Saturday, October 21, 2006

Serbian leaders suffer two heavy blows on Kosovo in one day - commentary

Text of unattributed commentary: "Key to Europe"; published by Serbian newspaper Danas on 18 October

Serbia's two major branches of executive power suffered two new heavy blows in one day. First Albanian President Alfred Moisiu threw diplomacy and good manners to the wind when he told his host Boris Tadic that Kosovo should be independent. Moisiu was speaking at a regional summit on the fight against organized crime, held in Karadjordjevo. Later on Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica returned from Luxembourg, his job undone. Kostunica was told, as Tadic before him in Helsinki on 13 October, that the EU would not unfreeze talks with Serbia as long as Ratko Mladic was at large. Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte explained to the EU troika why the most wanted Hague fugitive was evading justice. She claims Belgrade lacks the political will to arrest Mladic, that the authorities are persuading him to surrender. Obviously Solana, Rhen, and Tuomioja accurately passed this on to the EU leaders.

The EU ministers also postponed talks on visa facilities for certain categories of the population and UN Kosovo envoy Maarti Ahtisaari confirmed that he would propose a final solution for Kosovo to the UN Security Council before the year is out. In all likelihood, the Finnish diplomat will consider neither Serbia's old nor new constitution. His vision of the future Kosovo is closer to the one Moisiu calls for rather than Tadic and Kostunica.

Careful political observers will say that nothing new happened two days ago in Luxembourg and Karadjordjevo. Europe has been explicit since last May: Mladic is the only key that will unlock Europe's doors. The stance of the Albanian president is nothing new, they say, the international community has been saying the same thing all over the world, with the exception partly of Russia and part of the region. This simplified view makes the conclusion from Luxembourg and the lesson from Karadjordjevo appear indeed quite benign. Actually, Europe's refusing a proposal put forward by Tadic and Kostunica shows that Europe does not trust Serbia, to put it in the simplest of terms. Moisiu's public statement about redrawing a sovereign state carries the same tone: Committing international and legal heresy in a state the borders of which he would redraw is telling what he thinks of his hosts and neighbours. The humiliation is deja and it inescapably evokes the contempt to which Milosevic's Serbia was exposed. Everything else is too much a serious warning, even a threat. Europe will not open its doors to help the current or future government, president, or prime minister. It will open them when Belgrade does what it has deferred all along, justifying the delay with reasons that Brussels will not accept.

Source: Danas, Belgrade, in Serbian 18 Oct 06 p9

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