Monday, May 7, 2007

Paramilitary Serbs Form Militia to Save Kosovo

A paramilitary group in Serbia has formed a militia called "Guard of Tzar Lazar" over the weekend in an effort to "save Kosovo" from becoming independent.  A swearing-in ceremony was held in Krusevac but several members of the militia were arrested by Serbian Secret Service.  The leader of the new militia, Zeljko Vasiljevic, said that there are approximately 5000 members willing to join the militia and that "those who have been through previous wars would like to shoulder the burden of Kosovo".

Details have emerged that over the weekend an international working under UNMIK was robbed and beaten in a public park in Pristina.  The staff member is in stable condition in the French KFOR hospital.  There isn't much information available yet but it is an interesting case as this is really the first serious mugging of an international that I have heard about.  There have been other cases where bags were snatched and consquently a person was injured from the force of the bag being torn away but this weekend's case is something new.

The fact-finding mission to Kosovo by members of the Security Council reportedly "undermines quick independence plan".  Countries such as Indonesia, China, South Africa, Congo, and Ghana in addition to Russia will likely give support to continuing talks between Serbian and Kosovo Albanian authorities.  However, Kosovo PM Agim Ceku is still making statements that Kosovo will be independent within a few weeks making many think that the Albanian government is preparing to unilaterally declare independence and seek recognition from countries that have been pushing to adopt Ahtisaari's plan.  US officials have already stated many times that the US will recognize Kosovo if it does declare independence unilaterally bringing questions about the strength of the Albanian lobby groups in Kosovo and contributions made to US politicians.  But Germany has stated that it is opposed to any declarations of independence as long as the issue remains with the Security Council.

Serb politicians failed to form a coalition over the weekend leading many to believe that there will be a shift towards nationalism.  No party gathered enough seats to have a majority without forming a coalition and the more pro-Western parties so far have failed to reach an agreement.  Right now, the "radicals" hold 81 seats while acting President Tadic's party holds 64 and former PM Kostunica has 47 seats.  Following the ousting of Milosevic, Kostunica was the politician greatly supported by the West but over time he has been coming closer to what the West has labeled "radical" in his views on Kosovo and EU ascension.

In the news, an article titled "The Coming Chaos in Kosovo" takes a look at what Kosovo might become if independent -- a crime-ridden mafia-controlled thug state.  While in "On a Blue Note in Kosovo" Time takes a look at the current ethnic tensions in Mitrovica.  Christian Science Monitor published an opinion commentary stating that partition is a better plan for Kosovo that what Ahtisaari proposed based on international law.  In the National Interest an article argues that Kosovo needs multilateral approach and warns that the US' support for unilateral independence can cause serious problems in US foreign relations.