Saturday, November 17, 2007

"The Kosovo Test"

When I was living in Kosovo, there was a mix of excitement and apathy about status and hope for independence. Almost everyone (Albanian) with whom I spoke agreed that they could (or would) not return to the status of a province of Serbia, but most did not exude a sense of ownership over the government, elections, or prospect of independence. Many encouraged me to stay through May of 2006, so that I could celebrate their independence day with them.

Nearly two years later, today Kosovo held a parliamentary election. The Serb population was encouraged to boycott it, and in fact, the turnout was only around 45 to 50%.

The early election talk indicates, and a friend over there is currently IM'ing that the radical party, the PDK, won. The PDK party was established by KLA soldiers after the war, while the LDK party, who had been the majority, was established by former president Rugova, a pacifist leader who died in January of 2006.

It is understood that the majority Albanian government will back independence, and the date draws near when the international talks over Kosovo's status will end, and the US, the EU, and Russia will report to the UN. I've heard and read mixed reports about the anticipation of what will happen at or after that December 10 deadline. There are extremists on both sides who seem to view violence as the only option. There are protesters for peace who view continued dialogue as the only means to resolve the question.

The article below, titled "The Kosovo Test," reminds me of a friend's comments that Kosovo is being used as a test lab. There were warnings, often from Russia, that if Kosovo were granted independence, other provinces would demand the same. It might be easy to feel as if Kosovo's interests were second (or fiftieth) to international interests and demands. It's hard for me to balance the interconnectivity we have now as a world and the needs I hear from my friends living in the divided city of Mitrovica, their daily fears and their common hopes.

It reminds of the the "butterfly effect" -- "the phrase refers to the idea that a butterfly's wings might create tiny changes in the atmosphere that ultimately cause a tornado to appear (or prevent a tornado from appearing)." How the outcome of this small province of 2 million people, smaller than the city in which I live, "would be felt not only in the western Balkans, but within the EU's own borders and beyond." (Ian Bancroft)

"The Kosovo Test"
Decisions taken over Kosovo will help to determine whether Europe's common foreign policy is an aspiration or reality

Talks about the status of Kosovo are scheduled to end on December 10, and the Troika of Russia, the EU and the US will report back to the UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon. Several EU members oppose the independence for Kosovo that the US strongly supports, while Russia is promising to veto any imposed settlement. Should Kosovo Albanians unilaterally declare independence on or after December 10, the ramifications would be felt not only in the western Balkans, but within the EU's own borders and beyond.
(from "The Kosovo Test" by Ian Bancroft, The Guardian UK)

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