Global Policy Forum

Security Council May Grant Independence to Kosovars


Breakaway: The UN will likely vote on Kosovo's fate before year's end, but some countries
fear this may encourage separatist movements elsewhere

Taipei Times
June 14, 2006

Seven years after Kosovo was placed under UN control, it appears increasingly likely that the province will be allowed to break away from Serbia formally and become an independent nation. Members of the UN Security Council appear to be leaning toward permitting Kosovo to go its own way. The council is expected to vote on Kosovo's fate before the end of the year, unless the Serbs and Kosovo Albanians, who have been negotiating unsuccessfully for months, reach a resolution.

But some of the world's most powerful countries are fearful the move will encourage separatist movements elsewhere to intensify their often bloody struggles and give hope to nascent independence groups that have not yet begun to fight. On the other hand, Russia, which had been adamantly opposed to Kosovo's independence, has indicated that it may set a welcome precedent for pro-Russian movements in Georgia and Moldova.

The six nations working on a plan for Kosovo's future -- the UK, France, Italy, the US, Germany and Russia -- have coordinated international policy there since the province came under the control of the UN. Their representatives say they will try to draft a resolution for the Security Council that will be so specific to the province that it will avoid setting a precedent for other separatists.

The UN has controlled Kosovo, which is still officially a part of Serbia, since June 1999, when Yugoslav troops accused of committing widespread atrocities were forced to withdraw after months of NATO-led bombing. Diplomats who represent the US and UK in the talks say they believe that the only solution Kosovo's ethnic Albanians will accept is independence, but the diplomats insist that such a new state must provide guarantees for the minority Serbs.

Other Western governments also want to find a speedy solution because they are growing weary of financing the peacekeeping troops and the international officials who now administer the province.

But Serbian leaders, wounded by Montenegro's recent break from Serbia and opposed to yet another split, say Kosovo independence could encourage the breakup of Bosnia and Herzegovina, another former Yugoslav republic. Milorad Dodik, the prime minister of the Bosnian Serb republic -- the area seized by Bosnian Serb forces during the 1992-1995 war -- said the region should "affirm the right to self-determination" by holding a referendum.

The republic has remained part of Bosnia since the end of the conflict, but many Bosnian Serb politicians have long hoped to unite with neighboring Serbia. A referendum could split Bosnia and provoke renewed violence. While Dodik later toned down his remarks, saying the suggestion was "theoretical," ethnic Serbian politicians throughout the region say that if Kosovo becomes independent, pressure will inevitably increase for the breakup of Bosnia.

In related news, Soren Jessen-Petersen, the chief of the UN Mission in Kosovo, announced on Monday that he would step down from his post at the end of this month for "family reasons."

More Information on Nations & States
More information on Emerging States & Claims to Autonomy and Independence
More Information on Kosovo
More Information on the Security Council


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