I have long thought that backing and encouraging Kosovo’s move to a full blown independence is a huge mistake for the EU that seems to be based on some misguided and inequitable principle that dates back to the start of the Balkans war.
Or at least that is the deal that has ended up on the table that will see the Kosovo Albanians, the region’s majority, get full independence from Serbia and locking the minority Kosovo Serbs into an unhappy state.
The EU seems to see it as a way to draw a line under the Balkans story in making the last bit of reshaping to the map that that has seen the former Yugoslavia splinter into half a dozen plus states most of which happily and rightly exist as independent entities.
But instead of drawing a line under the Balkans the EU backed plan for Kosovo’s UDI will open a new and dangerous chapter that puts Europe on course for more clashes with Russia. The Serbs say they will not resort to arms, but will obstruct an independent Kosovo in other ways, although some kind of armed struggle can’t be ruled out. The Balkans, if nothing else, has taught us a long lesson throughout its history about the nature of escalation.
Whatever way you spin it, this seems like a bad deal in every respect. For the EU it means committing a 2,000-strong police force and endless years of conflict resolution and rising tensions with Russia.
For Serbia is seems an inequitable and harsh settlement, its own Versailles Treaty, that gives succour to hard-line nationalists and gives the impression that it is again being punished and having its hands slapped for the Balkans War.
For Russia that already feels under pressure from Nato expansion pressing on its border, it is an argument that it will not be able to back down from as a seeming hostile EU continues to redraw Europe’s map.
And for the Kosovo Albanians, while the allure of total independence is no doubt strong, the reality is shaping up to be somewhat different and looks sure to include years of tension and strife as it suffers a potential blockade from Serbia, civil unrest and potential more violence and loss of life. Not to mention the presence of EU troops still there almost a decade after they first arrived.
All that said, I understand that something needs to be done and that the current situation can not continue.
The only solution that makes any sense to me, at least, is the one that has already been rejected by the EU – and that is partition.
Where are the Serbs located in Kosovo again? That’s right, they are scattered along the border with Serbia.
Settle the whole thing by plebiscite and allow those who want to remain under Belgrade’s rule do so. Of all the options, none of them great, giving the people the chance to decide seems best.
As a single entity an independent Kosovo will have no say or influence over those Kosovan Serbs and any attempt to do so will result in trouble and strife. The EU has no right or place enforcing the will of any Kosovo administration and to do so would cast us all back to the time of the bombing campaign and latter intervention.
That’s why a split seems the best of a number of bad options.