Could Russia stop the UN from
permitting Kosovo to officially separate from Serbia? That's the big question
in behind the scenes diplomacy over Kosovo's "final status." Russia definitely
opposes independence. However, the UN
gave NATO permission to conduct peacekeeping operations in Kosovo in
1999. Russia did not veto that resolution. This leaves the door open for
maintaining a UN mandated NATO peacekeeping presence in Kosovo even if Kosovo
declares independence. This potential "diplomatic finesse" may provide the
framework for allowing international peacekeepers to remain in Kosovo. If
Serbia were to go to war with NATO peacekeepers deployed in Kosovo, that means
the fighting would immediately involve many western European nations and the
US. This could be a "backdoor firebreak" to stop renewed warfare.
December 7, 2007: Italy, Great Britain, Germany and
France believe that it is unlikely that Serbia and Kosovo will reach a mediated
agreement on Kosovo's final status. That's an admission that current talks have produced a stalemate. This carries
a lot of weight for several reasons. Obviously, the four nations are NATO
members and have significant military establishments. They have also been
deeply involved in trying to reach a negotiated agreement. Italy, Great
Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and the US composed the "Contact Group" that
came together to resolve the Kosovo crisis in the late 1990s.
Serbia's President Boris Tadic said that Serbia
would not go to war over Kosovo. Tadic was quoted as telling Serbian media that
"Any war and violence most certainly jeopardize any possibility that
Kosovo would ever remain in Serbia
" In other words, the Serbian government is
saying that going to war over Kosovo would start a war which Serbia would lose.
It's a fair bet that the statement is directed at the people of Serbia.
December 4, 2007: The government of Croatia is
accusing the government of Serbia of trying to strengthen the Republika Srpska
at the expense of the federal Bosnian government. Croats fear that Serbia
intends to incorporate the Republika Srpska into Serbia if Kosovo becomes
Spain took over command of the European Union's
EUFOR peacekeeping force in Bosnia. Spain has 580 troops in the force of 2,500 soldiers.
December 3, 2007: Hashim Thaci's Democratic Party
of Kosova (PDK), won 34.3 percent of the vote in Kosovo's parliamentary
elections, giving it 37 seats of 120
seats. The Democratic League of Kosova (LDK), came in second with 22 percent of
the vote (which will probably translate into 25 seats). The New Kosovo Alliance
(AKR) took the third largest percentage, 12 percent (probably 13 seats). The
PDK and AKR will probably form a coalition. Most Kosovar Serbs boycotted the
December 1, 2007: A recent poll showed that 77
percent of Bosnian Serbs living in the Republika Srpska support "secession from
November 26, 2007: A Russian representative at the
Kosovo-Serbia "final status" talks told Serbian media that an independent
Kosovo could lay the groundwork for "a Greater Albania." Among Slavs
especially Serbian Slavs-- this is a huge threat. It is arguable that as
Yugoslavia fell apart, an attempt to create a Greater Serbia (by Slobodan
Milosevic) kicked off the Balkan war of the 1990s. Formation of a Greater
Albania could kick off the Balkan wars of the 2010s. What is Greater Albania?
It would be a country formed from ethnic Albanian regions in Montenegro, Serbia,
Kosovo, and Macedonia. It could include claims on parts of Greece.
Montenegro will allows NATO military forces to
transit Montenegrin territory (air, sea, and land). This will allow NATO to
quickly reinforce peacekeeping forces in Kosovo. Montenegro wants to join NATO
and this decision is another indication that the Montenegrin government has
"chosen Europe." Montenegro's official position on Kosovar independence is
neutrality, but Serbians think allowing NATO and European Union military forces
free transit of Montenegrin territory isn't a "neutral position." And they are
Serbia has sent another 700 troops to southern
Serbia. This is because of growing
unrest there. For example, the Serb militia, "St Tsar Lazar Guard",
called on Serbia's parliament to "go to war" if Kosovo becomes independent. The
St Tsar Lazar Guard has threatened to cross the border into Kosovo on its own.
The militia claims it has 5000 members. The militia is named after the Serbian
king who died at the battle of Kosovo.
Macedonia continues to have problems with its
Albanian minority. Recently, police found a cache of 18 rocket launchers
(likely RPG launchers) in the village of Prsce (northern Macedonia). The
village is in a predominantly ethnic Albanian area.