Friday, March 30, 2007

Independent Kosova

Independent Kosova
By Financial Times
Published: March 28, 2007

One of Europe's most explosive crises may soon be defused. Eight years after a war of dubious legality and no clear resolution, the US, the UK and the United Nations have decided that the time for diplomatic shilly-shallying is over. Kosova, they all said this week, should become independent.
They are right. An independent Kosova may not be the most pleasing of prospects - not least to Serbia, which claims sovereignty over the province, and Russia, which backs Belgrade. But the dispute badly needs to be resolved.

Kosova is still seething with mutual distrust between the ethnic Albanian majority and the Serb minority. And, until the legacy of the 1999 conflict can be overcome, hopes for stability in the Balkans will have to take a back step.
The plan put forward this week by Martti Ahtisaari, the UN envoy for the dispute, would give the province "supervised independence" under the tutelage of the European Union and the protection of Nato until such time as Kosova could run its own affairs. It would also protect the rights of Kosova's Serbs, whose most basic demands, for freedom of movement and of return, and for the protection of their churches and monasteries, still need to be safeguarded.
The US and the UK hope the plan will be codified into a UN Security Council resolution by the end of May and that meanwhile Serbia and the EU will repair their ties. That way, Belgrade could move towards EU membership, demonstrating the positive benefits of co-operation with the west.
There are many potential pitfalls. In backing Mr Ahtisaari's proposals, the EU has maintained a decidedly uneasy unity. Countries including Spain, Slovakia and Greece have been reluctant to endorse independence - a word Mr Ahtisaari dared not say publicly until this week.
But if the EU fails to give firm backing to independence, the chances of a Russian veto in the Security Council will undoubtedly increase. That would be unforgivable, since no alternative is on offer. Moscow's insistence that the conflict does not need to be resolved but could merely be put on ice is cynical and unacceptable. People have already died in demonstrations in Kosova this year and the will of 90 per cent of the population cannot be denied indefinitely. Internal EU divisions might also encourage the Serbs to attempt a partition of Kosova, with an accompanying risk of violence.
It is true that the ethnic Albanian leadership has been short on statesmanship and has to improve to be given full control of the province. The west also shares the blame for having raised ethnic Albanian expectations for years before working out a long-term game plan. But this turbulent corner of Europe has been the victim of the continent's neglect too long. Now, at last, the world has to say clearly what the future holds - and grant independence for Kosova.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Independence is coming. Serbs must open their eyes and see the independence. Otherwise when independence comes they will be completely broken and others will be able to say: what did we say?

Why do not Serbs like Albanians are becoming free. Every people in the world are born and should remain free and independent.