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Serbia Threatens Blockades if Kosovo Declares Independence (Or How Serbia Has Taken Off The Velvet Glove)

The tension in the Balkans has gone up yet another notch.  According to a report by the Associated Press yesterday, Serbia threatened to impose an economic and travel blockade on Kosovo if the province declares independence.  Serbia also warned — ominously — that “bloody confrontations” could await Kosovo if it declares independence, and that any country who recognizes Kosovo independence will have to “bear the consequences” for “whatever will follow.” 

Apparently, Serbia has made these statements as a “last-ditch attempt” to negotiate a settlement.

Hmmm.  Where has Serbia learned its negotiating tactics from, a rabid dog?  And does Serbia understand that it is the dog that wags the tail, not the tail that wags the dog? 

Serbia’s statements do nothing to come closer to a solution and do nothing to ease the tension in the Balkans.  Serbia has again irresponsibly placed a gas tank on top of a fire.  Statements of national unity against Kosovo only go to incite elements in the Serbian community that want to do harm.

Serbia’s actions during this negotiation process shows the validity of the old saying:  when you are in a hole, stop digging.  Serbia, though, is digging and digging itself deeper into “you-are-never-going-to-join-the-EU-with-such-behavior-and-go-ahead-join-Russia-if-you-want-land.”  By doing so, Serbia has shown what the world already knows:  that underneath that velvet glove is a misguided, backward, and iron fist.

Great behavior, Serbia!  Do you really think Kosovo will now trust being your autonomous province?  Do you see why so many countries are going to recognize Kosovo independence?  Do you realize what you are doing to the reasonable people of Serbia?  Do you like the Dark Ages?  

I guess I’ll ask this to you Serbia:  what the hell planet are you on? 

As talks deadlock, Serbia threatens blockades if Kosovo declares independence

William J. Kole (Associated Press)

BADEN, Austria — Serbia threatened to impose an economic and travel blockade on Kosovo if the breakaway province declares independence, as a last-ditch attempt to negotiate a settlement deadlocked and appeared doomed to fail. 

“Hopefully, in a time not too long from now, we will be able to take our decision,” Kosovo’s president, Fatmir Sejdiu, told reporters in the Austrian spa town of Baden, where the closed-door talks at a castle hotel wrap up Wednesday. Sejdiu shrugged off Serbia’s fierce opposition to statehood for Kosovo, saying the province “will not be held hostage” to those who object.

As the talks mediated by the U.S., European Union and Russiahit what looked like an insurmountable stalemate, there were ominous statements from the Serbian side suggesting ugly and possibly bloody confrontations could await Kosovo if it declares independence unilaterally as many expect. Serbia will impose a “complete economic and travel blockade” of Kosovo, including cutting off electricity supplies to the province and banning ethnic Albanians and their goods from crossing the borders, a high-ranking Serbian official told The Associated Press in Belgrade on Tuesday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the issue.

In Baden, Serbia’s minister for Kosovo, Slobodan Samardzic, said Serbia would respond “like any country in Europe would react if its borders would be in danger.”  And Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic said: “Whoever decides to make such a unilateral act will have to bear the consequences for whatever will follow.”

Serbian President Boris Tadic insisted there was room to compromise and offered Kosovo self-governance, which the Albanian side rejected. “The way these negotiations started, they must end, and that is in the U.N. Security Council,” said Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica. He denounced any unilateral declaration of independence as “completely unacceptable” and a violation of international law.

Critics, including Russia — an ally of Serbiathat insists the U.N. Security Council have the final say on Kosovo’s future — contend a unilateral declaration of independence would plunge the Balkans back into turmoil and set a dangerous precedent for other separatist movements worldwide. Kostunica said his government would swiftly pronounce Kosovo’s statehood “null and void, illegal, which it is.” Asked about specific punitive measures under consideration, he said only: “If it happens, you’ll see.”

Hashim Thaci, a former rebel leader who is Kosovo’s incoming new prime minister, played down the chances of renewed violence. “No more war, no more killing, no more violence in the region — that is our commitment,” he said.

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2 responses to “Serbia Threatens Blockades if Kosovo Declares Independence (Or How Serbia Has Taken Off The Velvet Glove)

  1. Milan

    I usually avoid this kind of conversation because there is always extreme expression of rigidness. But after reading this post I just had to react since it’s … well (to not use harder word) ridiculous.

    You said: ”Great behavior, Serbia! Do you really think Kosovo will now trust being your autonomous province?
    Is that means until now officials in Kosovo actually wanted to stay autonomous province? But stupid Serbs with the last statement have kill their eagerness?

    I must say that I’m not familiar with the statement you are talking about; moreover I just heard statement of Serbian president who said “if the province declares independence Serbia will use every legal methods guaranteed by international law. Of course violence is not an option”. Also Mr. Veton Surroi from Albanian delegation said that “both sides agreed to not use the violence as a method”
    That statement might be said by some right-winged politician but I’m not sure if that’s the official government decision. possibly bloody confrontations means that Kosovo will become slaughterhouse for non Albanians, mainly Serbs of course and NOT that Serbia will attack Kosovo. Remember March 2004 when in spite of international forces in the province Albanians attacked Serbian enclaves and Serbian Christian Heritage (“protected” by UNESCO)? Well you can imagine what would happen with Serbs who stayed in province after March 2004 if Kosovo declares independence?

    You said: Serbia’s statements do nothing to come closer to a solution and do nothing to ease the tension in the Balkans.
    Well correct me if I’m wrong but Serbia was the one who was constantly giving suggestions, numerous solutions … etc first it was model of Hong Kong which was dismissed by Albanian delegation because “in Hong Kong and China lives the same nation, the same people; and because that’s Asia and we are in Europe” after that Serbian delegation suggested model of the island of Öland which is in Europe, inhabited with Swedes and is Finnish autonomous province. That solution has been dismissed by Albanians without explanation.

    Albanian side was the one who expressed extreme deafness during the last negotiation process and to be honest I could understand that. I’m not blaming them when they listening US when said “if negotiation failed we’ll recognize independent Kosovo” and of course under that light why would Albanians have any motif to negotiate at all?
    So I’m not blaming them [Albanians] for that rigid attitude but I cannot stay silent after reading this kind of post!

    And the last thing. You said: Hmmm. Where has Serbia learned its negotiating tactics from, a rabid dog?
    Well no. Basis of Serbian negotiating tactics (and its alpha and omega) is INTERNATIONAL LAW and every option which is not violating is acceptable for Serbian delegation. On the other hand what do you expect? Are you familiar with any country who willingly gave away part of her territory just because?
    And even if that statement is true you have many similar and worse examples all around the world: China-Taiwan; UK-Northern Ireland; Spain-Basque Province…

    Greetings from Belgrade!

  2. Milan,

    Thanks for the comment. I understand where you are coming from.

    First, I want to make clear that although many of my posts have a “pro-albanian” position, it does not mean at all that the Albanian’s hands are clean. As you correctly point out, the March 2004 riots show how ethnic identity can trump rational common sense. (It started when a group of children claimed that they were attacked by Serbs and a dog . .. violence erupted after that).

    There were atrocities on both sides. There were Serbian AND Albanian war criminals. You are absolutely correct.

    The statement I was quoting from was the Serbian Foreign Minister. He’s not on the fray of Serbian politics.

    As for the autonomous province idea, I’m sure you’ve heard of the saying that you can’t step into the same river twice. Kosovo was an autonomous province. It was taken away from them over 10 years ago without explanation. Kosovar Albanians, understandably, do not want to go through that again.

    However, you raise the pessimistic spectre — one which I agree with — that Albanians and Serbs perhaps cannot get along. Ethnic identities are so strong, pride is so blinding, that Serbs and Albanians cannot get along, and that not even the rule of law will defeat that. It is an unfortunate view. I hope education and time can heal that rift.

    Anyway, though, don’t apologize for your comments. Say what you need to say. I am glad for the dialogue!

    You are absolutely correct that Serbia’s best defense against independence is international law. But that view has become clouded by its alliance with Russia and other official policy comments that Serbia has made — all of which brings back memories of Serbia’s iron fist.

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