Kosovo Independence Declaration Imminent

Kosovo Independence Declaration Imminent Hashim Thaci Kosovo Photo It appears as if the nightmare scenario envisioned in 1992 of Kosovo declaring its independence and conceivably setting off a regional war is upon us.

A former rebel leader who has promised to declare Kosovo’s independence if mediation efforts fail declared victory for his party in a parliamentary election Saturday.

With most votes counted, opposition leader Hashim Thaci’s Democratic Party of Kosovo led with 35%, according to an unofficial tally by Democracy in Action, a coalition of monitoring groups. The Democratic League of Kosovo, traditionally the province’s largest political bloc, trailed with 22%. Official results were expected Monday.

“Tonight the clock has turned. A new century has begun,” Thaci said. “Kosovo is ready to go forward on the road that will lead us closer to Kosovo independence.” After casting his ballot, Thaci said that if he became Kosovo’s prime minister he would declare independence from Serbia “immediately” after Dec. 10, the date international envoys must report to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on efforts to resolve the dispute over the province’s future status.

Ethnic Albanians, who account for 90% of Kosovo’s population of 2 million, insist on independence, but Serbia has said it would never recognize a Kosovar state.

Two years of talks between Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian leaders and the Serbian government over the province’s status have resulted in little progress. The latest effort is being mediated by representatives from the U.S., Russia and the European Union.

Serbia has warned that unilateral moves that curb its sovereignty over the province, such as declaring independence, would endanger the region’s stability. Ethnic Albanians have grown skeptical as their leaders have failed to achieve independence from Serbia. The economy is a shambles, jobs are scarce and power outages are plentiful.

The EU-US-Russia troika sought to break the long impasse by having a three month round of discussions with a firm end date. The hope was that a deadline would create pressure to compromise. By all accounts, though, the Serbians and Kosovars are entrenched in their position.

An independence declaration would seem an all-but-certain outcome at this point. While not absolutely inconceivable that Thaci’s declaration here could increase the incentive for a compromise solution, it’s much more likely that it will merely exacerbate tensions. Further, it’s not at all clear what compromise solution would be acceptable to both sides.

The main question, then, presuming the independence declaration takes place next month, is What then? Do the Serbs have an appetite for another war to keep their ancient homeland together? Will NATO or another international organization allow that to happen? What of Albania proper?

Further, despite popular media portrayals, Kosovo isn’t at all an Albanian ethnic monolith. Will Serb-dominated northern Kosovo secede as they’ve long threatened?

via OTB News

Photo credit: AFP

FILED UNDER: General, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Tully says:

    Kosovo is Serbia!
    All the supporting countrys pushing for it’s independnce need to look at their own issues.
    America,Italy,France,Germany,England etc…illegal immigrants that are swarming the larger cities. As an American (soldier) who served in Kosovo May 1999 Sep 1999 and Oct 2000 to Nov 2001 We were there to assist the “poor” “helpless” albanians.
    Serbs have an average of 1.3 children while Albanians an average of 6.7 Do the math….
    Look at what is going on in your country.
    Albanians demanded to much allready and with a black eye from Bosnia they decided to start, Yes start a mini war. Problem was they were bringing a knife to a gun fight. And that’s when the please help us UN/NATO happened. Clinton knowing that the islamic countries were plotting against the good ole USA thought helping the albanians out would show good face…. well did it?
    What will happen now? Lose an ally that America had throught WW11, Serbia or Yugoslovia at the time helped countless Americans but look how they repaid them. I used to love America and what I thought she stood for but I will not want to live here any longer.

  2. just me says:

    Can we call it a quagmire?

    HOnestly as much as we seem to like to declare Kosovo a succes, has it ever been anything close to that, or did it just fall off the radar?

  3. Tano says:

    As an American, I believe that the legitimacy of a government derives from the consent of the governed. We fought for our own independence under that banner. Godspeed to the Kosovars in their effort to secure their own freedom.

    And if the Serbs in Northern Kosovo want to secede and remain with Serbia, then they should be allowed to do so. Its often seemed to me that that would be the obvious compromise.

  4. People talk about “Balkanization” frequently. Sometimes I wonder whether that would be such a bad thing. The smaller a region, the easier true democracy is.

  5. Anderson says:

    Whatever happens, Europe’s going to have to work this one out on its own. We seem to be tied up elsewhere.

  6. vnjagvet says:

    Probably just as well, Anderson. Looks like a good project for the European Union.

    Germany and France need something to keep them occupied.

  7. davod says:

    The Kosovarians would strenuously resist any effort of the North to secede.

  8. Peter says:

    Okay, so the “poor helpless America-loving” Albanians want independence. Well all I have to say is I can’t wait for Texas and California to reach 75% Mexican population and call for independence to create a Greater Mexico. And, I can’t wait for every Latin Speaking country to back the call and recognize their proclaimation of independence. Do you really think that the USA will let that happen or will they bring in the troops to prevent it (ahem, like Serbia did!) Kosovo Albanians have about as much right to independence as we have to declair ownership of all world oxygen.