Washington Post today Editorial " Solution for Kosovo"
When the great democracies in the shape of NATO stopped bombing Kosovo in 1999 to discourage Serb ambitions - it still left Kosovo technically a province of Serbia - Metohija [the full Serbian name of the province]
All along it's been obvious what the permanent solution must be: the recognition of Kosovo as an independent nation, with protections for its Serb minority. The question has been whether that outcome can be arranged without a diplomatic or even military blowup -- between Kosovo and a Serbia still infected by belligerent nationalism, or between the West and an increasingly troublesome Russia.
The Bush administration is cautiously optimistic that the transition can be pulled off in the next several months. But it will take some deft Western diplomacy and, in the end, probably some American toughness.
The indigenous Albanians wanted independence, the reduced (14% down to 4/5%) and cowed Serbian minority didn't.
NATO - effectively the United States, postponed any decision regarding Kosovo's status a decision with which their European allies passively agreed. A principal concern was that recognition of Kosovo’s independence would stir up Serb nationalism. As the Wapo editorial exhibits, Uncle Sam is getting impatient.
Amidst a general sort of international acceptance that Kosovo should receive some sort of recognition of independence along the lines of UN Security Council’s Resolution 1244, Martti Ahtisaari, U.N. envoy and former President of Finland, has been visiting the Balkans to try to barter a diplomatic procedure for talks between the Albanians and Belgrade on resolving Kosovo’s status. Meanwhile 220,000 refugees stay in greater Serbia although some 16,000 are said to have returned according to UNHCR.(Kosovo pop. approx 2 MN.)
The Serbs want acceptance of ;
1 Debt write off
2 Entry /membership of NATO’s Partnership for Peace
3 Entry to the European Union.
4 Statutory acceptance of minority Serbs in any form of future Government.
Effectively something on the lines of Bosnia , allegedly independent (but of course whose whole existence is as a satrap state of the US) a sovereign country for a decade, but one that still has an international administrator and considerable limitations on its freedom of action.
There are two clearly defined ethnic-based entities in Bosnia , a Muslim-Croat federation and a Bosnian Serb republic. Holding the ring is a token and powerless weak central government in which 3 representative Presidents provide some leadership and three presidents. The 3 Muslim, Croat and Serbian leaders have publicly agreed to eliminate the system of three presidents to provide a stronger central authority but the European Union forces which replaced the NATO forces still - with the European Union's High Representative provides the principal control over the elected Government.(Not forgetting U.S. ambassador Donald Hays)
After a decade this ad hoc International administration ( and war weariness) has helped Bosnia gradually strengthen the role of the central government and promote faster integration.Last year there was a significant and major breakthrough when there was agreement to create a unified multi-ethnic national police force. Shades of Ulster.
Probably the biggest reward / carrot was the decision by EU foreign ministers late last year to agree on talks for a Stabilization and Association Agreement, the start of Bosnia’s path toward possible E.U. membership - at least a decade away.
Ahtisaari on behalf of UNOSEK unveils the result of his labours today when he meets Serbian President Boris Tadić in Belgrade - although Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica has had a fit of the sulks and announced that he will not receive Ahtisaari and Vuk Drašković, the third co-chairman of the Belgrade negotiating team on Kosovo hasn't up to press made up his mind. It is ulikely that givewn the political vacuum that exists after the January elections that any form responses will be made by anyone - expect the Albanians in Pristina will be disappointed.
Slobodan Samardzic, a Serbian negotiator, and aide to President Tadic has appeared on Serbian TV from Belgrade rejecting Mr Ahtisaari's expected conclusions in advance but explaining that the Belgrade negotiating team cannot undertake any of its basic activities until parliament and the government have been properly constituted.
Copies of his report (which is described by the Swedes as an interim / draft report) have been given to the UN Secretary General and the Contact Group members but Reuters have claimed to have a copy which is said to include;
1. An outline of how the ethnic Albanian majority (90%) in Kosovo could proclaim independence and could allow for the individual recognition of its secession by certain states. Kosovo would have some trappings of the state, including state symbols, a flag and an anthem, all reflecting its multiethnic character. Kosovo would also be granted control over its borders.
2. Formation of a professional, multiethnic security service equipped with light weaponry and controlled by a civic body (politicians).
3. Appointment of an "international community representative" , with powers to intervene if Kosovo tries to go further than the plan allows, while Nato and EU forces (which now include Germans) would remain in military and policing roles.
4. Kosovo's Serbs, especially the Serbian Orthodox Church, and the Serbian language, would be explicitly protected. Representation would be guranteed for Serbs in Parliament, the Police / Border Police and civil service.
Essentially, more for the talking shops, which is preferable to the previous solution of bombing from 22,000 feet with HE 500 lb bombs. There are two unfactored variables ;
1. Putin / Russia is opposed to UN resolution 1244 and Kosovan independence under Albanian control - their response is still unclear.
2. The biggest changes since then took place on January 1st when Romania and Bulgaria joined the EU. The Balkan states are now an intrusive enclave in Europe.
An enclave in which some very shady men who did very well out of the war, smugglers, mafiosi, Russian minor (but powerful and rich - many in a happily protected London base) oligarchs, outwitting an international bureaucracy they are happy to see remain in place.
The residents of this fractured enclave (see map) - well expect a lot of them to fetch up in Europe - real soon now with those handy Romanian and Bulgarian passports.
...and the Yanquis ? The Wapo is their mouthpiece ...read it.