The Macedonian Tendency: Independence for Kosovo?

Friday, August 18, 2006

Independence for Kosovo?

I read political opinion columnists, from George Will and Charles Krauthammer on the right, to Michael Kinsley in the center, to Eric Alterman on the left. I rarely read newspaper editorials because they are unsigned. It is like talking to someone who wears sun glasses indoors ... it is just plain rude. To some, unsigned editorials give off wiff of mysterious authority, like the ten commandments being brought down from the mountain from an unseen god. While to others, it gives of a stench of conspiracy with greedy forces in smoke filled rooms promoting civil war around the world for fun and profit.

I will not go into detail as to why this editorial, if adopted, as it seems it will by the UN, will promote civil war in the Balkans and around the world for the foreseeable future. I just think that it is incumbent on the geniuses at the New York Times editorial board to explain why Kosovo deserves independence, while Republica Serpska in Bosnia does not. Why does Iraqi Kurdistan deserve autonomy within a federal Iraq while in Turkish Kurdistan people are thrown in jail for writing histories in the Kurdish language. Why do Albanians in Macedonia get to eat "human rights cake" while the Macedonains in Greece have to eat "human rights crap".

And finally, maybe the geniuses at the New York Times can explain why it only rains on the weekend.

New York Times
Navigating Kosovo’s Future

Published: August 18, 2006

The 1999 war over Kosovo left the former Serbian province in political limbo, postponing the question of possible independence for another day. That day is now at hand, and the main question facing the international community is not whether Kosovo will become independent, but when and how. Status talks are expected to conclude in the next few months, with the United Nations Security Council to rule on the issue by the end of the year.

The original plan was for Kosovo’s political leaders to demonstrate their ability to govern responsibly before formal discussions of sovereignty could begin. They haven’t really done so, although they have made some grudging moves under international pressure.

Yet as a practical matter, Kosovo’s international wardship cannot be extended indefinitely. The most promising way to encourage further progress is by moving ahead to a carefully conditioned form of limited autonomy.

The most critical issue, now as ever, is guaranteeing the rights of the ethnic Serb minority. Any independence arrangement will have to assure minorities a substantial role in government, particularly in sensitive areas like the Justice Ministry.

For the first few years at least, the powers of Kosovo’s new government must be strictly limited. An international authority will have to monitor the government’s fulfillment of internationally agreed conditions, paying special attention to issues like the rule of law and minority rights. A few thousand NATO-led troops should remain in Kosovo with the power to intervene when necessary to compel compliance.

Most of the countries with troops in Kosovo would prefer to bring them home now. But Kosovo’s march toward independence is going to remain difficult and dangerous for years. The need for a continuing armed international presence should be non-negotiable.

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