06 February 2007

Violence in Kosovo over status discontent may affect South Serbia - analyst

BBC Monitoring International Reports - November 19, 2006, Sunday


Text of report by Sladjana Majdak entitled "Ahtisaari's signature for what was (not) done" published by the Serbian newspaper Glas javnosti on 15 November


The process of defining the future of Kosovo and Metohija [Kosmet] is delayed and Belgrade's expectations to have Kosmet defined as an autonomy within Serbia have not been fulfilled, nor Kosovo Albanian plans for independence. A third option is being examined, said Dusan Janjic, chairman of the Forum for Ethnic Relations.


"[UN envoy] Martti Ahtisaari's final report will probably be about progress in the talks between Belgrade and Pristina, recommending further steps and an extension for UNMIK [UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo], beginning work on a resolution on Kosmet's status, however that is not certain.


Janjic said the EU could be expected to begin taking over UNMIK's powers intensively, which could be a major point of risk, with the UN mission possibly ending its mandate by the end of 2007. The most important thing is for the Contact Group to use the delay over the status of Kosovo and Metohija in the next three or four months to define new relations between Belgrade and Pristina.


"So far, the attention was only on whether Kosmet is to gain independence. The EU refuses to examine Belgrade's objections to privatization in Kosmet or to discuss the mines. The talks focus on the past, not the future. Either they come to an agreement in the next three months on sharing privatization of the mines, power industry, and joint energy companies, or the whole region is driven to misery and poverty and the EU and Contact Group will be responsible," said Janjic.


Southern Serbia - Bujanovac and Presevo specifically, are hostage to problems in Kosmet, problems they have got or problems being created in Belgrade.


"Southern Serbia cannot do anything on its own, literally, but Belgrade could help considerably. First, by reviewing the plan and programme for southern Serbia, reshuffling the Coordinating Team, and then strengthening cooperation in the republican institutions that deal with problems in this area," said Janjic.


The new Serbian government, following the January elections, should revise the programme for southern Serbia to suit the new reality and the National Investment Plan should invest much more in Bujanovac and Presevo. The whole region should be considered in view of the constitution as well.


He said there were two dramatic options on the influence that Kosmet's status talks could have on southern Serbia, specifically the predominantly Albanian municipalities of Bujanovac and Presevo.


"Albanian violence could break out in Kosmet and spill over into Presevo and Bujanovac. Another risk is that Serbs, dissatisfied with the future status, initiate a migration from the isolated areas they inhabit, surrounded by Albanians."


"Eastern Kosovo" and the Prizren League


Albanian officials from Bujanovac and Presevo have begun referring to the region as "eastern Kosovo" though in past years they called it the "Valley of Presevo".


"That is an expression of Greater Albanian nationalism and suggests the activation of the Prizren League [founded in 19th century to fight for a unified Albania]. Stories that deny a pan-Albanian movement are not true. The international community is beginning to realize this, especially after the appearance of the liberation army of Kosovo in Tuzi, Montenegro, after which the ratings of Albanians began to decline, compared with 1999. I fear that the spread of extreme Islam in these parts will make life bitter for us all," said Janjic.


Source: Glas javnosti, Belgrade, in Serbian 15 Nov 06