Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Rhetoric Continues

Kosovo is all over the news lately with politicians exchanging barbs over Ahtisaari's plan and the push for independence.  Russian politicians are saying that negotiations need to continue and that the solution must be agreeable to Serbia.  The possibility that they will use the veto still exists but there is no guarantee that Russia will because there are still political gains to be made in former Soviet republics should Kosovo become independent. 
Beside the challenges from Serbia, the Turkish minority in Kosovo is also speaking up about Ahtisaari's plan stating that the plan borders on making Kosovo not multi-ethnic but bi-ethnic and that the rights of other minorities are being ignored in regards to language and education.

Western diplomats continue to stress the importance of quickly resolving the status question in Kosovo.  US Envoy for Kosovo, Frank Wisner, is quoted as saying that independence for Kosovo is advisable or else "Kosovo would burn and the victims will be the Serbs."  That doesn't really give much credence to the thought of an accepting multi-ethnic society.  Wisner continues to say that it is difficult to imagine Albanians returning to Serbian rule but actually no one has even suggested this.  Wisner should probably look up the definition of autonomy in the dictionary, for this is what Serbia has suggested.

Meanwhile, other countries are continuing to worry that independence for Kosovo would set a dangerous precedent for other conflicts around the world.  The EU has clearly stated that it would not use the Kosovo-model in frozen conflicts in former Soviet countries but that hasn't stopped officials in Azerbaijan from worrying about what will happen to their disputes.

Richard Holbrooke has been suggested by some that Russia will bear the responsibility should Kosovo return to violence because it blocks acceptance of the Ahtisaari plan in the Security Council and has suggested that if the Albanians do not gain independence, they will declare it unilaterally and countries such as the UN and other Muslim countries will recognize it as a state.  In a response to the editorial, Lev Dzugayev, goes through Holbrookes arguments and raises some new questions.

B92 takes a look at both arguments in an article titled "Moscow will be responsible".  One of the features that I quite like about B92 is that the allow users to post comments on the news stories...usually they slide quickly downhill into political discussions about the "illegal war" and "big bad Serbs" but sometimes there are insightful comments :)

Some fear that the conflicting views of Russia and the West will ignite a new European War so we have to wonder, just how important is Kosovo to the world and what does all this political maneuvering mean?  Ahtisaari is quoted as saying that if the EU cannot support a solution for Kosovo, as countries are split, that the EU "can forget about its role in international affairs".  Ahtisaari is also openly recommending Kosovo succession from Serbia stating that after "careful consideration" he has come to the conclusion that the only viable solution is for Kosovo to be independent.  Ahtisaari is reported to have made the comments in a four-page letter sent to UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon.

The Toronto Star published an article on the problems facing Kosovo from unemployment to the status, touching on the issues that keep hostility simmering.  The best parts of the article are those that touch on the economic problems that face Kosovo with its young but uneducated and unskilled work-force.  The education system is overwhelmed with too many students and with more than half of the population under the age of 25, there are tough times ahead should Kosovo become independent and find that it must stand on its own two feet (of course, we all know that the EU will help but there is only so much money one can throw at a problem.  The real solution is to work at fixing the problem rather than covering it with cash!)