Have you read the most recent comments by Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic? Any chance he’s related to Iraq’s former Information Minister Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf a/k/a Comical Ali?
In an article distributed today by Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA), Serbia has again — and apparently for Vuk Jeremic, the first time — floated the idea that Kosovo should be turned into an autonomous province. The big, new, and improved idea that Serbia has proposed is that Kosovo should be modelled after Aland, a Swedish-speaking archipelago belonging to Finland.
Are you kidding me? With twenty days to go, is that the state of negotiations between the Serbs and the Kosovars? The Serbs have been saying “autonomous province” for some time now (Kosovo was an autonomous province for a period of time prior to 1999, until Slobodan brought the axe down). To be fair to the Serbs, too, the Kosovars have dug their heels in the sand and demanded independence or nothing.
There doesn’t seem to be a middle ground. I think we are way past the chance of a golden bridge.
Serbia proposes Finnish Aland model for Kosovo
Brussels – Serbiaon Tuesday proposed turning Kosovo into an autonomous province modelled on Aland, a Swedish-speaking archipelago belonging to Finland. The proposal was put forward by Serbian government officials attending talks in Brusselswith their Kosovo counterparts and the EU-US-Russia mediating troika. It follows previous Serbian proposals inspired by East Germanyand Hong Kong and designed to dissuade Kosovo from declaring independence from Serbia.
“Today we have presented another case of successful, functional autonomy, it is the case of Aland islands within Finland,” said Slobodan Samardzic, Serbia’s minister for Kosovo. Aland is an archipelago of more than 6,000 islands in the Baltic Sea, about half way between Sweden and Finland. Its population of nearly 27,000 speaks Swedish. In 1917, its residents asked to join Sweden, but their bid was blocked by the League of Nations, which decided that the archipelago should remain Finnish but be granted greater autonomy.
“Once again Belgradehas come up with a fresh idea on the table,” said Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic, who also urged his Kosovo counterparts to stop talking about independence and show “an open mind” during the negotiations.
Earlier Tuesday, Kosovo’s prime minister-in-waiting, Hashim Thaci, had said he was willing to consult with the United States and the European Union before proclaiming his province’s independence from Serbia.
“We will take a decision on Kosovo (independence) after December 10, together with the USand the EU,” Thaci said.
December 10 marks the United Nations’ deadline for concluding diplomatic efforts lead by a US-EU-Russia troika. The troika is struggling to arrange a negotiated solution on the final status of the predominantly ethnic-Albanian province, which is aspiring to become an independent state. Tuesday’s talks in Brusselsmark the first time that Thaci will have met face-to-face with Serbian Prime Minister, Vojislav Kostunica, since he won the elections held in Kosovo Saturday.
And his latest comment appeared to suggest that the Kosovo leadership was willing to soften its stance after coming under pressure from the EU not to be too hasty about declaring unilateral independence after December 10. His position was mirrored by similar remarks made by Kosovo’s president, Fatmir Sejdiu.
“We will coordinate each and every step that we take with the international community,” said Sejdiu, adding that Kosovo had a strong interest in having its state of independence recognised by the world’s main powers. Kosovo’s plans for independence are strongly opposed by Serbia, which enjoys the backing of Russia in the UN Security Council.
Russiahas already threatened to veto a deal granting Kosovo independence put forward by UN mediator Martti Ahtisaari. Tuesday’s meeting comes just 20 days before the troika is due to submit its final report to the United Nations. So far, both parties have made little progress on proposals put forward by the troika’s leader, German diplomat Wolfgang Ischinger. These include a 14-point document on possible areas of agreement providing safeguards for Serbian communities living in Kosovo once the province splits from Belgrade.
Despite widespread pessimism about the outcome of Tuesday’s talks, Ischinger said he was in “good spirits” as he arrived in Brussels. “We will have a good troika session today and I am quite confident it will be a productive one,” he added. Such comments contrasted with remarks made by Ischinger on Monday, when he appeared to concede that no settlement was likely to be agreed by the December 10 deadline. Kosovo, whose population of about 2 million is 90 per cent ethnic Albanian, has been under UN administration since 1999, when NATO bombing raids drove Serbian troops out of the province. While the US has said it is ready to recognize an independent Kosovo, Russia is opposed while the EU is split, with all but a handful of its 27 member states willing to side with the US. The troika is expected to hold a new, and probably final, round of talks in Vienna on November 26, officials in Brussels said.
Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA) (http://www.dpa.de/index-2.html)