Kosovo: Counting the days

So the Kosovar Albanians are counting the days until the January 21 elections in Serbia.

Not because they care who wins. If they have a preference, they’d probably want the loathsome nationalist Radical party to win, since that would immediately turn Serbia into an international pariah (again) and make Kosovar independence that much easier. But they figure independence is coming anyway, so they’re not much concerned.

But the UN envoy, Martti Ahtisaari, has announced that he will make his recommendations for Kosovo’s status at the end of January… after the elections. This is, everyone assumes, because he’ll recommend independence. If he were going to recommend that Kosovo stay part of Serbia, he’d do it now. Recommending independence (it’s believed) would be a shattering blow to the current, “moderate” government of Serbia, and might lead to a Radical victory. So, best to wait.

Well… maybe.

A couple of things come to mind here.

One, will the Kosovar Albanians wait two more months? It’s not completely certain. They were told that they’d have a decision by the end of this year, and they’re not happy about waiting on the Serbs. There are rumblings about a unilateral declaration of independence. And then of course there’s always the possibility of more violence against the remnant Serb minority. I say probably yes, but fingers crossed.

Two, what will Ahtisaari really propose? At this point, it looks like he won’t use the word “independence”. Instead, Kosovo will get a complex and weasel-worded form of “limited sovereignty”, without using the I-word. They’ll have no constitutional connection to Serbia, treaty-making powers, and a small defense force. But they won’t get a foreign ministry or a seat in the United Nations. And there will be an International Civilian Representative, appointed by the EU, who would act as a proconsul rather as Paddy Ashdown used to in Bosnia.

One thing he certainly won’t propose is partition. This is iunfortunate, because at this point partitition is the least bad solution. But it’s politically unacceptable to all the players. (Or almost all — there are hints that the Serbs might be willing to consider it now.) But Ahtisaari’s proposal will continue the pretense that northern Kosovo will obey Pristina, which is just as ludicrous as the idea that southern Kosovo should obey Belgrade.

Three, how much weight will his proposal have? In theory, it’s supposed to go straight to the six-member Contact Group, and from there to UN Security Council. The UN is then supposed to pass a resolution superseding UN 1244 (which put Kosovo under UN administration while formally keeping it part of Serbia.) In practice, Russia and China are going to complicate things. If it gets bogged down in the UNSC, what next?

Four… well, how are Albanians and Serbs going to live together? It’s just not going so well right now.

One example. This summer, a basketball team from northern Kosovo (the Serb part) decided to take part in the Kosovo league. The only Serb team, they’ve played a number of games, winning some, losing some. This has outraged the Serb Kosovar leadership, since it implicitly recognizes an Albanian institution as legitimate. The team members have received threats, and on October 28 their coach’s car was blown up.

Macedonia shows that the thing is possible. Slavs and Albanians don’t love each other, don’t even much like each other… they live in a “two silences” world, coexisting suspiciously. But they do manage to live together, work together, and play basketball together, and the country is doing okay.

So it’s not impossible. But it’s a long way from where Kosovo is now.

Well, we should know more in January.

31 thoughts on “Kosovo: Counting the days

  1. A Kosovo with treaty powers might be enough, because in a sane world, it would mean that Pristina could negotiate with Belgrade, recognized independence for partition, or somesuch. I am dubious that this is a sane world.

  2. I have a hard time believing that the rep will recommend independence just because of the threats that Russia is making about Transdniestria and the assorted parts of Georgia.

  3. Will:

    “I have a hard time believing that the rep will recommend independence just because of the threats that Russia is making about Transdniestria and the assorted parts of Georgia.”

    Two points.

    1. Does the West care enough about what happens with Transdniestria and the other Georgian successor states?

    2. Is such a halfway house sustainable? Even Québec has a foreign ministry (well, Ministry of International Affairs). If Kosovars do a UDI, who’ll stop them?

  4. The thing is that the Russians are explicitly linking Kosovo with Transdniestria and the bits of Georgia. Earlier this month, Solana stated:

    “We are trapped here…. President [Mikheil] Saakashvili is trapped; all of us are trapped in a double mechanism that may have good consequences for one, but not for the other”

    http://www.jamestown.org/edm/article.php?article_id=2371529

    So, it sounds like the Europeans are at least a little concerned.

  5. They have some reason to be. Putin’s making it clear that he plans to link Kosovo to Transnistria, Abkhazia and Ossetia.

    Ahtisaari’s goal seems to be _de facto_ independence, limited sovereignty, and a legal situation that is as vague as possible. I don’t know if he’s holding out hope for agreement by both sides; IMO this is simply not going to happen.

    Doug M.

  6. Yes, Putin has made this clear and I’m quite sure this isn’t all he has up his sleeve given recent developments in Putinistan.

    Euros do have reason for concern.

  7. The Russian game plan seems to be ensuring that if independence is granted to Kosovo it can apply it elsewhere. This is the real problem facing London and Washington. They had assumed that everyone would buy into their ‘Kosovo cannot be a precedent’ line. However, more and more countries appear to now know that it will be. The Spanish Foreign Minister this week stated that even conditional independence was unacceptable for Madrid. I think others will follow.

    All-in-all, this process is unlikely to prove as open and shut as many had at first believed. And thankfully so. It has been a sham negotiation process from the start! How one can equate Belgrade’s ‘everything but independence’ with Pristina’s ‘nothing but independence’ beats me. In any other case, the Kosovo Albanian position would have been deplored in the same way as Denktash’s demands for a sovereign northern Cyprus were for so many years. Why is it that everywhere else we are trying to keep states together – even after brutal civil wars – and yet in this case the whole play book has been thrown out of the window.

    Anyway, Doug M is right. Realistically speaking, partitition is the most logical solution. And the argument that this sets a bad precedent is ridiculous. If Kosovo can’t be divided, why is it the case that Serbia can?

  8. “The Spanish Foreign Minister this week stated that even conditional independence was unacceptable for Madrid. I think others will follow.”

    Quite possibly, yes.

    Out of curiosity, does this situation differ much from that facing Slovenia and Croatia in 1991, objectively speaking? I don’t recall much support for the independence of those countries.

  9. We don’t care about Georgia that much, but it will not stop with Georgia, if we begin the independance game.

  10. A few remarks . . .

    Yes, the Kosovars will wait. No one is happy to have Kostunica dictating the timeline for final status, but there is still a lot of discipline when the endgame is ultimately independence (whatever it’s called by UNOSEK). Tensions will run high around March, but expect to see someone arrive from Washington (Condi? Clark?) to make a speech about the need to stay calm, reminding the men who would made the calls that stirred up March 2004 that patience is a virtue.

    Ahtisaari will propose conditional independence. The UNSC will pass a new resolution putting UNMIK to rest, and UN members will have the opportunity to recognize Kosovo on their own accord. The US, the UK, Albania, probably Macedonia and CG–all will acknowledge the new reality quickly, and really who else matters? Kosovars will not give a shit if Romania or Canada holds off for a while. There will be a foreign ministry, and the ICR will have nothing like the Bonn powers enjoyed by Ashdown in BiH.

    The author’s comment about partition is stunning. “The least bad solution” would unleash a whole new wave of border changes and population displacements in the Western Balkans. If Kosovo is divisible, so is BiH, Macedonia, CG, the Presevo Valley, and so on and so forth. Serbia is hoping for it, but no NATO policymaker in his or her right mind would even consider this. Dead in the water.

    Can K-Albanians and K-Serbs live together? Obviously they can, they did it for decades in this century under much more challenging circumstances. Will the status endgame produce an environment that enables them to coexist at least? There’s been some startling progress at the grassroots level, and leaders in K-Serb communities south of the Ibar (Gracanica, Novoberda) are starting to come around to the idea that there might be a space for them in the Republic of Kosova. The next 6 months will be telling.

  11. “The US, the UK, Albania, probably Macedonia and CG–all will acknowledge the new reality quickly, and really who else matters?”

    Russia, France, Germany. (in Europe that is)

  12. @ Mijawara: If Serbia is divisible, then so is Kosovo! This is the precedent BiH, Russia and others are really looking at.

    As for the idea that Kosovo Serbs see a future under Kosovo Albanian rule, this is sheer nonsense. They don’t want to live under rule any more than Kosovo Albanians really want to share power with Kosovo Serbs. Partition makes the most sense. 15 per cent for 15 per cent.

  13. Jim: The ’74 Yugoslav federal constitution gave Kosovo, de facto, the same status as BiH, Croatia, Slovenia, etc., and formed the basis for recognition of the aforementioned as sovereign states. Same will be the case with Kosovo.

    Making true in law which is presently true in fact–this is, the permanent separation of Kosovo from Serbia–is the only means of preventing another round of wars in SEE. What do you think is the alternative? “15 per cent for 15 per cent” is a recipe for bloodshed not only in Kosovo, but BiH and maybe southern Serbia, as well.

    Do the majority of K-Serbs want to live under Pristina’s rule today? Absolutely not. But the same could be said of Albanians in Macedonia before Ohrid, and the West didn’t use that as an excuse to dismantle Macedonia. The international community’s focus at this point must be to create the maximum possible breathing space for K-Serbs and other minorities in Kosovo, and ensuring (through the ICO and continued KFOR presence) a modicum of safety for everyone. Playing games with borders is so 1990s.

  14. “the same could be said of Albanians in Macedonia before Ohrid, and the West didn’t use that as an excuse to dismantle Macedonia.”

    Weak analogy. One, the Macedonian government had not lost all control over its Albanian regions. Two, the two ethnic groups didn’t have a war, complete with massacres and mass ethnic cleansing.

    Pristina has no authority whatsoever in northern Kosovo. The north considers itself part of Serbia. Giving the north to an Albanian-dominated Kosovo is simply ignoring the facts on the ground.

    Knock-on effects on Bosnia, et al: Somehow Montenegro’s peaceful secession hasn’t led to another round of war in the former Yugoslavia. So I’m impressed by your certainty that dividing Kosovo *will* lead to the violent division of Bosnia, Macedonia, and even little Montenegro.

    Doug M.

  15. @Mijawara – wishing something to be different won’t make it so. If Kosovo had the same legal rights as BiH, Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia and Montenegro it would be independent today. It doesn’t and it isn’t! This is why even Ahtisaari now agrees that full independence cannot be put on the table. The best that can be done is propose a quasi form of statehood and hope that other states recognise it bilaterally.

    Anyway, you still have not answered the question as to why Serbs in Kosovo have to live under Albanian rule when those Albanians in Kosovo refuse to live under Serb rule? If Serbia can and should be partitioned for the sake fo regional peace, then the same applies to Kosovo.

    By the way, as you work for UNMIK, have you read the King and Mason book yet? That pretty much shows how the international community has messed up with Kosovo!

  16. Jim: “. . . as you work for UNMIK”? That’s as close to a slur as you find here, but I’ll take it with a grain of salt! UNMIK’s tenure has been an unmitigated disaster (the justice system and KEK being cases in point), and I’m not sure what I wrote earlier that led you to believe I was defended it or worked there.

    Here’s the answer to your question: No one is insisting that K-Serbs live under K-Albanian rule. The international community is working to create a situation where K-Serbs live in a democratic state with more entrenched domestic and external guarantees of minority rights than anywhere else in Europe. But to return Kosovo to pre-’99 rule from Belgrade would be to place 2 million people under the authority of an unreconstructed, unrepentant ethnic nationalist state that is sliding inexorably back toward Milosevic-era policies and practices.

    One solution is imperfect, but improvable and subject to international oversight; the other solution is a straight road to mass violations of civil and human rights, and the war that Serbia was partitioned in ’99 to arrest.

  17. ‘There’s been some startling progress at the grassroots level’

    Sorry to appear cynical but there is precious little progress in Kosovo thus far.

    The only ethnic Serb in the Kosovo government resigned last week.

    The human rights situation in Kosovo remains dismal as pointed out by many international pressure groups.

    It seems to me to say that there are only 2 solutions on Kosovo is a gross simplification of the matter. I would settle (on behalf of Kosovo Serbs) for the same rights granted to Albanians in Serbia proper, not some rubbish about more rights in Europe for Serbs than anywhere else (when Serbs and gypsies have the least rights in Europe dont they?).

  18. @mijawara — I’m not sure I understand. I’m proposing a partition of Kosovo, with the Albanian-majority south given independence, and the Serb-majority north allowed to rejoin Serbia.

    While this will make both sides v. unhappy, how is it a “straight road to mass violations of civil and human rights”? As opposed to putting the north under Pristina’s authority, that is?

    Nobody’s suggesting returning Kosovo to Belgrade’s rule. Certainly Kostunica has badly failed to make a plausible case for this… as you say, they’re looking more and more like Slobo Lite, at least where the nationalism thing is concerned.

    Man, I miss Djindjic.

    Kek: I did a post on that over on my home blog a while back —

    http://www.bookcase.com/~claudia/mt/archives/000818.html

    — that was a year ago, but somehow I doubt much has changed.

    Yeah, UNMIK, phooey. I see where they had a crowd of protesters egging their building yesterday. I don’t normally approve of that sort of thing but I can see where it comes from.

    That said, putting the Serb-majority north under Pristina seems like a guarantee of years of diplomatic hassle. At best. At worst, you get a countersecession, formally supported by Serbia… like a little Abkhazia or Transnistria in the Balkans. You think that’ll make the Albanians more kindly inclined towards the Serb minority in southern Kosovo? No, me neither.

    Doug M.

  19. @ Mijawara – You still have not answered my question: why are you so opposed to the partition of Kosovo and yet happily advocate the partition of Serbia?

    By the way, despite your denial, you are indeed suggesting that K Serbs live under K Albanian rule. As everyone keeps pointing out, the reason why Kosovo should become independent is because the majority of its inhabitant don’t want to live under Serbian rule. By logical extension, Kosovo is becoming independent because it wants to be a Kosovo Albanian state, rather than a Kosovo Albanian province of Serbia. If everyone was so keen to promote ethnic reconciliation in the Balkans why wasn’t the autonomy within Serbia route tried? After all, if autonomy is good enough for K Serbs in Kosovo then why isn’t autonomy good enough for K Albanians in Serbia? Your whole argument is simply tilted in one direction.

    Indeed, your comments about Serbia being an unreconstructed nationalist state just showed that your whole argument is based on anti-Serb prejudice rather than any real consideration of the situation. If you apply this thinking to the Serbs, then you must also accept that the Kosovo Albanians are unreconstructed nationalists – this would explain why they will accept nothing but independence.

  20. Yes Doug I also reluctantly support the division of Kosovo. It goes against a lot of what I believe in but I think it is the least worst option, given the circumstances.

    Oh and you have to love Albin Kurtis lot. Long haired students usually oppose hardline nationalist government policies and advocate reconciliation with other peoples. Not this rabble – they advocate no negotiation with Serbs. The alternative is what to drive UNMIK and the remaining Serbs out?

    I often lament the fact that the radicals are so powerful in Serbia but I think moderate alternatives within the Kosovo Albanian community are much more limited than in Serbia. You only have Suroi, which is better than nothing but still, a dire situation

  21. Doug,

    I was responding to Jim’s question (“why Serbs in Kosovo have to live under Albanian rule when those Albanians in Kosovo refuse to live under Serb rule?”) No one is seriously suggesting Kosovo returns to pre-’99 provincehood, but I think the question and the response are both telling.

    I think I’ve made it clear why I’m against the division of Kosovo–the knock-on effect that would have in RS, Presevo, etc., plus that fact that it would probably spark some kind of civil war. I think a counter-secession in northern Kosovo is likely, but it will also be illegal and should be treated as such.

    Yeah, I didn’t feel really bad about seeing paintbombs crash against UNMIK for a few minutes (I would have rather seen them hit the expat pub across the way). But targeting the New Government Building was more problematic symbolically, and did no favours to the taxpayers of Kosovo who will foot the bill for the windows. (Some photos of the action on my flickr site, btw, if you’re interested.)

  22. @Mijawara — Yes, you’ve made it clear that you think partition of Kosovo will lead to further division of the Balkans. What’s missing is a discussion of just why this should be so. It’s the Underpants Gnomes Business Plan problem.

    The available evidence suggests t’ain’t so. Montenegro’s secession has provoked nothing more than grumbling.

    If I understand you right, you’re saying that formally splitting Kosovo from Serbia /won’t/ provoke nationalist secession elsewhere, but going a step further and giving a hunk of Kosovo back to Serbia /will/.

    I don’t say that’s totally implausible. I do say you got some convincin’ to do.

    Doug M.

  23. @bganon — One way to look at the situation in Kosovo is to view the Albanians as being about a generation behind the Serbs. This is simplistic, but it gives some useful insights.

    So, in Serbia, long-haired students were dickhead nationalists all through the 1980s. All the coolest professors and most interesting writers were playing with nationalism, and the students followed suit. They only turned against Slobo after 1990, when it became clear that (1) he was going to break up a perfectly good country, and (2) he was relentlessly opposed to the sorts of things that long-haired students are into, like funky radio stations and cheap travel abroad, and (3) he wanted to draft them all and send them off to fight in Croatia and Bosnia.

    Later in the 1990s, the students would do yeoman service as a vanguard of opposition to Slobo — the 1996 protests, and then of course OTPOR.

    Then after 2001, they would totally lose interest… but anyway. Point here is, in the FYU, dickhead nationalism is the default. So it’s really not so surprising.

    Doug M.

  24. I’m picking and choosing here now, folks, sorry for that:

    Jim, I answered your question, but here’s the recap: Serbia was partitioned in 1999, further partitions are unnecessary and will do more harm than good. As for my comments about Serbia, well, calling me out on my “anti-Serb prejudice” tips your hand, so I’m not sure how much good arguing will do. But I’d encourage you to check out the ICG report on Serbia’s referendum vote, available here:

    http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?id=4494&l=1

    Also want to take a crack at this remark:

    “. . . moderate alternatives within the Kosovo Albanian community are much more limited than in Serbia. You only have Suroi (sic)”

    This is a gross mis-reading of the situation. Surroi gets the Western media attention because his English is dynamite (not unlike Oliver Ivanovic as “spokesperson for K-Serbs”), but his party is hovering somewhere under 10%. Jim will pillory me for this statement, but the most “moderate” leader Kosovo’s had so far was also it’s most popular: ICTY-indicted Ramush Haradinaj. No one who knows Haradinaj can underestimate the extent to which he’s using his clout to keep the lid on things now, and as prime minister, he took bolder steps toward reform and reconciliation than anyone else could have dared to. Ceku is likeminded, but lacks the clout.

    Possibly nasty history aside, I would take a Haradinaj or Ceku willing to make political sacrifices in the interest of K-Albanian/K-Serb coexistence than a tired demagogue like Kostunica any day. But that’s just me.

  25. @ Mijawara, the fact that you quote the ICG report, which was written by James Lyon, who appears to have a rabid hatred of Serbs, rather proves that either you are anti-Serb or you uncritically rely too much on information from anti-Serb sources. Take your pick.

    By the way, the ICG report you cite was one of the most ridiculous pieces of work I have ever read. The author (Lyon) suggests that the EU, UN, Council of Europe, Venice Commission, US and everyone else was wrong to give the referendum in Serbia a clean bill of health. In contrast, the ICG knows what is really going on as it has had a long standing presence on the ground is aware of what was really going on. As if the EU, UN, US, Council of Europe, OSCE do not. They have far bigger presences in the country than the one man band Lyon. It was a ridiculous statement to make and just showed just how arrogant and out of touch the ICG, and Lyon in particular, has become.

    You argument that Serbia was partitioned in 1999 and so we should accept that as the end runs completely contrary to the terms of Resolution 1244. According to that, Kosovo is still a part of Serbia as the legal successor state of the FRY. Removing Kosovo against the will of Belgrade will mark the first occasion since WWII that this has happened. It will be the equivalent of chucking the Helsinki Final Act in the bin. But somehow you don’t seem to think that this is a serious precedent?! However, dividing Kosovo will be? You have obviously been living in Kosovo too long. Wake up and look at the wider picture. South Ossetia, Abkhazia, Transdniestra, northern Cyprus, Sri Lanka and a whole host of other places have a firm eye on Kosovo. If you really want to avoid creating a precedent that could destabilise any number of other conflicts, then it would be far better to have Pristina and Belgrade agree to partition Kosovo. This would prevent any precedent from forming that could be used elsewhere as it would keep the principle of state creation by mutual consent intact. Not only that, but it would mark a pragmatic outcome that is likely to lead to longer term stability in Kosovo. Why can’t you see this? Instead, you seem to have bought into the absurd notion that everyone in Kosovo will live happily ever after following independence and that the K Albanians and K Serbs will live together peacefully.

    By the way, I agree that Haradinaj is the most moderate leader at the moment – if only because he is trying to prevent more violence. Surroi is actually rather more hard line than most people realise. For instance, he has recently been egging on the K Albanians leaders to go for UDI if they don’t get a clear yes from the UNSC. As for Ceku, he should really be facing justice for his activities in Storm. Again, why anyone would think that the Serbs could trust a man who played such a large part in the largest incident of ethnic cleansing since 1945? He is as bad in the eyes of the K Serbs as Milosevic was for the K Albanians.

  26. Forgive me Mijawara but Haradinaj et al are warlords. That doesnt rule them out in my mind (although it discredits them from the start in the minds of many Kosovo Serbs) but to believe that they may be civic minded or moderate – well it will take much more than a few favourable words about todays Kosovo minorities to reasure me. Past actions speak far more.

    I know that Suroi has slim electoral support – I lament the fact. Suroi is somebody the Serbs can do business with – even if he is a nationalist (not in the derrogatory sense but yes he is also a Kosovo Albanian nationalist). One can be sure that he isnt a murderer and that he genuinely doesnt harbour anti Serbian feelings. That is as much as you can hope for among Kosovo Albanian leaders these days.

    You will have to do much, much better than cite me a couple of former killers (leaving aside whether they killed civilians or only Serbian military) as Kosovo Albanian moderates. I realise that Kosovo Albanian democracy is in its infancy but if I were you rather than praise of Ceku and Haradinaj I’d adopt a more cynical attitude.

    Speaking of a cynical attitude – that is exactly how I feel about Kostunica. Lucky for me then, that Kostunica is only one of a variety of politicians (morally bankrupt most of them may be) in Serbia that cut across the political spectrum. Besides that (happily), Kostunica’s influence is waning and the next government will be dominated by the Democartic Party.

    I look forward to a more positive attitude on Kosovo, the Hague and many other issues by the new Serbian government.

  27. ‘So, in Serbia, long-haired students were dickhead nationalists all through the 1980s’.

    Doug, Yes, well there is something in this but remember throughout the 1960’s and early 70’s there were plenty of long haired students in Serbia who opposed nationalism and the Communist authorities. That generation was culled by Tito.

    Sadly by the 80’s the former opposition to nationalism was forgotten and nationalism was rapidly used as a means to mobilise the mass against the Yugoslav authorities.

    It might seem a little petty to mention it (but I will) as the historical situation in Croatia and Kosovo were different with other factors in play. However, it is a fact that the Croatian Spring was a nationalist movement as were the violent Kosovo Albanaian protests of the early 80’s. Both of them preceeded Serbian nationalism of the 80’s and 90’s.

    Anyway its water under a bridge now. What concerns me above all is the situation today. But I must admit it does grate that people tend to see past events only in terms of Serbian nationalism with the tendancy to ignore events that were not covered in any depth before the media age.

    I sincerely want increased alternatives for Kosovo Albanians. I get no satisfaction out of it at all when I see the choice Kosovo Albanians (and Serbs for that matter) are being offered.

    The only ones who can really change things are Kosovo Albanians themselves but this natural tendancy to defend their own or question their leaders for not being nationalistic enough (essentially what Kurti is doing) will ensure they remain close to bottom of the heap on the European junkyard.

    Of course the Kosovo Albanian reply to that is that once they are given their own state then things will finally normalise.

    Perhaps, if one isnt a minority in Kosovo and if one is lucky enough to have a job.

  28. “remember throughout the 1960’s and early 70’s there were plenty of long haired students in Serbia who opposed nationalism and the Communist authorities. That generation was culled by Tito.”

    Meh. There was plenty of protest in the air in the ’60s and early ’70s — Belgrade saw massive street protests and riots, largely unremarked in the West — but while you could call them anti-Communist, they definitely weren’t anti-nationalist.

    “it is a fact that the Croatian Spring was a nationalist movement as were the violent Kosovo Albanaian protests of the early 80’s”

    Half right. Croatian spring, no question. But the Albanian protests started as student protests against crappy conditions at the university. They got hijacked by nationalism later, to some extent, but Albanian nationalism was pretty muted back then.

    “the Kosovo Albanian reply to that is that once they are given their own state then things will finally normalise.”

    Hollow laughter.

    — Haradinaj made a positive impression in his brief time in power. I’d be interested to see him come back. Bganon, I’m not sure what your objection is. Yeah, he’s a former KLA fighter. Kosovar politics is going to be dominated by those guys for the next generation, like it or not. And while being a former freedom fighter/ guerrilla/ terrorist murderer / whatever isn’t the best recommendation for political office, it’s hardly a disqualifier.

    Someone called Kostunica a “demagogue”. That’s exactly wrong. He’s a dull, legalistic pedant. He may have less personal charisma than Slobo, which is saying something. Seselj is a demagogue. Kostunica is more like the 50th percentile of the modern Serbian political psyche made flesh.

    Doug M.

  29. ‘but while you could call them anti-Communist, they definitely weren’t anti-nationalist.’

    Would you care to explain that Doug? Not in any depth, but I think you’ll find you are not right on this one.

    The Kosovo Albanian riots were not muted although the Yugoslav media’s response was in that period was for the most part.

    Call me old fashioned but I object to anybody being accused of war crimes taking high political office. Its a human rights objection if you like. I’d feel about leaders in any country – although I do concede the IRA point (if you were going to supply it).

    I dont rule Haradinaj out completely but I’d hope you agree that it seems a little foolhardy when you employ a murderer to try to reach compromise with (perhaps) relatives of those he murdered. A little difficult at best. Its a luxury that you and I dont have to feel that way but it isnt difficult to understand why Kosovo Serbs will object is it?

  30. Doug,
    I agree fully with your view that a partition of Kosovo is the best way to settle this issue for good.

    Here’s my take on the two alternatives:

    Conditional independence: Without full independence the K Albanians will spend all of their energies distancing themselves from Serbia instead of developing their state; any failings will be blamed on the intl. community; and the K Serbs will continue to be seen as the minioins of Belgrade and treated thereafter.

    Full independence: if a conditionally independent Kosovo would be destabilized by the K Albanians a fully independent Kosovo would be destabilized by the K Serbs. Any respectably fully independent Kosovo would have to be a multiethnic state with extensive rights for the Serbs and I’m not sure this is what most K Albanians want. Would they really be ready to accept Serbian as an official language and with the K Serbs having a word in the decision on things like the new flag and the national anthem (available in both Serbian and Albanians, of course), subsidizing higher education in Serbian, quotas for Serbs in the judicial system, the military, the police force, etc.

    Better to split the two and let the southern 2/3 of Kosovo become a proper ethnic Albanian state without strings attached.

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