Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Kosovo in danger of new international deceptions

Kosovo in danger of new international deceptions



By Augustin Palokaj  
Based on many discussions with European diplomats, one gets the impression that finding a solution to Kosovo's status through a supervised independence, as proposed by Martti Ahtisaari, is not an urgent matter any more.  
What is currently taking place is an increase of optimism - although it is not high – that Prishtina and Belgrade can reach an agreement. 
The current process on Kosovo status is in a very sensitive phase, which may impact the internal situation in Kosovo.  
The problem is that the international community took it for granted that no problems are expected from Kosovars because they accepted Ahtisaari's proposal and guaranteed that they will not take any unilateral step. In such cases, the decision-making centres usually deal with parties that are not satisfied yet and try to meet their demands. Therefore, it is quiet logical that the international efforts are concentrated now on getting Belgrade's and Moscow's consent for settlement of Kosovo's status in an active or passive manner.  
In such circumstances, the international community, EU, NATO, and majority of state members agreed to not say openly until 10 December that they support Kosovo's independence. This may be understandable from the perspective of the Troika, which is feeling more and more encouraged that it may come up with its own proposals for Kosovo's status. According to some sources, these proposals will not change the content of Ahtisaari's Package, but no one guarantees that they will not change the name of the status and avoid mentioning independence to satisfy Belgrade and Moscow.  
However, Belgrade is taking and trumpeting any silence regarding the support for independence as its own diplomatic success and it is getting encouraged that it is managing to prevent Kosovo's independence. This is how it understood a statement of EU's Javier Solana, who had said, "While the Troika is making efforts, keeping silent is the best way to help them."  
European diplomats do not mind it at all to say that the statements of American officials, including those of the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, who say that independence is the only solution, are detrimental to the status process as it puts the Serbs in front of a 'fait accompli'. On the other hand, no one says that Moscow's statements are not concerning. There is something strange on the approach of the European diplomats.  
The international community is currently finding Belgrade's approach 'very constructive' and it has been welcoming Belgrade for 'explaining in details their plan for substantial autonomy to Kosovo Albanians.' They also say that Kosovo is ready to explain its plan, too. Both parties are ready to explain their plans, but none is interested to listen to the other.  
Kosovo delegation is in a less favourable position in this aspect as it has made a tactical mistake. Prishtina entered talks with Ahtisaari's plan like it was their plan and not its compromise with the international community. Belgrade has entered talks with a proposal for '95% independence for Kosovo' which some international circles see it as a 'Belgrade's concession'.  
Therefore, efforts are being made to find a compromise between Ahtisaari's plan and Belgrade's proposal as Kosovo Albanians have accepted Ahtisaari's plan. But it seems that Kosovars have forgotten that Ahtisaari drafted his package based on the instructions of the international community, not wishes of Prishtina.  
Kosovo is before a serious danger to take obligations to implement Ahtisaari's package regarding the Serbs' rights and international presence but the status not be solved as proposed by Ahtisaari.  
The report of the EU Planning Team, presented in Brussels, indicated that many Serbs in Kosovo have admitted that Ahtisaari gives them a proper protection, but they do not agree with the status. Thus, Kosovars should make it clear that other points of the Package are invalid without independence. Otherwise, Kosovo would move from a status quo to another status quo. It will be transferred from UNMIK administration to EU supervision. The agony would go on. On the other hand, Belgrade would walk with quick procedures towards the EU and Kosovo will remain isolated. The justification for that could be, "Serbia is prepared and has excellent administrative capacities, but Kosovo does not have them yet."

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