Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Opponents of new Kosovo must be stopped - Joseph Biden

By Joseph Biden
Published: January 2 2007 19:12 | Last updated: January 2 2007 19:12
Years of hand-wringing and chest-thumping over the future status of Kosovo may finally be drawing to a close. In the next few months, adroit diplomacy to secure Kosovo’s independence could yield a victory for Muslim democracy, a better future for south-east Europe and validation for the judicious use of American power.

But along with the potential for triumph in Kosovo, there is a growing risk that Serbia and Russia will conspire to seize defeat from the jaws of victory. Extremists in Belgrade and Moscow are – for very different reasons – hoping to use Russia’s United Nations Security Council veto to quash Kosovo’s bid for independence. If they succeed, the Balkans will emerge as another source of bad news in a world already crowded with crises.

During the seven years since Nato ended Slobodan Milosevic’s reign of terror in Kosovo, a UN-backed administration has largely succeeded in bringing stability to the province. However, Kosovo’s people are justifiably tired of a status quo marked by uncertainty and economic privation. These two intertwined problems will continue so long as the debate over the province’s future remains unresolved. Its ambiguous status is also leading to stagnation in Serbia.

Nationalist politicians in Belgrade have embraced the fight against Kosovo’s independence to divert public attention from their own failures and Serbia’s stalled bid for European Union membership. The actions of Vojislav Kostunica, Serbia’s prime minister, have been particularly disappointing. In addition to refusing international requests to call for the arrest of war crimes fugitives Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic, Mr Kostunica has rejected every attempt at compromise on Kosovo. Serbia’s moral authority on the issue hit a new low in October when the 1.5m ethnic Albanian residents of the province were denied the right to vote in a deeply flawed constitutional referendum that declared Kosovo an integral part of Serbia.

To their great credit, the people of Serbia have proved more realistic about Kosovo than their elected leaders. Opinion polls show that many Serbs foresee that the province will gain independence. Ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, meanwhile, overwhelmingly expect to sever ties with Serbia. With citizens on both sides of the issue ready to finish the debate and move on to more constructive challenges, leaders who block a solution will do so at their peril.

Historically, trouble in the Balkans is almost always the result of false expectations. On the whole, the citizens of south-east Europe are mentally prepared for an independent Kosovo.

If Belgrade postpones a settlement it will reopen the issue for many Serbs previously resigned to Kosovo’s independence and further inflame frustrations among the region’s ethnic Albanians. The result could be a return of the mob violence that shook Kosovo in March 2004.

A Russian effort to delay a deal on Kosovo would be in keeping with the Kremlin’s habit of fostering weak, subservient governments in formerly communist states. Moscow has apparently reached the conclusion that impoverished, unstable regimes are easier targets for manipulation than prosperous, independent countries. It has made extensive, public use of oil and gas diplomacy to undermine the budding democracies of eastern Europe. Less attention has focused on the Kremlin’s quiet efforts to exacerbate territorial conflicts in Georgia, Moldova and Azerbaijan. Serbia could become the latest victim of this strategy.

Kosovo is not ready for full sovereignty. Even after independence, Nato and the international community will need to provide security guarantees for Kosovo’s minorities and strengthen its economy and institutions. But it is time to grant the province independence. The longer the status debate continues, the further Kosovo and Serbia will fall behind other rapidly progressing former Yugoslav republics such as Croatia and Slovenia.

Success in Kosovo, if realised, will have implications far beyond the Balkans. A responsible Russian approach to the issue could demonstrate the Kremlin’s commitment to global order at a time when its credibility is in tatters. The people of Kosovo – already the most pro-American in the Islamic world – will provide a much-needed example of a successful US-Muslim partnership. Stability in south-east Europe would be a welcome bit of good news and offer hope in a season of tremendous foreign policy challenges.

The writer is the incoming Democratic chairman of the US Senate foreign relations committee

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2000


Anonymous said...

The notion that an ethnic group - from a neighbouring country, with a history of violent attacks upon the native population they aim to displace - should be though of as 'poor victims' who must be supported is rather interesting. Everyone who wants to know about the nature of Albanian influence in the Serbian province of Kosovo can find out easily. The Americans are fully aware of it and so are the journalists who remorselessly vilify the Serbs. The fact that Kosovo has been successfully ethnically 'cleansed' is well known... but the victims are the right ones this time. They are the Serb, Roma, Jews, Turks and even many Albanians who were loyal to former Yugoslavia (after all, Yugoslavia and Serbs had taken them in and given them unparalleled rights in southern Serbia for years away from the grinding poverty and misery of primitive Albania).
Yes the Albanian mafia operates out of Kosovo now and with impunity. The Serbian security forces are powerless to stop armed gangs of Albanians stopping Serbian vehicles and robbing Serbian occupants.
This goes on in other parts of Southern Serbia....not Kosovo. Macedonia has suffered attacks too. Greece is plagued by Albanian theives and pimps and drug dealers....anyone who honestly believes that Albanians are victims of Serb aggression are pathetically misguided.

Anonymous said...

kosova katastrof ska asgje edhe poplli nuk eshte dasht me dal ne voto per hajna

Anonymous said...

Kosovars. It is the time for a new good start.
1 - Serbian minority in Kosova should have no less rights than Albanian in Serbia, but Nothing more.
2 – Stop dual parallel governments in Kosova and in North Mitrovica.
3 - Ask Serbian Government to pay, at least 7 billion Dollars, for 190,000 destroyed or damaged homes, and for families of more than 10,000 killed by the Serbian army and Serbian Paramilitary.
4 -The Ahtisaari plan was not approved by the UN and was rejected and never accepted by Serbia. The Ahtisaari plan was rejected and void by Kosovars too, with declaration of the independence. Therefore, it’s null and void. Don’t let anyone to put this “PLAN” on the table again. This plan is nothing more than an “UTOPIA”. It didn’t work and newer will work again.
5 – If you won’t stand up for your land and your rights, everybody will play with you.

Anonymous said...

well all people who die and who stand up for Kosovo finally the achived something well thnx to American and some of european countrys like Germany France Belgium Turky finally making sure they don't do the same mistake as they did 100 years ago well today i can say to all of the world who did not accepted Kosovo as new free and fully independent they did something wrrong well i will put no politics tricks here a simpel question and simple asnwer fro you all think about can you live with you exwife or exhusban agian? well not if he or she hit you and u call the police for help not if she tried to shoot you or stick a knife in your ass well or if someone cheated on you always and lied you can u still call him a good friend or if your nighboors broken in to your house and try to rob you in your own house would u let him step in to your door agian tell me and than think about it more well 90% population in kosovo are Albanian with belives in Muslim religion and we have 10% of albanian in kosovo with belives of catholic orthodoc and christian jewish etc we have 10% of population serbian roman turkish bosnian and all of them are living life with no problems but we have a small amount of people who are trying to created problemes event today wich is serbians that are directed and managed by belegrad and serbian goverment so tell me something now as all the powerfull and democratic countrys around the world did acceped kosovo indepentents in europe in northen american south america some asia australia and other islands well i guess we are living in the life of 2008 now and who ever didnt accepted it is living in the life of cold war wich was it from 1949-1981 hmmm so now is your time to wake up and live the life of todays forget the passed as Kosovars did forgot it and moved one with future of it and left the bad things bihind Kosovar's Albanian helped every human beans in earth like in turkish time Skanderbeu GJERGJ Kastrioti (GEORGE Kastrioti) helped europe save the europe by stoping fighting turkish army not leting them to move to western europe to kill humans and same in 2nd world war by natzis hitler saving the Jewish and other nationalites highting them from german natzis and changing there names lastnames ant making them albanians so they cant find it out albanians may not be powerfull in fighting but powerfull in heart and saving respecting each country and never thinking bad thinks for the others we all are human and we all deserved to live the life as human who work hard and get nothing so to all of the countrys who didnt declaired the acceptations of the new born free country kosovo please stand up to your government and tell them that all of you are supporting it and donot let bad things happend to eachother remember no one wants to get locked or loss there houses or ther land or there right to work in there own country or GOD'S Land is not our land we have no power belive on your self live the life to the fulles think about today not about yesterday or tumorrow:)

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