15-12-07

Why is the West pushing for Kosovo's independence

RIA Novosti political commentator Ivan Zakharchenko

The EU leaders met in Brussels on December 14 to demand recognition for the self-proclaimed independence of Kosovo, a 90% Albanian province in the south of former Yugoslavia.

The proposed ruling runs contrary to the UN Security Council's resolution confirming the borders of Serbia, the legal successor of Yugoslavia, and to Serbian and Russian protests. Moreover, there is no unity on the issue among the 27 countries of the European Union.

The situation in Kosovo is almost as dramatic as in the Middle East. The five-month talks to find a scenario that will suit all parties and Russia's diplomatic efforts to keep the dialogue going have failed. More than 100,000 Kosovo Serbs are seriously concerned over their future and Serbia will most likely act in their defense.

Catalonians and Basques in Spain and France, Albanians in Macedonia, the Irish and Scots in Britain, the Flemish in Belgium and separatists in other countries are closely watching Kosovo's attempts to gain independence.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told his European colleagues in Brussels early this week that Kosovo's secession would violate international law and provoke a chain reaction of secessions in other regions.

But the EU has closed its eyes to all of the above in its desire to help the Kosovars.

Viktor Mironenko, head of the EU and Eastern Europe Center at the Moscow-based Institute of Europe, sees this as an attempt to save face, because the West has supported everything that has taken place in Kosovo and is partly to blame for the current situation.

"The West can get out of this deadlock only if a semblance of stability is maintained in the province, which offers a very short list of options," Mironenko said.

Mironenko believes that the Albanian-Serb dialogue can continue forever, and new conflicts can flare up between them any day. Europe possibly hopes to avoid this by recognizing Kosovo's independence. Russia, which has decided to firmly back the Serbs, cannot do anything in this situation, he said.

Vladimir Gutnik, head of European studies at Moscow's Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO), said another reason for the Western readiness to recognize Kosovo's independence is that the Serbs, unlike the Albanians, have never played by the EU rules.

"It would be strategically better for the EU to have subordinated Albania and Kosovo and a weakened Serbia," Gutnik said.

In short, the West sees no viable option other than recognizing Kosovo's independence, even if under the EU supervision. It wants to turn the tide now and see what happens next.

Cyprus is the only EU country that is against Kosovo's independence, which makes sense since it has been divided into the Greek and Turkish parts since 1974. The recognition of Kosovo's independence might give unnecessary ideas to Turkish Cypriots, whose self-proclaimed republic has been recognized only by Turkey.

Greece and several other European countries are not in a hurry to recognize Kosovo's independence, saying that a compromise between Albanians and Serbs is possible with the mediation of Russia, the United States and the EU.

Kosovars have already started talks with EU countries to recognize their independence in early 2008. But Kosovo as an independent state is unlikely to become a UN member soon, because Russia is likely to use its veto right.

The main task for the EU will be to ensure safety in Kosovo, in particular for the remaining Serbs, and prevent new bloodshed. The West admits that sporadic violence is possible in the province, and plans to maintain law and order with the help of 16,000 NATO occupation troops deployed in Kosovo and 1,800 EU policemen to be dispatched there.

Independent Kosovo will need major financial injections to revive its economy. So far, nobody can determine how much it will need and for how long, although everyone agrees that stability cannot be restored in Kosovo without an economic resurgence.

Kosovo's independence can provoke a major crisis, if not a new Balkan war. To save face, Europe will have to do its utmost to untie the Kosovo knot, even if Kosovo's independence is officially recognized.

16:34 Gepost door Kris Roman in Kosovo en Metohiya | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |

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