Ex-U.S. ambassador: Solution in partition

A former U.S. ambassador says that a partition of Kosovo and a referendum on independence in the Republic of Srpska (RS) are the best solutions.

Izvor: Blic

Sunday, 14.06.2009.

12:43

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A former U.S. ambassador says that a partition of Kosovo and a referendum on independence in the Republic of Srpska (RS) are the best solutions. William Montgomery, who served as top American diplomatic envoy in Serbia and elsewhere in the region, told Belgrade daily Blic in an interview that insisting on Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo becoming multi-ethnic societies has proved to be "mission impossible". Ex-U.S. ambassador: Solution in partition "Those people in the [U.S.] administration who are personally involved in this region, like Richard Holbrooke, Vice President Joseph Biden and Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg, will fiercely oppose the idea. I think the initiative to consider alternatives on the issue of Kosovo will have to come from the European Union," he was quoted as saying by the newspaper. "For now, there is not a clear draft to partition Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Still, it would make sense that all ethnic groups in Kosovo have equal rights. No side should win or lose. Both must gain something concrete through that partition." The former ambassador noted that although the idea about dividing Kosovo up has been around for more than a decade, no study has ever been made to show how this should be done. He continued to say that such a move "is not an easy task at all", considering that Belgrade and Pristina would most likely be bitterly opposed to the idea, believing that both had the right to the whole of the territory, while "settling for anything less would represent a political catastrophe for both". "But, the very fact that both sides believe they have equal rights to the whole of Kosovo says that there is a problem with the current policy. It's also a good argument in favor of some kind of partition." "The fact is that there is de facto partition, but the possibility that the Albanian side might accept it is too remote, and that remains the source of conflict between Serbia and the international community, between Kosovo Serbs and Kosovo Albanians, and between Kosovo Serbs and the international community," said Montgomery, and added that "this could absolutely have adverse influence" on Serbia's ambition to join the EU. "Kosovo's Albanians do not accept the partition idea, and it is only a matter of time before violence flares up in Kosovo over this," he was quoted. Montgomery said that an overwhelming majority of Serbs who fled Kosovo "will never return", and described this as "reality". He also stated that a "large number" of Serbs will be forced to leave if forced them to accept "full authority of the Kosovo government". Montgomery said that of the challenges faced by Serbs, "economic policy is perhaps the worst", with few job opportunities for young people, and added that although Albanians reject that this is due to security, "it is unquestionable that Serbs in Kosovo are isolated". As for Bosnia, the situation there "has always been complicated, above all because of the way in which ethnic groups are mixed". "It would be hard to create any kind of precise partition, the war itself made partition on the principle of migration of those ethnic groups," Montgomery said, and added that a solution that would give the three ethnic groups a right not to accept joining a centralized state "would represent the basis for a lasting solution". The former diplomat said he did not favor "compensation" ideas involving the Bosnian Serb entity (RS) and Kosovo, and that separate action should be taken in the two cases.

Ex-U.S. ambassador: Solution in partition

"Those people in the [U.S.] administration who are personally involved in this region, like Richard Holbrooke, Vice President Joseph Biden and Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg, will fiercely oppose the idea. I think the initiative to consider alternatives on the issue of Kosovo will have to come from the European Union," he was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

"For now, there is not a clear draft to partition Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Still, it would make sense that all ethnic groups in Kosovo have equal rights. No side should win or lose. Both must gain something concrete through that partition."

The former ambassador noted that although the idea about dividing Kosovo up has been around for more than a decade, no study has ever been made to show how this should be done.

He continued to say that such a move "is not an easy task at all", considering that Belgrade and Priština would most likely be bitterly opposed to the idea, believing that both had the right to the whole of the territory, while "settling for anything less would represent a political catastrophe for both".

"But, the very fact that both sides believe they have equal rights to the whole of Kosovo says that there is a problem with the current policy. It's also a good argument in favor of some kind of partition."

"The fact is that there is de facto partition, but the possibility that the Albanian side might accept it is too remote, and that remains the source of conflict between Serbia and the international community, between Kosovo Serbs and Kosovo Albanians, and between Kosovo Serbs and the international community," said Montgomery, and added that "this could absolutely have adverse influence" on Serbia's ambition to join the EU.

"Kosovo's Albanians do not accept the partition idea, and it is only a matter of time before violence flares up in Kosovo over this," he was quoted.

Montgomery said that an overwhelming majority of Serbs who fled Kosovo "will never return", and described this as "reality". He also stated that a "large number" of Serbs will be forced to leave if forced them to accept "full authority of the Kosovo government".

Montgomery said that of the challenges faced by Serbs, "economic policy is perhaps the worst", with few job opportunities for young people, and added that although Albanians reject that this is due to security, "it is unquestionable that Serbs in Kosovo are isolated".

As for Bosnia, the situation there "has always been complicated, above all because of the way in which ethnic groups are mixed".

"It would be hard to create any kind of precise partition, the war itself made partition on the principle of migration of those ethnic groups," Montgomery said, and added that a solution that would give the three ethnic groups a right not to accept joining a centralized state "would represent the basis for a lasting solution".

The former diplomat said he did not favor "compensation" ideas involving the Bosnian Serb entity (RS) and Kosovo, and that separate action should be taken in the two cases.

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