Thursday, February 16, 2006

When hard truths shock - The Economist

Kosovo Serbs hardly believe their fate
AP

An enclave of fear in Gracanica

EVER since last autumn, the outside world has been sending two separate messages about the negotiations on the future of Kosovo which are due to start on February 20th. One is that, formally, the talks are taking place without prejudice; the other message, delivered more privately but with growing firmness, is that Kosovo will become independent; so Serbia must help the province's 100,000-plus ethnic Serbs to cut the sweetest deal they can if they want to stay there.

This month, the message has been delivered in a more open way, and Serbs are in deep shock. The mood in Gracanica, a Serb enclave in Kosovo built around one of the Balkans' finest medieval churches, is “fatally depressed”, according to Zivojin Rakocevic, head of the local radio station. Rada Trajkovic, a Kosovo Serb leader, spoke for many when she said: “I cannot admit to myself that it's reality.” She sees a “catastrophe” in prospect. Ms Trajkovic insists that Albanians hate Serbs so much that all her people, except the old and poor, will flee. So far, people are watching sullenly, to see if they are now doomed to be the Balkans' latest wave of refugees.

Whence the sudden shock over a piece of news that many view as an open secret? John Sawers, the political director of the British Foreign Office, caused big ructions on February 6th when he told a group of Kosovo Serbs, including Mrs Trajkovic, of the latest thinking from the contact group, a group of five western countries, plus Russia, which has been deliberating Kosovo's fate. He said the group had decided firmly that Kosovo should have independence, and Serbs must make the best of it.

Ms Trajkovic admits that Mr Sawers was not the first bigwig to say such a thing; but his bluntness caused a jolt. Meanwhile, at the office in Vienna where Martti Ahtisaari, a former Finnish president, is preparing to host the talks on Kosovo's status, there was quiet satisfaction over the diplomat's clear message: he was telling a hard truth that needed telling.


Among Kosovo's Albanian majority, making up over 90% of the province's 2m people, there was rejoicing over the diplomat's frankness, and a generally upbeat mood. Quicker than expected, Kosovo's parliament has chosen a president—Fatmir Sejdiu, a lawyer—to succeed the late Ibrahim Rugova. Veton Surroi, an opposition leader, says the change of guard gives a chance to ease out corrupt old-timers and promote people who know economics.

In Belgrade, reaction to Mr Sawers's words verged on hysteria. Tomislav Nikolic, head of the ultra-nationalist Radical Party, claimed that he and Vojislav Kostunica, the Serbian prime minister, had agreed to declare Kosovo “occupied territory” if it secedes. Serbia's moderate president, Boris Tadic, rather quixotically suggested that Kosovo's status be deferred for 20 years. But in Vienna, diplomats gave warning that the Serbs would—not for the first time—be doing themselves a grave disservice if they were now to fall in behind hotheads such as Mr Nikolic.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Diplomacy works in mysterious ways. If the fate was known (the population ratio is the same as in 1999), why did this whole show drag on for seven years now? Western diplomats have done a huge disservice to all citizens of Kosova by keeping the status in limbo for so long.

On the other hand, with Kosova lost, it's sad that K-Serbs haven't started improving relations with Albanians.

Anonymous said...

"This month, the message has been delivered in a more open way, and Serbs are in deep shock. The mood in Gracanica, a Serb enclave in Kosovo built around one of the Balkans' finest medieval churches, is “fatally depressed”, according to Zivojin Rakocevic, head of the local radio station."

WHo the FU_CK cares?? I wonder how the victims of your oppressive rule felt when they were raped, massacred, and tortured? What Kosova needs to do is completely ignore the serbs and pay attention to the real minorities, the people that need help, not the ones getting it and bitchinG. The Romas, get them off that camp and into something safer. It's not like Serbs, they don't have the option to go elsewhere. Better yet assign diff minorities into those 10+7 seats in parliment.

tironsi said...

To the second anonymous, two wrongs don't make a right. Those who hurt innocent Serb civilians are hurting Albanians as well (not that the act itself isn't bad enough). They don't help anyone and it's about time this was widely recognized in Kosova. I think Kosova would have already been independent by now. Sure it's hard to forgive, but considering people gave their lives for an independent state, people who can't give up their hate are selfish and pitiful.

Kristian said...

Tironsi


you forgot immature!

Dardania 2006 said...

Tironsi,

Precisely.

I am all for forgive but do remember and look forward always with attention.

Anonymous said...

"To the second anonymous, two wrongs don't make a right. Those who hurt innocent Serb civilians are hurting Albanians as well"

So your telling me of 7 years of trying to get this people to do some wholesome good in this society is worth keep trying for another 50 years, when we could focus our attention and resources towards the Romas in the lead camp?

I am more for helping the Romas survive then actually reteaching these Belgrade puppets it is best for them to cooperate with our Government.

Tirosi I wasn't talking about payback or revenge. All I said was lets focus on something more important. Like the Romas in that Lead CAMP.

I think we have concluded that after 7 years of persuasion the Serbian Leaders of Kosova-Serbs don't want to take part in the Parlament.

Milo said...

With Kosovo independent (God willing), Montenegro(which was originally Croatian territory) will break with Serbia, and then Serbia will no longer have an identity!!!! The Serbs will be(as if they are not now anyway) Gypsies of the Balkans and will cease to exist as an entity! Those who live by the sword will die by the sword!!!