Friday, July 09, 2010

Belgrade To Offer Territory Swap On Kosovo

Media in Serbia and Kosovo says Belgrade is gearing up a shocker of a swap: trade parts of southern Serbia mainly populated with ethnic Albanians in exchange for northern Kosovo populated mainly by ethnic Serbs.  The Serbs reportedly want to time the offer with a decision by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the legality of Kosovo's independence from Serbia.  The land swap would be de facto recognition by Serbia of Kosovo's independence, in part at least.  That would be a huge concession on Belgrade's part.  But Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leadership is intransigent, ruling out any changes to the territory's present boundaries.  News of the alleged offer comes amid fresh tensions between Kosovo and Serbia after the killing of a protester, and shooting of a Serb lawmaker in the Kosovo parliament.

According to the Belgrade daily Blic, Belgrade is not only pondering a soil swap, but would drop objections at the UN against Kosovo taking up a seat at the world body. 

But Hashim Thaci, the prime minister of Kosovo, won't even ponder the proposal, let alone discuss it. 

Speaking to the Kosovo daily Zeri, Thaci dismissed any possibility of new talks on the status of Kosova, saying "that chapter is closed."

As said, Belgrade plans to time what already appears a doomed offer to the ruling at the ICJ. 

That ruling is expected around July 22. 

Kosovo's ethnic Albanians could care less what the ICJ rules.  Correction, the court is ruling on nothing, it will issue an 'advisory opinion."  Meaning, it means nothing; no teeth.

Western officials have made clear their contempt for international law.

Martti Ahtisaari, the former Finnish president who sided with the Kosovo Albanians while acting as a negotiator on its status, has said Kosovo will remain independent regardless of what the judges at the ICJ say. 

“I think it’s important for everybody to start understanding that whatever happens in the international courts proceedings -- Kosovo is an independent state and will remain an independent state. And I think that’s a fact that everyone has to take into consideration particularly those who have an ambition to try to join the European Union.”

The European parliament is cracking the whip, urging the few EU holdouts not to have recognized Kosovo to do so. 

In the EU those countries are Spain, Slovakia, Greece and Cyprus, all with their own separatist headaches.

Globally, 69 nations have now recognized Kosovo's independence.

The European parliament also ruled out any division of Kosovo.

That means EU mandarins will truck no independence for the 120,000 Serbs in northern Kosovo, a powerkeg set to blow.

In fact it already has in Mitrovica.

On July 3, things came to a head, when explosives were thrown into a crowd of Serbs protesting against the opening of an office run by the ethnic Albanian government in Pristina.

A Bosnian Muslim pediatrician was killed, and ten Serbs were wounded.

The incident sparked outrage among Serbs.

Serbian President Boris Tadic called the Security Council to meet over the incident.

"Serbs came in peace, yet they were met with unprovoked violence," Tadic said.

Tadic also through down the gauntlet on Serbia every recognizing Kosovo, telling the Security Council, that "no democratic leadership in Serbia will ever, under any circumstances, implicitly or explicitly, recognize" Kosovo.

Kosovo's foreign minister, Skender Hyseni, said Serbs themselves might have been responsible.

Hyseni also said the gunshot wounding of an ethnic Serb member of the Kosovo parliament showed that Belgrade was "misusing and manipulating a number of the Serb community members in Kosovo."

Interestingly, the articles on offer on the Internet focus more on the shooting of the Serb lawmaker than the killing by grenade of a protester in Mitrovica, indicating where the Western media's sympathies lie.  

Reuters notes several Western countries sided with Kosovo during the special UN Security Council meeting, with the U.S. envoy Alejandro Wolff wondering out loud why the session had been called in the first place for what he called "an isolated criminal act."

Given that much of the 'world community' is ganging up on it, the Belgrade offer could be an act of desperation.  

But even the West will offer no quarter, not even a small tract of the Serbs' ancestral land.
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