After the Read More! Kosovo's Independence: who's for it, who's against. Who will protect the Serbs? Will it work?
President Bush backs the UN designed independence plan: "On Kosovo, our position is that its status must be resolved in order for the Balkans to be stable. Secondly, we have strongly supported the Ahtisaari plan," Bush said, referring to a so-called "supervised independence" plan put forward by the former Finnish president and UN special envoy Martti Ahtisaari."
Ahtisaari presented a plan in early 2007 calling for independence under international supervision for Kosovo, the southern province of Serbia which has a 90-percent ethnic Albanian population.
A roundup of who will recognize the new state is reported by the Guardian.
Serbia said a declaration would be 'a flagrant and unilateral act of secession of a part of the territory of the Republic of Serbia and... therefore null and void'. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said it 'would be immoral and illegal'. Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro are also likely to reject it. The US and most EU countries will recognise Kosovo. Cyprus, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and Greece are against it.
Some 120,000 ethnic Serbs live in Kosovo, many next to the border with Serbia. Half of that number live under Nato protection in scattered enclaves south of the Ibar river. The VOA reports that "The European Union gave its final approval Saturday for a security force, which it calls a civilian peace and justice mission, to keep the peace and safeguard human rights in Kosovo after the the departure of the U.N. team that has administered Kosovo since 1999, when NATO airstrikes halted a Serbian crackdown on the province's ethnic Albanians.."
In one of the most ironical turnabouts, the mission of the West in the Balkans has shifted from protecting the Muslims to protecting the Serbs. What happens if the Serbs living in contiguity with the Serbian border join it, claiming their territory with them? This seems to be exactly what the Serbs have in mind. (See below)
The International Crisis Group provides the reasoning behind the acceptance of the Atisaari plan.
Forcing Kosovo Albanians back into a constitutional relationship with Serbia would reignite violence. Belgrade has offered little beyond proposing that Kosovo remain an integral part of the Serbian state. ... Instead it has tried to establish the basis for an ethnic division of Kosovo and partition along the Ibar River, which runs through the northern city of Mitrovica. It has done so by trying to delay the adoption of a Security Council resolution in the expectation that this would trigger a Kosovo Albanian overreaction, including violence, and so create the conditions for such partition. Partition, however, would not only destroy the prospect of multi-ethnicity in Kosovo but also destabilise neighbouring states.
The Ahtisaari plan is apparently a plan to keep the fractured egg of Kosovo glued together by a combination of EU money and police advisers, as the International Crisis Group goes on to describe.
The Ahtisaari plan is a compromise that offers Kosovo Albanians the prospect of independence, Kosovo Serbs extensive rights, security and privileged relations with Serbia, and Serbia the chance to put the past behind it once and for all and realise its European future. It is the best recipe for the creation of a multi-ethnic, democratic and decentralised society and fits within the European Union’s multi-ethnic project for the Western Balkans, which ultimately offers the prospect of accession. The EU is already the largest donor in Kosovo and plans to assume the lion’s share of responsibility for the post-status Kosovo civilian mission. Ultimately, Kosovo is, and will remain until resolved, a European problem.
But the egg is unlikely to stay glued together. A partition may eventually occur. The Serbs have clearly concentrated their ethnic population in anticipation of Kosovo's independence the better to prise a piece of it off. The Kosovars will be glad to be rid of the Serbs, but probably want the land. However, it will probably be too expensive to drive the Serbs from it as long as they are supported from Belgrade and Moscow. So they may have to cede the land to Serbia in the end. The EU will fold like a cheap suit the moment their representatives start taking casualties. If any sort of trouble breaks out look for them to make as quick an exit as possible. Either that or they will yell for NATO support. But even with that they will fold anyway.
In a decade the Balkans may have reorganized itself along ethnic lines. The intervention of Europe and NATO will have made the process more orderly and humane but it would not have succeeded in changing the basic outcome. The whole Balkan adventure is a cautionary tale about the limitations of specifying the "multicultural" idea as the cornerstone of the modern state.