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The main preconditions
for a sustainable solution
of the Kosovo conflicts

Kosovo Solution Series # 3


PressInfo # 211

 March 21, 2005


Aleksandar Mitic, TFF Associate & Jan Oberg, TFF director


Relevant background links for this series here.

In the first PressInfo of this series, we outlined four general criteria (a-d) for what it means to have solved a conflict.

To arrive at a sustainable solution in the concrete case of Kosovo, a minimum of professional principles and considerations are necessary. This PressInfo offers the following:

1. The solution has to be acceptable, optimally satisfactory, for all parties inside Kosovo and surrounding Kosovo. The idea that anyone can get or should be given all it wants must be given up at the outset.

2. No solution can be imposed, it must be negotiated by all relevant parties. To solve a conflict means that the parties voluntarily accept to live with a new order of things. Thus, any talk about deciding the final status outside a comprehensive negotiation structure - something that will invariably take time - should be avoided. Also, the process toward a solution should neither be influenced by one side's pressure or the other side's dragging its feet.

3. The same principles must be applied to the parties. If the international community respects the Albanian demand not to be ruled by Serbs/Belgrade, it must also respect that Kosovo-Serbs who do not wish to be ruled by Albanians/Pristina will not be exposed to such rule. Or, if it is accepted that Kosovo with its majority Albanian population can be partitioned from Serbia, a part of Kosovo with a majority Serb population can also be partitioned (this does not mean that it is an ideal solution, only that that solution cannot be a priori excluded, but must remain on the table). Or, if it is accepted that Kosovo is part of the historical Albanian state of Illyria and Albanian claims are valid because of that, it must also be accepted that it is the cradle of the Serb-Orthodox civilisation and that historical, religious and other important sites be protected and allowed to flourish. Finally, if Kosovo is assisted in achieving European or international standards, so must Serbia, and the international community itself must behave according to its own standards and not cut corners as it has done quote often in the past in this conflict.

4. The solution must take special care of the weakest parties - i.e. the minorities in Kosovo as well as Serbia's and Montenegro's interests as the weakest part and as loser of the war. A solution to Kosovo that rewards the stronger side will be nothing but a recipe for future historical grievances and a wish for revenge.

5. The solution must not imply collective punishment of civilians for what leaders have done. No nationality and no individuals who have committed no crimes must be victims of a solution because that solution is based on historical grievances or a wish for revenge by one or more parties or on third party political or economic interests.

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6. The solution must indisputably be consistent with international law and with the relevant Security Council Resolutions, 1244 in particular. A settlement for Kosovo should not be built on exceptionality and risk becoming a precedent for other, similar secessionist projects around the world.

7. The solution must address and be compatible with psycho-social healing. No solution will work if people continue to hate each other. Through the establishment, for instance, of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, various confidence-building and reconciliation measures, as well as peace and tolerance education the solution should seek to guarantee the prevention of future violence and offer possibilities for day-to-day co-operation and thereby over time promote a civil society concept in which ethnic identities play a less and less significant rôle.

8. A solution can not be based on - or forced through - with the argument that it is the only solution. In the name of democracy and to secure sustainability, the parties must be given choice. Thus, independent and impartial experts from different cultures should be invited to form a commission the task of which is to provide, say, 5 generalised models for possible solutions. Their work should present and build on experiences and best practises from similar conflict-resolution cases around the world. The point is to increase the space for creative but realistic conflict-resolution and stimulate broad debate in Kosovo, Serbia-Montenegro, in the region and in international organisations about viable models. Any solution called the only one by any party will not be a solution simply because it is never true - and not compatible with an ethos of democracy - that there is only one way of solving a problem.

9. Some kind of guarantor actor mechanism must be developed. It will be necessary to secure that the chosen model cannot be derailed by any party at any point. One could of course imagine some kind of continued (but different) UN, EU and OSCE presence but also something like Serbia-Montenegro, Albania and the EU as guarantor states in co-operation with Kosovo, somewhat similar to the 1960 Agreements about Cyprus.

10. A viable solution will have to rest on the principles that the final status of Kosovo is secondary to the essence or substance of the Kosovo society under development. The main issue is what kind of actor Kosovo will be for its citizens and its neighbours. The time of self-delusive policies such as the one stating that independence - or just remaining under Belgrade - will solve all essential problems belongs to the past. Issues of substance and quality ought to come before status in any negotiated solution. In short, without solutions to matters of substance - such as security, economic development, crime reduction, the right to safe return, reform of the educational system and the judiciary system, tolerant practising of identities for all, democratisation and human rights including gender rights and the right to work and express oneself freely and without fear - no legal status solution for Kosovo will be viable or happy for the people there or in the region.

11. Any solution will require that the international community lives up to its own responsibilities, not least UNSC Res 1244. It will have to be realistically prepared to remain seized of the matter in many and different ways in years, if not decades, to come.


The TFF Kosovo Solution Series

# 1
Why the solution in Kosovo matters to the world

# 2
The media - strategic considerations

# 3
The main preconditions for a sustainable solution to the Kosovo conflict

# 4
The situation as seen from Serbia

# 5
The arguments for quick and total independence are not credible

# 6
What must be Belgrade's minimum conditions and its media strategy

# 7
Nations and states, sovereignty and self-determination

# 8
Positive scenarios: Turn to the future, look at the broader perspectives

# 9
Many thinkable models for future Kosovo

# 10
Summary: From "Only one solution" towards democracy and peace


Relevant background links for this series.



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