acknowledge indepedence of Kosova?
Because there was no Germany to back up a catholic population like was the case with Croatia. Because Kosova doesn't border and has no cultural connections with Austria and Italy like was the case with Slovenia. Kosova is not Christian and that's the curse we've been hanging around our necks for a century. For the common European there is no way to relate to me. Period.

the-ilirian said...

Të lumtë goja Arianit.
Exactly! I've said it a 100 times and I'll say it again. "Turqia na ka kajt nonën" dhe ende shumë prej neve nuk e dijmë ose nuk dëshirojmë që ta pranojmë apo ta themi për shkak se ende ka shumë Shqiptar që janë të hutuar e nuk e kanë të qartë se çfarë është që të jesh Shqiptar. Nuk e kuptojnë se Shqiptari i vërtet nuk mund të jetë hiq aspak mysliman! Deshëm apo s'deshëm ta pranojmë këtë fakt. Sa më shumë mysliman - aq më pak Shqiptar. Shqiptarët janë viktimat më të mëdhenj të Turqisë dhe të kulturës së tyre lindore që erdhi me fenë e tyre që e sollen (na e imponuan) për të na asimiluar e me na ndarë ndarë ndër veti (divide & conquer/përça e sundo). Ju lutëm. Wake Albanians, wake up! United as brothers and sisters with one faith, ALBANIANISM!
There is no other way out of the current hell-hole we are in. Please admit it and accept it and change for the better. We must show the western world that we belong to the west and that we are a forward looking nation, etc, etc.
Tung the-ilirian

Kosovar2006 said...

The Ilirian you did have to bring religion into it didn't you. Well believe it or not there are Albanian Muslims pretty hardcore. You can say all you want go and invade Turkey if you like Religion might have been put on us 500 years ago but now we choose to live by that religion. so face the fact. Simply I don't give a fuck if Europe&America raises people like you to try and change my religion. It ain't gonna happen the harder your try to impose Christianty or Albaniansim The better of a muslim I will become
I am Albanian And well proud of it You go to the west and suck up their asses if you like I will not Ill stay and fight for my country who ever is against it (independence for Kosova) even if your 'god'(america) is against it I will fight for my 'vatan'. This Europe has split you once They will do it again very soon then yuo still think that Turkey is the problem.

For other readers I am sorry but I had to use those word Because I pissed off with Illirian posting islamophobic comments

ali_pashai said...

the ilirian you are wrong man. i am christian orthodox but i say fuck europe and the states if they do not accept my muslim brothers. Religion is a personal conection between a believer and god. No one, and i repeat no one can say one religion is better than any other one. It's the 21-st century man, can't we leave religion out of it. You may have a point though and it may be true some countries are against us because we are mostly a muslim state but that should not be a sign for us to convert to some other religion. no, it should be a sign for us to unite. Turkey imposed its religion on us but so did the romans. The fact is that we are a muslim state and turkey could be one of our best alies. I repeat i am christian but i would get pissed off if someone talks bad about my muslim brothers and sisters only because they practise a different religion.
Pejacity your analysis is very thorough and very thoughtful. I would have to disagree on just one point. Serbia has to take part in the negotiations. After all whether we like it or not kosova is asking for indipendence from serbia, no? Kosova although had been viewed as another separate entity by kosovars was part of serbia. It was awarded to serbia, unjustly, by the superpowers. We can argue unjustly the serb government can argue justly. This won't take us anywhere especially if countries like spain, england and rusia can't be pro us if we are considered just some people wanting to separate.
What i propose is in addition to your line of reasoning we should also argue that if kosova was not to be given independence than the region would become very unstable. Not because kosovar muslims are terrorist but because the right to self govern will not be available. If kosova is not given independence then what, autonomy? How come? why would the serbian government award such an idea if they do not believe we deserve anything? (their land,their rules) If kosova is not rewarded independence how can someone argue that these two people can coexist in harmony when the serbian government has not apologized for the genocide and is still trying to bring chaos to kosova. how could anyone argue that kosova should not deserve independence indeed?
All the superpowers like in 1913, are driven, and base their decisions on their best interest. this is not news to us. However, it is our job to make them realize that it is in their best interest to recognize our independence. Like peja said before, we have distinct borders, language and tradition. No one can argue that. it is kind of like the Check and slovakia.
The berisha government should do more. Whether kosova should be a state on its own or attached with albania is a different storie. One thing should be clear to everyone though that the only way for stability and prosperity in the region is for kosova to be independent from serbia.

illyrianboy said...

I know it is not easy but WE SHOULDN'T OBSESS WITH RELIGION! We are one nation (ethnicity) regardless of religious practices.

1. Romans didn't impose Christianity on Illyrians. Most Illyrians were Christians before Christianity was even accepted as the official religion of the Empire in the late 4th century AD.

2. Keep in mind that Albanians USED Islam to avoid assimilation into Serbs. Most Albanians living in the eastern Albanian territories (which include Kosovo, Toplica, Macedonia) were Orthodox and most of them were subjects of the Serbian Orthodox church. If they didn't become muslim they would have become Serbs because of the Ottoman Milet system.

3. It is true that Ottoman rule left us backward. But that is also true for all other balkan nations. The Serbian Orthodox Church and the Greek Orthodox Church now are nothing but two Byzantine/Ottoman style despotic organizations. And they have a big inlfuence on their societies. So in this sense we are lucky that we don't have a centralised religion to promote despotism in our society.

4. We are what we are and we shouln't care. I am not a religious person and don't follow religios practices but I still say I am a Muslim. And I am not ashamed of that. What we should do is try to debunk the lies that try to connect our national liberation struggle with Islamic fundamentalism.

Cheers