Bulldozer diplomacy

While we’ve got our minds on domestic issues, the big powers are busy working on the Kosovo problem. The people and the media in Greece made a fuss during the war that convulsed the province, but now that a decision on the final status is near, interest has waned. What is going to happen? Everything seems to suggest that, one way or another, Washington will impose its will and Kosovo will gain its independence from Serbia. Moscow, which many hoped would veto such a move at the UN’s Security Council, appears to have turned its back on the Serbs and seems willing to trade its approval for something else. US diplomacy is like a bulldozer, determined to get a long-outstanding problem out of the way. Washington is not interested in the region’s troubled history, the underlying hatreds and passions, or what the place will look like in the future. As the American diplomat Richard Holbrooke used to say about the Balkans, «decision makers in Washington cannot be held hostage to history and do not have the luxury to think of what will happen 20 or 30 years from now. We want solutions: simple, practical and, if possible, instant solutions.» The Americans will wait until December for a Security Council decision that will recognize Kosovo’s independence. If that doesn’t happen, they will do it themselves. At the same time, the Serbs seem lost in their own world, taking comfort in the myth of the eternal victim. Instead of proposing some realistic solution, such as, for example, the secession of Kosovo’s northern section, they have recently threatened to approve a new constitution declaring Kosovo an integral part of the republic. So what? Isolated from the international community, they will end up celebrating yet another painful anniversary along with their landmark 1389 defeat by the Ottoman Turks. Nationalism will boil over and instead of turning to the north, hoping for a place in Europe, they will cling to the trauma in the south. Serious analysts in Belgrade are concerned about seeing retired officers and spies moving to Mitrovica, their luggage packed with guns. That is because they are afraid of a guided uprising of the Serbian population, aimed at bringing about Kosovo’s partition.