Kosovo partition possible, solution in EU

"The situation will be more or less like that in Cyprus. There will be a legally questionable situation, where a number of countries support independence for Kosovo, but in fact Kosovo will be partitioned. It will be a complex situation risking to remain such for a long time."

Guest: Thierry de Montbrial, Journalist: Ljubica Gojgić
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Montbrial: I think the political circumstances are such that it is quite possible that [Kosovo] Albanians will declare independence after December 10. This is not certain, but it is possible. I also think it is something that Serbs from the Kosovska Mitrovica region will not accept.

Therefore we will have a partition of Kosovo in the field as a fact, obviously with many problems for Serbs in other parts [of Kosovo]. I believe we are in fact moving toward such a situation.

B92: How will the international community react?

Montbrial: I think some countries will immediately recognize Kosovo's independence, the United States and Great Britain first, and then a number of European countries, including France. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has made his position on the issue clear.

I don't believe that all EU countries will immediately support such a solution, and I think there will be states that will not recognize Kosovo's independence. Those are Russia and China, but also some other countries. Therefore, we will have a complex situation.

B92: The question then needs to be asked: who will recognize this part of Kosovo that secedes?

Montbrial: This will be the factual condition. I do not wish to engage in direct comparison, but the situation will be more or less like that in Cyprus. Not exactly the same, but similar. There will be a legally questionable situation, where a number of countries support independence for Kosovo, but in fact Kosovo will be partitioned. It will be a complex situation risking to remain such for a long time.

B92: In other words, there will be no final Kosovo solution?

Montbrial: I don't think there will be. I think, what you call "a final solution" can only be found within the EU. But, this takes a certain amount of time. The EU is a fantastic conflict-stopping machine. You know that since the end of the Cold War, many potentially bloody conflicts have been averted thanks to the EU.

For instance, I am certain that without a clear European perspective, Romania and Hungary could have engaged in a war. I believe that, in the end, [the Kosovo] problem will be resolved inside the EU.

B92: Is there still time to consider other ideas for the province? Your German colleagues recently suggested the Hong Kong model?

Montbrial: I don't think there can be any comparison. The situation is not the same.

We have a state of affairs that will last a while, but in the end, in a couple of years perhaps, a solution will be found. It's hard to predict today how things will unfold. I am relatively pessimistic in the short-term, but I am also relatively optimistic when it comes to mid to long-term.

B92: Could you please elaborate on that?

Montbrial: It means that the solution to come will be satisfactory. In fact, the situation, rather than the solution, is not satisfactory, but, after a period of time, I think we will find a solution acceptable to all under the EU umbrella.

B92: But Wolfgang Ischinger, who leads the international Troika for Kosovo, says that December 10 is the end and that a final solution for Kosovo will emerge then?

Montbrial: No, there are no final solutions in politics, there are just problems that we must solve. I think the drama around this story needs to be reduced.

B92: A lot has been written lately about possible EU reaction to Kosovo's independence. Do you think the EU will be unified on this issue?

Montbrial: I don't think it will be unified. Unfortunately, we need to bear in mind the problem we now have on our hands is a part of a longer, historical story, that started in 1990. Furthermore, it is connected to NATO bombing of 1999, but also the United States' position that declared backing for Kosovo's independence even then.

All these are facts and the situation today is a result of all these circumstances. However, this is not at all the end of the story. The process continues and I believe that a solution will be found, all it takes is time. I don't think such a complex problem can be solved instantly, everyone needs to demonstrate some good will.

Lastly, I must say I am one of those who strongly support the position that Serbia must find its place within the EU, and that the problem of Kosovo must not poison those relations.

B92: Serbia with, or without Kosovo?

Montbrial: Serbia, likely without all of Kosovo, for a start. But, I see a European solution to the problem, where borders will no longer have any meaning.

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