Rats Are Your Friend

Rats have a nasty reputation.  Rats are the ones that hide in alleyways by the thousands and eat your garbage and if you believe the legend, tear apart small children in under ten seconds.  Rats are the ones that are responsible for the plague.  Rats eat mice for breakfast and make fun of your cats.  Rats multiply by the thousands.  Rats eat your car engines.  Rats are the lowest of the lowest.

But do they deserve all that scorn?  The rats I’m talking about here are the Norway Rats — the “common” rat found in most cities, rahttp://icwdm.org/Images/rat-norway/Norway5.gifmpaging your local fast food chain with more malice and synchronization than Al-Queda.  I’m surprised the Bush administration and the State Department have not attempted to either invade Norway or place Norway Rats on the terrorist watch list.  Maybe they have already and lied to Congress about it.  Or if they didn’t lie about it, they definitely destroyed the tapes.

Either way, from what my sources tell me, certain attorneys working within both departments have prepared secret rat memos calling for their mass detentions and waterboarding — all in the name of public safety.  The theory goes that because rats are not citizens, the American government can do whatever they want to them so long as no one knows about it, like sending them to Morocco or Egypt to be “interrogated” about who or what the rats’ next target will be.  It’s a frightening time in this post-9/11 world. 

Taco Bell, watch out.  You might be next. 

Apart from the political problems that rats face, I’m here to talk briefly about the virtues of rats.  To begin, rats are extremely smart.  They have an elaborate form of communication allowing them to alert one another of dangers or good food sources.  They have a strong survival instinct and with their extremely powerful jaws, can eat and digest just about anything and everything.  Rats also have a strong sense of family and will fight to the death to protect their kin and their territory. 

Aren’t these all good qualities?  Why then are rats hated as opposed to revered?  How many times have you heard:  you dirty rat!!  Do they really deserve such vitriol by humans?

I find it all strange because Norway rats do not live on beaches by themselves or in deserts.  They live with the majority of us humans in cities, toiling away amongst the cement and sewer water, trying to make ends meet. 

Wherever humans are, well, that’s where Norway rats reside.  And, more particularly, wherever human garbage is left, that is where rats will be waiting for their place in the buffet line.  Whether we’d like to admit it or not, rats are part of us and part of our one world culture.   They eat our garbage.  They eat our crap.  They live off what we throw away. 

Rats don’t discriminate.  You can be Indian, American, or Russian.  As long as you have garbage, rats will be there to eat it.  As long as we’re around, so will the rats.  Chances are, if they’re gone from the Earth, so are we.

As if New York City car owners don’t already endure enough indignities — $500-a-month garages, alternate-side parking, the B.Q.E. — it turns out that rats, of which the city has an ample supply, love to cozy up inside car engines this time of year.

“They like to go into the engine’s compartment to stay warm and they build a nest there,” said Gus Kerkoulas, the owner of Z P Auto on Great Jones Street in Greenwich Village. “They hang out, and during the night they must get bored, and they eat the wires.”

The rats don’t discriminate. A new Bentley is as much at risk as a ’78 Buick; a car parked in an attended indoor garage is as susceptible as one on the street, Mr. Kerkoulas said. Kevin Centanni said that after his BMW was parked in a private spot next to his house in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, for a couple of days this fall, it wouldn’t start. “When I looked under the hood, there was a nest up in the engine” constructed of plastic bags and twigs, he said, as well as “rat droppings around, on top of the engine and near the battery.”

Fixing a car after a rat attack can cost a couple of hundred dollars or more, depending on the diligence of the rats and the prices of the mechanic. And while city rats are more likely to set up their chop shops in the winter than in summer, it’s a year-round problem.

Sally Schermerhorn said several of her neighbors on the Lower East Side have had overnight guests in their cars’ engines, and she has had them twice in her own. The first time was a couple of summers back; her Buick wouldn’t start, so she opened the hood. “They had a little picnic set up in there, with chicken bones and a little red and white checkered table,” she said.

Just kidding. “But the chicken bones really happened,” Ms. Schermerhorn said. “It wouldn’t run. I called the mechanic, and he said, ‘Oh yeah, the rats ate the wires.’ I said, ‘Oh come on, you can come up with something better than that.’”  Aaron Gruber, whose family has owned Manhattan Alignment and Diagnostic Center on West 131st Street for 30 years, said incredulity is a common response among his customers.

“They think it’s a joke,” he said, and so “we show them the wires chewed up.”  Ignition wires seem to be a particular favorite, he said. Mr. Gruber, who often finds telltale chicken bones and candy wrappers, said he sees cars with the problem about twice a month; they have often been parked near Riverside Park.

Paul D. Curtis, an associate professor at Cornell University who specializes in wildlife management, said rodents in general tend to be attracted to plastic tubing and wires. “They do need to chew constantly to wear down their incisors,” he said, “and there’s something about the texture of the plastic that they really like.”

In some cases, having the car fail to start may actually be preferable to the alternative. “Once you start the engine, if a rat is caught between the fan belt, you have a bloody mess and you hear eeehhhhhhhhhh!” Mr. Kerkoulas said.  Afterward, he said, “Someone will come in and say then, ‘I have a real bad smell.’”

After 28 years in the business, Mr. Kerkoulas is not fazed by the cleanup. “We put gloves on,” he said, “and then you move on with your life.” He said that even if a city dweller has not had engine problems, chances are rats have still visited the car. “I guarantee you that there is not one car in New York City” that you won’t find rat droppings in, he said.

Although the rats-in-cars tales have an only-in-New-York quality to them, anecdotes come from far and near. Greg Gordon just spent $500 getting his 2003 Honda Accord repaired after rats ate through the knock-sensor system, which monitors how the pistons fire. The car was parked near his home in Greenwich Village. Looking on the Web, he found other Honda owners complaining about rats nesting in their knock-sensor systems.

Mr. Gordon’s car is a hand-me-down from his parents, who had a similar problem in the Arizona desert. “My father was telling me that people will leave their hoods open so animals won’t seek shelter” from the scorching sun, he said.  In 2004, emergency managers at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico advised employees to take a fire extinguisher course after twigs, leaves and weeds from rats’ nests caused fires in two new trucks.

It happens “anywhere where rodent populations are high,” Professor Curtis said. Maple syrup producers have a particular problem with it, and on farms, woodchucks like to get into tractors. One solution, Mr. Kerkoulas said, is two socks filled with moth balls, an old farmer’s trick. Hang them in the engine — away from any moving parts — and that will deter the rats, he declared. There are side effects, though: the musty smell of moth balls is likely to seep into your car.

As an alternative, Mr. Gruber said, one of his customers sprinkled cayenne pepper around the engine and, so far, the rats had not returned. Professor Curtis is skeptical of both of those simple approaches, saying, “They have almost no effect in outdoor applications.” He said maple syrup producers used a product called Millers Hot Sauce that repels animals like rats, mice and deer.

Cats may not keep the rats away, but they certainly know about the protection available under a car hood. Mr. Centanni said that a few years ago, a stray cat had crept into his engine to have her babies. “A bunch came running out,” dropping down from the front of the car. Maybe not what one hopes to find under the hood, but at least there were no rats.

Above article was published in New York Times by Patricia Cohen on Dec. 29 and can be found here.

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Mikhail Gorbachev to the U.S., EU and NATO: Buzz off!!

Add Mikhail Gorbachev to the list of Russians that are warning the U.S., E.U. and NATO that recognizing Kosovo independence would set a “dangerous precedent” for “international security.”  Mr. Gorbachev also declared that because Kosovo neither belongs to the E.U. and NATO, their involvement should be much more “limited.” http://www.channel4.com/more4/media/images/documentaries/R/russia/gallery2/gorbachev_384×350.jpg Interestingly, Mr. Gorbachev says nothing about Russia’s own involvement in Serbia’s affairs nor does he provide any extended reasons for how prolonging negotiations would improve regional stability.

In any event, nothing Mr. Gorbachev has said is really groundbreaking or new.  But why has the western press picked it up with such fervor?  Well, it wasn’t too long ago that Mr. Gorbachev was hailed for his “new thinking” on international affairs.  To many in the West, Mr. Gorbachev was “one of the boys.”  After all, the west says, look at the location of the “Gorbachev Foundation” (San Francisco), his founding of Green Cross International, his membership to the Club of Rome, and his criticisms of Czar Putin.

Wasn’t it a surprise to the west, then, when the Russian bear said something contrary to the West’s “party line.”  You have to wonder why it took Mr. Gorbachev so long to speak or why he was not involved in the troika negotiations.  Could he have been Russia’s Jimmy Carter?  Are his words too little, too late for a negotiated solution?  It appears so.

Mikhail Gorbachev, the former president of the Soviet Union, said Saturday the European Union and NATO have no cause to deal with the province of Kosovo.  Citing the fact that the breakaway Serbian province does not belong to either international organization, Gorbachev said EU and NATO officials should limit their involvement with Kosovo, RIA Novosti reported.

“For the first time in history, two organizations are trying to assume responsibility for the future of a country — Serbia — which is not a member of either of them,” Gorbachev said.

The Albanian-dominated province has been a United Nations protectorate since 1999, but international law still has the region designated as part of Serbia. Yet Britain’s U.N. envoy, John Sawers, said Dec. 19 that Kosovo’s status would now be determined by the European Union. Gorbachev has criticized such attempts by outside powers to seek independence for Kosovo, RIA Novosti said.

“By destroying the international law and replacing it with poorly disguised tyranny, the proponents of this approach have certainly miscalculated the outcome of their actions,” the former Soviet leader said Saturday.  (Source:  UDI).

Kosovo says to Serbia’s planned embargo: Don’t worry, Be Happy (Or: You See That Pig, It’s Horse. No, Really!)

A local Kosovo think-tank recently published a report that the planned closure of the Kosovo-Serbia border will have a “minimum impact” on local trade and the supply of goods.  Strangely, the same reported observed that imports entering Kosovo through the Serbia border amounted to “only about 31%.”  Okay . . .

A 31% loss in imports to an already fragile economy is — in any language — hardly a “minimum impact” on local trade.  Indeed, Serbia’s closing of the border as well as a trade embargo will have a significant impact on the Kosovo economy.  Any contrary argument is irresponsible and a display of pure bravado that does nothing to help Kosovo face the facts. 

And Kosovo has to face the facts.  And the fact is that even with millions upon millions of dollars in international investment, along with its trade with Serbia, the Kosovo economy is in trouble.  Kosovo has an unemployment rate of over thirty percent.  The average income is 200 euros a month.  The supply of skilled workers for white collar jobs is limited.  Without question, even a small loss of investment will play havoc to an economy that has trouble standing independently on its own two feet.

And that brings up the larger question of stability in the region.  Sure, it’s important that Serbia and Kosovo have an amicable relationship.  Sure, it’s important that the U.S. and Russia do not enter into a new cold war over the region.  Sure, it’s important that when the unilateral declaration of independence occurs, that the rights of minorities are protected. 

But in the end, it is none of these things that will be the driving force of stability in Kosovo.  It is the inter-relationship between good governance and a sustainable economy that will deliver stability in Kosovo and by extension stability the region.  That is what will take the most work, not negotiations behind closed doors or stump speeches by political leaders.

If political leaders think that independence will be the panacea and that Kosovo will somehow magically turn into a powerhouse of good governance and economic strength, then Kosovo and the rest of the international community are in for a very big surprise.  It takes a lot of planning, committment and will — three things that Kosovo and the international community have failed to ensure.

Any possible embargo Serbia may impose in retaliation against a newly-independent Kosovo will not cause significant harm to Kosovo’s economy, says a policy brief published on Thursday by a local think-tank. Kosovo’s Institute for Advanced Studies, the GAP, published its report on the possible impact that the closure of the Kosovo-Serbia border might have on local trade and the supply of goods.

“There is no room for panic among the Kosovo public,” the GAP concludes, adding that “Serbian producers would lose much more from any such sanction than the Kosovars.”  The report says that claims of expected shortages are misleading, and there are routes other than those through Serbia, for importing products without any need to increase prices.

“The possible disruptions are likely to have only short-term effects, since in the long-term Kosovo faces no difficulty, because all other products may be substituted, and can find other routes through which to reach Kosovo.” Recently, several Serb nationalist politicians have warned that if Kosovo proclaims its independence, it will face retaliatory measures by Belgrade, such as an economic embargo.

According to the GAP report, “the imports entering Kosovo through Serb border crossings during 2007 were only about 31%” of total imports. However, some economists see this as an indication of Kosovo’s continuing excessive reliance on trade routes through Serbia, whose substitution will incur additional costs.  The main Serbian products used in Kosovo are construction materials, which account for an estimated 10.87% of total imports from Serbia, and wheat and cereals which amount to 8%. The report recommends that local government and other stakeholders find alternative sources and routes for importing supplies.

After eight years of UN administration since the end of the war, Kosovo’s economy remains fragile and lacking investment. Local politicians and economists are hoping that Kosovo’s independence will remove the uncertainty, and will help attract more investment to the region.  (Source:  BIRN)

Benazir Bhutto: Who has the most to gain from her assassination? (Hint: It Wasn’t Pervez Musharraf)

I received an email alert yesterday afternoon from a colleague in Pakistan that Benazir Bhutto had been “injured” during an attack.  I thought to myself . . . “injured”?  In the context of a government officihttp://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/graphics/2007/05/20/wpak20.jpgal, “injured” is often times a codeword for “assassination attempt.”  It was with greater anger, sadness and frustration that I learned later — as did the rest of the world — that Benazir Bhutto had been assassinated.  I hope that Pakistan is committed to bringing those truly responsible to justice fairly and quickly.

Almost immediately after the reports of her assassination, theories ran abound on who had the most to gain from Bhutto’s assassination.  From what I could gather from news reports and my colleagues on the ground in Pakistan, the groups/people who had most to gain were both a) General/President Musharraf and b) the terrorists.  Theories also have run abound on who was responsible for — as President Bush characterized it — the “cowardly act” of assassinating former Prime Minister Bhutto.  Indeed, these two separate questions have become one in the same.

I think a couple things need to be addressed.  The first is the issue of President Bush characterizing Bhutto’s assassination as a “cowardly act.”  By defining and framing her assassination as a cowardly act, it suggests that her brazen murder was some aberrant, isolated action by an extremist individual as opposed to a systematic, institutionalized course and interplay of conduct between the U.S. and Pakistani government, and between the Pakistani government and extremist groups. 

Surely, more questions need to be addressed on how the Pakistani government — by both action and omission — allowed such an environment to foster in which this type of assassination could take place and to what extent the government — both Pakistani and the U.S. — is benefiting from maintaining such an environment.  Part of the answer to that is understanding the interplay between Musharaff’s thirst to maintain power as well as the relationships that have brought Musharraf to where he is now.

But the larger issue I want to discuss is who has most to gain from Bhutto’s assassination.  I think most people will look to Musharraf and the backdrop of the upcoming presidential “elections” and say without reservation that he is the person who has the most to gain from Bhutto’s assassination.  Perhaps this is so, but the buck should not stop there. 

The most to gain from Bhutto’s assassination is not Musharraf, but the United States.  Do I think the United States was directly involved in her murder?  That’s not for me to opine here.  I’ll save that line of thought for those posts proclaiming a large-scale CIA conspiracy.

That being said, the U.S. has the most to gain from Bhutto’s assassination because the U.S. can now continue to count on Musharraf to carry on and go on with its policies, which he receives as a directive in both words and as financial boon in excess of millions of dollars to his personal bank accounts.  Bhutto and her party were geared to make significant changes in government that Musharraf and his military had such control over. 

When it came to a partner in Pakistan for the U.S.’s war on terror, the U.S. had to deal with only one person:  Musharraf.  What happens when you have democratic reform?  What happens when you have transparency?  What happens when you have true power sharing?  To the hawks and “yes men” of the current administration, you have inefficiency.  How dare you question our policies.  Do what we say.  With Bhutto, there will be a lot more “no” than “yes.”  That’s what happens when you have a democracy.

Bhutto was a threat to the U.S.’s war on terror.  Bhutto was not a threat because she would be “soft” on terrorism and that national security would be a low priority.  Those were undoubtedly top priorities for her and her country, even if she wasn’t a General like Musharraf. 

Rather, Bhutto was a threat because the “same old same old” would not fly with Bhutto, who demanded democratic reforms and government transparency and not such an open door, welcoming arms policy with the U.S. that Musharraf displayed.  Apart from the so-called “democracy lovers” of the United States, Bhutto would have been a thorn in the U.S.’s misguided foreign policy, which can be summed up in three words:  war on terror.

Bhutto would have questioned.  Bhutto would have demanded the basis of information from the U.S., not simply monthly checks amounting to millions of dollars a month to turn a blind eye.  Bhutto was for democracy, reforming the current government, and establishing a true separation of powers, not for maintaining a dictatorship.  All this is bad news for a war on terror based on unquestioning and unwavering support at all costs. 

Think about how much the U.S. has invested in Pakistan under Musharraf.  We are not talking about millions of dollars.  We are talking about billions and billions of dollars of monetary, infrastructural and human investment by the U.S.  A large percentage of that was at serious risk with an impending change in power, particularly to a power that the U.S. could not control.

In that regard, any argument that stresses how Musharraf had the most to gain from Benazir Bhutto’s assassination, must also look with scrutiny at Musharraf’s closest and most powerful ally:  the United States. 

Serbia’s Position Is Now Crystal Clear: We Are Not Joining The EU (Or: PM Kostunica . . . are you sure you want to do that?)

Not surprisingly, the Serbian Parliament past the resolution I reported yesterday against Kosovo independence, 220 to 14 (with 3 abstaining).  Although there were approximately 8 hours of “debate” over the resolution, as you can see from the final vote, it was less of a “debate” than it was a platform for every Serb nationalist to make a rousing speech against ethnic Albanian “separatists” and the international community’s complicity with these “separatist” criminals.  So much for the voice of moderation in Serbia.

Apart from the language in the resolution against Kosovo independence, the Serbian Parliamennoeu_320.pngt took its opportunity to blame its current situation — all of it — on the United States and, by extension, the EU, and, if that wasn’t enough, NATO.

The Serbian Parliament officially rejected the position of the EU mission coming to Kosovo.  This is interesting because Russia already expressed their view that it will accept an EU mission so long as the UN SCR passes a resolution and that Serbia agrees to it.  Of course, Russia’s grandstanding was really a strained attempt to appear like independent and moderate negotiators, as everyone knows that any UN SCR resolution will depend on Russia itself and Serbia would never agree to an EU mission in the first place.  So it’s like the Grim Reaper saying, “I wouldn’t have to kill everybody if either there were no people around or they were alive.”  Yes, I know, it doesn’t make sense, and neither did Russia’s position.

What was more disturbing in all of this was what everyone already knew.  But this time it seems to be official:  Sebian PM Vojislav Kostunica said in no uncertain terms that Serbia will not join the EU if the EU recognizes Kosovo independence.  Of course, this has similar Russian logic as described above. 

The EU has for quite some time indicated that they will recognize Kosovo independence.  The EU coalition is strong and committed to doing so.  It just seems like sour grapes now for Serbia to say that it will not join the EU if it recognizes Kosovo independence.  Hey, Kostunica, you should have said that a long time ago.

The Serbian parliament has voted overwhelmingly to condemn any attempt by Kosovo to become independent. Authorities in the province say they will declare independence unilaterally in the coming weeks, because talks with Serbia have made no progress. The Belgradeparliament’s resolution calls for action against those who recognise an independent Kosovo.

After eight hours of debate on Wednesday, Serbian MPs approved the resolution by 220 votes to 14. It rejects the idea of the EU setting up a mission in Kosovo before the province’s status is resolved. The text also accuses Nato – which has 16,000 peacekeepers in Kosovo – of supporting ethnic Albanians, who account for about 90% of the population. The resolution says Serbiawill “reconsider” diplomatic ties with Western countries that recognise Kosovo’s statehood. The US and several EU states have indicated they may do so.

During the debate in parliament, Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica accused the USof blocking efforts to find a compromise with ethnic Albanians by its open support of Kosovo’s independence. “Americais openly striving for the destruction of the international order,” Mr Kostunica said.  He added that Serbiawould not join the EU if the bloc recognised Kosovo’s independence.

“Serbia can join any integration only as a whole and not a truncated country,” he said.

The opposition Liberal Party leader Cedomir Jovanovic – who does not oppose Kosovo’s independence – said the resolution was a blow to Serbia’s ambitions to become an EU member. (Source:  BBC)

Where oh Where is General Ratko Mladic?

Where the hell is one of the most wanted men in the world, Ratko Mladic, the Serbian general indicted for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for his actions surrounding the ’92-’95 siege of Sarajevo and the massacre of over 8,000 Bosniak men at Srebrenica?   20881_mladic-ratko.jpg The failure to locate him has frustrated the international community and certainly former Chief Prosecutor for the ICTY, Carla Del Ponte. 

In the Balkans, where often times rumor is reported as fact, it is hard to differentiate between real evidence of Ratko’s location and just plain speculation.  After all, sightings of Ratko seemingly rival that of Elvis.

But one thing appears certain, fair or not.  Mladic’s capture is intimately tied to Serbia’s inclusion into the EU.  To many EU countries, capturing Mladic will be a sign — real or not — that Serbia has shed its ultra ethnic and nationalistic tendencies that were the cause of so much bloodshed in the late 80’s and early 90’s. 

The premise of that argument — again, fair or not — is that Belgrade either knows of Mladic’s whereabouts and is not doing anything about it or that Belgrade is not appearing to do as much as it can to locate and bring Mladic to justice.  Indeed, the appearance of reality is just as important as reality itself.   And the failure of Serbia to locate and capture Mladic — fair or not — raises suspicions by the international community that Serbia is stonewalling for the very same reasons that precipitated the wars in the Balkans. 

The question is whether these suspicions are grounded in reality or whether they underscore, as the Serbs point out, a bias against them.  Of course, these questions are not mutually exclusive.   

Serbia’s war crimes prosecutor said wartime Bosnian Serb army commander Gen. Ratko Mladic is believed to be in Serbia, while his political leader Radovan Karadzic is in the Balkan region, the Beta news agency reported Tuesday. Vladimir Vukcevic said the two most wanted war crimes fugitives would be arrested and handed to the U.N. war crimes tribunal when “more closely” located, according to the report.

It was not clear from the report if authorities had indeed discovered a general location of the two, who have been indicted by the tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, for the slaughter of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica in 1995 by the Bosnian Serb troops. However, Serbia’s Defense Minister Dragan Sutanovac said that he has no new knowledge about Mladic being in Serbia.

“I have no such knowledge and I don’t know on which basis Vukcevic said it,” Sutanovac told reporters.

Mladic, who was last seen in Belgrade 2006, is believed by U.N. war crimes prosecutors to be hiding under the protection of his hardline allies in the Serb military. Karadzic, who disappeared from public view in 1998, is possibly being sheltered by the nationalist clergy within the Serbian Orthodox Church, they said.  (Source: Associated Press)

Serbia To Retaliate Against the West When Kosovo Becomes Independent

Let the showdown begin.

Serbia apparently plans to adopt a set of “retaliatory measures” against those Western states that recognize Kosovo’s independence.  This, of course, includes the distinct possibility of cutting off diplomatic ties with the United States and also the EU.  So much for the road to Serbia’s inclusion in the EU.

Serbia also plans to adopt a resolution against the inevitable EU mission, kostunica.jpgunless the EU mission is approved by the UN Security Council.  Given the state of affairs over the Kosovo issue in the UN SC, it is clear that the pro-national Serbian Parliament will pass their resolution.

What does all this mean?  Is it Serbia’s return to the anti-Western, isolationist policies that epitomized Serbia in the late 80’s and early 90’s? 

Of course, this resolution did not come out of left field.  The author of the resolution, Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, has an agenda, and the writing has been on the wall for quite some time.

Serbia plans to adopt a set of retaliatory measures against Western states if they recognize Kosovo’s independence, including the possibility of severing diplomatic ties with the United States and EU countries, officials said Tuesday.  Belgrade also said it rejects the idea of an EU mission in Kosovo until the breakaway province’s status is resolved.

On Wednesday, the parliament will debate a strongly-worded resolution proposed by the government that will bind Serbian officials never to accept Kosovo’s independence.  Ethnic Albanians in Kosovo have pledged to proclaim independence early next year, and the U.S. and several EU states have indicated they would recognize it. Serbia, backed by Russia, insists that Kosovo, a province of 2 million people that is 90 percent ethnic Albanian, should remain part of its territory.  The European Union agreed earlier this month to send an 1,800-member mission to Kosovo to replace the current system in the province, which has been run by the U.N. and NATO since the 1999 war between Serbs and separatist ethnic Albanians.

But the Serbian government resolution, which will almost certainly be adopted by the nationalist-dominated parliament, said that the EU mission would not be welcome before Kosovo’s final status is determined at the U.N. Security Council, where Russia could veto any decision not favorable to Belgrade.

“The sending of the proposed EU mission … would be an act which jeopardizes the sovereignty, territorial integrity and the constitution of the Republic of Serbia,” according to a copy of the draft resolution made available to the Associated Press. Russia has opposed the new EU mission without Belgrade’s consent.  The document says that Serbiamust “reconsider” diplomatic ties with Western countries that recognize Kosovo’s statehood. It adds that because of NATO’s alleged support for Kosovo’s independence, Serbia must remain outside the Western military alliance.  Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic said that the proposed resolution “represents the continuation of the government’s policies toward Kosovo.”

But Liberal Party leader Cedomir Jovanovic — a rare Serbian official who does not oppose Kosovo’s independence — said that the proposed resolution “represents the end of Serbia’s pro-European policies.”  “We will not support the resolution because it epitomizes the return to the anti-Western isolationist policies of (former Serbian leader) Slobodan Milosevic,” Jovanovic said, adding that a similar resolution was adopted by the assembly in 1999 on the eve of NATO’s bombing of Serbiato stop its crackdown again separatist Kosovo Albanians.

The proposed draft also said that Serbia must “act efficiently to protect the lives and property” of non-Albanians in Kosovo in case it proclaims independence. It did not specify whether this would include an armed intervention advocated by Serbia’s ultranationalists.  The resolution, apparently drafted by Serbia’s conservative Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, also said that the planned signing of a pre-membership trade and aid deal with the EU in January “must be in the function of preserving the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Kostunica’s ruling party has earlier demanded that the signing of the so-called Stabilization and Association Agreement with the EU be conditioned with the bloc agreeing that Kosovo is Serbia’s integral part.  But President Boris Tadic’s pro-Western Democrats managed to remove that part from the resolution, saying Serbiamust remain committed to EU membership whatever Kosovo’s future status may turn out to be. (Source: Associated Press)