The US and NATO are actively supporting the Kosovo independence. Europe is backing their efforts as, for example, the deployment of the European Union Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) in Kosovo on December 9, 2008 without UN sanction showed.Some 1,900 officers will be conditioning the breakaway province for independence, preaching to Albanians about the norms behind European political and economic systems, and assisting in the formation of Kosovo's ministries, institutions, and services. It as an outrageous disregard for international law that independence is offered to an absolutely unprepared territory, a province which is obviously too immature to join as a peer the ranks of civilized democratic countries.
Serbiamounts unwaivering resistance to the independence of Kosovo. Relying on law and expecting justice from international organizations, Belgrade asked the UN General Assembly to assess the legality of the Kosovo Albanians' course. On October 8, 2008 the UN General Assembly passed the resolution submitted by Serbia with a request to the International Court of Justice to issue an advisory opinion “on whether the unilaterally proclaimed independence of Kosovo is in line with international law”. The Kosovo administration complained over the very passing of the resolution, stated that the Kosovo independence is irreversible, and said whatever verdict issued by the court would not prevent more countries from recognizing Kosovo.
It took the International Court of Justice two years to come up with an advisory opinion. On July 22, 2010 it declared that “the adoption of the declaration of independence of 17 February 2008 did not violate general international law, Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) or the Constitutional Framework [adopted on behalf of UNMIK by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General]”, and that consequently the adoption of that declaration did not violate any applicable rule of internationallaw”. Attention should be paid to the fact that the court avoided answering the question asked and chose to respond to a totally different one, thus rendering the whole procedure meaningless. The original question was about the legality of independence, but the advisory opinion concerned the declaration of independence, that is, the mere act of publishing a certain document.
Such response actually contributed to the complexity of the Kosovo problem. Albanians hope that the verdict will serve them as a pass to the family of European countries but Belgradesays it will never consent to the Kosovo independence and pledges to go on struggling over the opening of new talks.
Naturally, the question arises whether there was any point in dealing with the International Court of Justice, considering that its anti-Serbian verdict was absolutely predictable. From the outset the international organizations, the US, and NATO were against Serbia and the country has never seen an unbiased resolution formulated with due regard for its interests. The conduct of Serbia's administration can still be excused – it cannot simply insulate itself and keep repeating the same No. It has to look for a way to break the stalemate, though Belgrade's strategy does seem self-defeating.
Facing the court's unfavorable response Belgrade nevertheless turned to the UN General Assembly and proposed a new resolution. Its thrust is the call for negotiations over all existing disagreements.
A whole concert of international heavyweights – German and British foreign ministers, EU commissioners, etc. – pressured Belgrade, demanding that the resolution be withdrawn. Efforts were made to convince Belgrade that the Kosovo independence is beyond dispute and it is time to switch to more practical themes, but the Serbs held their own and cited the position of the countries which continued to deny recognition to Kosovo.
Serbian president Boris Tadic and High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Union Catherine Ashton talked behind closed doors for several hours and Serbia finally greenlighted an overhaul of the resolution. The new version was OKed by all the EU countries and presented to the UN General Assembly. A comparison of the texts is illuminating. While the resolution in its original form reflected a critical perception of the court verdict, it seems to follow from the new text that Belgrade respectfully accepts it. Another novelty is the aforementioned offer of dialog. The resolution was passed by the UN General Assembly on September 9.
The first impression is that the resolution poses no direct threat to Serbia. It is markedly neutral and carries practically no message. Still, there had to be some motivation behind rewriting the relatively moderate Serbian original draft.
My view is that the EU needed to demonstrate that it has a common approach to the Kosovo problem, NATO meant to step out of the spotlight, and the UN General Assembly wanted a resolution that would be passed without much talk and sent right to the Security Council, which is where I expect the real debates to erupt.
There is an aspect of the resolution that it would be a mistake to overlook. Citing the part of the text concerning the dialog between Belgrade and Pristina, Serbian media describe it as a dialog between “the sides”, while the West regards it as a dialog between two “countries”. Considering the gap between the two terms, what is being fed to Belgrade is once again quite different from what was on the menu.
Tentatively, Tadic agreed to butch the resolution because the range of issues discussed with EU High Representative Ashton included protection of cultural landmarks and Serbian enclaves or even the autonomy of Kosovska Mitrovica, the northern part of Kosovo. It should be taken into account in the context, though, that – at least so far – the EU has never played the key role in shaping the Balkan arrangements, and Serbian hopes that deals with Brussels will materialize may prove unrealistic. True decision-making is in the hands of the US. NATO has its own interests in Kosovo where it maintains Camp Bondsteel, a military base over which no international organization has any authority. Moreover, for the US failing to resolve the Kosovo problem in the Albanians' favor after years of strife would mean to lose face – the process has already defied Washington's timetable.
The paper was prepared for the Voice of Russia broadcasting company.