The New York Times reported in an article published today by Nicholas Wood that the UN fears that Serbs will disrupt an independent Kosovo. This is not really news. What do you expect Serbia to do? Throw a cocktail party? Lay out the red carpet?
The real question is what kind of “disruptions” are the Serbs planning on undertaking and what the international community can do in response. One of the main concerns for an independent Kosovo is power. KEK (Koroporata Energjetike E Kosoves), which supplies Kosovo with 75% of the power, relies heavily on water supplied by the north — which the Serbs maintain substantial control over. If the Serbs fulfill their promise to impose economic sanctions and to stop all trade, then — the argument goes — KEK will not have the ability to provide power to Kosovo consistently.
Of course, everyone who lives in Kosovo knows very well that KEK has trouble as it is now to provide consistent power. So what is no power going to really solve when Kosovo is already dealing with an inconsistent power source? The problem will be that Kosovars will blame the Serbs — when the real problem has to do with Kosovo politics on the issue of KEK. Put simply, KEK can’t kick itself out of a wet paper bag.
The international community, as it has been asked for some time, is to prop up Kosovo utilities so that it won’t have to rely on water sources controlled by the Serbs. It’s a little too late now to start trying to find a compromise solution as to Kosovo’s woeful power issues.
U.N. Fears Serbs Will Disrupt a Free Kosovo
PRISTINA, Kosovo, Dec. 9 —
As Kosovo moves closer to declaring its independence, fears are rising that Serbia and Serbs in Kosovo’s north could take steps to try to disrupt the province’s shaky economy and scare off countries ready to recognize it as a sovereign state. Senior United Nations officials say they are particularly worried that the Serbian government will direct Kosovo’s Serbs to disrupt most of the province’s power supply and assert partial control of the north by having Serb police officers break away from the province’s police force. Such moves could further inflame tensions between the province’s ethnic Albanians and Serbs, possibly leading to violence.
The United Nations is then expected to begin deliberations about its next possible step. Western diplomats in Brusselsand Pristina suggest the United Nations will invite the European Unionto replace the United Nations mission in the province, and leave it to individual countries to decide if they should recognize Kosovo as an independent nation.
Aid agencies, including the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, have already drawn up contingency plans for an exodus of 5,000 to 100,000 refugees, many of which they expect will be ethnic Serbs..
While the Serbian government has repeatedly emphasized that it wants to avoid any violence in the province, it has promised to stop trade with Kosovo and begin economic sanctions if it declares independence. United Nations officials say a trade cutoff would not be especially damaging because Kosovo already does most of its trading with Macedonia. But they are worried that economic sanctions could include disrupting the supply of electricity, which could cause major problems in an economy that already is one of Europe’s poorest.
The province’s main power plant, which supplies 75 percent of Kosovo’s electricity, runs on water supplied from the north, where Serbia still retains substantial control. In addition, Serbia could cut some of the province’s other power by stopping the transmission of electricity from Europe, which runs on power lines through Serbia. Even more alarming, United Nations officials say, is the possibility that ethnic Serb members of Kosovo’s police force could quit and adopt Serbian uniforms, a move that might provoke attacks from hard-line ethnic Albanian groups.