Friday, April 27, 2007

Fact Finding Mission Kicks Off

The new fact-finding mission kicked off yesterday in Belgrade.  The delegates from the Security Council arrived last night in Pristina for two days of consultations and visits to areas hit hard during the fighting.  Plans are for the delegation to visit Mala Krusha, the village where a UN convoy escorting two war crimes lawyers was attacked last year, and two Serbian villages that were destroyed in the March 2004 riots.  It seems that both sides will try to present the best "sob story" about the abuses suffered to highlight why Kosovo should or should not become independent.  As the delegation was visiting Belgrade, approximately 8,000 Serb IDPs (internally displaced persons) gathered at the Kosovo boundary north of Mitrovica and requested a meeting with the delegation.  Over night, the numbers dropped to around 4000 but as the delegation visits Mitrovica today, the numbers will probably climb again.
In Serbia, still no coalition government has been formed following the elections in January.  It has been suggested that lawmakers are hesitant to form a government as no one wants to take responsibility for "losing Kosovo" should it become independent.  Of course, the person who is ultimately responsible is Slobodan Milosevic but current politicians worry that if something happens on their watch, they will carry the blame.  If no government is formed by May 14th acting President Tadic is obligated to call for new elections.  Western leaders fear that if pro-Western leaders cannot form a coalition before then and elections are held, the more nationalistic parties will win a even larger percentage of the vote.

There was a conference in New York 12-15 April about the 120-day transitional period following approval of Ahtisaari's plan.  Speakers included Madeline Albright and Bill Clinton.  The conference titled "Developing a Strategy for Kosovo's First 120 Days" addressed the challenges that the Kosovo government will face in the transition period and the first years of independence.  So far, the government has been focused mainly on gaining independence not what to do after that goal is achieved.