My country, Kosovo, is being asked to make an impossible choice that would cheapen the sacrifice made by U.S. soldiers, undermine the stability of the region and threaten America’s allies. In the face of sustained attack from Serbia meant to undermine our sovereignty, security and prosperity, there are some who would like Kosovo to engage in so-called “peaceful” ethnic cleansing in the Balkans. This is a shortsighted attempt to give in to a bully in the hope that the bullying will stop. We will not do this — we will instead stand up against those who would seek to take advantage of us, while simultaneously working toward a long-lasting and comprehensive peace.… Seguir leyendo »
Para estados jóvenes sin reconocimiento universal como Kosovo, participar en organizaciones, conferencias o competiciones deportivas internacionales mostrando al mundo sus enseñas nacionales es vital para su consolidación como actores soberanos. Aunque oficialmente el olimpismo pretenda "hacer un mundo mejor y más pacífico educando a los jóvenes con el deporte sin discriminación de ningún tipo en un espíritu de amistad y juego limpio", siempre ha sido la pasarela ideal para exhibir orgullo nacional y patriotismo, con frecuencia incompatibles con la proclamada solidaridad sin fronteras.
Sin llegar al extremo de George Orwell, que veía en el deporte internacional "guerras sin tiros", la obsesión por conquistar medallas y enarbolar banderas lo aproxima mucho al mundo bélico por la obsesiva búsqueda de unidad contra el enemigo hasta la victoria.… Seguir leyendo »
Serbia and Kosovo have been talking about a grand bargain to defuse lingering ethnic conflicts. Critics have been quick to weigh in. Some argue that the risks are simply too substantial for the international community to entertain the idea of “border adjustments,” or territorial exchanges, involving Serb-populated territories in northern Kosovo and Albanian-populated territories in southern Serbia, which is being subtly pushed by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and his Kosovar counterpart, Hashim Thaci.
The crux of the critics’ argument rests on the potential for spillover throughout the Balkans. If Belgrade and Pristina exchange territory, this will show Croats and Serbs in Bosnia that they, too, can find a way to secede and join their ethnic kin in Croatia and Serbia, breaking up Bosnia in the process.… Seguir leyendo »
The leaders of Serbia and Kosovo are planning to swap territory. They say it will ease ethnic tensions and contribute to stability in the western Balkans. Some commentators and politicians think it is a great idea.
Don’t bet on it. The proposals present enormous risks — not only for the countries themselves but also for the broader region. Indeed, they could set an ominous precedent for leaders who harbor separatist ambitions.
What Kosovo President Hashim Thaci refers to as a “border adjustment” could easily prompt nationalists in this part of Europe to demand similar changes. It could offer destructive inspiration to Croatia, Albania, Bosnia and Macedonia, where nationalist movements and some of the leaders yearn to have their own ethnically homogeneous countries.… Seguir leyendo »
Veinte años después del final de la guerra, cuarenta años después del comienzo del conflicto, serbios y albaneses kosovares están por fin negociando. Y parece que esta vez las negociaciones van por buena vía y que existen esperanzas fundadas de que las partes lleguen a un acuerdo basado en el reconocimiento serbio de la independencia de Kósovo, acompañado, quizá, por una corrección de fronteras en busca la máxima homogeneidad étnica de los dos estados.
Y no es tan raro como a primera vista parece. Hay, desde luego, conflictos que terminan con la victoria total de una parte y el aplastamiento de la otra, pero es mucho más frecuente que los conflictos concluyan con algún tipo de negociación.… Seguir leyendo »
Discussions between Serbia and Kosovo about the possibility of agreeing on border adjustments to settle a solution to the current frozen situation will be ephemeral, a short-lived romance. Not because the presidents of both countries could not finally agree on a deal, but because Europeans suspect the return of ‘Balkan ghosts’. The proposal discomforts the European Union and its member states. International leaders and analysts have already demonised this option, condemned their consequences and warned that another tragedy might befall Balkan people.
The weekend of September 8 and 9, Serbia’s president, Aleksandar Vučić, made a trip to Kosovo. On Saturday, he visited the Gazivode Lake – located in the majority-Serb northwest region, which is strategic for the supply of water and electricity.… Seguir leyendo »
Last month, national security adviser John Bolton said the United States “would not stand in the way” of a land swap deal between Serbia and Kosovo. Recent reports suggest the two countries are close to an agreement that would resolve one of Europe’s most challenging political standoffs since the end of the Cold War.
The plan would redraw the Serbia-Kosovo partition to allow a Serbian-speaking territory in Kosovo’s north to join Serbia, while an Albanian-speaking region in Serbia’s south would join Kosovo. The stakes are high: Resolving this impasse probably would pave the way for Kosovo to gain a seat at the United Nations.… Seguir leyendo »
Tensions have been on the rise again between Serbia and Kosovo, prompting European Union High Representative for Foreign Policy Federica Mogherini to visit the Western Balkans last week.
Her visit was timely: on March 2, a French court postponed the extradition of former prime minister of Kosovo, Ramush Haradinaj. He was arrested in France in January 2017 on an Interpol warrant issued by Serbia regarding war crimes committed during the Kosovo war (1998-1999).
These recent events have reopened the issue war crimes and the people who committed them – few of whom were ever prosecuted – on both sides.The Kosovo War
From March to June 1999, NATO intervened in Kosovo and Serbia with air strikes to stop the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo’s Albanian population by the Serbs.… Seguir leyendo »
After months of talks mediated by the European Union, Serbia and Kosovo signed an agreement last month to resolve disputes dating from the 1990s, when Kosovo, a former province of Yugoslavia, effectively won independence following a Western-led military intervention.
But the deal won’t reconcile the two Balkan nations or help them gain admission to the European Union. To make matters worse, the two nations said this week that they could not agree on a timetable for implementing the agreement.
This setback is nothing on the scale of Balkan massacres in the 1990s, but it represents a continued failure to put the region’s troubled past behind it through integration with the rest of Europe.… Seguir leyendo »
Hoy, 17 de febrero, se cumplen dos años de la declaración unilateral de independencia de la antigua provincia serbia de Kosovo. Dos años después, España sigue en sus trece y se niega a reconocer esa independencia, contra el parecer de 22 Estados miembros de la Unión Europea, incluidos Alemania, Francia, Italia y Reino Unido.
La diferencia respecto a 2008 es que ahora España ostenta la presidencia semestral de la Unión, justo cuando el Tratado de Lisboa, como recordaba la baronesa Ashton en su examen ante el Parlamento Europeo, nos brinda la oportunidad de darle una voz "más unificada".
El pasado mes de diciembre, el ministro de Asuntos Exteriores, Miguel Ángel Moratinos, prometió "neutralidad" en la cuestión de Kosovo durante la presidencia española.… Seguir leyendo »
Tras nueve días de audiencias públicas en la Corte Internacional de Justicia (CIJ), el pasado 11 de diciembre se cerró la vista oral del asunto sobre la legalidad de la declaración unilateral de independencia de Kosovo de febrero de 2008. La petición de dictamen fue planteada, en octubre de 2008, por la Asamblea General de la ONU a la Corte en estos términos: «¿Se ajusta al derecho internacional la declaración unilateral de independencia formulada por las instituciones provisionales de autogobierno de Kosovo?».Tenía serias dudas el órgano de representación democrática de la ONU sobre la conformidad de esa Declaración con la Resolución 1244 de 1999 del Consejo de Seguridad que estableció un régimen de administración internacional y unas instituciones provisionales en el pleno respeto a la integridad territorial de Serbia.… Seguir leyendo »
Unos días después de la proclamación unilateral de la independencia de Kosovo y su prematuro reconocimiento por parte de la comunidad internacional, en estas mismas páginas escribí: «El precedente que hizo la UE con la proclamación y reconocimiento es altamente contagioso, y en este sentido nos esperan tiempos interesantes». ¿Ha cambiado algo desde entonces? La comunidad internacional aún está dividida: 63 países han reconocido la independencia y 39, entre ellos España, la han rechazado. Los expertos en derecho internacional aún alertan de la peligrosidad del precedente. Los kosovares están dispuestos a defender con su sangre su independencia, y los serbios, con igual entusiasmo, la soberanía del «corazón de su Estado».… Seguir leyendo »
As not everybody now remembers, the wars of Yugoslavia began not in Bosnia, not in Croatia, but in Kosovo. The chain of events that led to the Srebrenica massacre and the bombing of Belgrade started there, in the late 1980s, when Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic launched a series of repressive measures against this mostly Albanian, semi-independent, "autonomous province" within Serbia. These culminated in 1990, when Milosevic ended the semi-independence, revoked Kosovo's autonomy, installed a new police force, shut down Albanian newspapers, fired university professors, and generally inflicted economic and political chaos.
Milosevic's intention was to reassert Serbian and Orthodox dominance over Kosovo, the site of a historically significant battle between the Serbs and the Ottoman Empire in 1389 (the Serbs lost), and home to a genuinely substantial Serbian minority.… Seguir leyendo »
There seemed to be no immediate consequences when, in 1908, Austria annexed Bosnia-Herzegovina. Vienna was in clear violation of the 1878 Treaty of Berlin, which it had signed and kept Bosnia in Turkey, yet the protests of Russia and Serbia were in vain. The following year, the fait accompli was written into an amended treaty. Six years later, however, a Russian-backed Serbian gunman exacted revenge by assassinating the heir to the Austrian throne in Sarajevo in June 1914. The rest is history.
Parallels between Kosovo in 2008 and Bosnia in 1908 are relevant, but not only because, whatever legal trickery the west uses to override UN security council resolution 1244 - which kept Kosovo in Serbia - the proclamation of the new state will have incalculable long-term consequences: on secessionist movements from Belgium to the Black Sea via Bosnia, on relations with China and Russia, and on the international system as a whole.… Seguir leyendo »
A few days ago I was talking to a young woman in the Kosovan capital, Pristina. With independence in everyone's minds, I asked her how the city felt these days. "Good," she said. "We hope everything will be fine." The glum, demoralised cloud that had hung over the city had lifted. "Now people are smiling more. There is a sense of optimism and hope in the air," she said.
Her sense of hope - a hope without euphoria - in many ways captures what yesterday's declaration of independence is really about.
Whatever the pictures coming from Kosovo this week might suggest, this declaration of independence is not really about street celebrations and flag flying.… Seguir leyendo »
When Saddam Hussein forcibly annexed Iraq's "19th province" in 1990 - part of the former Ottoman province of Basra that had evolved under British guidance into the state of Kuwait - the world cried foul. Western countries noisily insisted that the sovereign integrity of the emirate's territory and borders was guaranteed by the UN charter.
Egged on by Margaret Thatcher, the then US president, George Bush Snr, drew his famous "line in the sand", setting in train the first Gulf war. The consequences are still being played out in Iraq today.
Less than 18 years later, these same self-appointed guardians of the international order are on the brink of turning their own argument on its head - by underwriting Kosovo's forcible secession from Serbia.… Seguir leyendo »
Far beyond the borders of Serbia a sickening form of revisionism has prevailed across the years among critics of Kosovo's desire for independence. Some of it is born from a smug desire for controversy. Much of it comes from ignorance. A part of it derives from racism: inscrutable, impoverished, Muslim, their language and culture unlike any other in Europe, Kosovo Albanians are an easy “white nigger” target for the self-satisfied elements of Western Europe's pseudo-political classes.
The argument of the critics of Kosovan independence rests on two bogus tenets of denial. First, they state that Serbia was not responsible for the widescale massacre of Albanian civilians between 1998 and 1999, and propose instead that Serb security fores were somehow tricked into killing thousands of innocents by the provocation of the Kosovo Liberation Army.… Seguir leyendo »
Some time in the next decade, two European countries will become members of the European Union. They will be called Serbia and Kosovo (or possibly Kosova, the spelling preferred by Kosovan Albanians). Chroniclers will note that one of these countries used to be part of the other. The Serbia that becomes a member of the European Union will be a rump Serbia, a shadow of its former self, like Austria after the first world war. This outcome will have been reached through a long vale of blood, sweat and tears. Over the next few weeks, as the issue of independence for Kosovo comes to the boil, we are certain to have more sweat and tears, but we can, with luck and good judgment on all sides, avoid the shedding of more blood.… Seguir leyendo »
At a most inopportune time, the Balkans are back. On Dec. 10, the U.S.-E.U.-Russian negotiating team tasked with getting the Serbs and Albanians to agree on Kosovo's future status will report to the United Nations that it has failed. A few weeks later Kosovo's government will proclaim that Kosovo is an independent nation -- a long overdue event.
The United States and most of the European Union (led by Britain, France and Germany) will recognize Kosovo quickly. Russia and its allies will not. Kosovo's eight-year run as the biggest-ever U.N. project will end with great tension and a threat of violence that could spread to Bosnia.… Seguir leyendo »
This one we can see coming. On December 10 the second round of so far abortive talks on Kosovan independence will expire, bringing to a crisis the unfinished last chapter of the west's 1990s "Balkanisation of the Balkans". In Brussels this week European ministers will make a final effort to forestall the decision of the newly elected Kosovan government to declare unilateral independence of Serbia. Since Serbia is equally determined not to grant it, irresistible force has met immovable object.
This is not a clash of tinpot dictators but one of democratic outcomes. Kosovo's independence is the clear wish of its electors, just as it is not the wish of Serbia's.… Seguir leyendo »