Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Source says Serbia considering "ways to implement" partition of Kosovo

Text of report by J. Jevremovic entitled "Trial balloon through Sanda" published by Serbian newspaper Glas javnosti on 15 August

Belgrade: The DSS [Democratic Party of Serbia] has washed its hands of a statement on the partition of Kosmet [Kosovo-Metohija], made by Sanda Raskovic-Ivic, chairwoman of the Coordinating Centre for Kosmet and DSS deputy chairwoman, saying it was misinterpreted. However, Belgrade has been considering for some time the possibility of dividing the territory of its southern province between Kosovo Albanians and Serbia, Glas has learned from a source in the Serbian government.

"Belgrade has been considering ways to implement a partition of Kosmet for a long time, aware that nothing can be achieved by insisting on substantial autonomy. The story is being spread in Kosovo and the population is being unofficially prepared for this possibility," said our source.

However, the statement that Raskovic-Ivic let slip and [Interior] Minister Dragan Jocic denied is a good trial balloon on which neither the president nor prime minister have said anything.

An idea proposed by the late Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, and before him [former Yugoslav President] Dobrica Cosic, was to give the Serbs northern Kosmet - which is 15 per cent of Kosovo's territory - and its southern border would be on the River Ibar. Isolated Serb territories inappropriately referred to as enclaves, populated by a Serb majority - such as Gracanica, Strpce and others, would have special connections with Belgrade, but primarily with the compact territory that would be separated from Kosmet. However, it is impossible to pursue this option during the official talks on Kosmet's future status as the Contact Group is opposed to partitioning the province.

"Though the Contact Group set down the principle that the territory cannot be partitioned, it will be done so that it is not officially divided, though it will be so in reality. Bosnia-Hercegovina is not officially divided, but in real life it is. We would therefore have one Serb entity and a few enclaves," said our collocutor, adding that this could be termed a compromise.

This is not the first time Raskovic-Ivic has made a solo appearance. A scandal broke out in September 2005 when she divulged details of Serbia's plan, which was to be kept secret until the status talks began. Serbian President Boris Tadic had declined to reveal details of the plan to the US administration and was shocked on his way back, when he read in the papers on the plane what he had kept silent about in the United States.

Analyst Slobodan Antonic said it was possible that Belgrade had a reserve plan on the partition of Kosmet, but added that the government had to adhere firmly to autonomy. "Perhaps this is one way of saying Serbia is willing to discuss other options, those that do not imply the independence of Kosmet," Antonic told Glas, saying it was possible that Raskovic-Ivic had become "too relaxed".

Source: Glas javnosti, Belgrade, in Serbian 15 Aug 06 p 2

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