Will Moscow Stun The World Over Kosovo?

The EU has been showing its true colours of late. At one time it used to make quite a show of being interested in democratic ideals, of seeming to care if a referendum was won or lost, and of being willing to renegotiate its position if required. But in 2008, with total power over the continent of Europe a tantalising footstep away, any pretence of common sense or even good manners is being slung out of the window.

With the taste already in their mouths of unimaginable power exercisable without the inconvenience of democratic accountability , the idea that any other human being might actually have to be listened to, is too much for these boneheads to cope with.

As Sarkozy, Merkel, Brown and Barroso prepare to preen themselves as the supreme rulers of an empire ruling over 500 million subjects, there are powerful players around the globe who, unlike the Irish, won’t find being completely ignored by the EU an acceptable option. (Come to that, will the Irish electorate that just rejected the Lisbon Treaty, find being ignored acceptable?)

Take Russia for example, and its concerns with recent developments over Kosovo. Russia has spent a lot of time attending NATO and UN conferences and meetings explaining that it will not lie still forever, if Kosovo is wrenched away from Serbia in contravention of UN Resolution 1244, under which the UNMIK was launched, and which states that Kosovo has at all times to remain part of Serbia. The EU, however hatched a new scheme for Kosovo, which they have proceeded to implement it as best they can.

Until last week, Russia had vetoed every attempt by the UN to comply with the EULEX programme in Kosovo, whereby the EU would take over control of Kosovo and supervise and support Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia. Then, out of the blue, at the last minute, without even discussing the situation with Russia, the General Secretary of the UN Ban Ki Moon has decided to compromise with the EU and permit the EULEX to take over control of Kosovo from the UN.

One can only imagine the fury felt in Moscow by this manoevre. Russia has stated on more than one occasion, both Lavrov the Foreign Minister and President Medvedev that Russia would not shrink from using military force if the Serbs in Kosovo were not adequately protected. It is therefore a brave or foolish decision to press ahead with the EU plan, in direct contravention of what has been discussed within the UN, with Russia declaring that she will take the lead to defend Serb interests there.

One Russian journalist, Andrei Fedyashin, might have caught wind of something in Moscow and he has written a piece (LINK) in RIA Novosti, a newspaper for which he is a political commentator. He gives no details of any specific threat, but he is prepared to headline his latest piece as follows – ‘Will Moscow Stun The World Over Kosovo?’

He writes –

MOSCOW. Kosovo received its new Constitution as scheduled – on June 15. By June 17 its president, Fatmir Sejdiu, had already signed about 50 laws, sealing his position as the head of state and Kosovo’s status as an independent formation.

Several days before, it was announced that the UN mission in Kosovo would be closed and that most of its functions (and hence, premises, infrastructure, communications and local personnel) would be transferred to the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX Kosovo) and to the Kosovo government. It seems that the UN mission in Kosovo, UNMIK, will soon leave Kosovo altogether, largely owing to the efforts of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

The UN may keep a small office in Kosovo’s Serbian-controlled northern regions. But the local Serbs have already said that they do not care about the new Constitution or Kosovo’s independence. They have formed a firm minority group after Kosovo proclaimed independence on February 17. Protected by their own unity and the proximity of the Serbian border, they have already said that they will have their own, parallel authorities, and will not obey the Pristina government or parliament. Their compatriots in Kosovo’s Albanian-dominated central and southern regions will have a harder life.

Picture – The Kosovan Parliament voting itself powers, supported by the EU, but not recognised by many countries – only 40 out of 200 at the UN.

Almost at the same time, the NATO defense ministers declared at their meeting in Brussels that they have finally agreed on helping the Kosovo government set up its own, some 3,000-strong security forces. They will replace the Kosovo Protection Corps and will be equipped with NATO weapons.

NATO made this decision on the day Pristina and Belgrade received notifications on the downgrading of the UN mission in Kosovo. Ban Ki-moon diplomatically described it as the “reconfiguration of the international civilian presence in Kosovo.” The direction of this reconfiguration was specified rather clearly – as further steps toward reaching practical agreements which would allow the European Union (EU) “to prepare a future civilian role in the broader Rule of Law area (police, justice, and customs).” In other words, this was a statement on the transfer of UN functions to the EU.

Incidentally, the UN secretary general has the right to disband or change the format of the UN mission after consulting with Security Council members. He has not done this so far. Meanwhile, the UN has not cancelled its Resolution 1244 on UNMIK and NATO’s KFOR military mission. The same resolution does not say a word about the EU.

By and large, there is nothing bad about the transfer of functions. It could only be welcomed. If the EU wants to assume the burden of maintaining peace in Kosovo, let it do so. After all, every side will gain when the UN stops funding the mission. The lion’s share of its budget is wasted on such peacemaking and stabilization operations. Moreover, UNMIK was engaged in markedly pro-Albanian peacemaking, and it would even be a disgrace to continue paying for this mission.

The problem for Russia is bigger and much more unpleasant. It seems that it has again been excluded from major decision-making in the UN. What’s worse, this was done by the UN secretary general, who did not even bother to conceal in his letter what it was all about. It is clear that Brussels’ instructions to its mission will have nothing to do with Resolution 1244.

The developments around Kosovo suggest many questions, each worse than the last. All of them are addressed to Russia. It is obvious that in the Kosovo confrontation our interests have again clashed with those of the West, but it is not clear whether such adamant defense of Serbia’s integrity gained anything for Russia. It continued even when it became clear that the new Serbian government would not cling to Kosovo at all costs, and that this part of its territory had been cut off once and for all. Emotion in protecting international legal standards and national justice is justified, but it has to be buttressed by something more important than statements in the UN and NATO.

All Russians, starting from the president and foreign minister and ending with the man-in-the-street, have said more than once that we have our own response to the West’s obvious neglect of the basics of international law and the role of the UN, and that we “won’t weep in the corner like schoolboys.” But so far this response has been extremely vague.

Withdrawal from the CIS sanctions against Abkhazia or the recent sending of a railroad battalion to the republic are hardly cases in point. We will still help Abkhazia with food. This is our duty, because the majority of its citizens have Russian passports. Maybe, though, Moscow has something up its sleeve that will stun the whole world.

To my way of thinking, a journalist writing something like that knows something, and he’s trying to warn people.

The warning will not be heard by British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who has bought the EU/UN line that the EU occupation of Kosovo is being carried out under UN Resolution 1244, which is a surprising thing for Miliband to be saying, as it expressly forbids Kosovan independence.

The following exchange took place in the House Of Commons today between Bill Cash and David Miliband.

William Cash MP (Stone, Conservative).

What is the legal basis for the recognition of Kosovo and for the commitment of European resources for the purposes that the right hon. Gentleman described?

David Miliband (Secretary of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office; South Shields, Labour)

The legal basis is United Nations Security Council resolution 1244, which was passed in 1999 and which provides an enduring basis for a political settlement in Kosovo.

Milliband’s double-talk might soon be facing down a severe Russian threat, if Fedyashin’s prognostications turn out to be correct.

The Tap Blog is a collective of like-minded researchers and writers who’ve joined forces to distribute information and voice opinions avoided by the world’s media.

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