World
Pyotr Iskenderov
August 17, 2013
© Photo: Public domain

The uncertain situation which has currently taken shape around Kosovo has opened unexpected possibilities for the UN to restore its influence, which once seemed to be irretrievably lost, on the situation in this «hot spot». The main world powers' «weariness» with what is going on in the Pristina – Belgrade – Kosovska Mitrovica triangle is evident. It is reported that both in Washington and in Brussels they are considering various scenarios for gradually curtailing their financial and political presence in Kosovo. And in the near future it may turn out that besides the long-suffering United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) there will be no one left to handle the Kosovo issue.

Naturally, neither the U.S. nor NATO nor the European Union is planning to leave Kosovo entirely. For Washington, the main thing there is the Camp Bondsteel army base, which is not subordinate to NATO command and is located in the middle of the geostrategic axis connecting Italy with Turkey. This base allows the Americans to monitor the waters of the Mediterranean and Black Seas, as well as routes leading to the Middle East, Northern Africa and the Caucasus, including the routes of existing and future pipelines from the Caspian region and Central Asia. As professor of international relations and history Andrew Bacevich of Boston University fairly points out, the creation of such an infrastructure, which would provide solutions for a wide array of military problems, was Washington's main goal in the NATO military operation against Yugoslavia in 1999. The main result of this operation was the breaking away of the Kosovo region from Yugoslavia. And perhaps most importantly, with the help of the NATO military machine, the goal of maintaining U.S. supremacy in Europe was attained. 

The European Union has no such military interests, and its formal interest in maintaining its presence in the region is less. In particular, the former UN representative in Northern Kosovo, Gerard Galucci, recently made this clear, admitting that «the Western powers…are in a hurry to get out.» And here the main question arises: Who will do it first, and who will be forced to remain?

According to Galucci, the first to leave «politically» will be the Americans, while keeping, of course, the military and strategic positions they acquired in 1999 (first and foremost Camp Bondsteel), as well as their exclusive influence on the Albanian population of the Balkans. The next to leave could be the European Union's civilian and police mission in Pristina. «No one can force EULEX to stay in Kosovo if the EU and Pristina agree it’s time to go», says Galucci.

And here a unique chance for the UN to regain its key role in the adjustment process in Kosovo may appear. The U.S. and the EU leaving Kosovo «would simply pass the buck back again to the UN», says Galucci. And while he states that the main goal of UN presence is merely for «the various Belgrade-Pristina agreements to be implemented in a peaceful manner», it is obvious that the range of tasks is much broader. It includes problems which are unpleasant for Washington and Brussels, such as the comprehensive investigation of the crimes of the «black transplant surgeons» and restoring the situation in Kosovo to the norms of UN Security Council Resolution No. 1244 from June 10, 1999.

Of course, one cannot expect the Western creators of the «Kosovo project» to abandon their brainchild all at once. However, there are considerations which indeed could make the Kosovo problem political dead weight for the U.S. and especially for the European Union. In Pristina such a perspective is already causing serious worries. Enver Hoxhaj, the member of the Kosovo government responsible for international policy, hastened to establish the priorities of the Kosovo regime in this issue. He urged the UN Security Council to examine the situation in Kosovo as soon as possible at a special session, but only in order to make a decision to terminate the activities of UNMIK. «The only goal of UNMIK should be to help Kosovo gain membership in the UN», insists Hoxhaj, emphasizing that now is the most suitable time to reach this goal. 

Of course, it is not for Pristina to formulate goals for the UN, but expectations that the Kosovo issue will soon find its way back onto the UN agenda are apparently not in vain. 

In the very near future the UN could once again be on the front lines of the Kosovo adjustment process. In June 1999 the United Nations was able, with the active participation of Russia, to save face to some extent and keep the situation in Kosovo from coming under the full control of the architects of the «new world order». The following years did not bring the UN any laurels in the Kosovo area. Isn't it time for this international organization to work on its mistakes? 

[1] Bacevich A. American Empire. Harvard University Press. 2003. P.104, 196.

The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.
Kosovo and the UN

The uncertain situation which has currently taken shape around Kosovo has opened unexpected possibilities for the UN to restore its influence, which once seemed to be irretrievably lost, on the situation in this «hot spot». The main world powers' «weariness» with what is going on in the Pristina – Belgrade – Kosovska Mitrovica triangle is evident. It is reported that both in Washington and in Brussels they are considering various scenarios for gradually curtailing their financial and political presence in Kosovo. And in the near future it may turn out that besides the long-suffering United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) there will be no one left to handle the Kosovo issue.

Naturally, neither the U.S. nor NATO nor the European Union is planning to leave Kosovo entirely. For Washington, the main thing there is the Camp Bondsteel army base, which is not subordinate to NATO command and is located in the middle of the geostrategic axis connecting Italy with Turkey. This base allows the Americans to monitor the waters of the Mediterranean and Black Seas, as well as routes leading to the Middle East, Northern Africa and the Caucasus, including the routes of existing and future pipelines from the Caspian region and Central Asia. As professor of international relations and history Andrew Bacevich of Boston University fairly points out, the creation of such an infrastructure, which would provide solutions for a wide array of military problems, was Washington's main goal in the NATO military operation against Yugoslavia in 1999. The main result of this operation was the breaking away of the Kosovo region from Yugoslavia. And perhaps most importantly, with the help of the NATO military machine, the goal of maintaining U.S. supremacy in Europe was attained. 

The European Union has no such military interests, and its formal interest in maintaining its presence in the region is less. In particular, the former UN representative in Northern Kosovo, Gerard Galucci, recently made this clear, admitting that «the Western powers…are in a hurry to get out.» And here the main question arises: Who will do it first, and who will be forced to remain?

According to Galucci, the first to leave «politically» will be the Americans, while keeping, of course, the military and strategic positions they acquired in 1999 (first and foremost Camp Bondsteel), as well as their exclusive influence on the Albanian population of the Balkans. The next to leave could be the European Union's civilian and police mission in Pristina. «No one can force EULEX to stay in Kosovo if the EU and Pristina agree it’s time to go», says Galucci.

And here a unique chance for the UN to regain its key role in the adjustment process in Kosovo may appear. The U.S. and the EU leaving Kosovo «would simply pass the buck back again to the UN», says Galucci. And while he states that the main goal of UN presence is merely for «the various Belgrade-Pristina agreements to be implemented in a peaceful manner», it is obvious that the range of tasks is much broader. It includes problems which are unpleasant for Washington and Brussels, such as the comprehensive investigation of the crimes of the «black transplant surgeons» and restoring the situation in Kosovo to the norms of UN Security Council Resolution No. 1244 from June 10, 1999.

Of course, one cannot expect the Western creators of the «Kosovo project» to abandon their brainchild all at once. However, there are considerations which indeed could make the Kosovo problem political dead weight for the U.S. and especially for the European Union. In Pristina such a perspective is already causing serious worries. Enver Hoxhaj, the member of the Kosovo government responsible for international policy, hastened to establish the priorities of the Kosovo regime in this issue. He urged the UN Security Council to examine the situation in Kosovo as soon as possible at a special session, but only in order to make a decision to terminate the activities of UNMIK. «The only goal of UNMIK should be to help Kosovo gain membership in the UN», insists Hoxhaj, emphasizing that now is the most suitable time to reach this goal. 

Of course, it is not for Pristina to formulate goals for the UN, but expectations that the Kosovo issue will soon find its way back onto the UN agenda are apparently not in vain. 

In the very near future the UN could once again be on the front lines of the Kosovo adjustment process. In June 1999 the United Nations was able, with the active participation of Russia, to save face to some extent and keep the situation in Kosovo from coming under the full control of the architects of the «new world order». The following years did not bring the UN any laurels in the Kosovo area. Isn't it time for this international organization to work on its mistakes? 

[1] Bacevich A. American Empire. Harvard University Press. 2003. P.104, 196.