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NO 107-108

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Helsinki Charter No. 107-108

May - June 2007



By Miroslav Filipovic

It's harder for Russia than for Serbia. A superpower should not make mistakes and that's exactly what might happen. Russia has to make a key choice - if it exercises the power of veto and the United States and the European Union recognize Kosovo nevertheless, Russia will be left isolated and ashamed, while its stand on Kosovo proclaimed empty-worded muscle-showing.

Once formally proclaimed independent Kosovo will still remain in the same place and will be "ours" inasmuch as we smoothly communicate with Kosovo authorities. That could be a new beginning for the Serbian negotiating team and probably the only way it could save whatever can be saved and whatever Serbian clerical-nationalists in Kosovo have not already ruined, wasted and lost. But that would imply that someone, all of a sudden, enlightens the people in power, inspires them with reason and wisdom, good will and persistence, and fills them with consciousness and responsibility. So they would, in the finals at least, start thinking about Serbia, its citizens and their interest, rather than focus on power, parliamentary mandates, ministerial seats and - in the final analysis - on reasonable fear of court and prison cells.

However, this is nothing but wishful thinking. Serbia is bewitched with pathological desire for power. So, the moment they touch its soil even the best and the most pro-European Serbs start protecting Kosovo, trumpeting about it and taking the unfortunate Serbia back to the arms of the keepers of the myth of the chosen people that can gain only through constant warfare. Instead of taking at least one reasonable move in the matter of Kosovo, Serbia's politicians have, as one, turned to Russia wondering, the same as their "red" predecessors, about the Moscow time and expecting a president of a foreign country to do things that people in normal countries expect from their own president.

It's not that simple to veto a resolution of the Security Council. This is why problematic issues are usually not placed on its agenda. Therefore, if a new resolution on Kosovo is prepared in a normal and usual way, the vote will be taken only once everyone is sure that not a single permanent member plans to exercise this power. In other words, should anyone call for a vote on a new resolution that would mean that there would be no vote at all and that Russia has given its consent to such scenario. On the other hand, so far big powers' attitude towards Kosovo has not been a usual one and probably will not be till the very end.

There is no telling whether the Russians will stick to their stance all the way through. What we know is that numerous Russian officials, including President Putin, talk about exercising the power of veto and insist on mutually acceptable agreement. On the other hand, it is common knowledge that such an agreement is impossible to reach and that any insistence on it is nothing but a waste of time, energy and money. So, what is the course developments might take?



There is no doubt that the European Union supports Ahtisaari plan. However, there are clear differences among the member-states on what should be done with Kosovo. Some governments take negotiations should take longer for the sake of a mutually acceptable solution, and practically hope for a miracle. For, it would be a miracle should either Serbian or Albanian side concede anything. Other governments are so much in favor of independence that they would accept even an imposed solution. There is definitely no consensus. However, the countries such as the United States that advocate independence will most probably wait for the UN Security Council to pass some resolution.

But what if there is no resolution at all, if Russia or China veto it? Will European countries recognize Kosovo nevertheless?

It is hard to believe that the European Union would collectively acknowledge Kosovo's independence without a Security Council resolution defining its position from the angle of international law. For, the same as the UN Security Council, the European Union has the institution of veto. Some member-states would recognize Kosovo, while other such as Spain, Rumania and Cyprus would be by far more reserved because of the possible impact such an act could have on their territorial integrities. Anyway, some kind of resolution will have to be passed - permanent members of the UN Security Council will be negotiating until they agree on some no matter how blurred and senseless draft that will be acceptable to Russia. The basic idea here is to replace the existing legal frame for Kosovo with a legal vacuum that will make it possible for the United States and some EU member-states to recognize Kosovo's independence without violating international law. And then, as time goes by, Kosovo will de facto turn into the state with which the EU can start to negotiate.


United States and Russia

Despite more and more opponents to its policy, the US has been successful at home and internationally thanks to its ability to act practically and call the things by their names. And this refers to Kosovo as well. Unlike the "old" Europe, the US would not take something on trust. Therefore, the US decided that Kosovo should be independent and independent it should be. The US sees Russia's insistence on some other solution as flying in the teeth of it but, institutionally, can hardly do anything about it. Russia's power of veto is unquestionable. American diplomats in Belgrade believe Bush and Putin would reach an agreement after all - an agreement that would imply Russia's full engagement in the so-called reconstruction of Kosovo after independence. The Russian side has already achieved some results in this domain. Russian Ambassador Vladimir Alekseyev pays frequent visits to Pristine. The talks he has begun with Kosovo Premier Kosumi we continued even with Cheku. The Ambassador was accompanied by Sergey Bazdnik, head of the Russian Office in Pristine, and Sergey Struck, director of the Jugorosgas Company. One of the outcomes was the deal for Russian Gasprom to construct the 123-kilometer-long pipeline in the direction Nis-Prokuplje-Pristine. Every meeting resulted in a reference to good prospects for economic cooperation and trade between Russia and Kosovo. On the other hand, once it finalizes the 60-million-worth Nis-Dimitrovgrad pipeline Gasprom will be supplying gas to consumers in South Serbia, Kosovo and Montenegro, while the Serbian company, Serbiagas, would be have to buy gas from Gasprom in order to provide gas to Central Serbia. For the import of natural gas from North is limited and only meets the needs of consumers in Vojvodina.

Clerical-nationalistic Serbia stupidly and tenaciously believes that America and Europe on the one hand, and Russia on the other are so much interested in Kosovo that their disagreement could provoke a conflict between the East and the West. But that's simply out of question and not a single normal person would count on such scenario. Neither side is interested in conflicts. NATO expansion is primarily seen as enlargement of the West's political and economic influence rather than as a military issue. The spread of Western values are seen as the spread of democracy and market economy rather than as the spread of some Western cult. This Western cult is being spread indirectly - via Coca-Cola, technology, computers, and the like. When it comes to Kosovo, it seems that both the United States and Europe have lost patience and would not accept any prolongation of negotiation except, probably, in some technical matters. On the other had, Russia's Kosovo rhetoric has been rather strong as of lately. Nevertheless, there is no telling how Russia would act. Russia has to make a difficult choice and must not make a wrong one. A mistake could slow down its resumption of the status of a superpower. A propos Kosovo, Russia should not make a mistake and that's exactly what might happen. Russia has to make a key choice - if it exercises the power of veto and the United States and the European Union recognize Kosovo nevertheless, Russia will be left isolated and ashamed, while its stand proclaimed empty-worded muscle-showing. If it refrains from the vote on Kosovo, it will be by far less embarrassed. All it will have to do is to explain Belgrade nationalists what happened. And it might even not have to do that at all. In any case, recognition of Kosovo's independence gets the West a score, while Russia scores on postponement /of independence/ or adoption of some other solution.

Serbia can do nothing at all. Its invocation of international law and justice is senseless when compared with the fact that 127,000 houses were torched, 12,000 people killed and 3,000 either burnt or buried outside Kosovo over the "Horseshoe" campaign eight years ago. And throughout the campaign Serbia's nationalists were, in chorus, ridiculing victims and human civilization in general.

Though of later date, the actual Serbian regime is no wiser. It stubbornly pursues its stupid Kosovo policy, the policy that distances it more and more from the wishful thinking embodied in the Premier's recent statement, "We shall resume our Kosovo soon." The easiness with which every Serbian regime, this one included, decides to solve national problems - even the strategic ones such as Kosovo - through trickery and in a maximally inefficient way is simply amazing. Deluded by the flagrant fact that the domestic public would always "buy" its tricks, the Serbian regime tries to sell them to the international community as well, while crying blue murder and trumpeting about some double standards and bias. And it would not let go though the international community and the growing part of the domestic public are fully aware that "the Emperor wears no clothes."


NO 107-108

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