Text of unattributed commentary entitled: "Shadow of Rambouillet", published by the Serbian newspaper Danas on 21 February
When a country is in a situation where it has to discuss the status of part of its territory, that in itself constitutes a kind of defeat - the defeat of a policy that over a protracted period of time was unable to deal with internal problems in a rational way and ensure the functioning of the community. This is what has happened to Serbia in the case of Kosovo.
Not so long ago, Belgrade held all instruments of power in this province, but it did not know how to curb a swelling interethnic conflict and provide peace and security. When this territory became engulfed in total chaos, the international community stepped in and practically removed Kosovo from Serbia's rule.
What comes now is the definition of a new status of Kosovo. In the meantime, a major political turnabout has occurred in Belgrade. The regime that was mostly to blame for the exacerbation of the Kosovo problem has been overthrown, but unfortunately, this has not obliterated in the eyes of international arbiters a negative role played by Belgrade in the creation of the Kosovo crisis.
Last weekend, Serbia sent to Vienna a team of a completely different political mentality than the one that had travelled to the Rambouillet conference, but it is little likely, despite its democratic and pro-European endorsement, that it will manage to convince Europe and the world that Kosovo will be comfortable in a Serbia without Milosevic. The dark shadow of Rambouillet as the symbol of an arrogant, uncooperative and defiant policy of Belgrade that cared nothing for the consequences of its intransigence will inevitably loom over the present negotiating team. The difficulty of their negotiating position is evident from the statement of the chief international mediator, Martti Ahtisaari, made on the day the Belgrade team left for Vienna. Not for the first time, a representative of the international community made it known with frankness unusual in diplomatic communication that independence is the most likely option for the future status of Kosovo.
This forecast is not pleasant for anybody in Serbia to hear, but a serious, rational policy absolutely must take it into account. If by some miracle more is achieved, that will, naturally, be easy to accept and explain to the domestic public. Belgrade must have a rational attitude and a policy ready for the painful eventuality - an independent Kosovo.
Source: Danas, Belgrade, in Serbian 21 Feb 06