09 July 2007

Commentary proposes Belgrade, Washington talks on Kosovo

BBC Monitoring Europe (Political) - February 9, 2007, Friday


Text of commentary by Vladislav Jovanovic: "Grasp the nettle, face the United States" by Serbian newspaper Glas javnosti on 8 February


Ahtisaari's proposal on Kosmet [Kosovo-Metohija] was known before it was drawn up. It was made on instructions from and by a scenario of the US Government. Ahtisaari is only a technical officer, one to do the job, as he did eight years ago with Chernomyrdin, when he carried out instructions from Deputy US Secretary of State Talbott, handing over NATO's ultimatum to then FRY President Slobodan Milosevic at the end of the US aggression, plastically making a sweeping gesture across the table to show what would be left of Belgrade if it rejected the ultimatum.


The conclusion is that Serbia's prime collocutor on Kosmet is not Ahtisaari but the US Government and Serbia needs to talk face to face with Washington, with open cards. That would help both sides better understand what they could lose in the event a solution on Kosmet that was imposed against Serbia's will and interests.


While the loss would be extorted and palpable for Serbia, the United States is deluded in the assurance that it would lose nothing by that solution, that it would have Kosovo separated from Serbia and 15 per cent of Serbia's ancient state territory cut off. Direct talks with the United States at a competent level (president, prime minister, or a parliamentary delegation) would show Washington that its assessment of how Serbia would reconcile with the disintegration of its country was a reckoning without one's host.


There is no need particularly to say that promoting Kosmet into a new Albanian state, directly or obliquely, momentarily or in stages, would be a source of long-term instability, with new clashes in the region.


The United States and EU are clearly seeking to create a rift in the stance of Serbia's state leadership on Kosmet and then dissuade Russia from extending its support to Belgrade, using the argument that Serbia is no longer united in the defence of its territory.


Unfortunately, the United States has been rather successful in this. Its incentives have caused the LDP [Liberal Democratic Party] to give up on Kosmet and the DS [Democratic Party] and G17 Plus not to condition Serbia's ties with the EU and NATO with a favourable solution on Kosmet. The recent parliamentary elections rang alarm bells that the united position of state and party leaders on Kosmet was nowhere near to being as firm as it appeared.


Kosmet is no longer a criterion of unity, but of difference. The imperative is to close the crack and have Serbia speak in one voice with the West. That is the only way to induce the United States and EU to redress their overt anti-Serb stance. There is no place for language of friendship and partnership as they actively and impudently go about calling for the territorial reduction of Serbia, conditioning it with European integration.


Serbia's passive position is deepened by the fact that it had not produced and forwarded a proposal for the solution on Kosmet on its own based on the constitution preamble and Resolution 1244, but greeted Ahtisaari's proposal unprepared, which calls for a take it or leave it answer.


It is high time that Serbia came out with a counter-proposal and have both proposals discussed in Vienna, not just Ahtisaari's ultimatum. Such a proposal would be confirmation of renewed unity among party and state leaders and encouragement to Russia in forthcoming talks with the United States, to continue to back Serbia consistently, as well as keep up the threat of its veto right in the Security Council.


[Box] Choose


The US Government should be warned clearly that it is up to Washington to choose between Serbia and Kosovo, not for Serbia to choose between Kosovo and Euro-Atlantic integration. If the United States and EU give Kosmet priority, that would be an act of hostility towards Serbia and spell the end of the process of integration with the EU and NATO. Serbia's alternative policy would be the logical consequence of the end of that process.


Source: Glas javnosti, Belgrade, in Serbian 8 Feb 07