Peel away the rhetoric, grandstanding, and stump speeches, and what you have left is the legal framework for Kosovo independence in light of UNSCR 1244. Does the resolution provide for Kosovo independence? Would a uniliteral declaration of independence violate UNSCR 1244?
In “Russia’s Sane Position on Kosovo,” published by Serbianna (http://www.serbianna.com/columns/averko/002.shtml), Mark Averko argues that 1244 provides no directive whatsoever for Kosovo becoming independent. Accordingly, in order for Kosovo to obtain independence, a Security Council resolution will have to pass.
Of course, we all know — absent the exposure of some extremely incriminating photos of one Mr. Vladmir Putin — no security council resolution will come to pass. Thus, is a unilateral declaration of independence illegal? More specifically, does a unilateral declaration violate UNSCR 1244 and, in the abstract, the rule of law?
Russia’s Sane Position on Kosovo
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov firmly stated that any solution to the Kosovo conflict must be agreeable to both sides. Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin correctly noted how some of his Western peers have disrespected UN Resolution 1244 governing Kosovo. Recent Russian diplomatic action on the disputed south Serb province confirms how many in the West continue to misread Kremlin desires. In some Western circles, Russia was expected to cave in to the idea of granting Kosovo independence. Russia’s position isn’t yet etched in stone. However, at this late stage of Kosovo negotiating, one can’t overlook how Russia has if anything become more resolute in securing a settlement on agreeable terms with Serbia.
Contemporary Russia isn’t the same as the one of the last decade when Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote (in Foreign Affairs Magazine) of that country possibly breaking up into several nations. Some might recall the pathetic backtracking of the Russian troop deployment to Kosovo at the end of the NATO bombing campaign against Yugoslavia in 1999. That clumsy move saw Moscow back down from an engagement in Kosovo to counter NATO’s presence.
Lavrov and Churkin are hardened no nonsense diplomats, with an active background in former Yugoslav matters. During Boris Yeltsin’s presidency, Churkin represented Russia in the Contact Group of outside powers monitoring the Bosnian Civil War. At the time, Lavrov was his country’s UN ambassador to many discussions on former Yugoslav issues. In his prior role as UN ambassador, Lavrov was very much involved with UN Resolution 1244. He’s fully aware of how certain Western governments have attempted to leapfrog over that document.
When looked at in its entirety, 1244 isn’t a directive for Kosovo becoming independent.
– It specifically states that Kosovo is a part of Yugoslavia. Serbia is internationally recognized as the successor state to Yugoslavia. In Communist and post Communist Yugoslavia – Kosovo was part of the Serb republic.
– 1244 calls for a return of refugees, as well as of Serb military and government bodies to Kosovo. This has yet to happen.
– In legalese, the 1244 clause about taking into “full consideration” the unsigned Rambouillet diktat isn’t a green light for independence. It simply means that aspects of Rambouillet can perhaps be considered.
Prior to the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, the Clinton Administration and Kosovo Albanian nationalists wrote a clause in Rambouillet which would’ve (if signed) permitted Kosovo to vote on independence after three years from the accord’s signing.
– The “final outcome” status for Kosovo is stated towards the end of 1244. It relates to how Kosovo should be governed as a part of Serbia. What other logical way can be otherwise suggested when the very same document recognizes Kosovo as part of Serbia, while stating that refugees, Serb government and military bodies should all return to that province?
UN Ambassador Richard Holbrooke leads a pack of Democratic Party affiliated foreign policy politicos advocating Kosovo independence. They argue how Kosovo will become more violent if independence isn’t granted. Is this rational not a blueprint for encouraging violence elsewhere by effectively saying that peaceful means will not get the same consideration? Why should independence be granted to a group threatening violence? Isn’t such an acquiesce a support for law of the jungle principles?
Holbrooke claims that Kosovo is the “special case” for independence unlike some other disputed former Communist bloc territories. On this point, Lavrov can easily outdo him by noting how Trans-Dniester has a much better case for independence than Kosovo.
The lines have been drawn. Other nations have expressed sympathy with the Russian and Serb position. At the same time, the vestiges of neo-liberal and neo-conservative antipathy towards Serbia remains a strong guiding factor in American foreign policy. The art of diplomacy seeks a middle course to such a dispute. This would lead one to believe that a compromise of sorts could be in the works. Writing in The Washington Times (March 20), former Serbian Unity Congress President Michael Djordjevich sees the possibility of a partition of Kosovo.
Bosnia, in a way, already serves as a precedent for such an arrangement and in this case it means that the Bosnian Serb republic “Republika Srpska” (RS) has a greater case for independence than Kosovo. The signed Dayton Accords governing Bosnia states that each of the two established Bosnian entities can establish their own parallel relationships with other states after a four year period from the document’s signing in 1995. Unlike Kosovo: in RS, there’s no noticeable ethnic violence, with many refugees having returned to its territory.
What’s really spooky about all of this is how Anglo-American mass media outlets at large haven’t fully explained all of the valid particulars related to opposing Kosovo’s independence. This kind of a “free press” makes it easy for officialdom to hustle policies like the “humanitarian” bombing of Yugoslavia. Russia and America have a number of common interests. Why risk a betterment in Russo-American relations by supporting a faulty premised Kosovo independence?