Thursday, October 25, 2007

Kosovo Queries

I spoke at a roundtable yesterday organized by the Harriman Institute at Columbia University on the question of whether the resolution of the final status of Kosovo sets any sort of precedent. The discussion was conducted under Chatham House rules to allow the officials and diplomats present to engage in free discussion of ideas, but some points that were generated both in the formal discussion (as well as informal conversations):

--One cannot escape the question of precedent because even insisting that the Kosovo case is sui generis requires comparing Kosovo to other cases; one cannot escape the question of precedent.

--The question of sovereignty is increasingly becoming delinked from the question of viability; with an underlying assumption that if a state cannot function another agency (the UN, the EU, etc.) will make it viable.

On the Kosovo issue in particular:

--How serious is Russian (and to a lesser extent Chinese) opposition to an imposed solution for Kosovo?

--How serious are European internal disagreements on what to do? Can they be resolved by December? For Chancellor Merkel and President Sarkozy, which is a higher priority--securing an independent Kosovo now or keeping a European consensus together and intact? [The argument here being that Europeans will urge delay and no unilateral recognition as a way to keep options open.]

--Can UN Security Council Resolution 1244 be re-interpreted to permit adoption of the Ahtisaari plan without a referring to a new resolution? Would European states want to recognize such a precedent, given the U.S. attempt to re-interpret UN resolutions vis-a-vis Iraq (with the argument that a new resolution was not needed to authorize coalition military action). Would public opinion accept a reinterpretation or see it only as a way to bypass probable Russian (and maybe Chinese) opposition.

Some food for thought.

UN resolution #1244 is clear and straightforward. Looking for re-interpretation is same as looking to bypass current international law. Cards are dealt already and if somebody holds weak ones, it does give him any rights to change the game rules.
Serbia is the rightful and legal owner of Kosovo land deeds. Guarantor is UN. There is no legal way to bypass the implication of UN resolution #1244.
US did support the resolution creation, hoping to win the Kosovo war without necessity to commit ground forces (if your memory serve you well – NATO has been on the brink of collapse). In the same time Milosevic has got what he gained for (UN guaranties that Kosovo is legal part of Serbia), represented through the legal process increation of UN resolution #1244.
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