In a recent article, Reuters reported that "Serbia is convinced Russia will knock down a plan giving supervised independence to the breakaway Kosovo province with a "historic veto" at the U.N. Security Council, Serbia's prime minister said..." In fact Vojislav Kostunica went on to say that once the veto is exercised, a new "mediator" will be appointed to negotiate Kosova's future, one that will keep it part of rump Serbia.
So what will the Sercurity Council decide in the coming weeks? Here are some excerpts from international media sources commenting on Russia's decision whether to veto or not-to-veto.
The Economist: "The Russians know that the Serbs and Kosovo Albanians will never agree...if Russia blocks a new resolution, Kosovo will declare independence anyway—and the Americans will “probably” recognise it...Many Muslim countries will follow..."
International Herald Tribune: Russian Ambassador Churkin said "the UN should reject Ahtisaari's conclusion and turn to someone with the capacity to keep negotiations open." Asked if Russia was threatening to use its veto against the plan, Churkin said, "Veto is a very big word so I don't want, of course, to use it before the day comes to take a vote."
Balkan Investigative Reporting Network: "Russia is more interested in power games with the West than with Kosovo - and note that the Kremlin is being cautious about committing itself to using the veto ... Russia has particular concerns about separatism in the Caucasus, where it has been fighting an independence movement in Chechnya for years ... “If we see that one of the parties is not happy with the solution, we will not support it,” Putin told a forum of the world’s top security officials in Munich."
Washington Post: "Putin says Russia will not support anything that the Serbs oppose. If this means a Russian veto in the Security Council, or an effort to water down or delay Ahtisaari's plan, the fragile peace in Kosovo will evaporate within days, and a new wave of violence -- possibly even another war -- will erupt."
Radio Free Europe: "Russia's ambassador to Serbia, Aleksandr Alekseyev, told the private B92 television channel Lon December 4 that if a proposed status solution is not acceptable for both sides, the Russian side will use its right of veto."
The Guardian: There is disagreement on Belgrade's role and how to handle Russia's potential for blocking Kosovo's independence. (It was the threat of a Russian veto that prevented Nato seeking UN authorisation before the 1999 war.) ... Russia is a bigger problem. If Putin cannot be persuaded that Kosovo needs independence, the rest of the world should recognise the new state anyway. Kosovo can go without a UN seat - the only major consequence of a Kremlin veto.
Worldpress: "Russia has already stated that it will not recognize the independence of Kosovo and it will veto such a resolution in the Security Council ... Russia supports independence for the provinces of North Ossetia and Abkhazia in Georgia. Therefore, Moscow aims to win either way. Should Kosovo become independent it would claim a precedent for its claims in Georgia. It would always be able to exert its influence in Belgrade and possibly seek a more energetic role in southeastern Europe."
United Press International: "U.S. Undersecretary Nicholas Burns was commenting on Russian Ambassador Alexander Alexiev's statement in Belgrade Monday claiming Moscow will veto a decision on Kosovo unless it is acceptable to both the Serbian government and the leaders of Kosovo ethnic-Albanians in Pristina."
CNN: "Ahtissari's plan faces an uncertain future in the Security Council, which is split on the issue. Russia supports Serbia and has implied it could use its veto power if Belgrade's interests are not addressed."
The Washington Times: A Russian diplomat to the European Union said last month that Moscow would oppose any "imposed solution," and the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Monday that an independent Kosovo would "impose severe and serious complications on the stability of Europe."
Let the debate begin!!
Despite the seemingly irrefutable logic of Kosovo's case, there remain a number of realpolitik roadblocks, which still could stall this Balkan region from attaining its rightful self-determination.
The Russians support the Serb position and thus are not likely to back any Security Council resolution allowing for Kosovo independence. Whether they will use their damning diplomatic veto remain a threat. Thus Russia may play spoiler well beyond the traditional historic and religious links between Moscow and Belgrade.
More than supporting the shrinking rump of ex-Yugoslavia, Russia remains more concerned over the precedent which a breakaway province will have on its own "big picture." Specifically Kosovo may be yet another independent county which spun-off from former Yugoslavia (there are five already the most recent being Montenegro last year!). This poses a mortal blow to Serbia and a warning to Russia. The former Soviet Union having endured the geopolitical splits of (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan etc) still faces separatism from a gaggle of stans including Islamic Chechnya, Dagestan etc. Though the Kosovar Muslims are mostly quite secular, in a Balkan climate it's very easy to morph any issue into a conspiracy, a hidden threat and a regional crisis.
In Vladimir Putin's viewpoint, a breakaway Kosovo could set in train another set of events in Russia's oil rich underbelly which the Kremlin can't afford politically or economically. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov posed the rhetorical question, "If we imagine a situation in which Kosovo achieves independence, then other people, people living in regions not recognized, will ask us ' are we not as good as them?"
Some analysis on te Chinese side of things ...
The China Post
“The Marxist mandarins of the People's Republic of China historically fear what they define "separatism" from Tibet to Taiwan; restive regions anywhere set a political precedent which can reverberate to the frontiers of the Middle Kingdom. Moreover Beijing holds a particular bitter memory concerning Kosovo. During Bill Clinton's bombing of Serbia in 1999, the Chinese Embassy was hit by an American missile. Deaths, loss of face, and a bitter political row ensued with Washington. Among other things, the PRC may wish to use its Security Council veto as a backhanded "payback" to the United States.”
Rusia e Kina...
Ambasadori i Rusisë në OKB, Vitali Çurkin kërkoi nisjen e një misioni të tillë. Ai thotë se një "shqyrtim tërësor" është i nevojshëm për përparimin e bërë qëkurse OKB mori përgjegjësinë e qeverisjes së Kosovës në 1999. Vetëm pas një shqyrtimi të tillë, këmbëngul Çurkin, mund të ketë një votim për planin e statusit përfundimtar të paraqitur nga i dërguari i OKB Marti Ahtisaari.
Plani i Ahtisaarit, i cili do t'i jepte Kosovës "pavarësi të mbikqyrur" me një prani të fortë civile e ushtarake ndërkombëtare, ka mbështetje të gjerë ndërkombëtare, duke përfshirë atë nga Shtetet e Bashkuara. Megjithatë, Moska ka sinjalizuar kundërshtim ndaj tij, ashtu si edhe një vend tjetër anëtar i përhershëm i Këshillit të Sigurimit siç është Kina.
Gjatë vizitave të veçanta në Beograd këtë javë, ministri i jashtëm rus Sergej Lavrov dhe nënkryeministri kinez Hui Liangyu, thanë të dy se vendet e tyre qenë kundër detyrimit të një zgjidhjeje ndaj Serbisë.
Të dy zyrtarët nuk thanë megjithatë në se do të vinin veton ndaj planit të Ahtisaarit.
Pas takimit me kryeministrin Vojislav Koshtunica të enjten, Lavrov tha se plani i Ahtisaarit kishte "dështuar" sepse nuk kishte përfshirë si interesat e Beogradit dhe të Prishtinës. Ai shtoi se bisedimet e statusit duhej të vazhdonin dhe se duhej gjetur një kompromis i pranueshëm nga të dy palët.
"Për tani, nuk ka ndonjë projekt-zgjidhje [mbi Kosovën]," tha Lavrov duke shtuar se Rusia do të vendoste mbi këtë çështje pasi rezoluta të paraqitej. "Ne besojmë se negociatat duhet të rinisen."
Hui Liangyu i Kinës, vizitoi Beogradin të mërkurën dhe tha se Pekini është kundër afateve përfundimtare për gjetjen e një zgjidhjeje. Ai gjithashtu bëri thirrje për një marrëveshje të negociuar midis Beogradit dhe Prishtinës.
Pas bisedimeve me zyrtarët kinezë e rusë, Koshtunica tha se kërcënimet e dhunës në Kosovë (në qoftë se ajo nuk fiton pavarësinë) janë të papranueshme. Ai i përshkroi kërcënimet si "shantazh".
BELGRADE, Serbia -- The UN Security Council (UNSC) fact-finding mission held talks on Thursday (April 26th) with Serbian officials about the Kosovo status issue. Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica spelled out Belgrade's proposal for supervised autonomy within Serbia. Afterwards, the head of the UNSC mission, Belgian Ambassador to the UN Johan Verbeke, said that while the Serbian officials expressed readiness to resolve the Kosovo issue, both Kostunica and President Boris Tadic continued to rule out Kosovo's independence and the plan proposed by UN envoy Martti Ahtisaari.
Also Thursday, more than 10,000 Serb refugees gathered at the administrative border between central Serbia and Kosovo to show their desire to return to Kosovo. Verbeke said the Security Council mission would not visit the rally because of time constraints and logistical issues. The mission heads to Pristina on Friday, where it is scheduled to meet with Kosovo authorities, representatives of the international community and ethnic Serbs. (Blic, Danas, Politika - 27/04/07; Beta, Tanjug, B92, RIA Novosti, UPI, RFE, RTK, Telegrafi, AP, Reuters, UPI - 26/04/07)
Serbs and Albanians Compete for UN Mission's Favour
Belgrade and Pristina both insist that the UN visit to Kosovo will bolster their own - mutually exclusive - causes.
By Krenar Gashi in Pristina
Kosovo and Serbia are taking radically different approaches to the fact-finding mission that the UN Security Council is sending to the region on April 26 and 27.
While Kosovo Albanians insist the mission will further the UN proposal for "supervised" independence, Serbian politicians maintain it will stop the process and bolster their calls for fresh negotiations.
The visit, made at the prompting of Serbia's ally, Russia, will involve the delegation spending three days in Kosovo and Serbia, gathering first-hand information, followed by a day of consultations with NATO and EU representatives in Brussels,
Vojislav Kostunica, Serbia's prime minister, on April 23 predicted the visit would start "a totally new round on the resolution of province's status".
He said it would result in the abandonment of the plan for Kosovo's final status drawn up by the UN envoy, Martti Ahtisaari, which Serbia strongly opposes.
According to Kostunica, "the Russian initiative for a comprehensive evaluation of the 'standards for Kosovo' is a real basis for a new negotiating process".
The Serbian leader was referring to an eight-point policy drawn up by the UN administration in Kosovo, UNMIK, to evaluate Kosovo's progress towards self-government. Its main points concern progress in the rule of law, economic development and the return of the refugees.
While Serbian leaders have hailed the three-day visit as the first step towards revision of the UN plan for Kosovo, local leaders moved to quash talk of new negotiations.
"There will not be any new negotiations on Kosovo's status," said
Agim Ceku, Kosovo's Prime Minister, last week.
Ulpiana Lama, spokeswoman for the Kosovo government, told Balkan Insight the visit would confirm that the ongoing process was the right one and that "the status quo in Kosovo cannot hold any longer".
Kosovo Serb refugees now living in Serbia have announced they will stage a protest during the visit near the Jarine crossing point between Kosovo and Serbia to make the point that they cannot return safely to Kosovo.
Many Serbs fled the province in 1999 when NATO's air war forced the Serbian authorities withdraw.
Negotiations on Kosovo's final status in Vienna failed to reach any agreement, after which the UN asked Ahtisaari to draw up his own proposal. This has recommended "independence supervised by the international community".
The proposal has the support of the US, Britain and most European Union countries but Russia has consistently opposed it. As Russia is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, it can veto the UN plan.
Serb representatives have said the announced protests by refugees will show the UN's eight "standards" in Kosovo have not been fulfilled, especially those concerning refugee returns.
But Avni Arifi, of the Kosovo prime minister's office, who coordinates implementation of the standards, said the real aim was to create dramatic-looking propaganda concerning the allegedly slow rate of returns.
"The truth is that Kosovo's government has spent a lot of effort and money in the returns process," he told Balkan Insight. "This truth will be revealed to the UN delegation."
Oliver Ivanovic, a moderate Serbian leader in Kosovo, also sounded a doubtful note about the value of protests.
"We don't need protests; we need a real return," he said. "The protests will draw attention but this is not the right way to waste our energy. Such energy should be used for people to return to Kosovo."
Sources have indicated that besides Pristina, the delegation will visit the divided town of Mitrovica, Novobrda, Brestovik and the Serbian Orthodox monastery at Decani.
They will meet Albanian and Serbian politicians, Serbian church leaders and representatives of foreign liaison offices in Kosovo.
Krenar Gashi is BIRN's Kosovo Editor. Balkan Insight is BIRN's online publication.
Kosovo factor delays formation of Serbian government
Parties reluctant to form a cabinet because no one wants to be in office when Kosovo gets independence.
By Aleksandar Vasovic in Belgrade
Three months after the last parliamentary election in Serbia, the country’s politicians have less than three weeks to form a new government or face new elections.
The delay is not solely attributable to struggles over power-sharing. The political leaders are also dragging their feet because no party wants to be in power if Serbia “loses” Kosovo, following a United Nations decision expected in the coming months.
On Tuesday, the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party ordered its local branches throughout the country to start preparing for another round of voting.
“A coalition of [outgoing Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica's] Democratic Party of Serbia with [the Democratic Party of President] Boris Tadic would lead Serbia right into the lap of those who are tearing Kosovo away from it, the European Union and the United States,” the party said in a statement.
“Elections at all levels are the best way to lead Serbia out of the crisis,” the statement added.
The party, led by the war crimes suspect, Vojislav Seselj, won most votes at the January 21 parliamentary election. But it did not win enough to rule alone, nor it could find a coalition partner.
Serbia has adamantly rejected the plan by the UN special envoy, Martti Ahtisaari, which envisions a form of internationally supervised independence for Kosovo.
Kostunica and his allies are now relying on Russia’s to veto the plan in the UN Security Council. But if Russia fails to torpedo the proposal, a future Serbian government might be obliged to implement its terms, infuriating Serbs who see Kosovo as their nation’s historic heartland.
“Kosovo is making a loud background noise and no one wants to form a government that would take responsibility for losing it,” James Lyon, a Belgrade-based analyst for the International Crisis Group, said.
Major Western powers, including the European Union and NATO members, are backing the Ahtisaari plan and saying more talks on Kosovo – which Serbia and Russia insist on – are useless.
But they are concerned that if Tadic and Kostunica do not form a pro-Western coalition and Kosovo gains its independence in the meantime, a new parliamentary election could produce bring the hardline Radicals to power.
“Parties from the so-called democratic bloc must realize that they have an obligation to keep Serbia on a pro-European track,” a Belgrade-based Western diplomat said.
“Kosovo is a story that is approaching the end one way or another and Serbian politicians should for once start caring about people’s welfare and not about power struggles,” the same diplomat added.
If no coalition wins the support of at least 126 deputies in the 250-seat parliament by May 14, President Tadic will be obliged to call new elections, Slobodan Vucetic, a former chief justice of the Constitutional Court, said.
Serbia also does not have a functioning parliament as the parties have not been able to agree on the appointment of a speaker or heads of committees.
If new elections are called after May 14, Kostunica’s caretaker cabinet could remain in power until mid-November, however, owing to the length of the deadlines set by the election law.
“Kostunica is not in a hurry. Why should he want to leave power when he can rule alone and does not have to be accountable to anyone,” Lyon asked.
In the meantime, the media is reporting that pro-democratic politicians are, in fact, hammering out a coalition deal following an allegedly secret meeting between Kostunica, Tadic and the former finance minister, Mladjan Dinkic.
“I believe they will ultimately form a government because it is in their mutual political interest; this is just wrangling over power sharing,” Nebojsa Spaic, of the Belgrade-based Spaic & Farmer think tank, said.
But Spaic agreed the long delay could also be attributed to politicians’ unwillingness to shoulder the burden of implementing a UN resolution on Kosovo’s independence. “Kosovo is a factor,” he said.
In last Sunday’s pro-government daily Politika, columnist Bosko Jaksic predicted that this reluctance to form a cabinet and take responsibility for the Kosovo issue could lead voters to swing towards the Radicals’ nationalist agenda.
“I greatly doubt our politicians’ sense of responsibility and cannot help but wonder why we now have no government, as the Kosovo issue goes into full swing,” Jaksic wrote.
Aleksandar Vasovic is BIRN Serbia editor. Balkan Insight is BIRN`s online publication.
BRUSSELS, Belgium -- US Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried told the Reuters news agency Saturday (April 28th) that the UN Security Council would start drafting a new resolution on Kosovo -- based on the Ahtisaari plan -- after the return of the UN fact-finding mission to New York. He added that the United States expects Russia to approach the issue constructively.
"We hope that Russia understands that Kosovo is going to be independent one way or another," said Fried, who was attending a forum in Brussels. "It will either be done in a controlled, supervised way that provides for the well-being of the Serbian people, or it will take place in an uncontrolled way and the Kosovo Serbs will suffer the most, which would be terrible."
He also said the EU would be divided over recognising an independent Kosovo if the ethnic Albanian majority declared independence without a Security Council resolution. "A divided Europe is a bad thing in general and a terrible thing in this particular case," the US diplomat said. (The New York Times, Reuters, DPA, B92, Tanjug, RTS, Blic - 28/04/07; KosovaLive - 27/04/07)
Its nice to see al teh attention Albanias are getting, and there will be more to come once independence is achieved..
Belgrade, Serbia - The argument of power, witch USA demonstrate on the whole wide world, shouldn't solve the problems on Kosovo. At contrary! This will ruin the UN principal of independent and integrity of each states on the planet. That is what Russian president defend!
Serbian government isn't stupid. It realized that hasn't power on that area, and will never get any more. That is the result of too much democracy on Kosovo which Tito establish 50 years before. But try to disconnecting a single state from USA (like Granada) and you will be victim of USA tolerance of the same problem.
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