Saturday, July 21, 2007

US & EU withdraw Security Council Resolution

The media is reporting today that the US and the EU have withdrawn their UN resolution on Kosovo after a third round of negotiations with Russia failed to produce any results.  In response, Kosovo Prime Minister, Agim Çeku, has announced that Kosovo will declare independence on November 28th.

Thus far, it appears that the Kosovar government would follow the Ahtisaari plan following an independence declaration.

Kosovo's government would invite Nato's peacekeeping troops to stay and ask the EU to implement a supervisory mission – as proposed by Mr Ahtisaari – over a four-month transition period to take the place of the UN protectorate. But doubts remain about the resolve of the EU to step into the role without a UN resolution.

A real question will be whether American and European leaders have the political will to do something or whether they'll allow the present boondoggle to continue.

Read more here and here.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Russia rejects latest UN resolution

The saga at the UN continues to churn on, consuming a lot of energy and producing very little tangible progress.  Yesterday Russia rejected the latest UN resolution which would have called for four months of intensive discussion between the governments of Prishtina and Belgrade.

The US and EU sponsors of the resolution called this latest draft the "final attempt" to reach an agreement with Moscow.  More from the Charlotte Observer:

U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said Friday that a Russian veto "will not stop the situation from moving forward in Kosovo, but it will be outside the Security Council framework, which is not what we want, and it's not the desirable way to go forward."

But he also said: "We are determined to move forward either within the council or otherwise."

It's my contention that Russia continues to use the situation in the Balkans as a bargaining chip in the US-Russia missile defense talks.  Last week Russia raised the stakes by unilaterally withdrawing  from the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, citing security concerns related to eastern NATO expansion and the US missile shield program (more here).

Friday, July 06, 2007

On Kosovo the EU is a sickening lack of will

My silence on the status of talks over Kosovo over recent weeks is merely a reflection of the lack of progress.  The following is a great excerpt from The Guardian.

If proof were required that Europe, with or without the prospective new high representative, still finds it almost impossible to have a united foreign policy, take the first crisis to return to the agenda since the Brussels summit - Kosovo. Here is a major European issue on which the union's members are split several ways, though they share a sickening failure of will.

Until last year, Europe's Kosovo policy was a lowest common denominator of playing for time. The issue was handed to former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari to craft a solution after talking to all sides. When he came up early this year with a call for the territory to have qualified independence, European leaders responded with a demand for one more round of talks. Then, at last month's G8 summit, the brash new French president stunned everyone with a weak-nerved call for between four and six more months of delay and yet more talks. He had not even consulted his own foreign ministry, let alone his European G8 partners. But once the demand was public, they rallied in support.

Instead of leadership, the EU then left things to Washington, in the hope that at his meeting in Maine on Monday, George Bush could persuade Russia's president Vladimir Putin not to veto a UN resolution giving Kosovo independence. Bush seems to have got nowhere. But, unlike Europe, the Americans have been crafting a plan B. They are considering the idea of encouraging the Kosovo Albanians to declare independence unilaterally with the promise that Washington will recognise the new state.

The paradox of Iraq is back again, in a reverse form from 2003 but one that is just as depressing. When Washington did the wrong thing by invading Iraq, too many European states said yes. Now, when Washington is thinking of doing the right thing over Kosovo, too much of Europe is saying no.

Eight years after Belgrade was forcibly stopped from driving the Albanians out of Kosovo, it is time to recognise that Serbian politicians will never agree to abandon the territory formally. They know Kosovo is lost but cannot say so. A unilateral declaration of independence by the Albanian majority is not ideal, but it is a solution. Further talks with no deadline will lead to greater impatience in Kosovo, a sense of betrayal, and the risk of violence - an outcome which only Belgrade wants. Collectively or individually, European governments must tell Washington and Kosovo's leaders that they too accept the territory's hour has come [emphasis added].

The process seems to have ground to a halt.

via SEEO