Kosovo Serbs seize courthouse -- from UN

The situation in Kosovo continues to decline after the unilateral declaration of independence by its Albanian majority. Ethnic Serbs have seized a courthouse from UN control in the latest of a series of counteractions. The UN, whose armed forces didn’t resist the seizure, wants to negotiate a peaceful resolution:

Hundreds of Kosovo Serbs have taken over a UN courthouse in the northern Kosovo town of Mitrovica, raising a Serbian flag to replace the UN’s.

The protesters broke into the building in the Serb-dominated part of the city, forcing UN police to retreat.

A Kosovo police spokesman said a UN official was negotiating with Serb leaders to try to resolve the issue.

Last week, Serbs tried to seize and control a bridge in Mitrovica to keep Albanians out of their sector of the city. They have also attempted to seize control of the railways in northern Kosovo. Seen tactically, it looks as though the Serbs want to control access in and around Mitrovica, which portends a civil war between the ethnic enclaves in the new nation.

Nine years of benign neglect after an ill-conceived intervention didn’t solve the underlying problems in Kosovo or in the Balkans in general. Was potentially starting a new civil war worth setting the precedent of recognizing breakaway regions as nations? Will we cheer when Abkhazia follows suit?