Global Policy Forum

UN Recommends Independent Kosovo


By Garentina Kraja

Associated Press
March 25, 2007

The UN envoy for Kosovo says independence is the only feasible option for the province, according to a copy of his report obtained Monday by the Associated Press. It is the first time that the special envoy, Martti Ahtisaari, has explicitly mentioned independence in a document dealing with the province's future. Mr. Ahtisaari, who mediated year-long talks between ethnic Albanians and Serbs, said that "upon careful consideration of Kosovo's recent history, the realities of Kosovo today, and taking into account negotiations with the parties, I have come to the conclusion that the only viable option for Kosovo is independence, to be supervised for an initial period by the international community." The 3½-page report and the proposal were to be delivered to the UN Security Council later Monday.

Mr. Ahtisaari's initial proposal contained provisions for Kosovo's own constitution, flag, anthem, army and rights for minority Serbs to run their daily affairs, setting the stage for Kosovo's statehood, but it did not use the word "independence." He gave his proposal to ethnic Albanian and Serbian leaders in February.

Kosovo has been administered by the United Nations since 1999, when NATO air strikes ended a Serbian crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists. The UN plan, drafted by Mr. Ahtisaari, is an attempt to resolve the final major dispute remaining after Yugoslavia's bloody breakup in the 1990s. Ethnic Albanian leaders have supported the plan, while Serbia's officials, opposed to the province's secession, have rejected it, saying it grants Kosovo de facto independence. "A return of Serbian rule over Kosovo would not be acceptable to the overwhelming majority of the people of Kosovo," Mr. Ahtisaari wrote. "Belgrade could not regain its authority without provoking violent opposition. Autonomy of Kosovo within the borders of Serbia - however notional such autonomy may be - is simply not tenable." Mr. Ahtisaari also said that continued international administration is not sustainable and that "independence with international supervision is the only viable option" for a politically stable and economically feasible Kosovo.

The UN Security Council will have the final say on the plan. It is split on the issue, with Russia supporting Serbia, while the United States and the European Union back the UN plan. U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said the plan would "give the Kosovars a way forward toward independence" and ensure the minority rights of the Serbs. Burns said he expected "five, six, seven weeks of intensive consultations" between Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leaders, Serb leaders and the UN Security Council to find "the best resolution" to end the question of the disputed province's final status. He expected a decision on Kosovo's status "in the month of April or May." Russian President Vladimir Putin and other officials have said granting statehood to Kosovo could set a precedent for separatist regions in former Soviet republics, such as South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which broke away from control of the central government in Georgia in wars in the 1990s.

More Information on the Security Council
More Information on Kosovo


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