The Kosovo Drama Escalates
A deeply divided UN Security Council failed to break the deadlock over Kosovo on Wednesday. Russia and China remain adamant that there can be no imposed solution, and no valid proclamation of independence outside the Security Council framework. The United States, Britain and France—which support Kosovo's independence—say further talks between the parties are pointless. They appear intent on encouraging Pristina's unilateral declaration of independence (UDI) and its subsequent recognition through NATO and the European Union, thus bypassing the Russian veto at the UN.
The exact timing of Kosovo's UDI will depend on Serbia's domestic politics. Almost a year ago, the unveiling of the infamous Ahtisaari plan—the blueprint for the province's illegal secession from Serbia—was delayed by the United States and her West European allies from January 1, 2007, until after the parliamentary election in Serbia on January 21. The reason was frankly stated in Washington and Brussels: the need to help the "pro-Western, reformist" Democratic Party (DS) of President Boris Tadic in its bid to secure as many seats in the national legislature as possible by pushing its old agenda of "Euro-Atlantic [i.e., EU-NATO] integrations."
It was assumed, reasonably enough, that Tadic's starry-eyed Europhoric supporters may have second thoughts about continuing their support for Serbia's integration into those same institutions that underwrite and condone amputation of one-seventh of her sovereign territory for the benefit of a bunch of Albanian heroin kingpins.
We are witnessing the same ploy all over again. Tadic and his allies in the Assembly of Serbia have conspired with the European Union to gerrymander a "quickie" presidential election on January 20, in order to preempt the looming unilateral declaration of "independence" by Kosovo and the subsequent recognition by the United States and some of the EU countries.
Just one day after the election was announced—illegally and unconstitutionally, according to Prime Minister Kostunica's Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS), which is still DS's partner in the current coalition—a top EU official was quoted as saying that "it may take until the spring" before the status of Kosovo is finally determined.
The DS, the Bush Administration, and the EU bureaucratic machine have a common agenda in pushing ahead with the election now. If the presidential race is over before Kosovo declares its independence, Hashim Thaci's pending declaration, aided and abetted by Washington and Brussels, supposedly won't impact the outcome of the race. Tadic gets duly reelected, to provide a "reasonable" voice in the Serbian leadership that will not veer away from the cherished Euro-integrations come what may.
Cheat me once, shame on you; cheat me twice, shame on me. The latest public opinion surveys indicate that Serbia will not fall for the same ruse again. Most people reject "integration" into the European Union—let alone NATO—on the condition of self-mutilation. If the European Union persists in its transparent attempt to recognize Kosovo's pending illegal secession by default, it will be actively opposed by Serbia. As Kostunica declared at his UN Security Council address on Wednesday, any unilateral declaration of independence would be "null and void" and would never be recognized by Serbia.
All negotiations on Kosovo were doomed to fail because the U.S. Administration had declared from the outset that independence was the preordained outcome which would be reached "one way or another" (in the memorable phrase of Dr. Rice). The Kosovo Albanian leaders—a repellant crew of war criminals and dope peddlers with jihadist ties—could afford to sit back and dismiss out of hand any proposal that fell short of what the Americans had promised.
Serbia's Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, who will retain his post regardless of the outcome of the presidential contest, has a number of options if this happens. They range from the blockade of the secessionist province—which gets two-thirds of its food and consumer goods and essential electricity supplies from central and northern Serbia—to the declaration, supported by parliamentary vote, that Serbia is no longer seeking EU membership (let alone that of NATO) and would henceforth develop closer political, economic and military ties with the resurgent Russia. Breaking off or severely downgrading diplomatic relations will those countries that recognize Kosovo, and effecting the province's partition by Belgrade while continuing to claim sovereign rights over all of it, is also imminent.
Serbia's response will have a limited impact on the countries outside the region, but that will not be the end of the story. Russia, China and India, and dozens of Asian and African countries with secessionist problems—including South Africa and the most populous predominantly Muslim country, Indonesia—will deem the move illegal and invalid. The theory that outside powers can award part of a state's sovereign territory to a violent ethnic or religious minority, only if that minority is able to provoke a violent government response and secure a "humanitarian" intervention from abroad, would put in question the borders of at least two-dozen states.
Yes, pro-Albanian lobbyists will say, but the Serbs' mistreatment of their Albanian minority has disqualified Belgrade from running the province ever again. Well, first of all, there has never been any "genocide" in Kosovo by any definition. At it very peak in 1998 it was a medium-sized local conflict that killed some 2,000 people on all sides: as lethal, proportionate to the population, as the lethal crime in Washington, D.C., during that same period.
By accepting at face value the standard claim of "genocide" by, say, Tamils, Chechens, Palestinians, Kurds, Kashmiris, etc., etc., the "International Community" (i.e., the United States and a few pliant West Europeans) will create endless problems for itself. Furthermore, the theory that parts of a state�s sovereign territory should belong to a "discriminated against" ethnic or religious minority with a localized plurality would also be an argument for the extension of "Aztlan" or La Repubblica del Norte to the Bay Area, Denver and Dallas.
Several EU member-countries (Spain, Slovakia, Rumania, Greece, Cyprus, Malta . . . ) will not toe the line whatever Brussels says. Israel is understandably apprehensive of the precedent that a solution to an intractable political and territorial quarrel can and should be imposed by outside countries, even if one of the parties rejects the proposed solution as contrary to its vital national interests.
On balance, U.S.-sponsored Republic of "Kosova"—while apparently difficult to avoid at the moment—is likely to be as stillborn legally as it is already collapsed economically, socially and morally.
We are facing yet another Balkan drama of mainly American making that promises to be . . . well, interesting, which is to say highly destabilizing for the region, detrimental to European security and incomprehensible to at least half the world.
State Department bureaucrats still claim that Kosovo would not set a precedent, but their words cannot change reality: it will. The "frozen conflicts" in the former Soviet Union may be defrosted with a bang, and the best Kosovo could hope for is to become a frozen conflict itself.
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