Balkans: Partition for Peace


August 16, 2007: A new round of "final status" negotiations may consider partition of Kosovo. Partition is an idea the original UN plan rejected as unworkable. Russia believes that if Kosovo is given its independence every "ethnic region" in the Balkans and Eastern Europe will use it as a precedent. That's the Russian "domino theory." Russia is once again suggesting that "partition" is the best solution for Kosovo. Russian diplomats admit that drawing a border will be difficult, but predominantly Serb villages and neighborhoods should be allowed to join Serbia. Orthodox Christian monasteries should also be placed inside Serbia. The problem with this solution is that there are "non-contiguous" Serbian villages in Kosovo. Partition could lead to a "domino theory" of its own, with various ethnic groups demanding they be included in a neighboring state. Hungarians in Serbia's Vojvodina region might want to unite with Hungary. Some ethnic Albanian Macedonians living near the Albania-Macedonia border have already said they want to become part of Albania. What happens to Croats and Serbs in Bosnia?

August 10, 2007: The Serbian government beefed up its military and police presence in the Presevo Valley (south Serbia). The increase in security forces came after a "series of shootings" and vehicle hijackings in the area.

August 9, 2007: Turkey guards its rights over the Turkish Straits (Dardanelles and Bosporous) very seriously. The Montreux Convention of 1936 says that transiting naval vessels must give Turkey 15 days advance notice before passing through the Straits. But enforcing that restriction on…Ireland? Yes, that's what the Turks did. The Irish off-shore patrol vessel LE Aoife was denied passage because the Irish government failed to give Turkey appropriate notice.

August 7, 2007: The government of Kosovo said that there have been 52 attacks on "cultural heritage sites" in Kosovo. This usually means mosques or churches.

August 3, 2007: Serbia set some conditions for any future negotiations over Kosovo's "final status." Serbia wants the talks to be "face to face" with Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leadership (ie, not through the UN). Serbia also wants the talks to be "open ended." Serbia has argued that the "UN proposal" was really a "predetermined result" (ie, Kosovo independence). The UN and the EU are against "open ended talks," regarding that demand as a recipe for no resolution. The UN has asked for a recommendation by December 2007.

July 30, 2007: The Hungarian government said that it may go ahead and recognize Kosovo's independence from Serbia no matter what the UN decides. Hungary fears that failure to grant Kosovo independence will lead to a severe "security challenge" within the entire region.


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