Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

New Kosova Report

Dear Friends,

I will cease blogging here for an undetermined time. The reason being something bigger and better in the works over at New Kosova Report.

Our goal is to make NKR the central place for news and opinion on Kosova status, politics, society and the economy for international audiences. The project came as a result of our realization that it is easy to remain indifferent to the fate of people that you barely know or understand.

NKR welcomes those that might want to share their thoughts on Kosova and its people - just drop me a line.

Happy blogging,
Warchild

Saturday, November 10, 2007

B92 - News - Politics - "Kosovo Serbs will not legitimize independence"

 

Let's count the ways Serbia government minister Slobodan Samardzic is wrong on the issue of Kosovo Serb participation in the upcoming local and parliamentary elections.

"Kosovo Serbs will not legitimize independence"

9 November 2007 | 17:23 | Source: Tanjug

BELGRADE -- Slobodan Samardžić said Friday that Belgrade cannot recommend that Kosovo Serbs to take part in elections there.
Their votes in the local and parliamentary elections would "practically legitimize interim institutions which are threatening with unilateral declaration of independence," the Kosovo minister said.

By that argument, because they have already participated in previous elections, they have already legitimized those same institutions. And as far as I know, the character of those institutions has been the same all along. Delivering speedy independence has been the main campaign issue in all of the previous elections except this time.


"Elections in Kosovo were scheduled by its interim institutions which were allowed to do so through an irresponsible decision of the UN special representative," Samardžić told Tanjug, noting that those institutions are threatening to unilaterally declare independence.

Not true. Kosovar institutions have recommended the date, UN's special representative has signed on it. 1244 is safe and sound.


"Serbian authorities cannot urge their own people, the Serbs, to vote for the institutions which will proclaim Kosovo independence tomorrow. They cannot keep silent either regarding such inappropriate stand of the special representative and interim institutions," he said.

 

No, you don't need to urge them to do anything, just stay away and let them go on with their lives. I am sure Kosovo Serbs and their leaders are competent enough to figure our what their interests are in this matter. What Belgrade is doing is spreading panic and using scare tactics with real consequences for those that don't obey. Belgrade is forcing Kosovo Serbs to choose between Prishtina (or their home town) and Belgrade.


Another reason why Kosovo Serbs should not go to the polls scheduled for November 17 is the possibility of manipulation with their votes and their turnout, the minister said.

Sure, anything is possible. But all five elections so far have been fair and orderly. Some of the best in the Balkans actually. We can't say the same for those elected, but that's another matter

Most Kosovar Albanian parties, including the smaller ones like AAK and especially ORA have encouraged Serbs to participate. ORA also stands to lose the most from their participation because their electorate share shrinks percentage wise if a group such as Serbs that is in no way going to contribute to their numbers anyway participates.

 
"As Serbian authorities and Kosovo Serbs cannot supervise or control the vote, it would be less damaging if Serbs did not vote than to have their votes cast in the local authorities ballot added to those for the provincial parliament," Samardžić said.

Not true. Kosovo Serb NGOs can apply to supervise the elections just like any other Kosovar NGO. Probably some have already done so, but I'm too lazy to research that. I am sure Serbia can get involved through OSCE as well if they wish, just like any other OSCE country interested in propagating democracy and fair elections. This is as far as supervising the elections. "Controlling" them goes into another realm. 1244 assigns that duty to UNMIK, which outsources it to OSCE, whose involvement this time is nominal because Kosovars are doing most of the work.   


Two thirds of Serb voters are no longer in Kosovo, eight years after its administration was taken over by the international community, he concluded.

Only half of them. Lying so blatantly may weaken your other arguments that may have a case, like the fact that half of them have still not returned. Once we agree on that, I would love to discuss the role that Serb government has played in making sure that so many of the Serbs do not return. And for the other half that have remained in Kosovo in the last eight years, and will hopefully continue to do so until the next elections, what do you recommend they do if nobody will be representing them in government in the next 3-4 years?

Just curious. 

B92 - News - Politics - "Kosovo Serbs will not legitimize independence"

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

 

EU Countries Prepare to Recognise Kosovo Independence

07 11 2007  As a unilateral declaration of independence becomes increasingly certain, some EU countries may recognise Kosovo without waiting to secure consent of all member states.

BIRN

Monday, November 05, 2007

 

Premier Says Separatists in Kosovo Losing Patience

By DAN BILEFSKY

PRISTINA, Kosovo, Nov. 3 — Agim Ceku, Kosovo’s warrior-turned-prime minister, is used to long and treacherous journeys.

In the spring of 1999, Mr. Ceku says, when he was in the rebel Kosovo Liberation Army, he spent several days patiently hiking by foot over rugged mountains from Albania to Macedonia to Kosovo through deep snow and enemy lines before finally taking up his post as commander in the war against Slobodan Milosevic and the Serbs.

Premier Says Separatists in Kosovo Losing Patience - New York Times

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Kosovo: Is EU Set To Recognize Independence?

 

Kosovo: Is EU Set To Recognize Independence?

By Patrick Moore

Kosovo -- graffiti for independence, Prishtina, 21Nov2005

Graffiti in Pristina that says: 'No Negotiations -- Self-Determination'

(epa)

October 26, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Some recent German media reports suggest that Germany and a critical mass of countries within the European Union are prepared to recognize an independent Kosovo if the current round of Belgrade-Pristina negotiations do not produce an agreement. The talks end on December 10, after which the Kosovar leadership has said it will declare independence if no deal is reached.

Kosovo: Is EU Set To Recognize Independence? - RADIO FREE EUROPE / RADIO LIBERTY

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Le Monde: The West is preparing for a unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo (automatic translation)

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Can Kosovo play the game?

Sport is one bright side of the after-war period in Kosovo. It is also one of the few things that has made the most gains and maintained those throughout the years. Mind you, it has not been an easy road, but it just seems that when it comes to sports, the exuberance is unsurpassed in other fields of life.

Sport is the only field of life that has transpired the ethnic divisions on the national level. For example, you have a basketball club from the northern, Serb part of Mitrovica playing the team in the southern, Albanian part. Basketball and other sports matches are pretty much all the interaction that the two ethnicities get there, despite living a bridge apart from each other. Other basketball and football teams incorporate players from Bosnia, Croatia, Albanian, Montenegro, and Macedonia on top of the sport powerhouse nations such as the United States. The girls of my hometown handball team recently got the chance to play a team from Serbia. Imagine the cathartic event considering that out of a couple of thousands of Serbs before the war, none lives there today, and that, hundreds of Albanians are still missing and many others were found in mass graves in Serbia.

Kosovars care deeply about sports with all the major championships and leagues broadcast and followed religiously. Pick up any newspaper or TV program schedule and you will see what I mean.

That is why the current isolation of Kosovar sport is unacceptable. Rather than finding reasons to keep Kosovo’s sports teams from international participation, relevant authorities should look instead in ways to make it possible. The fact that Kosovo is not independent yet does not carry much water because many other regions with unique identities such as Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the Faroe Islands have been participating in international competitions without second thoughts. Moreover, whatever form Kosovo status resolution takes in the future, it is understood even by Serbia’s own admission that Kosovo will be able to represent itself in international sporting events.

But we do not have to and should not go that deep into the murky water of politics. We only have to consider those cheese video spots you get during sporting events: sport is a major force for good and it can makes friends out of enemies. I know this because I have seen it in the last eight years in Kosovo.

Don't let sport become a victim of politics. Just let Kosovo play!

 

(In response to Can Kosovo play the game article published on the Play the Game 2007 Conference coverage website.)

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Pseudo-principles

Articles to read from this week's issue of BIRN.

Edward P. Joseph, a former UN Deputy Administrator to Mitrovica and other Balkans hotspots has five recommendations for the US and the EU to follow on Bosnia and Kosovo. This is by far the best analysis on BIRN yet. His conclusion: 

The truth is that power is about the perception of power. As long as the EU and Washington stand together for their principles – and not allow Moscow and Belgrade to divide them with cynical pseudo-principles – these twin crises can be weathered. The alternative is tragicomedy.

 

From Prishtina there is a reportage with a former KLA commander and some students, who think that time has come to declare independence, even if its unilateral. This attitude is becoming more common. How common it is will see by the attendance in the announced student organizations' open-ended protests starting 10 December, when the negotiation protest is expected to end. 

Kosovars will be voting on municipal and parliamentary elections on 17 November. According to a poll about two weeks ago PDK is expected to lead with their percentage in the low 30s with the rest of the pie largely fragmentized. Now it seems that Serbs too will be going to the polls and the date might be December 9. There Seselj's Radicals lead in popularity among the parties and the reasonable Tadic among the men. BIRN brings two articles about what the elections mean for the Serb political scene. First, get a broad overview of what the two different positions are about the election timing in regards to the Kosovo status resolution and the fallout expected from that, and then about the actual date itself.

Now, why December 9? Does DS know something that we don't know about the results of the Kosovo process? More importantly, is it an guesstimate by DS or something they have been told and advised about by their friends in the EU capitals that would like to see a pro-Western attitude in Belgrade?

Initially, when Kosovo's own election date was being considered, there were opinions that it would become a diversion in the heat of  the status considerations. Now at least we are equals with Serbia in this aspect. 

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Friday, October 26, 2007

26-10-2007

Analysis: time for tough decisions on Kosovo running out
Times Online - UK
Vladimir Putin called for patience over Kosovo's fate before today's EU/Russia summit, but time is running out for tough decisions on the future of the ...

Putin warns Europe over Iran and Kosovo
Times Online - UK
Mr Putin will also address a bid for independence by Kosovo, the autonomous province in southern Serbia that became a battleground in 1999, when Nato jets ...

Serbian nationalists ratchet up rhetoric on Bosnia as decision on ...
International Herald Tribune - France
AP BELGRADE, Serbia: Facing a possible loss of Kosovo, Serbian nationalists are reigniting tensions in the Balkans, sending out dark hints about coming to ...

Serbia and Kosovo must compromise as talks reach 'critical phase'
Forbes - NY,USA
LONDON (Thomson Financial) - Talks over the future of Kosovo have reached a 'critical phase' and the two sides must be more willing to make compromises if ...

Green-based Guard unit returning from Kosovo
Akron Beacon Journal - Akron,OH,USA
By Beacon Journal staff report A Green-based Ohio Army National Guard unit is returning home after a nearly yearlong deployment to Kosovo. ...

Serbs call for election boycott in Kosovo
Courrier International - Paris,France
The campaigns have officially begun for Kosovo's local and parliamentary elections, due to take place on November 17. The Serb government is urging Serb ...

Kosovo: Former US Envoy Says It's Decision Time For Europe, Serbs
RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty - Prague,Czech Republic
October 26, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Amid signs that Germany and other EU countries are prepared to recognize Kosovo as independent if current negotiations fail, ...

FreeBalance opens new office in Kosovo
Ottawa Business Journal - Ontario, Canada
By Ottawa Business Journal Staff Finance management software maker FreeBalance has opened a new location in Kosovo to better serve customers in Afria, ...

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EU countries poised to recognise Kosovo: German politician

 

The German daily Die Welt on Thursday reported that at least 25 EU nations planned to recognise Kosovo's independence, but diplomats in Brussels cast doubt on the scenario.

EU countries poised to recognise Kosovo: German politician

Serbia and Kosovo must compromise in 'critical phase': Ischinger

Speaking to the Financial Times, Wolfgang Ischinger acknowledged that a unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo was a "real possibility", but said that leaders in Pristina knew that was not "good enough to lead them into paradise."

http://www.eubusiness.com/news_live/1193356022.2

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Western Front

Interesting article from the The Economist on the developments in Bosnia. Serbian Premier Vojislav Kostunica announced two days ago that "Serbia is facing two challenges, Kosovo and Republika Srpska." I was like, wtf?!!! Well, Economist explains it all.

Now that Belgrade has gotten Russian support on both fronts, this can only mean extra headaches for the EU and its man in Bosnia, Miroslav Lajcak.

Serbia fighting two fronts is good news for Kosovo, since Serbia is that much weaker on Kosovo now. But how will EU come away from Bosnia remains to be seen.

It looks like Kostunica is turning into another Putin for the West, along the lines: "I looked the man in the eye. I was able to get a sense of his soul."

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DW

Deutsche Welle asks: Should the EU sidetrack the UN and agree to recognize an independent Kosovo?

Warchild: Yes, Russian stance has no basis in reality and will set the precedent of a Russian veto on European affairs. Russia's position is merely one of the political maneuvers in Putin's game to gain influence for his newly aspiring country. Giving in to Russian bullying by letting Kosovo go on in limbo will create a dangerous situation in the Balkans, with the EU (not Russia nor Ghana) having to deal with the consequences in its own backyard if the situation escalates. Risk-benefit analysis clearly comes on the side of the EU acting strongly in unison so that it can control the developments in the next few months.

P.S. Please add Kosovo to your "Country of Origin" drop-down menu.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Kosova: Another Round, Another Stalemate

Serbia wants to control Kosovo's borders? I guess a Serb soldier trying to control an Albanian-Albanian border is what they mean when they say live fast, die young. If Serbia is so dedicated in controlling borders, it should at least try to prevent the smuggling of goods and people on the border it already controls: Serbia-Kosovo one. The biggest goods smuggling and criminality on the Balkans probably runs through the part of the border that Serbia can already do something about. To paraphrase Paul Acda's (Economic Pillar of UNMIK) response to Serbia's threat of border closing in case of Kosovo independence: we would welcome such a move; criminality will be greatly reduced.

Radio Free Liberty has a recap on the latest talks in Vienna.  

2007-10-24

The latest round of talks concluded in Vienna with both sides emerging dejected. The mediators, for their part, are keen to emphasise that there are areas of agreement and that an agreement can be reached.

Kosova: Another Round, Another Stalemate

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

BREAKING: Germany Is In

This is the biggest news in months.

German government has apparently taken the decision to acknowledge Kosovo independence after the December 10 negotiations deadline and after the declaration by the Kosovo parliament, announces [machine translated from the original] German Radio Deutschlandfunk based on its sources within the government.

As goes Germany, so goes the EU, people. Anybody can tell me where to get Danke Deutschland in full?

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Strike!

The bitter winter is here, and it brings with it a whole lot of protests. These are not political though. As soon as the teachers' union got some sort of promise that their payments would increase in the future, it's legal system workers' turn to strike. They request no less than a 100% increase in wages (on a base of merely 140-200 euros) plus 60 euros per person for meals. That's a whole lot of burek and yogurt, people. As is often the case, they will back down after some half-hearted promises for the future and "for the sake of the status process." I wonder what will happen when there is no more status process?

My advice now has turned more pessimistic. I tell everybody to leave. Get the hell out of here! See you in better times, my friend.

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Cautious optimism from Belgrade team

Another Vienna meeting with varying results depending on who you talk to. Belgrade team is "cautiously optimistic." Kosovo PM thinks talks are going nowhere and a correspondent for Kosovo's public broadcaster reports thus:

Unconstructive atmosphere. Serbs have reacted furiously to the Troika proposal criticizing every single point. Serbs engaged in a fierce debate with the Troika with the Troika-Belgrade meeting lasting for an unusually long time. Jeremic declared that today is decisive for the continuation of talks.  

Kosovo team has nothing against the proposals. Most of the points mentioned in the document are already in the "Good Neighbors" proposal.

Of course, what Kosovo team don't say is what is missing from the document, which is independence of any kind. This is understandable considering that the Russians would not agree to that and probably leave the process. Serbia does not want to discuss the finer points of the Kosovo-Serbia relations out of the fear that this will be accepted as some sort of agreement and despite the fact that those relations will have to be established even if Serbia's position is accepted wholeheartedly.

It seems that getting rid of UN Resolution 1244 is a very much a possibility under some sort of a temporary solution.  With that, later in 2008 select countries may proceed to unilaterally establish relations with an independent Kosovo. In the mean time until 10 December, we are back again to renegotiating the content of the Ahtisaari plan, and we know that that path is a dead end. Currently we are in between a dead end and and a closed road, so help us God!

B92 - News - Politics - Vienna: Cautious optimism from Belgrade team

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Vladimir Arsenijevic: "Our negroes, our enemies" - signandsight

 

17/10/2007

"Our negroes, our enemies"

Serbian writer Vladimir Arsenijevic outlines the calamitous relationship of his compatriots to the Albanians.

For all ex-Yugoslavs, but particularly for the Serbs, the Kosovo Albanians used to be simply "our negroes." Nowadays, however, they are cast as Serbia's arch-enemies – a myth ruthlessly exploited by nationalist politicians, even as negotiations take place over the future of the southern Serbian province of Kosovo, which has been under UN administration since 1999. If anyone in Western Europe asks how all this could have happened, I can tell them, for I have watched and listened to this story unfolding in my country.

Vladimir Arsenijevic: "Our negroes, our enemies" - signandsight

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

B92 - News - Politics - UK looks to avoid unilateral Kosovo moves

 

UK looks to avoid unilateral Kosovo moves

10 October 2007 | 12:53 | Source: Tanjug

VIENNA -- British officials are trying to dissuade Kosovo Albanians from unilaterally proclaiming independence, reports suggest.
“The Kosovo Albanian team was in London yesterday meeting with Foreign Office officials regarding key aspects of the Kosovo problem, specifically regarding the intentions of Priština to unilaterally proclaim Kosovo independence after December 10,” according to today’s edition daily Frankfurtske Vesti.

B92 - News - Politics - UK looks to avoid unilateral Kosovo moves

Friday, October 05, 2007

NY Times is in

New York Times urges the United States and the majority of her EU allies to recognize Kosovo independence on December 10:

A sovereign Kosovo, like all new democracies, will need long-term help meeting legal, human rights, economic and other challenges, but its people deserve the chance to try.

------------

Eric Gordy, a Belgrade-based sociologist, rarely talks about Kosovo. And in this commentary he explains how everything Kosovo-related in Belgrade is not really about Kosovo. His examples: patronage of Kosovo Serbs gets the ruling party their votes; tensions are kept high by the weakening DSS to keep the elections from happening; and the "Ministry of Kosovo and Metohija" has seen its corpus of experts multiply.

The outcome of the negotiations is more or less known in advance: the parties will posture for the media for a few months, fail to reach an agreement, and the international mediators will seek to impose a resolution. The only issue that really remains in the air is whether the final status of Kosovo will be called by the name "independence" or by some other label.

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Serb street's opinion about Kosovo on Financial Times. With such jewels as: the number of Serbs thinking Serbia should go to war for Kosovo is now 10%, down from 12% in June.

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The new Telekom Slovenia/Ipko Net mobile operator will start offering its services by the end of the year. Investments worth €200 million are being made. Meanwhile the publicly owned Vala has improved since the time the idea of a second operator was first thrown a couple of years back.   

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Albin

Albin Kurti is back in the headlines after the extension of his home arrest for two more months. A Hungarian journalist has interviewed him in length about what his movement stands for. To the best of my knowledge this is the first time that he was given the chance to speak in his own words for a foreign media. BIRN is back with the another story on this subject, saying that Amnesty International is collecting evidence to declare Albin a political prisoner and how some Kosovar leaders have grown back their spine. Finally, Alice James looks at the system of justice in Kosovo and Albin's case in particular .

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Free Burma

Free Burma! 

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Wag the EU

Borut Grgic. Wall Street Journal.

A lot of time has passed since the bloody war that destroyed Bosnia and Slobodan Milosevic's ethnic cleansing campaign against Kosovo's Albanians. But all the progress the region has since made in pursuing a common European future is now in danger as the resolution of Kosovo's future status and Bosnia's police reform are on hold. And the European Union shares a lot of the blame for this. Its "soft-touch" diplomacy in what essentially is still a macho world is showing its limits.

Milosevic yielded only when his hand was forced-twice by NATO interventions. The new Serbian leadership can of course not be compared to that regime. But Belgrade plays a similar type of "blame the EU" game, a Milosevic classic. Western pressure is held responsible for everything bad that happens to the country. If Kosovo gains independence, as the U.S. and some EU countries want, Belgrade warns that Serbian democracy will be doomed. Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica also tells the EU not to push his country on the extradition of war crime suspects to the international court in the Hague because it would supposedly bring the radicals to power. Likewise, Belgrade urges the EU not to insist on ambitious reforms because democracy in Serbia is too fragile to support sweeping changes in judiciary, police and defense matters.

And the EU plays along with it. Strangely, it has now become the EU's responsibility to make Serbia a member of the Union. While Brussels is telling Turkey to change if it wants to get into the EU, Belgrade is telling Brussels it must change its politics if it wants Serbia in Europe. The tail is wagging the dog and it makes Europe look extremely weak, if not outright hypocritical.

It's also complicating the delicate diplomacy to steer Kosovo toward statehood. Kosovo's Albanians will declare independence with or without foreign blessing, but the absence of a united European stance plays into Serb and Russian hands and raises the odds of a messy, if not necessarily violent, end in Kosovo.

There is a parallel situation in Bosnia with respect to the police reforms. The 1995 Dayton peace agreement divided the country after the war into a Serb Republic and Bosniak-Croat Federation. Since then, ethnically divided government structures are being merged, including the army, in an effort to reunite the country. But the police forces are still separate, allowing criminals to escape capture simply by crossing jurisdictions. Bosnian Serbs fear that giving up their police force may lead to the eventual loss of their autonomy.

Again, Europe has allowed Bosnian Serbs to delay the necessary reforms for two years now. With last year's departure of Paddy Ashdown as the international community's high representative for Bosnia, the EU adopted a velvet-glove approach under Mr. Ashdown's successor, Christian Schwarz-Schilling. The new international boss, Miroslav Laicek, is changing the rules. The Slovak diplomat said that the police reform Bosnia's political rivals agreed on Friday doesn't go far enough to justify Bosnia taking the next step toward EU membership.

He is right. Friday's deal doesn't meet the three conditions set forth by the EU: that the police budget and police laws will be handled at state level and that there will be no political interference in the police structures. The EU member countries must now support Mr. Laicek. As long as the police reform is stalled, Bosnia's EU prospects should be put on hold.

The claim that international pressure supposedly threatens democracy makes as little sense in Bosnia as it does in Serbia. If regional leaders in Serbia or Bosnia will be voted out of power, it's not because they lost Kosovo or agreed to a common police structure, but because they failed to raise the standard of living and create new jobs.

The problem is that bad behavior is contagious in the Balkans. If Kosovo turns bloody again, the troubles could spill over. The Kosovo- Macedonia border is not yet settled and Albanians on either side could reignite ethnic turmoil there if pushed on partition. In south Serbia, probably one of the Balkans' poorest regions, Albanians could call for separation to join Kosovo. Kosovo's north, which is predominantly Serb, would probably want to link up with Serbia. This is why even suggesting the partition of Kosovo is so dangerous. It pushes the Balkans a step closer to the ethnic strife, isolationism and corruption of the 1990s.

Unfortunately, EU foreign policy is stuck in the last decade, when Brussels failed to step up to the plate when the Balkans plunged into war and the U.S. eventually intervened. European policy is today held hostage by the narrow-minded interests of individual EU member states. The objections to an independent Kosovo coming from Cyprus, Slovakia, Romania and Spain have little to do with Kosovo and almost everything with these countries' own domestic politics. They are concerned that Kosovo's independence may serve as a precedence for their own problems, be it the failed unification in Cyprus, the calls for more autonomy of Basques and Catalans in Spain and Slovakia's and Romania's failure to successfully integrate their ethnic minorities.

So as a result Russia and the U.S. are calling the shots and muscling the Balkan policy out of the hands of the EU. The U.S. strongly supports Kosovo's independence drive, while Russia backs Belgrade with equal vigor. This puts at risk not only the future of the EU's Balkan engagement but EU foreign policy in general. If Europe is unable to lead in the Balkans, its own backyard, it is unrealistic to expect Europe to lead anywhere, much less be taken seriously.

The Bosnians have now been given a few more days to hammer out a police reform agreement. Serbian and Kosovar leaders, who on Friday held direct talks for the first time in six months, have until Dec. 10 to reach a deal. Brussels must not waver now. The Balkans can't wait forever for the EU to get serious about foreign policy.

---

Mr. Grgic is the founding director of the Institute for Strategic Studies in Ljubljana.

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Monday, October 01, 2007

Merci France

"There is a clear determination that this is a key deadline," said Cristina Gallach, spokeswoman for the chief European Union foreign policy representative, Javier Solana. "This is absolutely fundamental. There should be no further delay in terms of additional mechanisms" for talks, she said from Brussels in an interview.

"We can no longer accept a Russian veto on EU policy," said one European Union official in Kosovo, who is not authorized to speak to the press and spoke on the condition of anonymity. "I believe we will still have the Ahtisaari plan, but without a Security Council resolution."

IHT



Whether Europe will deliver is on everybody's mind.

The question of two million Albanians once again is on the doorsteps of Europe. With a lackluster Germany, a country very dear to every Kosovar gastarbaiter family's heart, it is France that has come aggressively pro independence. True, French position may have nothing to do with Kosovo or Albanians as such, and more with what seems to me a very weird French desire to cuddle with the Unite States. If Chavez and Ahmadinajad can do it too, it is not schick anymore and France must now move on. Whatever the reason, I'd still like to thank France. It feels weird having you on our side, but we certainly would like to thank you. Merci France!

________


Back in 1878 a resurgent Russian Empire was beating a retreating Ottoman Empire on every front. What better allies Russia could find than the Serbs and the Montenegrins who had opened another front in the Balkans. The only problem was that there were Albanians in between. Being unable to stand on Russia's way, at Berlin the Grand Powers signed away Albanian populated lands to Russia's allies in the Balkans.

I would like to reach back into history and try to (crudely) translate a few lines from Lute of the Mountain of Father Gjergj Fishta. It should be noted that he had no predisposition to be anti-European. He was schooled in philosophy in several European countries and died a staunch catholic. The drawing of the border lines at conference rooms thousand of kilometers away and the massive movements of population that ensued such borders pained him. As the Ottomans were being kicked out, the question of the position of Albanians on the East-West spectrum was raised. Fr. Fishta would naturally propagate a European future for Albanians, only to find out that Europe wasn't interested in them and then some. His lines go a long away in explaining the fuzzy feelings that Albanians have towards Europe and the sympathy for the US instead.



Today they want to tear it into parts:
And why? Why wants Europe...
Ah! Europe, you old bitch,
That denies God and besa*
Is this the sign of your civilization:
Splitting the land of Albania
To feed the cubs** of Russia?


*Albanian code of honor
**Montenegro and Serbia

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Editorial by Ceku and more

Kosovo is looking forward

By Agim Ceku

Published: September 26, 2007

On Friday, Kosovo and Serbia will hold our first face-to-face talks in six months, this time with mediation from the United States, the European Union and Russia.

We already have a detailed plan of how an independent Kosovo will be governed, following two years of intensive United Nations negotiations on the status of Kosovo led by the former Finnish president, Martti Ahtisaari.

 

Panel at Yale talks Kosovo independence

Samantha Broussard-Wilson

Contributing Reporter

Charles Francis/Contributing Photographer

Panelists and students mingle after a discussion about Kosovo’s past and future. The event, held at the Law School on Tuesday, focused on the possibility of independence for the region, now a province of Serbia.

Kosovo Demands Independence to Attract Investors

Sept. 26 (Bloomberg) -- Outside Kosovo's capital, Pristina, the province's two biggest power plants sit atop enough soft, brown coal to fuel them for 300 years. Yet blackouts darken the city almost every day.

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Free Kosova

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Kosovo Leader Demands Equality in Talks with Serbia

25 09 2007 Pristina _ Talks between Kosovo and Serbia over the territory’s final status will not end in agreement, unless the two parties are seen as equals in the negotiations, Veton Surroi, a member of Kosovo delegation said on Tuesday.

As long as Belgrade keeps on offering us a concept on the basis of which we will be asking for their permission to be allowed to govern ourselves, no agreement is possible”, the Kosovo politician told reporters.
BIRN

Monday, September 24, 2007

Another proposal

Serbia does it again. We have another proposal, now offering 95% autonomy. Or 5% reduced independence. You can call it whatever you want, because this last proposal is all about compromise.

All this affair has started to smell like the Schools Agreement brokered by Sant'Egidio in 1998 which gave Albanian students school space while the villages were burning and KLA was growing.

A top Serbian official in charge of dealing with Kosovo said Monday that the government in Belgrade was ready to offer its UN-administered territory a level of autonomy that rests on the principle of minimum integration.

...

”Belgrade is ready to give Pristina full jurisdiction even in the fields of the economy and tax collection”, Samadrzic told reporters.

First of all, I thought Serbia had already offered all of these. How is this new? Is Serbia withdrawing bits of old offers only to offer them again as a new package?

"If they get 95 percent of authority, the question is why they would want to be in Serbia. That's why Kosovo and Metohija would not have the need to integrate within (Serbia), because the (Serbian) parliament would not interfere in the competencies” of the government in Pristina, Samardzic said at a news conference.

Source: BIRN

Second of all, it's the genocide, stupid. And when trying to argue over that, you better come up with something better than circular arguments. It's not about the percentages, but about your recent history of genocidal behavior. See, if Serbia were a person, with its record, two years back it wouldn't even able to get a subprime loan in America, let alone the right to have any say whatsoever in the lives of 2 m. I'm talking of genocide in Bosnia and attempted genocide in Kosovo, of which it has not apologized yet.

So let's ask the question repeated often here, now in Samardzic's words: "If they get 95 percent of authority, the question is why they would want to be in Serbia." I can come up with two answers: Serbia wants the market of 2 m people but not the government obligations that would force her to pay pensions,  teachers teaching irredentist history to "little terrorists," Albanians policemen, Albanian soldiers (you gotta keep the quotas; besides, its 2020 and 50% of your youth is Albanian), Albanian mothers along with the Serb ones for making more than two babies, and finally..."Milivojo from Sumadija, meet your new 360 degree neighbor Hasan. Hasan has just bought all the lands around yours for his six sons." If it comes down to getting less than 100% (the only way to prevent a future genocide), I would be first to say to Serbia, "take back another 45%, we're content with 50% only. 50-50 and we have deal, my frriend.

That first scenario assumes a rational Serbia. The second possibility is that Serbia wants to buy time in wait of more favorable geopolitics when it can implement its final solution for Kosovo, something it was stopped at in 1999.

Especially to my Serb readers: which one is it?

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Kosovo belongs to...

Why all these videos at this time you ask? I had supposedly posted them over from YouTube in the months past (when I was going through a blogger's block) but recently found out that because of a password they never materialized here. Now you got them all in one serving, along with a torrent of fresh commenting and news. Enjoy! 

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Canada's CBC on Kosovo

A CBC journalist goes back to Kosovo to visit a doctor she had met during the war. The story makes for a very good quick background for those uninitiated on the country.   

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Frost Over The World - Vuk 2.0

The very bright and young Serbian foreign minister gets a free ride on Al Jazeera. He withdraws Serbia's threat to Kosovo from a few days before the show and then throws in a doomsday scenario for all the Balkans. Admittedly, he's not sure of its intensity...as of yet.

Serbia once again worried for the Balkans?! It breaks my heart.

Seriously now. When will we see a Kosovo-Serbia status smackdown on TV? I now it won't happen on RTK or RTS. Al Jazeera perhaps? How about Jeta of BIRN?

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Sarkozy for NY Times

If you’ll allow me to continue with Kosovo, when we’re talking about Kosovo it seems very likely that Russia will stick by its decision to veto any United Nations Security Council resolution. The United States regards this issue as a test of the European Union’s determination with respect to Moscow. Is Europe ready to see Moscow dictate it its foreign policy or is it going to endorse the decision?

First, Kosovo’s independence is inevitable in the long term. Second, that Russia should want to regain its full place seems to me legitimate, and even desirable. Third, France wants excellent relations with Russia, but Russia cannot expect the rights of a big power without taking on the duties. Fourth, on the question of Kosovo, Europe has to remain united. It is all together that we must in the end back independence for Kosovo. And if I’ve said it is not a question of months or weeks, it’s because I wanted to preserve that unity. And Mr. [Vladimir V.] Putin [President of Russia] must understand that no one wants to humiliate him, that everyone understands efforts he is making to restore Russia to its standing, and no one can criticize him for this. But at the same time he must understand that his interlocutors have convictions every bit as much as he does, regarding human rights, respect for minorities, the rule of law, and democracy. It is called a frank dialogue.

Source: Excerpts From Interview With Nicolas Sarkozy - New York Times

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U.S. and EU are ready to recognize Kosovo independence - International Herald Tribune

 "The game plan is set," said a senior European diplomat who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. "The talks end on Dec. 10. If there is no sense then that Serbia and Kosovo can agree on the province's future, then Kosovo will make a unilateral declaration of independence. The U.S. will recognize that independence, and the Europeans, as far as they can remain united, will follow, too," he said.

Source: U.S. and EU are ready to recognize Kosovo independence - International Herald Tribune

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FREE KOLA DEDVUKAJ

One year has passed since the arrest of a group of Albanians on made up charges of terrorism by the Montenegrin government. Kola Dedvukaj, 59, is one of those tortured for three days in Montenegrin jails and still being held there. This video is a plea by his family members to free him. Free Malësia covers the fate of Albanians in Montenegro and the fate of those arrested more in depth.

 

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Kosovo: Going Round in Circles

Gabriel Partos of BIRN has a roundup of the developments in the last month or so regarding status. Pay attention to the part where he explains the movements done by the two sides towards the still elusive compromise. Yes, compromise (as defined in Belgrade) is impossible, but some movement is possible. And on that, Serbia has given us PR stunts to buy time while Kosovo has come up with some really good proposals. For example, Belgrade will come up with plans which it will disclose only to Russia for about two months and then reveal nothing but disappointment. This is one sure way to extend the conflict forever, as is the goal.

A slap in the face for Kosovo came when at the latest meeting in New York a historic compromise was proposed by our negotiators, which would have established normal relations between two sovereign countries and leave hostilities behind. The assaulter snubbed at the extended hand of the victim. Serbs have surely gotten cocky, and that's the worse damnation you could wish to your enemies. 

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ASAP

What European leaders don't understand will all the begging for more time to resolve the status is that everything is virtually on hold in Kosovo while this circus is going on. It is the lower strata of society that are having to sacrifice to keep this semblance of peace for the sake of Kosovo's future. Kosovo needs deep political reforms ASAP, but this small, young and vulnerable country can't fight two battles at the same time. As is the case in Kosovo, the price has been paid by the destitute: people like the 2,000 families in the Gjakova region who never had their burnt homes rebuilt but you barely heard of it in the first eight years. See, economy doesn't grow on trees, and it grows even less under circumstances in which Kosovo is now. There is lot of discontent simmering under the surface, waiting to explode once we are relieved of the patriotic cover or before that if the cover stays on for much longer. The longer the status resolution takes, the bigger this after-status explosion will be.

People are full of cynicism, so much so that political discussion is unbearable anymore. It will be interesting to see the level of participation in the forthcoming elections in November and the uphill battle those politicians will be facing with a disillusioned electorate

Whereas the proposed party lists will bring new blood and some genuinely good people to politics, the incoming elected officials will have to prove themselves fast. Reformist Party ORA and even more so PDK have made amazing changes to their ranks. I still have doubts about some of the people representing PDK, but with the open lists Kosovars this time can as well skip the bad apples. New this time is also Behxhet Pacolli, a Swiss-Albanian billionaire whose not-so-impressive-but-likely-to-score party will stand for elections for the first time. LDD of course has split from and weakened LDK, breaking a cesspool into two.

The other issue is the short time allotted to the campaigns to run. So while I am happy of the choices offered, I'm pessimistic that issues will be presented much once again. Luckily, this time status is not one the issues parties can profit on. But then again there is very little time to talk about the myriad of things that plague Kosovo.

 

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

American Experts: Conclusion

It is preferable for the U.S. and EU to act together to bring stability to Kosovo. But waiting longer for a 27-member EU consensus is not a viable option and threatens to unravel the whole final status process. The decision process foreseen in UN Security Council resolution 1244 has been completed. The outcome is the Ahtisaari plan, which needs to be implemented. Neither the Russian veto nor Belgrade’s insistence on delay should be allowed to obstruct the international community’s decision on Kosovo.

December 10 should be the end of the status process, leading directly to a declaration by the U.S. and principal allies of their willingness to recognize Kosovo’s sovereignty provided it implements essential parts of the Ahtisaari plan. Washington, and as many European capitals as possible, need to find the foresight to begin planning for this scenario at the ministerial and head of state level in early this fall and the courage to act decisively in December. The USG should begin discussing alternative arrangements with its principal allies, in order to prevent prolonging, and likely deterioration, of the present unsatisfactory situation.

Source: Kosovo: Breaking the Deadlock by Daniel Serwer: USIPeace Briefing: U.S. Institute of Peace

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Spring Break in Bosnia

The Hunting Party (formerly Spring Break in Bosnia) has been released in the States last week. The movie is based on a true story, though from the trailer it looks quite cheesy. Could it be that the reality is cheesy, too? IMDB.com has a rating of 7.8/10 from 157 voters.

If you believe the latest account by this ICTY official you are led to believe that the two dudes on spring break (the much more descriptive title for the movie) got much closer to getting Karadzic than NATO ever did. Russia, in line with its respect for international law and order, threatened if the arrest happened. US didn't want to disturb Russia. With only France left to fight for international justice. No, no, wait, France had to revenge the blood of its numerous peacekeepers killed thoughtlessly by Karadzic's soldiers.

How can they find the world's most wanted war criminal when the C.I.A. can't? [by actually looking]

Sunday, September 09, 2007

BBC NEWS | The Reporters | Mark Mardell

We are at the point where everyone is threatening something: US, Russia, Kosovo, Serbia and even that "fearmongering" EU. Of these, EU is least worrying. 

I'm sure some of the EU members will be  surprised (pleasantly?) they were ignored once again on an important backyard issue.

Not that anyone is Kosovo will cry over it. Cyprus and Romania vetoing the fate of 2 million people? Nigga please!   

Protesting too much on Kosovo

"The more they talk about unity, the more suspicious I am," said a colleague as we left one of the news conferences at the end of this EU foreign ministers' meeting.

Source: BBC NEWS | The Reporters | Mark Mardell

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

B92 - Slovenia concerned over Kosovo

[Slovenia Foreign Minister Rupel] said that the problem and confusion concerning the province’s status needed to be cleared up.

“That status was, in the time of Yugoslavia, practically identical to the status of a republic that no one stopped from becoming a state,” Rupel said.

Rupel makes a good point. Amids the fierce armed opposition from Serbia at the breakup of Yugoslavia, International Community (Badinter Commission) took the easy way out and declared that only the Republics had the legal right to secede, all but one of which had already done so. Would Kosovo going its way as well been too much for Serbia to stomach? In our case the answer was simple at that time: Kosovo couldn't risk it going to war at that moment.

I wonder what Miss Teen South Carolina would think of this technicality?  

Source: B92 - News - Politics - Slovenia concerned over Kosovo

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Kosovo: Albanian Writer Says 'Every Nation Has A Right To Ask For Its Freedom'

 

Kosovo: Albanian Writer Says 'Every Nation Has A Right To Ask For Its Freedom'

Albania -- Writer Ismail Kadare, 21Oct2004

Ismail Kadare (file photo)

(AFP)

August 29, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- The man who is widely regarded as the greatest living Albanian writer, Ismail Kadare, spoke recently with RFE/RL's Kosovo subunit about the current negotiations on Kosovo's independence, Europe's role in the region, and Albania's influence on Kosovo.

Source: Kosovo: Albanian Writer Says 'Every Nation Has A Right To Ask For Its Freedom' - RADIO FREE EUROPE / RADIO LIBERTY

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Give Up on Kosovo, President Tells Serbs | World Latest | Guardian Unlimited

 

PRISTINA, Serbia (AP) - Kosovo's president urged Serbia on Wednesday to give up its claim to the province and cast doubt that upcoming talks would yield progress with both sides refusing to budge from their entrenched positions.

Source: Give Up on Kosovo, President Tells Serbs | World Latest | Guardian Unlimited

Monday, August 27, 2007

B92 - U.S.: Kosovo solution without Russia if necessary

 

U.S.: Kosovo solution without Russia if necessary

27 August 2007 | 11:21 | Source: Tanjug

VIENNA -- The solution for Kosovo's must be found even without Russia, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad says.
Speaking in an interview for the Vienna daily Die Presse, Khalilzad stressed that the status of Kosovo must be resolved "in one way or another".
There is time until Deember 10, he said, as that is when the negotiating Troika will present a report to the UN.
"It would be desirable to find a solution together with Russia. However, the current situation in Kosovo cannot go on forever," he said.
"The situation in Kosovo poses a threat to regional and European security," Khalilzad pointed out.
Asked whether he considered the independence of Kosovo as a solution, Ambassador Khalilzad said UN envoy Martti Ahtisaari had proposed a middle-of-the-road solution, which, according to him, demonstrates that there are "different options".

Source: B92 - News - Politics - U.S.: Kosovo solution without Russia if necessary

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Though with small steps Kosovo moves forward

 

The first thing that impresses you when you enter Kosovo is rapid roadside construction...

Source: FOCUS Information Agency

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Don't Blame the World for Milosevic's Crimes - WSJ.com

 

Blaming the world for the consequences of the fascistic ambitions of the Serbian dictator, Slobodan Milosevic, is a wrong approach to the Balkans' recent history. If anything, the contrary of what Mr. Kuperman wrote is true. Had the world recognized immediately, without public hesitation, the right of the former Yugoslav nations to secede, it would have discouraged Milosevic from using force and many Serbs from believing that it was fair game to deny the right of self-determination to the other Yugoslavs.

Source: Don't Blame the World for Milosevic's Crimes - WSJ.com

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Europe's final frontier | Travel | The Guardian

A holiday on the Albanian Riviera might sound like a Borat-style joke, but Benji Lanyado finds beautiful empty coves, €30 a night beach huts and locals who welcome him into their homes

Source: Europe's final frontier | Travel | The Guardian

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Police seize massive cache of explosives in Kosovo

'We don't know yet what the explosive was intended for, but it sure wasn't for fishing,' said Beqir Kelmendi, a senior police official in Pec, estimating that the amount seized was enough to 'blow up several buildings.'

The generally accepted view is that there are more than around 400,000 guns lying around in Kosovo. While an armed militia is welcome considering the situation Kosovo is in and the cost of a standing army to compete with neighboring threats, that many guns coupled with the backlog of legal cases over property disputes have led to many firearm deaths after the war. One has to love though the European naivete of making the police and the KPC members carry only hand guns, just in case Albanians get armed too much. The way I see it, 400,000 is a long way to catch up with Switzerland.   

Source: Police seize massive cache of explosives in Kosovo (Roundup) - Europe

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U.S., Russia may swap Kosovo for Transdniester in "Great Agreement"

 

An Oxford professor and Balkans specialist says that the United States and Russia may work out a so-called "great agreement" over Kosovo. In such a scenario, the West would not oppose independent statehood for Transdniester as long as Kosovo also got independence. Russia's President recently said that the two should be treated the same.

Source: U.S., Russia may swap Kosovo for Transdniester in "Great Agreement"

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

EU must act on Kosovo without U.N.: think-tank | World | Reuters

 

The group warns that Kosovo leaders will be under huge internal pressure to declare independence before 2008 and ask the U.N. mission in charge since the 1998-99 war to leave.

"If they act and are not supported, Kosovo would fracture: Serbia reclaiming the land pocket north of the Ibar River, Serbs elsewhere in Kosovo fleeing, and eight years of internationally guided institution-building lost."

Source: EU must act on Kosovo without U.N.: think-tank | World | Reuters

New report from ICG

 

Europe Must Break the Kosovo Stalemate

Pristina/Brussels, 21 August 2007: Europe risks a new bloody and destabilising conflict unless the EU and its member states now accept the primary responsibility for bringing Kosovo to supervised independence by April/May 2008.

Breaking the Kosovo Stalemate: Europe’s Responsibility, the latest report from the International Crisis Group, examines the key role of the EU in ensuring Kosovo’s safe transition from its current limbo as an international protectorate. The preferred strategy of bringing Kosovo to supervised independence through the United Nations Security Council has failed, following Russia’s declared intention to veto, and a new round of negotiations between Pristina and Belgrade will most likely lead nowhere. This leaves the EU – with the most to lose from renewed violent conflict in the Balkans – before crucial decisions.

“The EU has a ticking time-bomb in its own backyard”, says Alexander Anderson, Crisis Group’s Kosovo Project Director. “The sooner the EU, or a significant majority of its member states, declares itself ready to back an independent Kosovo, the better the chances of forestalling disaster”.

Pristina and Belgrade have recently started four months of talks mandated by the six-nation Contact Group (France, Germany, Italy, Russia, UK, U.S.). But Serbia will not accept independence, seeks to delay indefinitely and is laying the foundation for what would be destabilising partition. The EU and U.S. should maintain the integrity of the Ahtisaari plan – the blueprint for supervised independence crafted by the UN Secretary-General’s special envoy, former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, after a year of painstaking negotiations.

By 10 December – if, as is overwhelmingly likely, no agreed solution emerges from those talks – the EU, U.S. and NATO need to be ready to start coordinated action with the Kosovo government to implement the essence of the Ahtisaari plan, including the 120-day transition it envisages. That period should be used to accumulate recognitions of the conditionally independent state from many governments; to adopt and set in place the state-forming legislation and related institutions foreseen by the Ahtisaari plan; for the Kosovo government to invite the EU and NATO to take up new responsibilities and for those organisations to do so; and for the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) to withdraw in an orderly fashion. In April/May 2008, Kosovo would be conditionally independent, under EU and NATO supervision.

Not all EU member states need to recognise Kosovo during the transition or even in April 2008, but a failure to reach a united position in support of Kosovo’s conditional independence would highly discredit the EU’s Common Foreign Security Policy and European Security Strategy and have very disturbing consequences for Europe.

“Europe tragically failed the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Now it has a second chance to show it can be an effective actor in the Balkans”, says Sabine Freizer, Crisis Group's Europe Program Director. “If it is incapable once again, it would almost certainly lead to bloodshed and renewed regional chaos that would blow back into Central and Western Europe in the form of refugees and stronger organised crime networks”.

Source: International Crisis Group - 185 Breaking the Kosovo Stalemate: Europe’s Respon

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Clinton is 61

Kosovars celebrate Clinton's 61st birthday in Prishtina. No birthday party for you, Putin!

"I hope president Clinton lives to be 101. I hope his wife Hillary is elected president and rules America as her husband did," said Lutfi Salihu, a 66-year-old pensioner who attended the concert.

Source: FOCUS Information Agency

Kosovo on Yahoo! News Photos

 

Photo

AP - Wed Aug 15, 12:09 PM ET

An elderly woman touches the wooden icon of the Virgin Marry as they pray for better health during the feast of Assumption in the village of Letnica, Kosovo, Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2007. Thousands of pilgrims gathered in southeastern Kosovo in the small Roman Catholic community where Mother Teresa prayed before she decided to become a nun. The pilgrims from the region, including Kosovo's majority Muslims, came to pray to the town's Black Madonna, one of rare such icons of Virgin Mary in Europe's churches. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

Source: Kosovo on Yahoo! News Photos

Monday, August 13, 2007

FT.com / Kosovo questions

So far this summer, Kosovo's inhabitants have shown patience and forbearance. They will need to continue to do so in the run-up to November elections. In addition, the EU and the US must make every effort to ensure that they do not split over whether to recognise Kosovo as independent without a Security Council resolution. It is all very well for the two sides of the Atlantic to perform a "good cop, bad cop" routine when dealing with Serbia, but they cannot afford this being shown up as more than mere show.

Source: FT.com / Home UK / UK - Kosovo questions

Diplomats to visit Kosovo, seeking new talks - International Herald Tribune

 

"The emancipation of Kosovo is an unstoppable process. If Kosovar Albanians lose hope of independence in the near future, then we will be faced with a crazy security challenge within a week."

Source: Diplomats to visit Kosovo, seeking new talks - International Herald Tribune

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Friday, August 10, 2007

Kosovo Talks Unlikely to Come to Anything

Fresh discussions over the future of Kosovo appear to be little more than a stalling tactic for all involved.
By Tim Judah

Source: BIRN

BBC NEWS | From Manchester with love

 

From Manchester with love

Saranda Bogujevci

Saranda lost 14 members of her family in the war

Cool school uniform, warm Manchester days and refugee theatre form some of the early impressions of a young orphan rescued from Kosovo, recounted in letters home.

Source: BBC NEWS | UK | Magazine | From Manchester with love

A ticking clock on Kosovo's status - The Boston Globe

One helluva good commentary from Chris Patten.  

The bottom line is that Pristina demands nothing short of independence and Belgrade refuses that, so the new troika will end up where Ahtisaari did: stalemate between the parties and the need for the UN Security Council to cast the deciding vote. Given the Kosovo people's overwhelming desire to be free from the state that tried to eliminate them and the lack of any realistic alternative from Belgrade, the international community has little choice but to give Kosovo its independence.

Source: A ticking clock on Kosovo's status - The Boston Globe

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

VOA News - Kosovo Status Poses Stability Risks?

This whole article takes a diametrically opposite view on the impact that an unstable Kosovo could have on the US and Europe. A much different perspective from the former US Ambassador to Belgrade viewpoint cited previously here. 

Stephen Szabo of The German Marshall Fund in the United States says Belgrade will have to face a new reality. "The problem with Serbia, right now, is that they've lost a good part of their territory and they will have to learn to live with this. They will have to realize that this has been lost through a reckless, genocidal type of policy and that they will have to come to terms with that. But, I think, the U.S. does see the Serbs eventually having to come along, because Serbia has no future outside of the E.U. and NATO," says Szabo.

Source: VOA News - Kosovo Status Poses Stability Risks?

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Kosovo: Final Status 'Should Be Decided By December' - RADIO FREE EUROPE / RADIO LIBERTY

 

RFE/RL: The UN secretary-general made clear that he expects a report from Contact Group before December 10. Does it mean that Kosovo's status issue will go back to Security Council after that date?

Wisner: We are not yet at December 10 so you’re kind of asking me a very hypothetical question. As far as the United States is concerned this is the final round of negotiations, which ought to bring the matter to the conclusion. We should be able at the end of 120 days to reach a decision on final status.

RFE/RL: Keeping in mind the current positions of the two sides, it is unlikely that an agreement will be reached at the end of the 120 days. Have you thought what next, how you would proceed in such a case?

Wisner: I try to answer that from the point of view of the United States of America. This is the forum for the final review of the Kosovo matter, and then a decision on the final status should be made.

RFE/RL: So after 120 days would you be ready to recognize Kosovo’s independence, a solution that is supported by U.S. President George W. Bush, despite Russia’s opposition?

Wisner: I think, at this stage, let’s get through these 120 days. The position of the United States is clear. President Bush announced it in Tirana, as you noted. That position is not going to change, we stand firmly beside it. But the task immediately ahead is to get the two parties to lay out their final ideas, proposals, and suggestions, and bring this matter to a conclusion before December 10.

Source: Kosovo: Final Status 'Should Be Decided By December' - RADIO FREE EUROPE / RADIO LIBERTY

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Ten inconvenient truths about Kosovo

 

9. The best way to give all the Serbs now living in Kosovo the best possible chance (with no absolute guarantee of success) to have decent lives and maintain their cultural, religious, and ethnic heritage was to fully embrace the Ahtisaari Plan. That opportunity has been lost.  The reality is that the future of most Kosovo Serbs is not bright. This is certainly true for those not in northern Kosovo.

Source: B92 - Insight - Viewpoint - Ten inconvenient truths about Kosovo

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