PRESS RELEASE CONTACT: Matthew Mullock
Washington, D.C. – In light of the upcoming G8 Summit in Heiligendamm, Germany, Institute on Religion and Public Policy President Joseph K. Grieboski has sent letters to four critical players – George W. Bush, Angela Merkel, Vladimir Putin and Tony Blair – in the looming debate about the future of the once war-torn Serbian province of Kosovo. Grieboski’s alternative to conventional binary solutions – protected Serbian sovereignty vs. Kosovan self-determination – comes at a critical juncture in the ongoing diplomatic tug-of-war, as Moscow threatens to veto the newly softened draft resolution granting Kosovo an independent status.
On February 2, 2007, following extensive dialogues with Albanian and Serbian parties, United Nations Special Envoy on Kosovo, Mr. Marrti Ahtisaari, presented his Comprehensive Proposal that would eventually grant internationally supervised independence to Kosovo in all but name, guaranteeing the region its own national symbols (including flag and anthem) and the right to join international organizations. The quasi-independent Kosovo entity described by Mr. Ahtisaari would be supervised for an interim period by an international envoy mandated by the UN and European Union with power to intervene in the government. Further, it would retain NATO and EU forces in military and policing roles to protect the non-Albanian communities – the Serbs in particular – which would have a guaranteed role in government, police and civil service. Also laid out are protections for Serbian Orthodox Church sites and the Serbian language.
Soundly endorsed by British and American authorities, as well as by the EU, the proposal has provoked widespread pessimism in Belgrade. Employing a legal critique, Serbian officials assert that the plan is a grave violation of the UN Charter itself, which affirms the territorial integrity, inviolability, sovereignty and national unity of states. Not only does the Ahtisaari plan shatter that principle, it further violates the Helsinki Final Act of 1975 and the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1244, which also make clear that Kosovo is part of Serbia.
As Grieboski delineates in his correspondence with Western politicians, the challenge of balancing legitimate Serbian sovereignty and the desire of Kosovo Albanians for self-government is not insurmountable. A reconcilable alternative can be one similar to the status of Puerto Rico within the United States: full internal autonomy as a self-governing commonwealth within the sovereign territory of the United States. Under such an arrangement, Kosovo’s Albanians could and must have active representation in the National Assembly in Belgrade in order to advance their rights and interests, protected by a Kosovo militia, comparable to the National Guard in Puerto Rico, that is willing and able to train and serve side-by-side in the Serbian national army and air force.
Imploring G8 members to entertain this third position as a point of departure for future negotiation, Grieboski acknowledges that while the situations of Puerto Rico and Kosovo are not perfectly aligned, the former region’s model of governance could very well provide the international community with its long-awaited break-through on the unresolved Kosovo’s status, thereby embodying, according to Grieboski, "a legitimate solution for the future of Kosovo."