Kosovo’s Illegal “Declaration of Independence” and U.S. Recognition Trigger Destabilization, Threat of Violence

Published on April 7, 2008, American Council for Kosovo

Category: News from the American Council for Kosovo

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Editorial Comment from the American Council for Kosovo – Following the Bush Administration's ill-advised decision to recognize an illegal and invalid “declaration of independence” by Albanian Muslims in the Serbian province of Kosovo and Metohija, the results of a policy designed to bring “stability” and “democracy” to the region already are painfully clear. Far from settling the status of Kosovo or stabilizing the western Balkans, the decision of the U.S. and some of our allies to circumvent the UN Security Council and extend recognition has made a bad situation worse. A global competition has been opened up between recognizing and non-recognizing states, with countries constituting the large majority of the world’s population either hesitant to follow the U.S. lead or refusing outright. Violent separatist groups around the world already are citing Kosovo as validation of their aspirations. Protection of the territorial integrity of sovereign states enshrined in the UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act, and other international commitments binding on the United States has been shattered. An already strained U.S-Russia relationship has been further aggravated. U.S. and European Union relations with Serbia, the key country in the region, have been set back. Fears of renewed conflict and a human rights and religious freedom nightmare in Kosovo are increasing.

The critical “red lines” on the ground today in Kosovo are whether the Bush Administration will attempt to force Kosovo’s Serbs to submit to the will of the illegitimate “authorities” in Pristina and the European Union’s oxymoronically named “rule of law” mission, or try to enforce a “border” between Kosovo and the rest of Serbia. Serbia will not accept any such unlawful and aggressive actions, and Kosovo Serbs will vote in their country’s May 11 election. Russian assistance to Serbs in Kosovo is beginning to flow without approval from the criminal and terrorist Albanian administration in Pristina. Meanwhile, President Bush’s March 19 presidential determination to extend American military assistance to the Albanian administration in Pristina sends the most ominous signal that Washington intends to throw further oil on the smoldering fire. Recently the Serbian Minister for Kosovo, Slobodan Samardzic, proposed that mainly Serbian-inhabited areas of the province should remain under UN administration in functional separation from the Albanian-dominated areas. This is because Serbia is still willing to work with the legitimate authority present in Kosovo under Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999), despite the flagrant violation of the Resolution by Washington and other recognizing states, by the EU, and by the separatist Albanian Muslim pseudo-government. Even UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has admitted that “The declaration of independence and subsequent events in Kosovo have posed significant challenges to the ability of UNMIK [i.e., the UN authority in the province] to exercise its administrative authority in Kosovo. To address these challenges, UNMIK, guided by the imperative need to ensure peace and security in Kosovo, has acted, and will continue to act, in a realistic and practical manner and in the light of the evolving circumstances.” This of course is just the practical and realistic opportunity Serbia is offering the UN, which so far has given no final answer but says it is willing to discuss the Serbian proposal. However, failure to seize that opportunity would be tantamount to the UN’s giving up its role in Kosovo, leaving Belgrade with no choice but to restore direct administration over Kosovo’s Serbs.

Predictably, the Serbian proposal was labeled an attempt to “partition” Kosovo. No one familiar with the specifics of Minister Samardzic’s proposal could come honestly to that conclusion. Serbia consistently has been and remains clear: not one hectare of Serbian land may be torn away. Having demanded a partition of Serbia by claiming to have detached Kosovo, attempts of further partition -- over Belgrade’s objections -- may be evidence of ulterior motives with global application. For example, with reference to recent events in Tibet, one noted cheerleader for an independent Kosovo has observed:

“India, anxious to keep the torturers of Tiananmen Square happy, had arrested and beaten Tibetan demonstrators, and Nepal had surrendered to a Chinese demand to close its border and prevent protestors from heading to Mount Everest for a pro-Tibetan action. . . . Over the weekend of March 16 and in the week that followed, Lhasa and other places would still be defying Chinese ‘order,’ and stone-throwing Tibetans would repeatedly be answered with rifle fire. Kosovo and Tibet, on the front lines between liberty and tyranny, make the case for a new international League of Democracies, from which Russia and China would perforce be excluded.”

Not to comment on the justice of the Tibetans’ cause or the appropriateness of China’s response, this kind of rhetoric can only be seen as a positive incentive for violence as the preferred instrument for changing borders. India, China, Russia, Nepal, Burma -- a fuse should be lit for the explosion of how many other countries? Who decides which state should be next on the chopping block? Indonesia? Sri Lanka? Israel? Cyprus? Spain? Georgia? Thailand? Please take a number and get in line.

James George Jatras
Director, American Council for Kosovo

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