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Kosovo: Beware Triumphalism – Analysis

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The EU seems bent on using the leverage of the still-to-be-granted accession date to press Belgrade for more concessions, particularly concerning north Kosovo, thereby risking an escalation of tensions.

By Gerard M. Gallucci

After squeezing everything it could from Serbia’s president, Boris Tadic, on Kosovo, the EU agreed last week to grant Serbia candidacy without a date to begin accession talks. To win that prize, Belgrade agreed to last minute deals with Pristina to informally recognize Kosovo as an independent entity and to work with it to transform the northern boundary into a functional border. These steps are, in the end, an inevitable bow to reality. Serbia has lost Kosovo – at least from the Ibar south – and nothing practical is gained pretending otherwise. The EU, however, seems bent on using the leverage of the still-to-be-granted accession date to press Belgrade for more concessions. Beware triumphalism.

Kosovo
Kosovo

It’s not clear how many Serbians focus on the meaning of candidacy without a date. The Tadic government will understandably highlight the fact that the decision in Brussels puts Serbia on the path into the EU. How long that path will be and when Serbians will begin seeing the practical benefits of being on it will perhaps be left to others to discuss. The government will continue to deny that it is giving, or will give, anything away on Kosovo. How this plays in the upcoming election remains to be seen.

However, it is clear that despite an expected election lull in talks between Belgrade and Pristina, the EU will continue its pressure on north Kosovo and for further concessions from Serbia. Various EU officials are making clear that to get a date for accession talks to begin – could be this year or whenever – Belgrade will have to reach deals on telecoms and energy and allow EULEX to establish “rule of law’ in north Kosovo.

Telecoms and energy are two big pieces of the set of property issues between Serbia and Kosovo that so far have been barely touched. Pristina has – with EU and EULEX assistance – either appropriated or dismantled energy and telecoms facilities south of the Ibar. These have included the telephone systems, the Obilić power stations and the coal mines. Ownership of these and former socially-owned or publicly-owned properties and the fate of funds gained through “privatization” is disputed between the two sides. Companies from some EU members have benefited directly from these seizures and privatizations. Energy and telecoms are not the only outstanding issues of this sort – they include Trepca and the former Jugopetrol – but backing Serbia down from maintaining its property claims would be a big win for Pristina and the EU. The same would be Belgrade’s agreement to allow Kosovo to have its own country code and international phone links.

The rule of law concessions sought by the EU include making the new border management system work – which means somehow making sure the northern Kosovo Serbs use the official crossings and remove their blockades – and somehow introducing a “Kosovo” court into the north. It may also include Belgrade finding a way to dismantle “parallel” local institutions – perhaps through not holding elections there, placing them under administration and even arresting leaders. Meanwhile, EULEX will continue testing the northern Serbs for “freedom of movement” and by closing alternative routes, and may yet take the Kosovo Albanian officials being flown to the northern Gates out of their container and into public sight. Whether springtime weather brings more direct action by Pristina, EULEX and KFOR cannot be ruled out as it would be wrong to assume the Quint would hold everything back just to help Tadic.

Quint haste and impatience over the north still runs the risk of provoking crisis. Belgrade cannot simply deliver the north, no matter how much Tadic or Nikolic might want to bring home the bigger prize of a date. If Tadic could have done it, he would have by now. Anything which smacks of a full-fledged northern border between Serbia and Kosovo – one which forces locals to pay customs to Pristina or subjects them to “control” by Kosovo Albanians – is likely to be rejected. Any effort to impose a Kosovo court with Kosovo Albanian judges and officials in north Mitrovica will likely provoke resistance. Whether it is Belgrade, EULEX or KFOR that seeks to force these, violence is possible.

It was unwise and petty of the EU to give Serbian candidacy without a date just to try to pry north Kosovo into the hands of Pristina. It would have been more mature to either withhold candidacy or to have given it with a date, and allow the remaining Kosovo issues to be resolved gradually as tensions decreased over the next few years. A dash of practical sense and continued focus on peacekeeping would have been nice.

Gerard M. Gallucci is a retired US diplomat and UN peacekeeper. He worked as part of US efforts to resolve the conflicts in Angola, South Africa and Sudan and as Director for Inter-American Affairs at the National Security Council. He served as UN Regional Representative in Mitrovica, Kosovo from July 2005 until October 2008 and as Chief of Staff for the UN mission in East Timor from November 2008 until June 2010. Gerard is also a member of TransConflict’s Advisory Board.



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TransConflict

TransConflict

TransConflict was established in response to the challenges facing intra- and inter-ethnic relations in the Western Balkans. It is TransConflict’s assertion that the successful transformation of conflict requires a multi-dimensional approach that engages with and aims at transforming the very interests, relationships, discourses and structures that underpin and fuel outbreaks of low- and high-intensity violence.

9 thoughts on “Kosovo: Beware Triumphalism – Analysis

  • Avatar
    March 6, 2012 at 6:51 pm
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    Gerard M. Gallucci seems to be, through reading many of his articles, quite “Anti-Kosovo”. Strange as the USA, the nation Gallucci is a citizen of, formally recognizes Kosovo as sovereign.
    I say this because he always puts quotes around words like a “Kosovo judge” or “Kosovar boundary regions” and so forth.
    I thought members of the press were supposed to be impartial, otherwise the news they report is more opinion than news.
    Part of the mission statement of Eurasisreview.com is: The Eurasia Review team publishes news and analysis on world events with an approach that focuses on how that news affects Eurasia and Afro-Eurasia. In a nutshell, we publish the “Eurasia view” of the world.
    When an author seems to take sides, it seems to me this is less of a Eurasian view as it is the view of one (and only this one) former US-Sudan ambassador.
    While MR. Gallucci has a right to his opinion, when he presents it as “news” it turns his “news articles” into little more than opinion, and makes a farce of a website that professes to share news with the world.
    Will Kosovo asserting authority north of the Ibar possibly provoke confrontation? Yes. Will Serbia asserting authority over any part of Kosovo possibly provoke confrontation? Yes.
    Mr. Gallucci seems only to show things from the Serbian point of view. How the big-bad QUINT nations and the mighty demon known as the EU hold poor, robbed Serbia hostage to their political demands.
    Why not also provide in-depth analysis from the Albanian point of view as well? IF you are going to present opinion as news, do it from both sides of the equation.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    March 6, 2012 at 6:58 pm
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    Bo,

    Greetings and thanks for your comments. We do seek to publish more than just one side of the coin with respect to issues. I am sure if you look through our site, you will indeed find many articles that have a differing opinion than the mentioned author of this article. Our aim is to present various views, rather than to take just one standard approach.

    Kindest regards,
    Eurasia Review Team

    Reply
  • Avatar
    March 6, 2012 at 7:15 pm
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    the deal about conferences and meetings is complete and total recognition of kosovo independence in every way. From now on albanians are just going to get everything they want. Serbia opposed kosovo serbs opposition to albanians taking over the border posts last year.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    March 7, 2012 at 12:02 am
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    Well adressed Bo, the Euroasia news must be a joke.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    March 7, 2012 at 5:07 am
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    Very well spoken Bo. It appears Mr. Gallucci is pro Serb and has proven to be so in his past articles. He deliberately uses words like North Kosovo, Kosovo Judge, South of Ibar and so one. What he is doing is simply creating a geographical division of Kosova. It is systematic and psychological approach. The more he uses the term North Kosovo, the easier it is to roll of the readers tongue. It is clear that Mr. Gallucci is lobbying for the Serb cause, which is the division on Kosovo and to undermine the Independence of Kosova. The republic of Kosova has been recognized by the United states and the all governments of the free world. Mr. Gallucci, perhaps you can justify the ethnic cleansing, barbaric rapes and murders, the systematic scorched earth tactics and attempted genocide the Serbs have committed to achieve Greater Serbia. Mr. Gallucci is a spin doctor, perhaps you can influence your client “Serbia” to be accountable for the atrocities committed in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosova. Mr. Gallucci is not a diplomat he is a lobbyist.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      March 8, 2012 at 10:44 pm
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      Afrim, did you read Bo’s article? It’s quite difficult to understand your naivety and his as well. Mr Gallucci clearly see’s and understands their are 2 sides to every story. I don’t agree with everything he say’s however, your comments are quite disturbing. One doesn’t have far to look to find mis-information and outright lies from the American media machine.The America that KAlbanians hold so dear, will one day turn their backs on them once they have used them (i.e. for military positioning in Europe, natural resources etc), believe me it is inevitable. Regarding the Serbian war crimes, I believe they have fulfilled their obligations to the Hague. When you simplify the Balkan wars, point fingers at one side and use terms like ethnic cleasing, and Greater Serbia, clearly you don’t understand the war or wars. The last time I checked, Serbia was the only true multi-cultural country in the FRY.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    March 9, 2012 at 12:16 am
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    Mr. Gallucci is not a lobbyist. He does not work for the Serbian government nor represents Serbia in anyway.

    However, he seems still bitter over his failed stint as a UN diplomat in Kosovo. He just can’t get over it.

    The problem is not his pro-Serbian position, which is in fact simply a reflection of his anti-US position. The problem is that his series of articles are regurgitating the same arguments over and over again.

    Eurasiareview bring us some diversity please. He can’t be the only pro-Serbian opinionist out there.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    March 11, 2012 at 12:34 am
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    Some have taken my comment out of context.
    Mr. Gallucci is entitled to his opinion. Kosovo Serbs are entitled to their opinions and the Albanians living in Kosova deserve no less.
    Obviously, Mr. Gallucci is aware of two sharply contrasting opinions on the subject of Kosovar sovereignty, and he has taken one side consistently.
    This is a sad state of affairs for “news” and is more “Editor’s opinion” than anything resembling news. However, most of the ‘news’ I see now-a-days seems to fall into this category.
    Peteko must be referring to the way the USA has abandoned their friends the Germans, what that before or after two Germanies became one again? We have abandoned the Tiwaneese, South Koreans, Japanese, the Poles, the French, the Dutch, the Belgians, the Luxembourgish?

    America may well have ulterior motives when conducting foreign policy (what nation does not? Russia or China? Not likley), however abandoning a small country which suffered heinous genocide from both sides of the KOA/KOS equation would be foolhardy in the same basic place in the world where WWI sparked off.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      March 11, 2012 at 3:29 am
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      Bo,

      Your comment about the sad state of affairs for news is nothing new by a long shot. I really don’t mean any disrespect by this, however, for those of us who have followed the dramatic and horrific events of the world for the last 25-30 years we have seen this shift as you state of “news” vs “opinion”. This breakout of “dirty” news can be specifically tied to the break-up of the FRY. We now understand that the NATO media had slanted, with-held information and out-right lied to the public about the FRY to push through adgendas that would have otherwise been investigated and shut down. I can give you countless examples.

      Being from North America the current media here talks very little if at all about Kosovo. It’s just not news(right now) according to the American public. Which illustrates a particular attitude and respect for the news.

      Regarding your comment “abandoning a small country which suffered heinous genocide from both sides of the KOA/KOS equation would be foolhardy” REALLY ask yourself “WHY” is the U.S.A. there in the first place. I will give you some insight. Officially, since the Regan administration, the U.S.A has wanted a presence in the Balkans, particularly Yugoslavia. Now they have the biggest military base outside of the U.S.A in Kosovo. Is this a coincidence? Some may think so…But when you connect the dots, it all seems a little to convenient. As I mentioned in my reply to Afrim, once the U.S.A. is done with Kosovo, they will unfortunatey turn their backs and leave the people to there own vices (ala Afganistan)

      If you are looking for other opinions on Kosovo, there are countless pro-KAlbanian opinions available, as a matter of fact Gallucci is one of the very few with a “pro-Serbian” opinion.

      Reply

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