Sunday, February 25, 2007


Ok, Belgrade still hasn't officially asked for partition, but I still believe they will do so as a reaction to the imposition of the "agreement" coming out of Vienna. The jewel below is one of the many major changes requested by Serb negotiating team at the "adjustment round" of talks:

The Belgrade team also proposed the deletion of the article which states that “all citizens of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, who lived in Kosovo-Metohija until January 1, 1998, and their direct descendant, be allowed to get the right to the citizenship of Kosovo regardless of their current place of residence and other citizenship they may have.”

B92 - News - Politics - Belgrade proposes autonomy in amendments

But on this round Albanians had something to hit back with: the division of wealth of former Yugoslavia. Kosovo by the 1974 constitution was an equal economic partner to the other members of the Federation. Prishtina would like to pay up the debt that can be traced to its institutions (under Belgrade stewardship since the abolition of autonomy ) if it also gets to share the communal wealth of ex-Yugoslavia. Serbia has agreed to only one of them; I'll let you guess which one. Prishtina says that they will pursue this issue beyond status talks.

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Friday, February 23, 2007


A Russian and a Bulgarian diplomat fight it out on TV.

Debating the issue are Stefan Tafrov, former Bulgarian ambassador to the UN, France and Italy and an advocate for Kosovan independence, and Vladimir Chizhov, Russian ambassador to the EU and a supporter of the Serbian government position that Kosovo should remain part of Serbia.

EuroNews : The future of Kosovo: an Agora debate

So why does Bulgaria care? Well, you see, they are only 100 km and two visas away. Instability in Kosovo affects them; it doesn't as much affect Russia.

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Monday, February 19, 2007


Meanwhile, Serbian diplomats have reportedly signalled to the West that they would be willing to accept Kosovo's independence, but only after the Serb annexation of its northern part, mainly populated by ethnic Serbs.

Vetevendosje was right all along and I had planned for this day. Serbs have gone from "no, we are never going to give up our Jerusalem" to "ok, we'll take the mines in the north instead." This shows what the big deal was all about: territory. The crucial thing to note here is that Serbs cannot expect to keep both the churches and the mines. If they make the north theirs, then Albanians will make the rest (at minimum) theirs. It should also be noted that only about 40% of the current Kosovo Serb population lives in the north. Probably less if there an intent for more to return to their homes. The land there is barren in the middle of a heavy industrial complex and connections to Serbia are cut off by rough terrain and long distances to any significant urban centers in central Serbia. The only way north Mitrovica has been kept alive is by subsidizing governmnet emploeeys over what they would get in Serbia. Serb students from the impoverished central Serbia are also given free rides to study in the "Pristina University" in north Mitrovica. Take away these economic incentives from Belgrade and a north seperated from south will die out very soon.       


But the text - the strongest expression of EU pro-independence feeling yet - has led to an internal struggle in the European Parliament, with many MEPs asking whether it is wise to be so blunt vis-a-vis Serbia.

Yes, it is. You'll be doing Serbia a favor if you liberate it from its ugly past.  After feeding its hegemonic frenzy a century ago it is the only right thing to do at the beginning of this one - it's way overdue.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Good read

Unfortunately it seems that the easy option of creating fudges based on ethnic division, doing very little to address the underlying causes of conflict while blaming "locals" for the problems, may be the last gift of Europe and America's leaders to the Balkans.

Comment is free: Last chance for Kosovo

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Monday, February 12, 2007

They don't care

Important revelations from Leon Kojen, the brains behind the Serb negotiating team. It looks like Serbs are committed not to negotiate to the end, no matter how much Putin asks for second chances. Not only Kojen hopes that western powers will not get their way, and that Serbia should stick to its guns, but that this stance will actaully result in a compromise in the Security Council favorable to Sebia.

[Kojen] was not particularly concerned with the exact content of Martti Ahtisaari’s finalized proposal, given that Russia and China are opposed to the position of western powers, and to the position of the US in particular.“

It’s very important that Serbia cling to its established position and wait for world powers to convene in New York. We believe that a favorable compromise amongst UN Security Council members is bound to be reached”, Kojen stressed.

B92 - News - Politics - "Resolution depends on China and Russia"

In the mean time in public US is staying quiet and at least not being pessimistic about the outlook. It may be that the hard talks haven't started yet, or it may be that US has something up its sleeve. I wouldn't be surprised if Kosovo is part of a wider deal between the West and Russia, in which case Kosovo would be only a tiny chip.

From what I have read in the media in the last two months, Russia is still being coy with conflicting messages that in no way read clear rejection of the plan. Remember that grandstanding of the bear is how Russians approach diplomacy, and this behavior is very similar to 1999 with Chernomyrdyn and Ivanov. To me Russian messages read as RFPs. Let's hope US has thought this well and will respond.

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Friday, February 09, 2007

Clarity like this is rare these days. In case my Serb readers have forgotten, here are all the opportunities you have lost to make amends.

It's time to stop pandering to Serbian nationalists and give them a reality check.

Comment is free: No more on Kosovo

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