The countdown for a settlement of Kosovo’s final status has begun, and that will be independence. No one in the international community is now talking about anything else. Even officials in Belgrade seem to have realized that what they regard as the «cradle of the Serbian nation» has been lost and are now trying to save face with statements such as «something less than independence and something more than autonomy.» Although the international community has not reached a joint position on a proposed model, in reality it is seeking the least painful way to grant independence. All sides are holding their cards close to their chests, but diplomatic sources in Pristina hint at several scenarios. One interesting version provides for a type of commonwealth of independent states comprising Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo, a model that facilitated the smooth dissolution of the Soviet Union. Another version, which only the Albanians are likely to agree to, is complete independence, and a third provides for a special relationship between Serbia and Kosovo. What the international community is trying to do is to maintain the existing borders in order to avert regional conflicts, given that Kosovo has cut itself off from Serbia. In addition, the entire independence theory should be accepted by both Serbs and Albanians as each sees fit, so that Belgrade is able give its consent, albeit with a heavy heart. All of the above depends on whether the international community can decide this summer whether conditions have been fulfilled so talks may begin. Toward this end, in mid-May UNMIK chief in Pristina Soren Jessen-Petersen is to submit his progress report and will propose, according to sources in Pristina, that talks begin on the final status, arguing that although conditions may not have been fulfilled, progress is being made.