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)


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