View Full Version : Serbia Asserts Its Sovereignty Over Kosovo in Legislation

02 Oct 06,, 15:32
Serbia Asserts Its Sovereignty Over Kosovo in Legislation

Published: October 2, 2006

SARAJEVO, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Oct. 1 — As the United Nations Security Council looks increasingly likely to grant independence to Kosovo, Serbia’s government has adopted a new Constitution that asserts what it considers is its irrefutable right to the province.

The Serbian Parliament voted overwhelmingly on Saturday to pass the Constitution, which includes a provision that defines Kosovo — currently administered by the United Nations — as an “integral part” of Serbia.

Kosovo’s fate is the subject of United Nations-led negotiations between the Serbian government and ethnic Albanians in the province. The ethnic Albanians want independence, while the Serbian government and the province’s small Serbian community demand that Kosovo remain part of Serbia.

Few Western diplomats say the groups will be able to reach agreement, leaving the decision to the United Nations Security Council, which is expected to grant Kosovo its independence, possibly by the end of the year.

The countries leading the United Nations effort to broker an agreement — a group that includes the United States and Russia — have been trying to get commitments from Kosovo’s ethnic Albanians that they would not discriminate against or harm the Serbian minority. The countries hoped that would help Serbia accept Kosovo’s independence.

But Western diplomats say Serbia has been intransigent about the possible breakup, and the passage of the Constitution is yet another indication that the country will not accept Kosovo’s independence easily.

Diplomats fear that if Serbia does not agree to Kosovo’s independence, it will foment trouble, including backing efforts by ethnic Serbs to resist Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian-dominated government.

Although officially part of Serbia, Kosovo has been administered by the United Nations since June 1999, when Yugoslav troops were forced to withdraw after months of NATO-led bombing.

In 1998 and 1999, an estimated 10,000 people, mostly ethnic Albanian civilians, were killed as the Serbian-dominated Yugoslav Army and the Serbian police cracked down on an ethnic Albanian insurgency.

The new Serbian Constitution, which was drafted after the breakup of the state of Serbia and Montenegro in May, still must be approved by a popular referendum, set for Oct. 28 and 29, before it can become law. New parliamentary elections would follow in December.

The declaration on Kosovo drew criticism from ethnic Albanian leaders. “This is a unilateral decision, which will create problems in the future in normalizing the relations between an independent Kosovo and Serbia,” Lutfi Haziri, deputy prime minister of Kosovo, said Sunday, according to Agence France-Presse. But he added: “I don’t think the decision will be an obstacle for the status talks.”

Serbs make up less than 10 percent of the population of Kosovo. Most of them live in enclaves spread across the province, where their movements are restricted because they fear attack by ethnic Albanians.

In an address to the Parliament of Serbia on Saturday, Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said, “By defending Kosovo and Metohija as our crucial national interest, you have unanimously decided to adopt a new Constitution that would confirm that Kosovo and Metohija is simply ours.” (Kosovo and Metohija is what the Serbs call the province.)

In a separate development, an important party in Mr. Kostunica’s coalition administration announced over the weekend that it was withdrawing from the government.

The pro-European G17 Plus Party said its ministers would resign because of what they said were the government’s weak efforts to find and arrest Ratko Mladic, a Balkan war crimes suspect and former commander of the Bosnian Serb Army.

In neighboring Bosnia, voters went to the polls on Sunday, marking the end of a campaign in which major political parties were accused by international observers of promoting tensions among ethnic groups.

The elections will lead to the appointment of representatives to Bosnia’s governmental institutions, which were set up by the 1995 Dayton peace agreement. The pact ended the country’s three-year civil war.

The institutions include a Parliament and a three-member presidency representing each of Bosnia’s main ethnic groups: Orthodox Christian Serbs, Bosnian Muslims and Catholic Croats.

If Kosovo is a part of Serbia, then technically it is a part of Serbia.

If only 10% of the population is Serbs, it indicates that it can be open to question, but then what is the make up of the remaining population? Albanians?

This will create a very difficult situation for the future and one wonders if it will become another flashpoint.

What could be the solutions to cut the problems that may arise?

Officer of Engineers
02 Oct 06,, 17:58

Kosovo will be partitioned from Serbia. However, Kosovo itself will be partitioned with the Serb dominated north remaining in Serbia.

02 Oct 06,, 18:04

Kosovo will be partitioned from Serbia. However, Kosovo itself will be partitioned with the Serb dominated north remaining in Serbia.

What a mess. Remember the movie 'No Man's Land' by Danis Tanovic?