Europe’s Newest State (?)
As expected, Kosovo’s parliament has declared independence today in a vote that was unanimous among those attending. Ten Serbian MP’s did not attend the vote. According to the BBC, Kosovo’s Prime Minister Hashim Thaci said
“The independence of Kosovo marks the end of the dissolution of the former Yugoslavia,”…
He said Kosovo would be built in accordance with the UN plan drawn up by former Finnish President, Martti Ahtisaari.
As for reactions, the BBC reports that
Serbia’s Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica blamed the US which he said was “ready to violate the international order for its own military interests”.
“Today, this policy of force thinks that it has triumphed by establishing a false state,” Mr Kostunica said.
Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic has promised his country will refrain from using force against Kosovo after independence, though he has warned that Serbia will take punitive diplomatic, political, and economic measures against the province.
As for the US, CNN reports that President Bush said today that
“[Kosovo's] status must be resolved in order for the Balkans to be stable…”
Bush said the Ahtisaari plan — named after former Finnish President Marti Ahtisaari — is the best option. The proposal would give Kosovo limited statehood under international supervision.
President Bush added that “it’s in Serbia’s interest to be aligned with Europe and the Serbian people can know that they have a friend in America.”
“We are heartened by the fact that the Kosovo government has clearly proclaimed its willingness and its desire to support Serbian rights in Kosovo,” Bush said.
Thaci said Thursday he would establish a new government office for minorities and it would protect the rights of minorities after the province declares independence.
I should note that I am not sure that the “limited statehood” description is accurate. The Ahtisaari Plan mandates an ongoing international civilian and military presence, but it also envisions a transition of power from the UN Mission in Kosovo to the new Kosovar government. I will dig into the Plan to assess the “limited statehood” description and post on this tomorrow.
Regarding EU and Russian reactions, the BBC notes:
Recognition by a number of EU states, including the UK and other major countries, will come on Monday after a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels, says the BBC’s Paul Reynolds.
The US is also expected to announce its recognition on Monday.
Three EU states – Cyprus, Romania and Slovakia – have told other EU governments that they will not recognise Kosovo, says our correspondent.
Russia’s foreign ministry has indicated that Western recognition of an independent Kosovo could have implications for the Georgian breakaway provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Moreover, Bosnian Serbs had stated that, should Kosovo declare indepndence, they would seek independence for Republika Srpska, what Bosnian Serbs call their ethnic enclave within Bosnia. (The Badinter Commission had previously nixed such a claim as a matter of international law.)
For now, it will be important to actually watch the reaction within Kosovo. The ethnic geography could lead to a conflict within the nascent country. Although the main reaction throughout Kosovo has been joyous, there are isolated incidences of violence:
The first sign of trouble in Kosovo came in the ethnic Serbian area of the flashpoint town of Mitrovica, where two hand grenades were thrown at international community buildings.
One exploded at a UN court building while the other failed to go off outside offices expected to house the new EU mission.
I’ll write more on Kosovo as the situation progresses.