Thursday, April 12, 2007

Listen for a Change

I hope that both the State Department and Marti Ahtasaari listen to the concerns of other governments as they try to sell the plan for phased independence for Kosovo.

I realize that people here believe if you say "no precedent" enough times it come true.

But other countries on the Security Council are still concerned.

Ahtasaari helped to broker an end to the war in Aceh in Indonesia, in part because he crafted a plan based on the devolution of power to the region under the rubric of "substantial autonomy." Now, Jakarta is concerned whether or not this creates the first step in a process that would lead to Aceh's complete separation. After all, the initial goal for Kosovo was also substantial autonomy.

South Africa and Ghana are both concerned about Kosovo precedents in an Africa where many borders are seen as illegitimate and where in many countries there are strong separatist tendencies. Congo which itself has been wracked by wars and insurgencies is particularly worried.

Independence for Kosovo is likely to move forward--but there are reasonable and rational reasons to revisit plans on the table as well as not to adhere to artificial deadlines.

A final note--there are reports that if the UN fails to act in a manner we see appropriate (e.g. immediate endorsement of the Ahtasaari plan) then we would be prepared to encourage a unilateral declaration of independence and to act outside of the UN framework. It is particularly galling to hear that there are a number of Democrats who support this approach--allegedly, I would again stress.

Here, you can't have it both ways. Either the UN framework matters and you work through it--creaks and all, or you don't. And if you don't, then perhaps tap down a bit of the rhetoric against the Bush Administration on this score.

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