This has been a major question lingering in the back of my mind for the past couple of months. Instability in the Serbia/Kosovo region would inevitably affect the rest of the broader Balkan area and Europe and could lead to an interesting development of events on the podium of world politics with the US and Russia playing major roles and the EU possibly trying to make an effort at sticking to an actual concrete common foreign policy.

Yesterday, the Serbian President Boris Tadić visited the buffer zone in Southern Serbia and stated that Serbia will never again send its soldiers to “senseless wars”, elaborating that thought by claiming that Serbia will “always use its army in accordance with Serbian and international law”. Reportedly (source and another source), he said that although many wish Serbia went to war again, this would lead to eventual loss of Kosovo and more victims, which is why the current Serbian government will not take that course.

As positive a sentiment as this is, I still cannot imagine Serbs not reacting to Kosovo’s proclamation of independence with violence. Perhaps not officionally sanctioned by the Government, but carried out by the “many who wish Serbia went to war again”. One type of militia or another. I have not seen Serbs being offered anything they would consider of true value in return for the surrender of a rather large piece of what is in essence Serbian territory. Some might claim that the ticket to accession to the EU is it, but I doubt that the privilege of starting negotiations to join a multinational economic and political superstructure to which the nation will delegate some of its sovereignty is something that the people of the country view as a fair trade-off for land. Not just any land, but land they feel particularly attached to.

The way I see things progressing, I suspect that the unilateral declaration of independence by the Kosovar, which can no longer be avoided as it enjoys too wide a support by some of the strong players, will provoke an outburst of violence in the Kosovska Mitrovica area as Serbian militia trickles across the border into the region to protect the cradle of the Serbian nation and more importantly the Serbs still living there. This violence would be retaliated by Kosovan Albanians attacking the NATO-guarded Serbian enclaves. It is not unrealistic to expect casualties in NATO’s Kosovo Force, which in turn might affect the sentiments and consequently course of action of the countries supporting Kosovo’s independence.

When taking a look at the situation, one should not dismiss Russia’s position on the subject or what Russia believes the greater consequences could be of setting a prejudice in Kosovo of externally promoting the separation of a part of a sovereign country against said country’s will. Russia’s military chief of staff Yury Baluevsky made it clear, for example, that Pridnestrovie gets recognition if Kosovo does. Several other countries would no doubt love to jump on that same bandwagon.

Nevertheless, I personally do hope that although the above outbursts of violence seem inevitable to me, they will at least have a short lifespan and that deals have already been made that we, the ignorant regular folks are blissfully unaware of. Hopefully, all powers that be basically want peace and progress for their respective nations and are willing to negotiate and strike up a compromise.

What I’m trying to say is that I hope that Serbia is offered a substantial reward for letting go of land it’s all but lost a long time ago and that the proud nation will do the world a favour and release the land and its people as peacefully as possible. Perhaps retaining approximately 20% of the north-most territory (…and there the story continues).

The snowball is already rolling… The question is: how big will (the international community let) it become before it melts and allows Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo to thrive.

I am sticking to my one big Christmas/New Year wish I’ve had for many years now:
May 2008 bring peace and love to this World.