Friday, April 23, 2010

Kosovo / Serbia

Kosovo to be Divided?
By Barnaby Phillips, April 23, 2010
"It seems like a possible solution to an otherwise intractable problem. Could Kosovo be geographically divided, and a portion given back to Serbia? The question has been floating around for some time, of course. It seems like a possible solution to an otherwise intractable problem. The ethnic Albanian majority in Kosovo do not want to be part of Serbia, and declared independence unilaterally in 2008. But the Serb minority in Kosovo are adamant they will never accept the Albanian-dominated government in Pristina. Many of Kosovo's Serbs live in the north, in an area that is geographically contiguous with Serbia proper. So a possible solution would be for Serbia to accept Kosovan independence, in return for which Pristina would agree to relinquish its claim to that northern sliver of territory, (over which it has never had practical control, anyway). Another part of the bargain might include Kosovo’s border expanding a little bit to the east, to include the Presevo valley, which has a largely ethnic Albanian population.
I've just been in Belgrade, interviewing Serbia's President Boris Tadic for the Talk to Al Jazeera programme ... I asked him about a possible division of Kosovo. For many years, government officials in Belgrade and Pristina have refused to countenance the idea. The major western powers that have recognised Kosovo (the United States, Britain, France and Germany) have also opposed a division, at least in public. But, to my surprise, President Tadic would not rule it out, even when I pressed him. His enigmatic reply, delivered with a smile, was simply that, 'rigidity in policy never bears fruit, but flexibility brings solutions.' Serbia, it seems, is ready to compromise.  So, make of that what you will. Over to you, Pristina."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

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Please be constructive in your comments. - AJ