Thursday, October 05, 2006

Final status issues becoming more complicated

Life is always interesting in the Balkans.  As many know Kosovo is in the midst of negotiations to determine the final status of the essentially independent province.  Though legally still a part of Serbia, Kosova is essentially a non-state country run by the United Nations. Negotiant ions are currently underway in Vienna, Austria to determine its final status.

Naturally the country of Serbia wants to hold on to Kosovo, which it sees as an important, historic part of the Serbian nation and people.  The 90–95 percent Albanian population of Kosovo wants to become an independent state.  Into this mix comes a new Serbian constitution.  Earlier this summer Montenegro succeeded from the country called Serbia-Montenegro triggering a rewrite of former country’s constitution.  Last Saturday the Serbian parliament voted overwhelmingly to approve the new constitution which declares Kosovo to be an “integral part” of Serbia.  Though the constitution still needs to be approved by a public referendum scheduled for Oct 28th, the message is pretty strong.

The UN Special Representative of the Secretary Genera, the man responsible administering, Kosovo quickly fired back that “the adoption of a Serbian constitution defining Kosovo as integral part of Serbian territory will have no effects on the final political status of this province” [quote from the article, not from Joachim Ruecker the SRSG].  On Monday the US State Department fired its own warning shots.  According to spokesman Tom Casey, "Neither party is going to unilaterally decide this," Casey said. "This is going to be something that's going to have to be worked out among them through this negotiated process."

Now the whole timetable for discussions is up in the air because negotiations may be delayed until after the Serbian Parliamentary elections which may be called for in late November or early December.

The bottom line is that Serbia will not willing let go of Kosovo, though interestingly a recent Reuters article (through KosovoReport) says that though fifty-eight percent of Serbs want Kosovo to remain part of Serbia, only twelve percent actually believe it will happen.  The Albanians of Kosovo will not willing remain within the country of Serbia.  While all sides would prefer a negotiated settlement on the issue an imposed one may be necessary and that doesn't bode well for peace in the Balkans.


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