Green Room

Serbia, Kosovo reach agreement to normalize relations

posted at 12:17 pm on April 19, 2013 by

On any other day, this would be big news, if perhaps a bit obscure.  The agreement promises to settle the last conflict of the post-Soviet collapse of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, which touched off a series of wars and ended up pulling NATO into diplomatic conflict with Russia.  Serbia has apparently agreed to recognize Kosovo as an independent nation, a huge change, in part to gain membership in the EU:

The prime ministers of Serbia and Kosovoreached a tentative deal Friday to normalize relations between the Balkan neighbors and end years of acrimony.

EU negotiator Catherine Ashton said the deal culminated months of tense negotiations and showed determination of both Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic and Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci.

“What we are seeing is a step away from the past and for both of them a step closer to Europe,” Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief, said.

Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in 2008, is considered by nationalists to be the cradle of Serbian medieval statehood and religion. It has been recognized by more than 90 countries including the U.S. and 22 of the EU’s 27 members. But because of a blockade by Serbian allies Russia and China in the Security Council, Kosovo is not a U.N. member.

Serbia relinquished the control of most of Kosovo in 1999 when NATO chased its troops out of the region after a three-month bombing campaign. Ending the partition of Kosovo between the Albanian majority and the Serb-controlled north — about a fifth of the country — is a key condition of Serbia’s further progress toward EU membership.

This could end the last of the potential flashpoints in Europe for war — after centuries of conflict, much of it originating in the Balkans. We’ll see what Kosovo agreed to do with the ethnic Serbs in the north, but this is good news at least at first blush.

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This could end the last of the potential flashpoints in Europe for war

Not so fast. Even ignoring separatists in Western Europe and around the FSU (remember, Chechnya is part of Europe), things aren’t always as rosy as they seem:

It’s great news, but hardly the end of conflict in Europe. And let’s not even think about the potential unravelling of the EU….

calbear on April 19, 2013 at 12:47 PM

It’s great news, but hardly the end of conflict in Europe. And let’s not even think about the potential unravelling of the EU….

calbear on April 19, 2013 at 12:47 PM

Just what I was thinking. It’s good and all that Serbia will recognize Kosovo in exchange for British, German, and Dutch free money but the Europeans are already out of free money. In general though yeah, this is last conflict that could be lit by a spark at the moment but it doesn’t mean there aren’t many others need much more than a spark that need to be watched.

A non-exhaustive list would include Cyprus, Greece-Turkey, Ceuta/Melilla, and the Russian sphere with Transdniestria, the Ukraine, Latvia, Georgia (a small part is in Europe as is of course Russia), whatever else Vlad decides to kick up, and although they aren’t technically in Europe they would drag much of it in, Armenia-Azerbaijan.

jarodea on April 19, 2013 at 4:15 PM

Heh, just noticed that of my list of 8 potential Euro conflicts, Russia is involved in 5 (arguably 7 depending on Greece and Cyprus), Turkey in 3, and then there are the Spanish exclaves in North Africa.

jarodea on April 19, 2013 at 4:18 PM

anyone see the seinfeld episode where kramer was on strike from the bread company, i think. That’s what this article reminds me of.

phatfawzi on April 19, 2013 at 4:35 PM

You do realize that the independence movement in Kosovo has distinct implications for the US, right? After all, the people calling for independence were not long-term native Kosovans. They were Albanian illegal immigrants (or “undocumented workers” for the Democrats). They began insurrectionist acts and terror campaigns that had the Serb Kosovars fed up and they began retaliating somewhat ruthlessly. That was when Europe demanded our intervention to prevent “ethnic cleansing”. Which would be sort of like your neighbor calling the police to arrest you because you were spraying for cockroaches in your own kitchen.

Oddly enough, the same sort of lies were on display in Bosnia: poor oppressed minority, we have to intervene or there will be genocide, etc.

This is just the (hopefully) final scene of the act of our betrayal of all our democratic principles to cater to Europe’s notion of fairness, and their almost century-old fears of another world war starting in the Balkans.

GWB on April 19, 2013 at 7:25 PM

it’s worth mentioning the local connection. The Minnesota Red Bulls, Army National Guard, were present as peacekeepers both during the riots in 2004 and the declaration of independence in 2008.

thuljunior on April 20, 2013 at 11:43 PM