So Kosovo will declare its independence tomorrow.
Regular readers of this blog will already know my position on Kosovar independence: I completely lack enthusiasm for it, but think it’s the least bad solution. It’s been almost nine years since the 1999 war, and pretty much every alternative has been explored at length. The current situation, where Kosovo is run by the UN, has become deeply dysfunctional. Giving Kosovo back to Serbia is not an option.
So what will happen? Well, the Albanians are getting ready for a huge two-day party. The Serbs are divided; it’s pretty clear that President Boris Tadic prefers a policy of dignified inaction, while Prime Minister Kostunica is hinting broadly about something more aggressive. Closing the border? Turning of Kosovo’s lights? We’ll see in a day or two.
As for international recognition: somewhere between 20 and 30 countries are poised to recognize Kosovo pretty quickly, with a larger number inclined to recognize but planning to wait a bit. There’ll probably be a UN Security Council meeting next week, which will lead to much discussion but nothing concrete.
So, unless Serbia does something stupid — which is certainly possible — in the short run, not much will change. In the longer run, well, I’ve used the phrase “Balkan Taiwan” before. It’s not very close; really, Kosovo is unique. But I expect a long war of diplomatic attrition rather than a crisis. Again, we’ll see soon enough.