NEWS

Complete deadlock on Kosovo

Ramush Haradinaj is the rising political star of the ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, and not only. The military leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in the war against the Serbs and candidate for the International Tribunal for War Crimes in Yugoslavia, he was elected prime minister of the Kosovar government in December at the age of just 36. He enjoys the full support, even the admiration, of Kosovo’s UN governor Soren Jessen-Petersen; his political acumen has come as a surprise, as has his decisiveness and the moderation that have won him the trust of Western diplomats in Kosovo. But there is the other Haradinaj, the leader of the KLA in the southwestern Dukagini region, who allegedly ordered or at least tolerated the slaughter of Serb civilians and Albanians believed to be aiding them. For these activities,The Hague tribunal’s chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte has drawn up charges against him and invited him for an «initial interview» in her office in Pristina. Haradinaj, asked what he will do if charges are pressed (it is said that he has signed to that effect), has said that he will go to The Hague. If the Kosovar prime minister does go to The Hague while the debate rages on settling the status of Kosovo, the Kosovars will have to find another prime minister; this could lead to violence on the part of Albanian extremists for whom Haradinaj is a national hero. The international community is said to be putting pressure on Del Ponte to freeze the charges. In Pristina, in fact, it is said that when Petersen put the request to Del Ponte in The Hague, the two almost came to blows. But this is not the only reason for the deadlock in Kosovo. The presence of Haradinaj alone at the talks will be tantamount to a red flag to the Serbs. The talks on determining the final status of Kosovo will not begin under the best of circumstances. Sources in Pristina say the Albanians could declare their independence in the spring, ahead of the talks. In Belgrade, the Serb leadership appears to be out of touch, indulging in an excess of nationalism and saber-rattling. Albanians and Serbs are not about to agree, so the international community will have to impose a solution it does not have. Sources in Brussels say there are two schools of thought. Most members propose a solution with which the Serbs can agree, but have not yet decided what that should be. The other, favored by the US, is for a settlement without the Serbs, but again, there is nothing specific. At the back of everyone’s minds is independence. The question is how it can be painlessly achieved.