Thursday, September 28, 2006

Bakoyannis, Kosovo, The Future of American Foreign Policy

This is a bit of a placeholder entry, I admit.

TWR (aka editor of The National Interest Nikolas Gvosdev) was privileged to be part of a small group that lunched on Tuesday with Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis after her main presentation for CSIS. The lunch itself was off the record (versus her on-the-record remarks) but two impressions I took away were 1) Greece's understanding of its role as a pivotal state for security in southeastern Europe and as an "energy broker" for the West and 2) a continuing U.S. inability to understand the importance of history and symbolism in popular consciousness in the Balkans and the Greater Middle East.

One thing Bakoyannis and others have been trying to say to policymakers here in Washington is the importance of having open and honest debates on issues like Kosovo. This was a point I tried to make today at the "Reconsidering Kosovo" conference.

Bakoyannis said this about Kosovo: "In Kosovo today, the general mood on the street is that independence is the solution to all
problems. Independence is seen as a magic wand, which, once waved, will provide employment, running water, stable electricity, education, health and prosperity. Yet we all know that independence is no panacea."

On another note, we had Stefan Halper and Will Marshall speaking at the magazine today about U.S. foreign policy. When the reports on the events are ready, I'll post them.

Nick, saw you at the conference this morning. I would have liked to ask, if there had been enough time, whether you think part of the problem is that both Serbs and Albanians are reading "signals" from the West and the US in particular; the Serbs that no matter what they lose Kosovo and get nothing--so why should they negotiate? And the Albanians are being sent the signal, just wait, don't make autonomy seem to be a feasible option, make Kosovo seem ungovernable and independence is the only option. So Serbs and Albanians are both acting rationally if these are how they perceive the signals.
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