The Associated Press reported yesterday that Serbia is preparing its citizens “in case” Kosovo declares independence on or about December 10, 2007. It is unclear how exactly the Serbs are preparing its citizens. Free massages, maybe?
I would assume, though, that responsible Serbs are reading and watching the news — not simply the groupthink stuff being published by Belgrade and Russia — to know that there is a better chance of finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq than Kosovo agreeing to become an “autonomous province” like Puerto Rico or Hong Kong. I would hope, too, that Belgrade would do its part to prevent cross-border incursions and not stoke the flames of 600 year old battles.
To be sure, it may be difficult for the Serbs to reeducate its citizens (as it would be for the Albanians, too). When I was in Kosovo, I met with a Serb villager near Gate 5. He showed me a typical picture of “The Last Supper” in his house. He then went on to explain that this was a picture of “The Last Supper” of Tsar Lazar during the battle of Kosovo — six hundred years earlier.
This is just one small tidbit (there are many stories on both sides) of why many people are certifiably freaked out about what will happen when Kosovo declares independence.
Serbian government preparing for Kosovo independence declaration (AP)
BELGRADE, Serbia — The Serbian government is preparing for a declaration of independence by Kosovo in case talks on the province’s future fail to reach a compromise, a senior official said Friday.
“As a responsible government, since there are indications that a number of countries would recognize an independent Kosovo, we have to be ready for the darkest scenario,” said the deputy prime minister Bozidar Djelic. Djelic gave no details, saying only that each government ministry is tasked with drafting a plan to be implemented in case Kosovo unilaterally declares independence from Serbia. Serbia has said it will never recognize Kosovo as a separate state. And it has hinted it might cut ties with any country that did. The southern province is formally part of Serbia, but it has been run by the United Nations and NATO since a 1999 war. Kosovo‘s majority ethnic Albanians insist on independence. Serb and Albanian delegations are to meet next week for a final round of internationally mediated talks near Vienna, Austria. Two years of negotiations have produced no result so far, and Kosovo Albanians have threatened to declare independence immediately after a Dec. 10 deadline set by the mediators. The United States and its allies have backed independence for Kosovo.