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Kosovo: Pristina Doesn’t Really Want Negotiations On The North – Analysis

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The May 17 arrest of a young Serb employee of UNMIK’s north Mitrovica office suggests that the Kosovo Albanians have no intention of accepting a negotiated outcome for the region north of the Ibar River.

By Gerard M. Gallucci

The May 17 arrest of a young Serb employee of UNMIK’s north Mitrovica office removes any good reason for resisting the judgement that the Kosovo Albanians have no intention of accepting a negotiated outcome for the region north of the Ibar River. They do not want negotiations on the north, they just want the north. So, to head off any possibility of having to accept compromise, they will provoke the Serbs there into refusing to deal with them.

Kosovo
Kosovo

The young man arrested frequently travelled to visit family in the mixed north Mitrovica village of Suvi Do. To get there, he’d have to pass through an Albanian area. At that point, he would also have to pass by a unit of the so-called “regional” Kosovo police that EULEX allows free reign in this sensitive area. His routines were known. He could have been stopped at any time, as any of the Serbs living there can be. The decision to arrest him at this point on “suspicion” that he was involved in a demonstration in April to prevent the Kosovo Albanian police from setting up another provocative checkpoint – where there had just been a deadly explosion – was clearly political. (EULEX has still not managed to release any information on who might have been responsible for the explosion.) Many, many Serbs turned out for this. The targeting of a local UNMIK employee also allowed Pristina to take another shot at the UN office in north Mitrovica.

A cynic might say that the arrest was Pristina’s way of “recruiting” Serbs to take part in its “dialogue” over the north that it plans to unilaterally launch in September. The truth, however, is more basic than that. The Kosovo Albanians do not want to negotiate over the north, they want to have their “rule of law” imposed there so that they can use it to enforce more “returns” and eventually push the Serbs out entirely. They expected the internationals to do this for them; first UNMIK, then the ICO and EULEX. Having failed in that, they have mounted steady provocations since July 2011. Now they see the internationals pushing them to talk with the northern Serbs. So they provoke the Serbs, either to set off violence that they can use to justify new repression or to simply strengthen the hands of those Serbs opposed to talks.

One might hope that through dialogue, a possible agreement along the lines of the Ahtisaari Plan was possible. This would keep the north as part of Kosovo while providing for local self-rule and maintenance of ties with Serbia. The Kosovo Albanian leadership, however, has no intention of ever accepting that. And their international supporters – the Quint – appear not to have the stomach for imposing it on them. EULEX cannot even prevent the “police” from acting more like an ethnic-cleansing squad. The Quint capitals allow the Kosovo Albanians to make barely veiled threats to destabilize the region – even provoking incidents in south Serbia and Macedonia – if they don’t get everything they want. They give the game, by default, to Pristina.

Pristina knew the Serbs would get the message in the arrest of the young UN employee: “forget this negotiations stuff, you know we’ll never accept any terms but your surrender.” Only the internationals fail to understand.

It is interesting to note that the centuries long effort by the Irish to win their independence from the English eventually ended with two agreements: the first to recognize Irish independence and the second to accept that northern Ireland would remain part of the UK. No one considered leaving northern Ireland within the United Kingdom as a “partition.” Perhaps it time to admit that the same approach may be the only real solution for the region north of the Ibar, to recognize that it remains part of Serbia. The partition was the creation of an Albanian-majority Kosovo out of Serbia. No reason the Albanians should take the north too. That remains mostly Serb and part of Serbia.

As things now stand, the next government in Belgrade might petition the UN to allow them to send back their police to the Ibar border. Even if refused, Serbia could move down its police anyway. NATO would probably stand aside and perhaps even secretly sigh in relief.

The Kosovo Albanians would huff and puff and threaten regional violence. They would probably step up attacks on Serbs living in the south. In this case, the proper response would fall to NATO. It’s time, however, to accept that left to themselves, the current Kosovo leadership will do everything to avoid compromise, including threats, intimidation and provocation to block any effort to deny them the north on their terms. Only the strongest pressure from the US and EU – plus real peacekeeping along the Ibar by KFOR, EULEX and UNMIK – offers a stable alternative to the return of Serbia in the north.

Which will it be, Quint?

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.

10 thoughts on “Kosovo: Pristina Doesn’t Really Want Negotiations On The North – Analysis

  • Avatar
    May 23, 2012 at 5:56 pm
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    Mr. Gallucci,

    What you are doing is promoting regional instability. The Ahtisari Plan was accepted by the Democratic World which led to the recognition and imdependence of Kosova. It is clear that you are indeed a lobbyist for Serbia. You represent the Bully of the Balkans. We do not need another Bosnia within the territory of the Republic of Kosova. Albanians have not and do not threaten regional instability as the Serbian Government does. Unmik does not belong in Kosova, it’s mandate expired once Kosova was independent. Let’s not compare Northern Ireland or any other countries for that matter. Serbia was the instigator of all the Balkan wars and lost them all. Perhaps you should remind them that they are the losers and have lost all rights to govern Kosova. You represent a country that has recently elected an extremist, a man who considered that Serbia be a province of Russia. The Serbs in truth have no desire to accept the internationally recognized Republic of Kosova. If Serbia has its way, they strive on promoting regional instability in order to pose as a stabilizing force in the region. Serbia, in it’s history has never promoted peace and stability in the region.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    May 23, 2012 at 6:49 pm
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    Well said Afrim.
    As this ‘Galucci’ guy does not have eyes to see that there is also a minority of Albania in Serbia and they are not blocking roads and ‘demanding’ special status, terrorising and bombing others, like those Serbs in N. Mitrovica …
    Need I mention Albanians in Macedonia.
    May I remind you Mr Galucci, that the Albanians are the natives of the balkans and they have not arrived here from Eastern Europe unlike the others.
    Who listens to you anyway…

    Reply
  • Avatar
    May 23, 2012 at 11:08 pm
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    I find that there is no need to react emotionally to this article. It is very clear that Mr. Gallucci is a lobbyist for the Serbian Ministry. He is not a diplomat, if you search him online you will find that his own coworkers in the United Nations did not respect him. This is a blog, anyone can write what they want. In this case , Mr. Gallucci is getting paid well for it. Have you noticed that he has absolutely no political pull in the Western world. He is a has been searching for an identiy. Mr. Gallucci, you represent a people, a government, a culture that thrives on instability, hate, and destruction. It wasn’t only Milosevic who started the Balkan Wars. In the 21st Century, the Serbian people voted for an extremist. The first place President Nikolic will visit is Mother Russia. Albanians in the Balkans represent peace, democracy and reginal stability in the region. All democratic nations recognize that and have rewarded the Albanian people an independent Kosova and Albanian joining NATO. Mr. Gallucci, you are entertaining.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    May 24, 2012 at 2:27 am
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    let face it, slavs who come from russia are brothers to one another. russia will always support its children, always has and always will.. again, there is no such thing as a serb, or a bosnian for that matter, they are all just simply siberian russians.. i dont disrepect russia, as russia too huffs and puffs to the west, like it always has.. the “serb” i.e. russians will also huff and puff because of their father (russia).. slavs, ahh an intrguing race..

    Reply
  • Avatar
    May 24, 2012 at 2:27 am
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    Mr Afrim , I couldn’t agree with you more. Kosova, just that he should know, has its own Banking system, its own education department, its own justice system, its own army, its own ministries, its own territorial integrity, its own goverment of her chosing by a democratic vote. They might think of us as new in affairs of the state, therefore not capable of running our country, but they are wrong. we always managed our families well, and to manage a country is no different as far as the management goes.Whatever a family needs, a country needs as well. The most important thing is that , we are capable now of defending ourselvs by all means. There is no way that Serbia could take over Kosova by force again. They just don’t have the balls for it. If they think of themselvs as isolated and ostracised by the world cominity now , please I beg them to try again. This time won’t be Serbian’s regular outfit army group going against civilians, but against NATO. I really don’t think that they wish that uppon themselvs. That move will guaranti them a total distruction for sure. So, if we are safe now and we seem to have the confidance that’s necessary to be able to create our destiny,my question is; what are the Serbs doing in this conversation anyway? They are just nuisance, that’s all.As far as Kosova goes someone has to tell them,it’s done, complete and irreversible. Let’s focus our lifes on prosperity and a better future for our kids, thats what matters the most. As far as the Serbs go, they are just mosquitoes in the air, disturbing our serenity of the night…lol

    Reply
  • Avatar
    May 24, 2012 at 5:35 am
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    The albanians have a country..it’s called albania..Let the serbs have north Kosovo and let us be done with it.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    May 24, 2012 at 7:01 am
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    Interesting article though i sense it is written by a somewhat irritated Gallucci. Nonetheless some of his points are (mainly) valid.

    Thaci and the gang must realise that northern Kosovo, whose borders were set up as late as after the second world war,has a Serbian majority, a majority who simply doesn’t yet accept Kosovo as a state, does this matter?Do they have the right to democracy and self-determination? I urge Kosovar Albanians to be careful when answering this question because, after all, Kosovo was a recognized part of Serbia when we (Albanians) demanded, rightly so, freedom, democracy and self-determination in the place where we lived. If you think this struggle was legitimate, then you must at least see why the NM Serbs act the way they act when the Kosovo government tries to impose its control over this territory with force.

    This is not to say that northern Kosovo should become/remain a part of Serbia, because if their strive for self determination is legitimate (which i believe it is) then of course the strive for self-determination of the Albanians in northern Macedonia and in the Preshva/o valley are also legitimate, this also applies to Srpska republica, Vojvodina, its applies to Greeks, Croations, Bosnians etc. What this means is that naturally if northern Kosovo is to become a part of Serbia, then the Balkans borders must be redrawn again, and even though the extreme nationalists dream of ethnic homogeneity will not become true even in this case, at least large number of people wont feel that they are left outside a state they consider their own.

    Bottom line is this; with violence you will achieve nothing of value or sustainability, maybe the leadership of Kosovo will ”retake” northern Kosovo again with force but in a year, ten years or a hundred years from now the people there will not have forgotten and when tables turn we will see history repeating itself, yet once again. If we truly want peace, stability, democracy and prosperity in Kosovo then we should study history and for once learn from our mistakes. we should look far beyond plain nationalism which only leads to illogical and immoral actions and instead act as humanists if this is done then the things mentioned above can be achived. Just look at scandinavia!

    Reply
  • Avatar
    May 24, 2012 at 8:53 pm
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    V Berisha From Sweden aka Mr. Gallucci,

    In response to your comment above, it matters not what you think. The Rupublic of Kosova has internationally recognized borders.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    May 29, 2012 at 4:38 pm
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    Good article. Northern Kosovo should be part of Serbia. The Serbs living in southern Kosovo can easily go north once this happens. It is terrible that USA has supported the Kosovo Albanians in such a manner that has resulted in the current situation. As an American, the Albanians are truly making me sick. Northern Kosovo back to Serbia and lets be done with it.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    May 29, 2012 at 11:41 pm
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    to: mike

    usa supported us because they know these are our lands that have ben taken from us by serbian russian slavs. these lands belong to albania my man and thats how its going to be

    Reply

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