Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Serbs of northern Kosovo move closer to secession: analysts

PRISTINA, Serbia, June 6, 2006 (AFP) -

Serb enclaves in northern Kosovo have taken a step towards separation from the rest of the ethnic Albanian-dominated province by cutting ties with the UN administration, media and analysts said Tuesday.

"The north is aiming towards a total secession" from Kosovo, influential daily Koha Ditore wrote, while one foreign analyst warned it was the "joker in the pack" for ongoing talks on the future of the province.

On Monday Serb leaders in the north of the UN-run province broke off relations with the UN mission (UNMIK) and declared a "state of emergency" following a recent wave of violence against Serbs.

The leaders, backed by Serbian authorities in Belgrade, have said that should Kosovo become independent, as its ethnic Albanian majority demands, they want the northern enclaves to secede and be attached to Serbia.

But another Kosovo Serb leader, Marko Jaksic, said the decision was primarily directed to the boycott of Kosovo institutions, dominated by ethnic Albanians, notably the government of the province.

"This decision is a product of bad security situation in the past seven years. We had to say stop to the terror finally," Jaksic told the Belgrade-based Beta news agency.

However, he insisted that the decision "has nothing to do with the negotiations" over the future status of the province.

"It should not have any influence on the talks," said Jaksic.

Since February Serbian and Kosovo Albanian officials have been engaged in the UN-sponsored talks -- expected to be wrapped up by the end of the year -- but they have made little progress.

The ethnic Albanian leaders are pushing for independence, which the Serbian government fiercly opposes although it has offered Kosovo greater autonomy.

"Kosovo is entering its most critical phase. I am afraid the north won't be controlled by Pristina any longer," Behxhet Shala, analyst at a Pristina-based human rights watchdog, said.

"The north is going to make any outcome of the status talks totally dysfunctional. Moreover, given the momentum of the secession there, I wouldn't exclude more dramatic developments," he said.

"Certainly, north Kosovo is becoming one of the biggest challenges of the status process talks," Alex Anderson, head of the Pristina office of the International Crisis Group think-tank, told AFP.

"I think there is an awful lot of work on the ground to make good the (UN's) insistence that there will be no partition of Kosovo," Anderson said.

"In the context of the coming status definition the north is an unpredictable part of Kosovo -- in a way like a joker in the pack," he added.

The Koha Ditore newspaper said that the movements in the north had been received with "political silence in Pristina", while another independent daily, Zeri, reported that the news had drawn concern from the UN administration in Kosovo.

Belgrade and Kosovo Serb leaders have complained for years that the NATO and UN missions running Kosovo have failed to ensure security for non-Albanians, pointing to constant small-scale attacks and a major anti-Serb rampage in 2004.

In a series of attacks against Serbs in the past 10 days, one man was killed and two were seriously injured.

The UN police commissioner said the latest incidents did not seem to be ethnically motivated. UN officials rarely comment on the motive for attacks against Serbs, citing a lack of evidence.

Anderson said the NATO-led peacekeeping mission appeared to be concerned at the Serbs' secession moves, and had announced the reopening of a base near Leposavic, a Serb-dominated town bordering the rest of Serbia.

"A lot of security concerns are going to shift to north Kosovo," particularly at the crucial end of talks and in their aftermath, he said.

At least one third of Kosovo's some 100,000 Serbs are thought to be living in and around the volatile northern town of Kosovska Mitrovica, which is divided between Serbs and ethnic Albanians. The others live in enclaves throughout the province.

Kosovo has been run by the United Nations and NATO since mid-1999, when an alliance's air war drove out Serbian forces and ended a brutal crackdown against separatist guerrillas from the ethnic Albanian majority.


tironsi said...

They're using every single crime to complain about the UN and Albanians. You never hear them appoligize afterwards when it turns out to be not an ethnically motivated crime (like that woman killed by celebratory gunfire after a wedding). I feel bad about the victims and their families, but being used like that doesn't do anyone any good. I hope they catch the perpetrators of any crime, be they Albanian or Serb.

Mir said...

Those Serbs have been in their situation for years now man. NO ONE (myself included) on this blog here can possibly imagine what stress is upon those people and their leaders. We simply dont understand how they feel and we cant help them when we still dont even know if they get water to shower themselves.

If your country gets independence I wish you luck but whats going on in Mitrovica is going to put you through exactly what we (Serbia) went through with Kosovo. Hopefully you will deal with the situation carefully and slowly and peacefully instead of rushing in like a fool (like Sloba :p)

Kristian said...

I like this game the serbs are playing. Its a way of buying time! Great ploy and a great political move.

Copying the albanians and their tacticks. Impressive.

Not to poke fun at serbs but when in the Milosevic days these Kosovan Serbs were abusing their power left and right (ppl in office or govt institutions). Now since they don't have power they are fed up with the situation. And they know belgrade isn't going to improve their situation and albanians will probably take their time at it. So they will complain to the internatinals to improve their situation. And guess what you'll see change in a matter of days.

I wish belgrade had let these folks talk to the Kosovo/a assembly and politicians a long time ago. I bet they would of resolved things at a better pace then belgrade.

Lets see what happens and how this game plays out.

I'm rooting for everyone at this moment. May the best debaters win!

Peace to all!

Kristian said...

To: Mir

Just saw your post as i was posting mine.

Well the Albanians are in the same boat. Not much of a difference there on either side. And I know you'll try to convince me that the serbs are suffering more then the albanians are. Reality is they both are and proportionally albanians are suffereing at a higher rate based on population figures.

As far as the shower thing! You made me laugh there. You know all the Kosovans don't take showers on a daily basis. And I forget was you or IVANA that said Kosovans (all ethnic groups) don't have plumming in their homes.

I do agree with you on the stress level though! Kosovans in general are all fed up with the situation no matter what part of it your from.

Wishing all peace and a beer to come their nerves.

ilir said...

But of course. This was a long-planned intention, and no Albanian is surprised about it. Maybe this is a good sign, that the unjust done by Tito, by excluding Presheva, Bujanoc and Medvegja from Kosovo, when drawing the administrative border of Kosovo, could be reversed. Albanians also have an important card in the deck here. Division of Kosovo has more implications, and Contact Group knows it, hence will not allow it.

Sacred Dardanicum said...

well, Contact Group has stated clearly that Kosova shouldn't join to any otehr state, shoudn't be splited, shouldn't have same status as prior 1999.

So what a fuck are servians trying to do to split Kosova.

In "Contat's Group" statement there is nothing that says about the future of Servia. Servia might split like southern parts up to Sumadija, Vojvodina til Djerdap Electrical Plant (so Servia would have it in future) so the Servia would be only Beogradski pasaluk and Sumadija

rodoyf said...

kosovo was never a state internationally recognized and it never will be.

Dardania 2006 said...

rodoyf sorry, we didn't realize you don't agree. Will do as you say SIR...

(now go chase some rocks and stones)

Bg anon said...

Well yes this is a possibility as I wrote some time ago.

The talks end without agreement, conditional independence is proclaimed, remaining Serbs (and other non Albanians?) flee North to the Serbian zones. Serbian zones refuse to cooperate with Pristina.

Internationals are just happy there is no violence (or maybe there will be?) and this drags on for months until the internationals lose interest.

Then the Serbian and Kosovan government begin bilateral negotiations - terms of negotiation? A land swap parts of southern Serbia for parts of northern Kosovo. Some will point out that if this had been on the table months ago and not ruled out by the internationals a deal between Serbs and Albanians could have been reached...

rodoyf, its irrelevant whether Kosovo was a state or not. Now its your right to be against Kosovo statehood but it doesnt mean it isnt going to happen.

In fact as Im sure you have seen it is the most likely scenario.

The only thing that can prevent this from happening in my view is a mass attack on the internationals by Kosovo Albanians. Isloated incidents of this type have happened and will happen again but it would be blind stupidity if Kosovo Albanians did do this.

Bg anon said...

Kristian it is a game yes but its also a game that even reasonable people would take part in - ie its understandable.

If you or I was a Serb living in N Mitrovia we would completely support them. I mean by this that even moderates would support this Serbian move.

For their part the internationals already have readied camps for fleeing Serbs.

Kind of like chess in a way but more important. I just hope that no blood is shed in that process.