One Step Closer to a Unilateral Declaration of Independence

The New York Times reported in an article that the Security Council met yesterday and, not surprisingly, no viable working solution was produced. Indeed, the Serbians are on one side of the Atlantic; the Kosovars are on the other.

Massimo D’Alema, the Italian Foreign Minister who was presiding over the Security Council, in true to form Italian fashion, blamed the Americans and the Russians for pushing the Kosovar and Serbian government “even farther apart,” and that the Americans have “underestimated” the situation. Sometimes I think Mr. D’Alema makes these kinds of statements because he can’t help himself. As an Italian, I think it is his duty to always make things as difficult as possible.

Mr. D’Alema’s point that the Americans and Russians have pushed the governments “even farther apart” is not necessarily accurate. These countries have intensified the debate by establishing a deadline over a final status process. They, along with the EU, for better or for worse, brought the final status process from hypothetical endgame to a tangible conclusion. Thus, the “intervention” of these governments have brought the Serbians and Kosovars closer together, and it became crystal clear that when they were that close, there were non-negotiable positions on both sides that required a workable solution . . . fast.

Of course, if Mr. D’Alema was left to his own devices, negotiations and talks would continue between the Serbians and Kosovars until 2027.

The Security Council signaled Wednesday that it would not be able to resolve the status of Kosovo, the breakaway Serbian province, and that a solution would have to come from outside the United Nations. John Sawers, the British ambassador, emerged from a closed Council meeting to say that what he had heard inside from Vojislav Kostunica, the Serbian prime minister, and Fatmir Sejdiu, the president of Kosovo, “underlined just how enormous the gulf is between the two parties.”

Zalmay Khalilzad, the American ambassador, said that the two had “irreconcilable differences” and that the time had come to proceed with granting Kosovo the independence it has sought but Serbia has resisted.“ The continuation of the status quo poses not only a threat to peace and stability in Kosovo but also to the region and in Europe,” Mr. Khalilzad said. Mr. Sawers said the European Union would proceed based on the plan for “supervised independence” with protections for the Serbian minority developed by Martti Ahtisaari, the United Nations envoy, and sent to the Council in March. Serbia and Russia, its ally on the Council, had rejected that plan because it led to independence for Kosovo.

The dispute has pitted the principles of sovereignty and self-determination against each other and produced a stand-off between Serbia, backed vigorously by Russia, and Kosovo, supported by the United States and the European Union. Massimo D’Alema, the foreign minister of Italy, who presided over Wednesday’s session as this month’s Council president, said the intervention of Russia and the United States had pushed the Serbian government and Kosovo even farther apart.

He said that President Boris Tadic of Serbia had told him, “I can’t let the Russians be more Serbian than me.” And the Kosovars, Mr. D’Alema said, “can’t let themselves appear less Kosovar than President Bush.” While Mr. D’Alema said Italy backed the European Union plan for Kosovo’s independence, he said “the Americans have underestimated the difficulties of the situation.”

Wednesday’s meeting occurred after four months of talks among Belgrade and Pristina and mediators from the United States, Russia and the European Union that were held to satisfy Russian demands for more time. The West contends that the talks produced no movement and Moscow argues that they were substantive and should continue. 


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