A very important conceptual change in the approach of the international community vis-à-vis the process for resolving Kosovo’s status has to a certain extent remained unnoticed and consequently bypassed by the Kosovar factor. This is about the shift, definitively a silent one, from the concept “conditional independence” for Kosovo as a solution for Kosovo’s status to that of “limited sovereignty.”
The differences between these two concepts are huge.
“Conditional independence” launched in 2000 by the Goldstone Commission and presented again by the Amato Commission in 2005, despite many sustainable details, created a huge complication for the process of recognising the state of Kosovo. Certainly, as far as the time aspect was concerned Goldstone’s proposal was logical, because it called for the international presence in Kosovo, which was established by UNSC Resolution 1244, to be used for transforming Kosovo into a state. Vice versa, the offer of the Balkans Commission last year was late and insufficient for all stakeholders in the process of resolving the status of Kosovo.
The model “conditional independence” suffered the fatal blow in January and February this year, while Martti Ahtisaari’s Mission had started to take on its shape. Ahtisaari himself said he was against this model in the first talks when possible options for Kosovo’s status were being analysed. And it was Ambassador Frank Wisner, the US Envoy for Kosovo’s status, that announced “the death” of this solution, during his first visit to Pristina and Belgrade in early February immediately after the meeting of the Contact Group in London on 31st January. Wisner said openly, even before the Serbian media in Belgrade, that a country either is or is not a state and that there could not be something called “conditional independence”.
“Limited sovereignty” is the concept that has won the large support of capitals of Western countries of the Contact Group, because it merges the will of the people of Kosovo for independence with the will of the international community to play a new role in transforming Kosovo into a stable and functioning state that contributes to regional stability.
In fact Kosovars with an absolute percentage view the independence of Kosovo as a joint mission or project of Kosovo, the US, the EU and NATO; therefore, there is an authentic mood in Pristina to assume the responsibilities and limitations that derive from this instalment in this phase, the process of Kosovo’s inclusion in Euro-Atlantic integrations. Such limitations are not specific only for Kosovo, but for all other countries that are part of NATO and the European Union. Kosovo’s specifics are related to the role that NATO, the US and major European countries have had in the liberation of Kosovo, in its reconstruction after 1999, and with the role they are expected to have from now on. Certainly it remains to be seen in the talks that are expected to be held from now on between Kosovo’s negotiating authorities, UNOSEK, the US and the EU on how to organise the international civil and military presence in Kosovo. But there is no doubt that Kosovars are fully supportive in continuing and intensifying the partnership with the US, EU and NATO in the building of the state of Kosovo.