Economist: EU runs into roadblocks in Kosovo

Serbia has done a lot better than anybody expected in thwarting the EU's plans for Kosovo, the Economist says.

Source: Economist
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The British magazine's online edition carried an analysis of the current state of affairs in the Kosovo status crisis, and first looked at the history of the region, to conclude that "when the Austro-Hungarian empire declared war on Serbia in July 1914, few could have imagined that the result would be the demise not only of the Habsburg empire, but also of the Russian and Ottoman ones."

But now, the articles says, "nobody believes that Serbia's challenge to the European Union over Kosovo will be anything like as dramatic; most Serbs want to join the EU, not destroy it".

However it continues, Serbia has done a lot better than anybody expected in thwarting the EU's plans for Kosovo.

"Serbia still regards Kosovo as a province, but the ethnic Albanians, who constitute over 90 percent of its 2 million people, declared its independence in February. So far 41 countries have recognized Kosovo, including America and 20 of the EU's 27 members."

"But five of these are microstates like Nauru and the Marshall Islands," the article says, and adds that "such big hitters" as Brazil, China, India and Russia, as well as Spain, Egypt "or even most Muslim countries", have not.

The article goes on to explain that the UN mission in the province, UNMIK, established in 1999, was to be replaced by the police and justice mission the EU authorized, and named EULEX.

The Economist also reminds that Kosovo's new constitution, due to come into force on June 15, "foresees no role at all for the UN".

"With the Americans and others, [the EU] also set up the office of the international civilian representative (ICR), investing him with sweeping powers," but, in view of the problems facing the EULEX deployment, the Economist quotes "one UN official" as saying that, "[IRC head and EU special representative] Pieter Feith and his team are here as tourists. What are they doing? They can't take over the role they were assigned, as we are still here".

The article also says that "since independence the Belgrade government has consolidated its grip on Serbian areas of Kosovo, including almost all of the region north of [Kosovska] Mitrovica. It even held local elections, condemned as illegal by the UN, the EU and the ICR. EULEX and the ICR will be unable to operate in these areas."

"De facto, Kosovo is thus divided not only into Serb and ethnic-Albanian areas, but also into places where the UN will keep operating and the ethnic-Albanian areas where EULEX and the ICR will probably take over. For the EU, says one diplomat, 'It is a face-saving operation now. Their plan has been derailed',” the Economist continues.

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Politics Saturday, May 31, 2008 10:43 Comments: 0
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