29 October 2007 - UNILATERAL ACTION ON KOSOVO STATUS WOULD AFFECT SERBIA’S EUROPEAN PATH, BELGRADE OFFICIALS CLAIM AT NATO PA SEMINAR [Press release]
A unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo would seriously undermine Serbia’s fragile democracy, stall its march towards Euro-Atlantic integration, and erode regional stability. This was the overarching message that Serbian government officials and parliamentarians conveyed to NATO legislators and representatives of international organizations gathered in Belgrade for the NATO PA 67th Rose-Roth seminar, on 25-27 October.
The situation on the ground remains very uncertain. Participants in the seminar heard many fears about the potential consequences in
In view of this looming crisis, former UN envoy to Kosovo Kai Eide called for moderation on all sides and urged the international community to “turn every stone” to find a compromise solution acceptable to both sides before the 10 December deadline set by the UN Secretary General for the negotiations led by the EU-US-Russia troika. He warned however that a continuation of the status quo could have destabilising consequences for Pristina. Now more than ever, there was a need for clarity and for closure. “You have to draw the line somewhere”, he said.
In his keynote address, the Norwegian diplomat soundly criticised the international community for neglecting, as part of the status process, to provide “sufficient incentives” for Kosovo Albanians to implement the standards that would make Kosovo politically and economically viable.
Arben Qirezi, advisor to Kosovo’s prime minister, disagreed with Eide’s assessment on standards implementation, insisting that many provisions of the Ahtisaari plan had already been adopted. He further accused
Other participants argued that further implementation of standards was not possible under the current arrangement, and that the status quo in Kosovo was no longer sustainable. Steven Schook, Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in Kosovo, stated that true economic development was very problematic without a status resolution, as foreign investments would not flow in until there was institutional clarity. In addition, worrying signs of a loss of trust in the PISG and the role of the international community presented a serious risk for Kosovo’s security.
Jonas Jonsson, head of the EU Preparation Team in Kosovo, maintained that a new arrangement along the lines of the Athisaari report, with the EU in the lead, would be able to guarantee the major elements for Kosovo stability, notably institutional and administrative decentralization, protection of cultural heritage and full respect for the rights of all ethnic groups. Most people in Kosovo were united by a desire to become EU citizens and this helped EU efforts to develop civil society and promote economic growth. “Kosovo is a European problem and needs a European perspective”, he stated.
In contrast, Serbian Deputy Minister for Kosovo and Metohija, Ljubomir Kljakic, maintained that the Ahtisaari report’s proposals were based on double standards, and an independent Kosovo would represent little more than new Western colonialism. “Kosovo, he insisted is “a blackhole”, and it is not sustainable economically, unless within
EU and NATO officials and analysts presented a mixed assessment of
Co-operation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former
NATO officials delivered a similarly mixed picture of
As NATO prepares for an important summit in
The 67th Rose-Roth seminar gathered in