Tuesday, December 4, 2007

On the Radar - Kosovo

Expect to hear a lot about Kosovo next week.

December 10 is the date that leaders of the largely Albanian province within Serbia have set for a final decision on their status. In the mid-1990s, the Kosovo Liberation Army launched a struggle for independence from Serbia. A bloody war followed, culminating in a NATO-led bombing campaign in 1999 against Serbia and the Serbian military.

Since then Kosovo has been a UN-managed protectorate, while still officially part of Serbia. After years of negotiations, the UN endorsed a plan for “managed independence” for Kosovo, a move bitterly opposed by Serbia, which views the province as an inherent part of their nation.

The United States and European Union have overseen negotiations between Serbia and Kosovo, with a deadline of December 10th set by the UN for a final determination. The United Great Britain and France back the UN plan for managed independence, the Russians though oppose Kosovo’s separation from Serbia and could block any such action in the UN Security Council. The Russians argue that allowing Kosovo to split from Serbia opens up the possibility of troubled regions in other countries pushing for independence rather than negotiating settlements.

Kosovo’s provincial government though has lost patience and is threatening to unilaterally declare independence if an agreement is not reached on the 10th. Stay tuned.
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