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From "Only one solution"
democracy and peace

 Kosovo Solution Series # 10


PressInfo # 218

 April 7, 2005


Aleksandar Mitic, TFF Associate & Jan Oberg, TFF director


Kosovo is moving up again on the international agenda. The time to think about the framework, the alternatives and the consequences of the talks on the future status of Kosovo is now. Despite the highly unlikely possibility that Kosovo will be able to achieve in the next few months the key standards necessary to initiate the final status talks, it would be gullible to believe that these criteria will not be once again downsized, shrunk to fit the path to the status talks.

Pro-Albanian lobbyists such as the International Crisis Group, Richard Holbrooke and various US members of Congress argue that "independence is the only option." However, this option can also be seen as unjust, dangerous, archaic and anti-European. The option of an "independent Kosova" implies that one of the sides (the Kosovo Albanians) would achieve its maximalist goal and that the other side (Belgrade and the Kosovo Serbs) would leave a negotiation table with a complete defeat, ashamed, and unready to accept the imposed agreement. Full independence cannot be negotiated. It can only be imposed.

Conflict-analysis and -mitigation is about helping people in conflict findings a sustainable solution with as little violence as possible. The authors are not against independence if all the parties to the conflict will voluntarily accept such a solution and agree on its concrete modalities. We just don't believe that there is only one solution to a complex problem, and we believe that the only-one-solution argument is indicative of the fact that the international community is in trouble.

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The political body language of the international community in the 1990s, with the side-taking bombings and with its missions ever since has given the Albanian side all reason to believe that an independent state was possible and would be handed down to them if they behaved well ("standards"). Therefore, if the international community cannot deliver on that implicit promise soon, we are likely to see new serious turmoil in the Balkans. If so, he Albanians would certainly not be the only ones to blame.

An "independent Kosova" would set a dangerous precedent for the region, not least in Bosnia and Macedonia, for the international law, for European integration, for the still feeble peace processes in the post-war Yugoslavia. If Kosovo, why not Taiwan, Tibet, Chechenya, Tamil Eelam, Kashmir, etc? The world has about 200 states and 5,000 ethnic groups. The future is not about each having their own state, the future is about living together globally!

Independence would breach the legal framework of UN Security Council Resolution 1244 of 1999 that cannot even be even liberally interpreted to endorse independence. It would reward those who have been behind the ethnic cleansing campaign against the non-Albanian communities ever since, encourage those who had exported violence from Kosovo to the neighbouring southern Serbia and western Macedonia.

It is time to stop hiding behind the masks: no, Kosovo cannot return to its pre-1999 status; no, the UN mission and NATO have not created a multi-ethnic, free and tolerant society they have promised; no, there has been no return of more than 200,000 Serb and tens of thousands of other non-Albanian IDPs; no, the Albanian leadership in Kosovo does not inspire any credibility to the Serbs and other non-Albanian communities; no, Kosovo cannot and should not be an exception in the region, in Europe, in the world.

The key objective should be to give the Kosovo Albanians a maximum of opportunities and real means to manage their future without feeling threatened, but also without threatening the interests of other groups, the security and the shaky stability of the region.

A sustainable and just solution is one that lies between the standard autonomy for Kosovo unacceptable to the Albanian aspirations - and the full, "conditional" or "immediate" independence - unacceptable for the Serbs and the Serbian state.

Between these two, there is a myriad of thinkable options - for Kosovo in the region and internally inside Kosovo - e.g a citizens Kosovo where ethnic background is irrelevant, cantonisation, consociation, confederation, condominium, double autonomy for minorities there and in Southern Serbia, partition, trusteeship, independence without an army and with other special modalities as well as various combinations of some if these. Arguing for independence as the only option may be psycho-politically understandable but it is simply intellectually poor; it's a non-starter for the forthcoming talks. True conflict-resolution - in which very few diplomats have any professional training - is about opening possibilities to the future and finding a new structure that the parties voluntarily accept to live with

But most importantly, the international community should work hard with the actors on the key fundamentals of conflict resolution, such as reducing fear and working towards economic recovery of the region. No status will work, also not independence, if people keep on hating each other and see no development opportunities. The international community should learn that if we don't try to rebuild the souls and the human communities and offer people a chance of welfare, they are likely to take to violence again. Indeed, that's a major lesson of the Balkan complex of conflicts the last decades.



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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