ran out of time yesterday to finish my Kosovo News Update...so here's a little more news for my regular readers!
The anniversary of the 1389 Battle of Kosovo Polje will be celebrated tomorrow. The critical crossroads of the Balkans were located in Kosovo at that time. The Serbian forces of King Lazar met those of Sultan Murad in a clash that totaled approximately 40-70,000 men. Both leaders were killed, Lazar during the course of battle and Murad sometime after the battle. The details of exactly what happened in the battle are sketchy at best due to a lack of historical records but the Ottoman forces pushed back the Serbian forces. The defeat ushered in the 500 years of Ottoman rule in the Balkans although the forces eventually retreated from Kosovo, most likely due to the fact that the Sultan was killed and the new one had to return to be crowned.
BIRN features an article titled Moving Beyond Status and the author takes a look at policymakers in Kosovo who have been focusing essential on independence while delaying or ignoring rampant problems in Kosovo. As I have often said, once the status is resolved, Kosovo faces a continuing uphill battle in areas of social reforms, corruption, and improving the quality of life for the ordinary citizens.
Meanwhile the Serbian PM Kostunica has been warning that US-Serbia relations are deteriorating over the US support for Kosovo's independence. The US and Serbia re-established diplomatic relations in 2000 following the arrest of Milosevic and Kostunica is warning the US that if it wants to have good relations with Serbia, they need to "respect Serbia's territorial wholeness".
And article in Russia's RIA Novosti argues that a hasty decision on Kosovo's status would ulimately harm both Kosovo and the EU. The author explores the old issue of standards before status as well as looks into the accusations about Ahtisaari's objectivity.
Indonesia has proposed a solution to Kosovo's status. It is not know whether or not the proposal is so far just discussion or whether or not there is an actual resolution prepared on its basis. The proposal is that the UN develops a timeline for Kosovo independence without interfering with the sovereignty of Serbia. Because Indonesia is dealing with two separatist movements of its own, the country wants to ensure that the UN will not set a precedent for future conflicts. Indonesia has also suggested that the EU and NATO treat Kosovo the same as other ex-Yugoslavian countries and do not punish Serbia for rejecting Kosovo's independence. Instead, Serbia should be offered EU membership as an incentive according to the foreign minister.
The Serbian militia group Guard of Tsar Lazar (say that three-times fast!) is thought to be attending St. Vitus Day celebrations on 28 June which has caused KFOR and the UN to worry about escalating ethnic tensions. KFOR has stated that they are going to be carefully watching the celebrations and warned that no paramilitary groups would be tolerated.
The KLA and Guard seem to be destined for a clash as the Guard is said to have arrived yesterday in Gazimestan after a two-week march from Belgrade and the KLA is threatening to settle "accounts" with the group who they labeled "guard of criminals" and warned KFOR not to try to protect the Guard.
It is also rumored that the KLA and TMK are planning on lining the roadway as the buses of Serb celebrators travel to their enclaves. It seems to me that indicates nothing but aggression and intimidation but we will just have to see. Being that TMK is supposed to be a multi-ethnic organization, using common sense I would devise that they would not be permitted to engage in such acts but then as we often say, "common sense ain't so common anymore!"