KOSOVO: WHAT'S THE MOSCOW
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
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."