Too little and probably too late…

Andrew Beaumont RSS / 16.02.2008. u 20:00

What a surprise! Suddenly, some in the ‘court of international opinion' seem to be waking up to the implications of Kosovo's threatened independence declaration.

But its such a pity they waited till now. Governments who've committed themselves to supporting the creation of an ‘independent' Kosovo are unlikely to change their minds at this ‘eleventh hour', no matter how valid Serbia's arguments might be, to work for a solution within the letter and spirit of UNSC Resolution 1244. If you are a powerful wealthy nation or community of nations, apparently you need not be troubled by the fine details of international law and precedent. You can close your eyes to the implications of a flagrant breach of international law because after all, the illegal invasion of Iraq hasn't led to economic or diplomatic sanctions being imposed on members of "The Coalition of the Willing" has it?. If you can get away with something that big, who's really going to care about a purely ‘technical' re-interpretation of a comparatively insignificant UNSC resolution. And it seems to me that those who have committed themselves to recognising an independent Kosovo really do think they'll get away with it. I'm not so sure.

In their letter to the Washington Times on January 31, John Bolton, Lawrence Eagleburger and Peter Rodman said that US policy on Kosovo is based on assumptions that are "..naive in the extreme". They argued that "Recognition of Kosovo's independence without Serbia's consent would set a precedent with far-reaching and unpredictable consequences for many other regions of the world." Although they did not actually say so, they also suggested that a unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo will be illegal and that support for such illegal action "...will not be in the interests of the United States". Since the publication of the ‘Warning Light' letter, Kosovo's return to the international news agenda has been marked by some welcome, but sadly belated objectivity.

Many of the more impartial Western news media have started to point out, somewhat timidly at times, that there is little if any lawful justification for the forced separation of Kosovo from Serbia, nor for the recognition of an ‘Independent' Kosovo by other States. Paul Reynolds' detailed and thoughtful article for the BBC* is a good example and in it, he reveals just how complex are the political and diplomatic games being played by the US and the EU and others, to justify their policies. For example, Reynolds says that " The European Union has drawn up, as it is required to do by EU procedures, a document to justify its own mission to Kosovo and the arguments deployed are the same as the ones used to justify recognition. The document basically argues that independence for Kosovo is within the spirit of 1244, if not strictly within the letter."

What breathtaking arrogance! So, if I should ever be unfortunate enough to find myself accused of a crime in an EU country, it'll be ok to argue that I acted within the spirit, if not the letter of the law will it? Of course it won't, but then I'm not a big powerful Government, able to pick and choose the laws I obey. I doubt that any court would respect such an argument and nor will I respect those who make and claim to uphold the rule of law while manipulating and abusing it when it suits them.

But will they get away with it? Quite a lot of people seem to think they won't - in the long run. It's got nothing to do with the inevitable victory of a just cause, I've no idea whether the case for Kosovo's independence is ‘just' or not. I do believe though, that the integrity of a nation state should not be subject to arbitrary interference by others and that the boundaries of that state should be altered only by consent and within the law. I also believe in the due process of law, however inconvenient or time-consuming it may be. If the law or the process does not contribute to justice, then it should be changed - not ignored. If UNSC resolution 1244 does not meet the needs for justice of the people of Serbia including Kosovo, then the resolution must be reconsidered and if necessary replaced with another more relevant agreement.

To ignore the fact that 1244 protects Serbian territorial integrity is not only shameful but dangerous. There can be few governments now who do not understand the implications for the world community and the risks to their own stability and security if international law is so blatantly disregarded. I'd like to think that some of those whose advice and opinions contributed for example to the development of the EU and US policy of support for an ‘independent' Kosovo, are reconsidering their positions. I'd be even happier to learn that those ‘Leaders' who've already committed themselves to recognition of a new State will be thinking again.

But I doubt it, that's not how things work. Once again, governments and national leaders with the power and the means to do what they want and to get away with it will do what they want and get away with it. I've a sneaking suspicion that on this occasion, some of them would back down if they could but unfortunately, it seems that the cost of losing face is probably too high a price to pay if they're to keep the respect of those they want to impress. How sad - and ironically, how very Serbian!

* Paul Reynolds article for the BBC is at


Komentari (16)

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Innana Innana 20:30 16.02.2008

Too many questions

I was and I am participating in the negotiations, meetings, debates, and I have too many questions without an answer.
O I did ask all those fine diplomats in fine suits all these questions, but all of them avoided to answer.

First of all why are they pushing all these years for independence when even children know this will destabilize the Balkans? There were so many creative and more wise solutions to be sought and yet the International Community seems (at a first glance) to be blind and dumb. The experience taught me that everything is done because of an interest. So let us think whose interests in the EU are served by having a long term crisis in the Balkans? Is it EU or USA?

Second, the independence of Kosovo is not sustainable. So Kosovo is the orphan International Community adopted, one that needs huge investments to remain afloat. This brings me to question No 3.

3. Why are they in such a hurry when none of the standards are fulfilled? One of the most important is surely Rule of Law. Without rule of law any investment is futile, because all of us know the level of corruption in Kosovo and how the money intended for a project disappears.
4.What strikes me the most is that UNMIK did nothing all these years, nothing that would really make a difference. They did not even bother to really implement Resolution 1244, and nobody can convince me in the opposite, when I am a true insider. Of course all the thing the International Community done in 8 years is just make-up and nothing else, just superficial. When they transferred the competences to PISG they did not bother to really supervise and monitor the development, including OSCE. So the summary is very grim.
Soylent Green Soylent Green 21:01 16.02.2008

rational vs. common sense

To make a rational assessment of any situation (let's define here 'rational' as something that provides basis for accurate predictions and hints to the most effective actions, in the effort/consequences sense), one must understand the actual mechanisms of the phenomenon under the observation.

What makes this hard for the untrained is that most of the politics today works by systematic obscuring of the mechanisms, exactly for the reason of making it less vulnerable.

What evolved as the cheapest way to govern in the last few centuries is mass indoctrination with notions like "god", "democracy", "justice" etc. The thing works like a charm, as most subjects get caught in one of these and will gladly sacrifice some money, time, and, in cases of terminal infection, life.

In the meantime, the mechanics of politics work as they always did (see the reference manual.)

Serbia lost the war because its leaders were too dumb to win it. The current empire won the war. There is loot, and in this case it happens to be Kosovo, and the winner gets it. Period. Empire would be out of its mind, and its taxpayers should justifiably revolt, if the the successful military victory is not rewarded with spoils. The fact that some countries with no might to speak of object is irrelevant.

At this base level, no one gives a flying fuck for justice, truth, democracy, law etc etc. - those things are used to manage own subjects. So any discussion along the lines of "reality contradicts with what propaganda burned into my brain" is pointless and will not offer any solution, perhaps some masochistic righteous wallowing in the own grief.

The only thing Serbia could do is raise the stakes and attempt possibly suicidal conquest of the loot in question. Perhaps, like Milosevic, serbian rulers are evaluating how far would the empire go to keep it, and in few days we'll know the results of that evaluation. What audience countries think is truly irrelevant.

Innana Innana 21:15 16.02.2008

Re: rational vs. common sense

Word of a friendly advice. Get promptly acquainted with facts, so that we may discuss the matter on an equal basis. The question of Kosovo and who rules it is a very old question covered with lots of blood, many battles and two world wars. The spiral of violence is never ending. Generation after generation caught in between.
This is why in the case of Kosovo the International Community should have used much more prudent approach; should have tried to find a Solomon solution or one close to it, unless as I pointed out someone wishes for the Balkans to remain a constant source of instability for Europe.
The way I see the situation: things are going to get worse before they can get better. The first huge challenge is an attempt to integrate the North into Kosovan framework which would eventually lead to secession of the North. Not that I think that this is a good idea but this is the only way out from the stalemate situation. Any pressure applied to the North would lead towards violence and very strong resistance from the Northerners. I am not sure is the EU mission ready to sink in their teeth so deep?
nsarski nsarski 04:35 17.02.2008

Re: rational vs. common sense

unless as I pointed out someone wishes for the Balkans to remain a constant source of instability for Europe.

Any guess who that "someone" might be?
And, btw, keep on writing - I like your style:)))
Innana Innana 08:16 17.02.2008

Re:Nsarski: X files

Let me quote Molder: the truth is out there.
Now seriously I have no idea. I came to this conclusion based on the solutions IC applied in the Balkans leaving a lot of space for instability and relapses.
nsarski nsarski 11:12 17.02.2008

Re: Re:Nsarski: X files

Hah, and "X" marks the spot, as Indy would say:)))
oblutak oblutak 21:45 16.02.2008

too little and probably too late

Setting a precedent with far-reaching consequences? Destabilizing the Balkans? The Serbian regime did all that in the 1990's, thank you very much. So, as a Serbia citizen, I am sick and tired of hearing about the great injustice done to us again.
MilutinM MilutinM 21:57 16.02.2008


Last few days, as the independence is coming close, I have more and more of my colleagues coming to me with serious concerns about it. I agree with author's view that people start thinking about the case only now, and most have gone too far to change their position. That is why I am afraid that we shall have the same situation like it was in Iraq or some other places to live with consequences for long time.

For us, Serbs, the case will be closed pretty soon. Whatever we may try to do. It should be good to find a way to protect the people there and spare them from another tragic development. But, the International Community will have things to work on for long time. The question of my close colleague was very clear: how long shall the IC have to provide financial and any other support to Kosovo? He thinks that it will be the same case like Palestine. A hole without end. There is little chances for sustainable life (economic wise) on both places. So, money has to come for long time. And if it stops, the problems just pop-up. Is IC ready for this? Have they considered the consequences?

PS Mr. Beaumont, can you please next time split the text in some paragraphs, to allow easier reading?
Innana Innana 22:05 16.02.2008

Re: Opinion

Dear Milutin I would like to tell you that the consequences are here already. Mitrovica is an empty town, many have fled temporarily in fear that violence may happen again. I wish I could have done the same because of my kids but I have a job to do and we are not allowed to take any leave at this point. My phone hasn't stopped ringing in the past 48 hours, I gave I do not know how many interviews. I have tried to explain to the world what it looks like to be a Serb in Kosovo in the past 8 years and why the people are terrified now. The point is simple, we have a very bad experience while the IC was present here, and one could only imagine what we may expect once the International presence is reduced.
MilutinM MilutinM 22:16 16.02.2008

Re: Opinion

Dear Innana,

it should be stupid to say that I understand you. I may try, but... I have been to Kosovo so many times and spoke with many people, but there is difference between to hear and to live.

Some people stated that EU mission came to Kosovo to replace UNMIK, which didn't fulfill the task. I am not sure about their capacities to do it.
Innana Innana 02:53 17.02.2008

Re: Opinion

As I said many times before I have very good reason to suspect that EU mission will be in fact worse than UNMIK however unthinkable this may be.
The first big challenge for them is not to push the Serbian community too far, as they are planning to do, since this may backfire and they may end up having a big headache. I do not see how on earth they think to overcome the Serbian boycott and the negative relationship they would have with us.
Wim Roffel Wim Roffel 13:13 18.02.2008

Re: Opinion

On my blog I have translated an interview with Peter Feith - the new international overlord of Kosovo - in a Dutch newspaper. When asked about Kosovo's Serbs feeling not safe he says "maybe they are safer than they feel". He puts the blame for the lack of returns of Serb refugees on Serbia.

So you may be right to suspect that things will become worse.
qalam96 qalam96 02:16 17.02.2008

Vive le Kosovo libre!

The father of U.S. independence said it best in 1776:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

From the Canadian province of Québec, where the struggle for self-determination and sovereignty is still on the march to its utimate realization, I pray for the success of the Kosovars, in sha' Allah.

Vive le Kosovo; vive le Kosovo libre!
MilutinM MilutinM 02:20 17.02.2008

Re: Vive le Kosovo libre!

The father of U.S. independence said it best in 1776:


From the Canadian province of Québec, where the struggle for self-determination and sovereignty is still on the march to its utimate realization, I pray for the success of the Kosovars, in sha' Allah.

It was very visionary to say this in 1776!
blejach blejach 19:56 17.02.2008

Re: Vive le Kosovo libre!


The father of U.S. independence said it best in 1776:

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

One century after that, those People mentioned in your quote defended the government they made by that document by waging war against parts of their own country that wanted to secede (American Civil War). Right of oppressed colony to get rid of foreign colonial power is quite different than the "right" to secede integral part of one country.
Nations have the right to be independent and form their governments, but Albanian people already gained independence and instituted their government - they had their Declaration of independence in 1912...
You are trying to link two similar but different things: right to be independent from colonial government (which is undisputed and even protected and guaranteed by international law) with right to secede territories (which is very much disputed and forbidden by international law)...

Dale Dale 11:36 19.02.2008


I do not believe that Kosovo can sustain its own economy for any length of time. In order to be independent it must ensure that ALL citizens are safe and can move about without the fear of life. Also a government must be able to sustain a proper justice system, critical infrastructure and economy. In Kosovo this is not the case.

It is my forecast that within a short time the northern portion of Kosovo will declare independence and therefore again destabilize the region. Other areas will soon follow Kosovo adding to the already unstable global environment.



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