continues to try to fashion a Kosovo independence proposal that Russia will
accept and that Serbia will swallow. A recent German proposal suggested Kosovo
become a "neutral" country. Serbia didn't like the idea, nor did Kosovo,
because no one knew what "neutral status" meant. Serbia even called the
"neutral status" term a "trick" to disguise Kosovar independence.
November 22, 2007: The Serbs
apparently constitute seven percent of Kosovo's current population. This is a
decrease from the early 1990s, when it was about 12 percent. Ethnic Albanians
disputed the 12 percent figure, contending Serbs were around ten percent of the
population. Even if the lower figure is correct, that means the Serb population
in Kosovo (as a percentage of total population) has declined by 30 percent
since the 1990s.
November 21, 2007: Russia
accused the US of failing to appreciate the real situation in Kosovo. The
Russian statement said that Kosovo's independence would set precedents that
other "separatist movements" around the world would use to destabilize
countries. The Russians are deeply concerned about their own separatist
movements (like Chechnya). The Russians are increasingly using the political
formulation "Serbian Albanian" conflict to characterize the Kosovo situation.
That characterization seeks to put the Serb-Kosovo situation in the larger
Balkan context of "Slavs versus Albanians." Serbs (who are Slavs) contend that
Kosovar independence is part of an ethnic Albanian movement to create a
"Greater Albania" in the Balkans.
November 20, 2007: After
another day of negotiation Serbia and Kosovo said that they are no closer to an
agreement on independence. Serbia has floated the idea that it would support
"one state, two systems," which is the Chinese formula for allowing Hong Kong's
special status as a "democratic capitalist" region within China. Kosovo rejects
The likely winner of Kosovo's
recent presidential elections, Hashim Thaci, said that Kosovo is "ready for
independence." He indicated that Kosovo will declare independence sometime
after December 10, the date the UN is supposed to receive a report on "Kosovo's
final status talks." Thaci's statement came despite diplomatic statements by
the European Union that the EU is against a "unilateral declaration of independence"
November 17, 2007: Kosovo's
government "pledged" that it would seek independence from Serbia. The Kosovo
government expects the "major powers" will immediately recognize its
independence. Russia, however, continues to say that it is against Kosovar
independence from Serbia and in eastern Europe Russian remains a major power.
November 15, 2007: The
European Union indicated that it is concerned about the political situation in
Bosnia. This means that it is highly likely that the EUFOR peacekeeping force
will remain in Bosnia for the foreseeable future. EUFOR has approximately 2500
troops in Bosnia. EU countries currently supply 2,042 troops. Non-EU countries
deploy another 413. The non-EU participants include Albania, Chile, Norway, Switzerland,
Turkey, and Macedonia. Turkey has 252 troops in EUFOR. Germany, Italy, and
Spain provide the largest contingents of EU troops (347, 333, and 276 troops
November 14, 2007: The US
State Department issued a statement that said the US remains committed to the
"supervised independence" of Kosovo. "Supervised" is a useful weasel word. It
probably means that NATO troops will remain in Kosovo to insure the peace. NATO
still has some 17,000 troops in Kosovo. Approximately 1500 US troops serve with
the NATO force.
November 10, 2007: Serbia's
Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) issued an official declaration that it wants
Serbia "to remain a (military) neutral." That may have made immediate sense in
the Cold War, but what does it mean now? It means the DSS does not want Serbia
to join NATO. Many DSS members say they are still angry at "NATO's war on
Serbia" (the 1999 Kosovo War). Many Serbs are also pro-Russia and Russia is not
a member of NATO. In fact, Vladimir Putin often takes "anti-NATO" political
stances. Serbia, however, is a member of the Partnership for Peace (PFP), which
is really a "junior NATO" group.