Friday, August 04, 2006

Balkans under the Threat of a Fragmentation Bomb Called Kosovo

Many sources claim that as early as November Kosovo will be granted a sui generis independence. This will have the impact of a fragmentation bomb over the Balkans. Serbia will be the very centre of the explosion. However Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia and to a lesser extent even Montenegro would be affected sometime in the future by the rest of this bomb spread in every direction. In these countries where the seeds of latent crises are already visible, some element may wait for the right time to pull the trigger…

Fragmentation bomb is a bomb that has a thick outer covering which breaks into a lot of small pieces that are thrown in every direction when it explodes. A fragmentation bomb as heavy as 100 Ib has 200-300 little bombs in it. When it explodes, these little bombs spread throughout a zone covering several football fields. The exact time of explosion of these bombs-cum-mines can never be known.
By the end of this year, the final status of Kosovo will have the effect of a fragmentation bomb over the Balkans. It will explode in Serbia. Yet, to find out the rest of the other little bombs, which will spread throughout the neighbouring countries, will take sometime that one can never predict beforehand.
Several sources claim that the Kosovo problem will be definitely resolved in November. A sui generis independence is expected to be proposed to UN Security Council. After a six-month transitory period when a new Constitution will be adopted, the day will come when Kosovo will emerge as a new independent state in the middle of the Balkans.
The emergence of the Kosovo state will mark the creation of an “Albanian zone”, including Albania, Kosovo, the Albanians of western Macedonia, southern Serbia and even those of Montenegro. This will break the Slav hegemony in the Balkans without remedy.
This fragmentation bomb called Kosovo may affect, other than Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia and to a lesser extent even Montenegro.

Centre of the explosion: Serbia
Tomislav Nikolic (photo:
Tomislav Nikolic

Last week, Serbian Radical Party (SRS) leader Tomislav Nikolic defied the international community, stating that in case of independence, Serbia will fight for Kosovo. Nikolic’s statement did not come as a surprise. What else is an ultra-nationalist Serb leader supposed to say anyway?
Which is interesting is that Nikolic’s statement coincided with International Crisis Group’s report, which recommended the establishment of an indigenous army for Kosovo. This gives an unpleasant presentiment of war in the very centre of the Balkans.
One must never belittle the impact of the loss of Kosovo on the Serbs. Serbia is a romantic land and unique. Unique because, unlike others, who commemorate only their victories the Serbs also commemorate their defeats. This synthesis of victimisation, self-pity and boundless pride may prove very dangerous, for the Serbs do not always fight in order to win. And some sources today try to guess at which force the Serbs would attack first in case of independence: Albanians or NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR).
However, the prospect may not be that bleak after all. According to a recent poll, 60 percent of the Serbs declared that they would “tolerate” the secession of Kosovo. On the other hand, the support for SRS is about 40 percent. So, a high rate of turnout at the next -probably early- elections can save Serbia from falling into the nationalism trap once again.

First danger zone: Bosnia-Herzegovina

Bosnia-Herzegovina is very uneasy nowadays. Prime Minister of Republika Srpska (RS) Milorad Dodik signed an agreement with Serbia on the construction of a new bridge across the Sava River. The agreement is criticised on the grounds that it was drafted without the approval of central state authorities. However, Dodik stated that the RS government sought and received approval from the State Ministry of Transport and Communications.
Since the independence referendum in Montenegro, Milorad Dodik’s Alliance of Independent Social
Milorad Dodik (photo: Glas-javnosti)
Milorad Dodik
Democrats (SNSD) is exploiting every opportunity to collect votes for the forthcoming elections in Bosnia-Herzegovina. SNSD is by far the most popular party in the RS. Many see Dodik’s activities as very dangerous, aiming to connect the Kosovo status with the future political solutions in Bosnia.
The problem is that, apart the ethnic Bosnians, the Serbs and even the Croats still consider Bosnia-Herzegovina as an “anomaly” created by the Ottomans. This leads to the dangerous conclusion that more than a half of its habitants see the country as an “artificial construct”.
Analysts often write about the RS and its aim of uniting with Serbia in case of Kosovo’s independence. Bosnian Croats are often forgotten in this debate.
The main concern of the Bosnian Croats is not to become an insignificant minority in a state dominated by the Bosnians and the Serbs. Their demand to establish a third Croatian entity based on Croat-majority cantons within the Federation entity has been repressed for the time being by the international community.
The independence of Kosovo may trigger off what was most feared in Bosnia-Herzegovina: division of the country along the ethnic lines.

Second danger zone: Macedonia

Though to a lesser extent, Macedonia too, like Bosnia-Herzegovina, suffers from a serious national identity crisis. Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia respectively dispute the name, the nation, the language and the church of Macedonia.
Macedonia has not been totally recovered yet from the political, social and economic damages caused by the six-month civil war between the Macedonian forces and the Albanian rebels in 2001. Not only is the Albanian minority very sensible to Macedonia’s three powerful neighbours’ claims, they are also over-sensitive to the fate of their brethren in Kosovo.
Since the Ohrid Agreement, the political stability of Macedonia is somewhat indexed to the happiness of its Albanian citizens. However, Prime Minister-elect and leader of Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation - Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO-DPMNE) Nikola Gruevski seems to try to swim against the stream.
On 28th July, the future Premier stated
Ali Ahmeti (photo:
Ali Ahmeti
that “Democratic Union of Albanian (DUI) will definitely not participate in the new government”. Instead Gruevski will form the government with DUI’s bitter rival Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA). At the 5th July elections, DUI led by Ali Ahmeti obtained 17 seats, while DPA led by Arben Xhaferi only 11 seats in Parliament.
On 18th July Musa Xhaferi, DUI senior official and outgoing deputy prime minister made a disturbing statement for the Macedonian newspaper Dnevnik: “If the final objective of future prime minister-designate Nikola Gruevski is to disrespect our electorate, that is, the election results of the DUI-PDP (Party for Democratic Prosperity) coalition, whereby we would not be part of the future ruling coalition, then protests, rebellion, Kalashnikovs are possible”.
Ali Ahmeti had once provoked an insurgency against the ruling coalition led by VMRO-DPMNE and DPA. DUI is the successor to the National Liberation Army of Macedonia (UCKM), which fought the Macedonian security forces in 2001. That is why the secret meeting between Ali Ahmeti and ex-guerrilla commanders in Tetovo last week is highly disturbing as far as the future of Macedonia is concerned. DUI gives the signal that it will not be quietly consigned to opposition. They have already threatened that they will sever cooperation with Macedonian institutions if they are not included in the future government.
Everyday economic problems coupled with this serious political frustration may find a fertile ground to explode in the event of Kosovo’s independence in future.

Periphery: Montenegro

Unlike its former state union partner Serbia, Montenegro always has the reputation of being a tolerant state towards its different minorities. Thanks to this fact, at the independence referendum in May, Albanians and Bosnians voted for independence.
In fact, Albanians and Bosnians did not support the pro-independence government of Milo Djukanovic for nothing. On 10th May, just ten days before the referendum, the Montenegrin Parliament adopted the Minority Right Acts, guaranteeing
Milo Djukanovic (photo: DPA)
Milo Djukanovic
minority parties fixed numbers of seats in Parliament.
The Constitutional Court, however, recently annulled this act. This provoked a serious discontentment among the minority leaders, who accused Milo Djukanovic of bad faith on the grounds that his party had influence over the Court.
Especially the Bosniak Party made the adoption of this act a condition of their support for the independence cause. Thus, the Sandzak region had been divided for nothing. As to the Albanians, leader of Democratic Albanian Union (DUA) Ferhat Dinosha reacted furiously: “Montenegro has harmed its own interests. This government is not ready for European integration because the Constitutional Court’s decision is intended to attack European democratic standards”.
The general elections are scheduled for 10th September in Montenegro. Milo Djukanovic’s Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) is seeking a coalition with the Bosniak Party and the Croat Civic Initiative. DPS offers the Bosniak Party 2 seats on its slate and the Croat Civic Initiative 1. However, the Croat Civic Initiative leader Marija Vucinovic stated: “To get a seat in Parliament through the Minority Rights Act is quite different from obtaining a seat by way of a coalition agreement”.
The act granted minority groups comprising between 1 and 5 per cent of the population 1 seat in Parliament and allocated 3 seats to ethnic groups constituting over 5 per cent. In Montenegro, 8 percent of the population is Bosnian, 5 percent Albanian and 1 percent Croat.
This frustration, how serious it may be, would definitely not cause a civil war in Montenegro. However, the independence of Kosovo and possible unrest in neighbouring countries may affect the inner social and politic serenity of the country.

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