1 The Problem of Kosovo’s Final Status by Marta Vrbetic, Ph.D.

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1 The Problem of Kosovo’s Final Status by Marta Vrbetic, Ph.D.
The Problem of Kosovo’s Final Status
by Marta Vrbetic, Ph.D.
According to a number of observers, the Kosovo intervention was successful because the
Western allies got the Serb forces out of Kosovo and forced Belgrade to accept the
NATO troops.1 However, one should ask what purpose this outcome served, for in the
Western, Clausewitzian rationality, the use of force must have a larger political purpose.2
The most obvious, positive outcome is that the NATO intervention ended the war
between Belgrade and the Kosovo Albanians, even though it could not prevent the
humanitarian catastrophe.3 Thanks to the NATO intervention, today’s Kosovo is much
more stable and peaceful than it had been in the years prior to the intervention of 1999.
But besides getting NATO in and the Serb forces out, have any other policy objectives
been met?4 How about long-term objectives? Where is Kosovo today?
A short answer to these questions is that, though relatively stable, Kosovo is in a
limbo—a state of uncertainty about its future. Formally, it is a part of Serbia; in reality, it
is Albanian. The local parties—the Serbs and the Albanians—are dissatisfied, while the
outside parties are entrapped into governing Kosovo because, though the conflict has
been mitigated, it has not been resolved.5 Hence, pressure is growing for a resolution of
Kosovo’s final status: a clear-cut solution would hopefully permit the people of the area
to move forward, and to the outside parties to disengage.
This paper will throw light on why resolving Kosovo’s status has been, and will continue
to be, difficult. It will also suggest a few scenarios and warn about some regional and
global implications of the Kosovo question and its path of resolution. Though it is
difficult to come up with a thorough analysis in a paper of this length, it is hoped that this
paper will point to necessity to rethink the post-Cold War rush to intervene in identity
disputes without a better thought out framework for such interventions. To this end, a few
details pertinent to the conflict will be reviewed, details that might clash with popular
explanations and conventional opinions regarding the Kosovo conflict and intervention.
Underlying this paper is an awareness of the growing importance of intercultural
communication in international relations and conflict management. Some scholars have
already warned that an international mediation process is generally viewed from a
perspective of (Western) negotiators; it is thereby neglected that disputants might not
share mediators’ interests in compromises but seek, instead, to exploit international
involvements to advance their own agenda unrelated to peace.6 Furthermore, new
thinking about the nature of knowledge emphasizes that--given social and cultural
variables underlying our understanding of reality--scholarship is rarely objective and it is
often colored by values of those in power.7 Hence, it is not difficult to imagine that
intervening (Western) societies may rely on models of world politics and conflict
management that reflect their particular conditions and interests rather than objective
truths prevalent worldwide. But are these models appropriate when we seek to understand
the politics of some weak, non-Western societies? In fact, this question may be a vital
issue concerning not only a more effective management of identity disputes but also more
successful approaches to insurgencies and terrorism, both of which need to be understood
from insiders’ perspectives as well.
There exist considerable differences in how Western and non-Western parties approach a
peace process—differences that reflect their respective circumstances of military and
economic strength, as well as diverse assumptions proceeding from a relative domestic
stability in Western societies versus instability and grievances experienced in many nonWestern, changing societies.8 Such differences have underlined the international
management of the Kosovo crisis, including some surprises and later disappointments.
More specifically, in 1999 the U.S. and Europe urged a peace settlement that would end
violence while delaying the resolution of the Kosovo conflict until after a change of
regime in Belgrade. Thus, the Western allies urged the Kosovo Albanians and Belgrade
to accept an “interim” agreement (the Rambouillet Accords) that would place NATO in
charge of Kosovo and postpone the most important issue—whether Kosovo is Albanian
or Serbian. The underlying hope was that the dispute could be solved peacefully, and that
Kosovo might want to stay within a future democratic Yugoslavia that would respect the
Kosovo Albanians’ rights--even though the agreement itself did not foreclose an option
of Kosovo’s independence.9
This idea of a settlement reflects the values and realities of Western societies where
people generally live with secure identities because the disputes over sovereignty and
security are usually the thing of the past.10 Though Western societies may experience
some ethnic strains, such tensions are typically over equality and opportunity within a
given society; hence, the importance these societies attach to minority rights and ethnic
equality. To be sure, the latter issues are important, but they may not be at the core of
some difficult, almost existential disputes over sovereignty, identity, and security. In
existential disputes, minorities usually seek to break away from states rather than blend in
based on minority rights guarantees. As in a case of the Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia, who
fought not to become Croatian or Bosnian Serbs with the prospects of independence for
Croatia and Bosnia, so did the Kosovo Albanians struggle not to be Yugoslavia’s
Albanians any longer. The goal of such break-away minorities has been independence-not local autonomy, minority rights, or ethnic equality.11
Hence, a change of regime in Belgrade did not bring about the Kosovo Albanians’ desire
to return under the authority of Belgrade. Instead, the downfall of Milosevic increased the
Albanian calls for a final solution to the Kosovo problem based on independence for all
of Kosovo. Thus, the U.S. and Europe miscalculated with respect to the Albanians’
willingness to settle for an “autonomous Kosovo within a democratic Yugoslavia.”12 This
Albanian unwillingness has complicated a Western search for a final solution because the
relevant documents, as we shall see later, do not permit Kosovo’s independence without
Belgrade’s approval.
Furthermore, the U.S. and Europe miscalculated with respect to Belgrade. Initially,
Western politicians assumed that a resolution of the Kosovo crisis called for
confrontation with Serbia’s “dictator,” rather than a populist leader who could not
peacefully surrender Kosovo, the cradle of Serbian medieval statehood and culture. In
early 1999, Serbia was threatened with air-strikes should it fail to agree to the proposed
peace settlement negotiated at Rambouillet.13
However, the threats addressed at Serbia did not prevent a humanitarian catastrophe: in
March 1999 Belgrade escalated the conflict with hope of forcing Western diplomats back
to the negotiating table where a new agreement would be negotiated. This is indeed what
eventually happened: the NATO campaign ended, in June 1999, with a UN resolution
permitting an international deployment to Kosovo but also recognizing Belgrade’s
sovereignty over its break-away province (Resolution 1244).14
Thus, the problem of Kosovo’s final status has been created. Following the NATO
intervention, years of freedom from Belgrade could only reinforce Albanian proindependence sentiments, strengthened moreover by the flight of the Kosovo Serbs. And
yet, NATO has alienated Kosovo from Belgrade’s authority only de facto, but not de
jure. Now that an active search for a permanent settlement has begun, Western powers
will find themselves constrained, despite their military and political clout, by the UN
Security Council Resolution 1244, which bars Kosovo’s independence against Belgrade’s
At first, this interpretation may seem at odds with conventional opinion on how the
Kosovo war ended, reposing on an assumption that the strong can easily coerce the
weak.16 Thus, according to a popular opinion, Belgrade “capitulated” once America
threatened to engage in a ground war against Serbia.17 To be sure, Belgrade did soften
under the pressure of Western military campaign, having initially rejected NATO forces
even in a participatory role.18 As it began experiencing bombing, Belgrade eventually
agreed to a NATO force—but agreed to it within a UN framework. In its official
statement, Belgrade said that one of the reasons it had agreed to the new peace settlement
was “that the decision-making process [was] being transferred to the United Nations, on
the basis of the UN Charter.”19 The UN Charter upholds the territorial integrity of its
member states (Article 2.4). Belgrade expected, therefore, that the UN would respect
Belgrade’s sovereignty over Kosovo.
At first, when they negotiated the “interim,” agreement at Rambouillet, Western powers
wanted to keep the decision-making process within the Atlantic Alliance as much as
possible, hesitating to involve the UN.20 Eventually, they agreed to accept a UN
framework in the interest of peace. In other words, Washington softened its initial
demands. American officials were eager to end the air campaign that divided the Allies
and that could not stop the Albanian exodus. This unsatisfactory situation called for a
ground war in order to return Albanian refugees to Kosovo. However, Washington had to
contemplate a ground war option amid growing transatlantic tensions. Moreover,
American decision-makers had to consider that a ground war would lead to American
casualties for a distant cause, given irrelevance of Kosovo to America’s security and
well-being. Hence, Washington found it more palatable to accept peace within a UN
framework—a settlement that by now Serbia also wanted.21 Thus, Washington eventually
agreed to a UN resolution that permitted NATO deployment but did not even mention
NATO in the text of the resolution, while explicitly confirming Belgrade’s sovereignty
over Kosovo.22
In other words, NATO victory in the Kosovo war has failed to accomplish a tangible
political solution that would enable an easy and elegant resolution of the present-day
Kosovo problem. Despite its military defeat, Serbia accomplished a small, but important
political victory, a victory that will prove to be an obstacle to the eventual resolution of
the Kosovo question and Western disengagement from the area.
The above underscores cultural misunderstanding when the strong contemplate coercing
the weak—a problem apparent not only in the Kosovo crisis but also evident in the
current war on terror. The U.S. is a stable society whose citizenry is generally
unaccustomed to, and hence unwilling to support, wars, especially if there is no instant
victory at a low price. When it engages in war, Washington seeks to win decisively with
minimal casualties on its part. Hence, until the recent years marked by terrorist attacks
and the Iraq war, Washington did not really face up to a possibility that some unstable,
non-Western societies--often upset by their own problems or animated by perceived
grievances--are prepared for greater sacrifice.23 In a case of Kosovo, Washington found it
difficult to grasp that the weak might accept a military defeat at the hands of the strong
and then still continue to fight for a political victory in the aftermath.
In other words, even though the U.S. coerced Serbia to accept NATO soldiers in Kosovo,
the terms of the Kosovo settlement opened up new opportunities for Belgrade--to
continue its fight for Kosovo with diplomatic means, thereby complicating Western
search for a final settlement. In short, the weak may overturn the Clausewitzian
rationality, using peace to pursue their war policies with means other than war. This
upside-down rationality does not make sense from a perspective of a superpower, which
believes in a clear-cut political victory proceeding from a military one.24
The UNSC resolution 1244 (1999) is very beneficial to Serbia because it introduces
additional constraints on Western powers. It demands that one and the same principle be
applied throughout the Balkans, since it affirms commitment to “the sovereignty and
territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the other states of the
region.”25 In other words, if the borders of Yugoslavia (i.e., Serbia) should change, so
may change those of Yugoslavia’s neighbors (i.e., Bosnia)
The principles upon which the previous international policy on the Balkans was based
were inherited from the Badinter Arbitration Commission. This body of eminent
European lawyers was chosen, in late 1991, by the European Community, which sought
to manage the break-up of Yugoslavia more orderly. The Badinter opinions upheld the
existing borders (uti possidetis), refusing to accept new borders among the former
Yugoslav republics. According to Badinter, neither the Serbs could secede from Zagreb
or Sarajevo, nor could Kosovo Albanians split away from Belgrade. Kosovo did function
autonomously in Titoist Yugoslavia and had direct representation at the level of the
federation, just like other Yugoslav republics. However, in 1991, the European
Community, which claimed to have been led by the Badinter principles, rejected the
Kosovo Albanians’ appeal for independence. Europe justified its rejection by saying that
only republics—that is, Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina--were entitled to the
recognition of independence. Kosovo, which was then an autonomous province within
the Yugoslav republic of Serbia, was not, therefore, entitled to the recognition of
But if Kosovo should win its independence in a near future, why should not the Bosnian
Serb Republic split away from Bosnia? In a case of Bosnia, the U.S. and Europe have
spent ten years--since the conclusion of the Dayton peace agreement--in holding this
country together by a high-handed international policy: they have designed or imposed
everything, from Bosnia’s state symbols to its constitutional reform.27 How consistent is
it to allow Kosovo’s secession while urging a unified state upon the Bosnian Serbs and
the Bosnian Croats? Why a hypothetical secession of Kosovo would not undermine an
international policy to keep Bosnia together?
In short, the Albanians demand Kosovo, while Serbia has accomplished a small, but
important, political victory, opening up an opportunity to continue struggle for its
objective of eventually incorporating Kosovo or else permitting its final secession in
exchange for other benefits. The international community is getting tired of administering
Kosovo but must resolve its status before it can disengage. The wide-spread riots and
violence of March 2004 left 19 dead and over 900 wounded in Kosovo, convincing many
in the international community that the problem of the Kosovo status had to be
resolved.28 Accordingly, the international community is launching negotiations: Martti
Ahtisaari of Finland will be chairing the UN sponsored talks on the Kosovo final status.29
The Albanians would like to see an outright independence; Serbia opposes it. Though,
rhetorically, Serbia still holds onto Kosovo, it is difficult to imagine that its leadership is
looking forward to ruling, again, a defiant Kosovo with a two-million strong Albanian
“minority.” The real Serbian preference is for “decentralization”--in reality, some ethnic
partitioning--which would leave Belgrade with control over some provinces in the north
of Kosovo.30 However, the Kosovo Albanians oppose this Serbian plan, demanding
instead independence for all of Kosovo. In addition, some international actors oppose the
partitioning of Kosovo, fearing a negative precedent for Macedonia, where tensions still
persist regarding recent decentralization moves to accommodate Macedonia’s
Current options range from a conditional independence for Kosovo (e.g., Kosovo would
fulfill high democratic standards before its independence would be recognized) to a
Kosovo regime of limited sovereignty reconciling Kosovo’s self-government with
Belgrade’s formal control. The latter option maintains the credibility of the established
international policy, which does not want to see Kosovo’s secession nor does it permit
Belgrade’s control over its break-away province. The expectation is that such a solution
would be possible within a larger process of European integration, and that Belgrade
would go along with the plan in exchange for a promise of membership in the European
Such options pose a series of as yet unanswered questions which the international
community will have to address. How would an independent Kosovo guarantee its
economic survival, particularly since it is not ready to join the EU nor will it be permitted
to join neighboring Albania? For how long would Western powers be committed to
Kosovo, given that its management requires substantial military, political, and economic
commitments? Where is a guarantee that an independent Kosovo would not be a prelude
to Macedonia’s break-up, particularly should there be a lessening of Western
commitment and presence in the area? How can Western powers ensure that Serbia will
go along with such plans, since international law and the UN Resolution 1244 are on the
side of Belgrade? What will they give Serbia in exchange for letting go of Kosovo,
particularly since the European Union cannot contemplate enlargement at this point and
cannot make a serious offer of membership to Belgrade? Moreover, prospective
independence of Kosovo would need an approval of the UN Security Council—in other
words, states like China and Russia, which sympathize with Belgrade and dislike
secessionist attempts in view of their own problems with minorities.
Needless to say, it is possible to create a media spin that would present the international
support for Kosovo’s independence against Belgrade’s wishes as if this support were
consistent with the previous policy or international law.33 Moreover, while seemingly
upholding international law, some influential voices argue that Kosovo should gain
independence despite the constraints of the UN Resolution 1244.34 Of course, many
would agree that Kosovo should have been a republic, not a Serbian province, in the
communist Yugoslavia, and that, therefore, Kosovo should be entitled to independence
like all other Yugoslav republics (e.g., Bosnia). However, the problem of inconsistency
still remains: the current international policy in support of Kosovo’s independence is
incoherent with respect to its former and present policies in the Balkans, even though it
claims to have been guided by legal and moral principles.
The international policy on the Balkans is in fact an imperial management of conflicts on
the periphery, a management subject to change given new circumstances and
opportunities. Unfortunately, inconsistency introduces an element of unpredictability into
the still unstable area of the Balkans and beyond. In other words, there exist some
international problems that could be exacerbated by an international move to sponsor
Kosovo’s independence, especially if done in disregard for Belgrade’s blessing. As much
as Kosovo’s independence is desirable and inevitable for political reasons, there is always
a potential problem of creating negative precedents when a particular course of action-though desirable from a regional perspective for the sake of stability--defies international
law and the usual practices in nearby areas or other regions.
The real question is not how to force Serbia into giving Kosovo independence in some
form, but how to avoid similar international entanglements in other disputes, disputes that
are more difficult to manage and have potentially more damaging consequences. For
example, how would international sponsorship of Kosovo’s independence influence proindependence moves in other parts of the world—say in Iraq? How about an independent
Kurdistan on the territory of present-day Iraq, and what consequences would it have for
Turkey and Iran, both with sizeable Kurdish communities?
Here it is necessary to distinguish between the questions of law, on one hand, and policy
issues, on the other. For example, it is possible to argue that Kosovo’s independence has
always been inevitable. However, there exists a potentially serious problem when there is
an international sponsorship of pro-independence moves in the name of alleged norms
and regional stability, whereas in fact not following any recognizable principle. Such a
sponsorship not only opens a window of opportunity for pro-independence moves
elsewhere, but also creates new incentives for international powers unable to say “no” to
get involved, for geo-political reasons, into difficult-to-solve regional disputes. The end
result of greater international involvement in pro-independence moves around the world
may not be more order and stability—the initial rationale often cited for
involvement—but instead disorder and greater instability, with costs for both the local
parties and the intervening states.
Moreover, some of the new involvements may not offer possible solutions as the Kosovo
problem does, because the Balkans finds itself on the periphery of the European
integration process, which may offer a few solutions to disputed sovereignty issues. For
example, a “hybrid” solution for Kosovo (de facto independence coupled with some
formal acknowledgement of Belgrade’s role) may be possible due to the European
integration process, which makes some of sovereignty issues irrelevant. In other words,
Kosovo may never be a real state, but only a self-governing entity that will join the
European Union one day. Serbia may go along with such an arrangement because the
common European space will make the border between Serbia and Kosovo irrelevant.
Therefore, as much as the Kosovo problem seems difficult, it does offer room,
nevertheless, for a few creative options--options normally lacking in other parts of the
world that lack effective mechanisms of regional integration. And yet, following the
Kosovo precedent, we might get involved in other regional disputes and proindependence moves without understanding the limits and risks of such engagements.
Discussions over the Kosovo future are coming, but so is the evaluation of the Bosnia
peace process. In the latter case, the international community has been involved for more
than ten years since Dayton, and a self-sustaining peace is still not in sight. It is difficult
to know what the future holds, but one thing is certain: Kosovo, like Bosnia, will
continue to need sustained international involvement, and the status negotiations will
have an impact on the region and beyond.
For example, in his testimony before the Congress, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Henry Shelton
said: “We were fortunate to come out with no combat casualties. Milosevic’s forces are out and we’re in.
And so the Kosovar Albanians are back at home.” Shelton cited in United States of America, Congress,
Senate, Armed Services Committee, “Lessons Learned from Military Operations and Relief Efforts in
Kosovo: Hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee,” Chaired by Senator John Warner (R-VA),
Witnesses: William Cohen, Secretary of Defense; Henry Shelton, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Federal News
Service, 14 October 1999, available from Lexis-Nexis Universe, accessed 19 June 2000.
According to Clausewitz, “War is regarded as nothing but the continuation of state policy with other
means.” For the Clausewitz quote see, The Columbia World of Quotations, ed. Robert Andrews, Mary
Biggs, Michael Seidel, et al. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996), no. 12605, available from
http://www.bartleby.com/66/5/12605.html, accessed 1 February 2004.
It should be noted that the intervention provoked Serbia’s decision to escalate and almost half of the
Kosovo Albanians became refugees before NATO could finally impose a peace settlement on Belgrade.
The initial decision to intervene was based on an assumption that a humanitarian catastrophe could be
prevented. For such an assumption, see, e.g., United States of America, President, Address, “Clinton on
Kosovo: ‘We Can Make a Difference’,” New York Times, 14 February 1999, available from
http://www.nytimes.com/library/world/europe/ 021499kosovo-clinton-text.html, accessed 18 February
1999. The text was a transcript of President Clinton’s weekly radio address.
See Shelton’s quote in reference no. 1.
In this paper, the term “Albanians” or the “Kosovo Albanians” refers to the citizens of Kosovo; it never
refers to the citizens of Albania. In difference to the U.S., the Balkan societies do not view nationhood as a
political concept related to citizenship. Thus, the Albanians living in Kosovo do not consider themselves an
ethnic group within the “Yugoslav nation.” Instead, they view themselves as members of the Albanian
nation presently living outside of Albania, or in Kosovo. Accordingly, this paper uses the term “Albanians”
or the “Kosovo Albanians,” rather than “ethnic Albanians.”
Oliver Richmond, “Devious Objectives and the Disputants’ View of International Mediation: A
Theoretical Framework,” Journal of Peace Research 35, no. 6 (1998): 707-722.
Refer to the discussion of scientific positivism, relativism, and interpretivism in Nicholas Walliman, with
Bousmaha Baiche, Your Research Project: A Step-by-Step Guide for the First-Time Researcher (London;
Thousand Oaks, Calif.; New Delhi: Sage, 2001), 160-172; see in particular pp. 169-170.
See also Paul E. Salem, “In Theory: A Critique of Western Conflict Resolution from a Non-Western
Perspective,” Negotiation Journal 9, no. 4 (October 1993): 361-369.
For such calculations on the part of Western diplomats, see Wesley K. Clark, Waging Modern War:
Bosnia, Kosovo, and the Future of Combat (New York: Public Affairs, Perseus Books, 2001), 121-122,
128. Clark was the NATO Commander during the Kosovo war. See also French diplomats’ citations in
Craig R. Whitney, “Peacekeeping in Kosovo: Grave Test for NATO Allies,” New York Times, 28 February
1999. For the “interim” agreement, see “Interim Agreement for Peace and Self-Government in Kosovo
(Rambouillet Accords),” International Peacekeeping (Kluwer Law International) 5, nos. 1-2 (January-April
1999): 51-65.
For America’s amnesia of its own violent nation-building, and hence its misunderstanding of the Balkan
conflicts, see Benjamin Schwarz, “The Diversity Myth: America’s Leading Export,” Atlantic Monthly, May
1995, 57-67.
As already suggested, misunderstanding of the Balkan identity disputes has been a reflection of presentday domestic stability within Western societies, which have also forgotten their own violent past. In
addition, there have been a series of media spins, on the one hand, and a lack of critical examination based
on primary sources, on the other, when it comes to some controversial events. The Balkans has been the
area of a high-profile international involvement, sometimes producing undesirable conflict escalation; such
failures called for media spins to maintain the credibility of international officials involved. For example, it
is part of conventional knowledge that premature recognition of Croatia, without minority rights
guarantees, led to a war in Bosnia. And yet, before its recognition on 15 January 1992, Croatia did pass a
minority rights law guaranteeing local autonomy and minority representation in central bodies: Parliament
of the Republic of Croatia, “The Constitutional Law of Human Rights and Freedoms and the Rights of
National and Ethnic Communities or Minorities in the Republic of Croatia,” 4 December 1991, in Republic
of Croatia, ed. Gisbert H. Flanz, Constitutions of the Countries of the World, ed. Albert P. Baustein and
Gisbert H. Flanz (Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.: Oceana Publications, 1992), 135-162. More importantly, in exchange
for international recognition, Croatia had to accept a UN peace force that enshrined its temporary division-as desired by the Serbs, who saw the UN arrival as a prelude to their internationally recognized secession.
The Bosnia problem was not created by the recognition of Croatia per se, but by American push to
recognize Bosnia without, in fact, following the Croatian precedent. American diplomats urged Bosnia’s
recognition without a plan on Bosnia’s internal division. Arguing that a speedy recognition would impose a
single Bosnia upon the Bosnian Serbs and Belgrade, Washington recognized Sarajevo in order to scuttle a
European plan on Bosnia’s internal division as demanded by the Serbs. For the U.S. decision to recognize
Bosnia, see the memoirs of the last U.S. Ambassador to the Titoist Yugoslavia: Warren Zimmermann,
Origins of a Catastrophe: Yugoslavia and Its Destroyers (New York: Random House-Time Books, 1999),
191-192. When the abandonment of talks on Bosnia’s division and its recognition triggered the Serb war
against Bosnia’s independence, Washington rebuffed criticism that its diplomatic initiative had helped
precipitate war, blaming, instead, the recognition of Croatia without adequate minority rights guarantees.
The full discussion of the problem exceeds the interest of this paper, which does not even enter into
questions related to recognition. The only interest this paper has is to underscore that the faulty idea about
high-intensity existential disputes being manageable by minority rights guarantees is a product of
confusion created through a combination of cultural misunderstanding and media spins coupled with a lack
of scholarly interest in certain events. For more details and references, refer to Chapters 4 and 5 in Marta
Vrbetic’s Ph.D. dissertation, “The Delusion of Coercive Peacemaking: The Case of the Former
Yugoslavia,” Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, November 2004.
“An autonomous Kosovo within a democratic Yugoslavia” was then a popular slogan. See previous
references to Clark and Whitney in the reference no. 9.
For such threats, see President Clinton’s address in “Clinton on Kosovo: ‘We Can Make a Difference’,”
New York Times, 14 February 1999. See also later statements issued on the occasion of the launch of air
strikes, after it had become clear that Serbia would launch a major offensive, and the goal became to
“deter” or “disrupt” the Serb attacks against the Albanians: North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO),
Press Statement by Dr. Javier Solana, Secretary General of NATO, NATO Press Release (1999) 040, 23
March 1999, available from http://www.nato.int/docu/pr/1999/p99-040e.htm, accessed 2 May 2000; United
States of America, President, Statement, “President Clinton’s Address on Airstrikes [sic] Against
Yugoslavia,” New York Times, 24 March 1999, available from
http://www.nytimes.com/library/world/europe/032599clinton-address-text.html, accessed 26 March 1999.
United Nations, Security Council, 4011th Meeting, “Resolution 1244 (1999) [On Situation Related to
Kosovo],” S/RES/1244 (1999), 10 June 1999, in International Peacekeeping (Kluwer Law International) 5,
no. 3 (May-June 1999): 97-99; annexes include G-8 Meeting (Annex 1) and Chernomyrdine-AhtisaariMilosevic Agreement of 3 June 1999 (Annex 2).
S/RES/1244 (1999), 10 June 1999.
This assumption may not always be true and poses a danger of unwanted conflict escalation, as
demonstrated by Alexander George in a case of the Pearl Harbor attack: Alexander L. George, Forceful
Persuasion: Coercive Diplomacy as an Alternative to War, with foreword by Samuel W. Lewis
(Washington, D.C.: United States Institute of Peace, 1991), 19-23.
For such an opinion, see United States of America, Congress, Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and
the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, “The Lessons of Kosovo: The Failure of Deterrence,” Prepared
Testimony of Robert Kagan, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and
Director of the U.S. Leadership Project, Federal News Service, 28 September 1999, available from LexisNexis Universe, accessed 6 June 2000. See also Ivo H. Daalder and Michael E. O’Hanlon, Winning Ugly:
NATO’s War to Save Kosovo (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2000), in particular pp. 5,
140-143; United States of America, Congress, Senate, Foreign Relations Committee, “Failure of U.S.
Diplomacy in Kosovo: Hearing of Senate Foreign Relations Committee,” chaired by Senator Sam
Brownback (R-KS), witnesses: Ivo Daalder, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution; Robert Kagan, Senior
Associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Federal News Service, 28 September 1999,
available from Lexis-Nexis Universe, accessed 15 June 2000.
On the eve of the NATO campaign, Belgrade argued in favor of a UN peace force, but rejected NATO
soldiers. “‘Discussions intenses’ après l’expiration de l’échéance,”Agence France Presse, 20 February
1999, available from the website of Le Monde (Paris), L’actualité en continu avec l’AFP:
wysiwyg://61/http://www.afp.com/ext/francais/lemonde/dos2/990220152333.dsh50qnw.html, accessed 20
February 1999; Steven Erlanger, “In Serb Capital, More Ennui Than Anguish Over a Raid,” New York
Times, 21 February 1999, available from http://www.nytimes.com/library/world/europe/022199kosovobelgrade.html, accessed 21 February 1999; Serbia and Montenegro, [Press release], “Serbian President
Says Final Hours of Kosovo Talks ‘a Farce and a Circus’,” BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 25
February 1999, available from Lexis-Nexis Universe, accessed 30 May 2000.
Serbia and Montenegro, [Press release], “Yugoslav Government Endorses Kosovo Peace Plan,” BBC
Monitoring Europe –Political, Supplied by BBC Worldwide Monitoring, 4 June 1999, available from
Lexis-Nexis Universe, accessed 19 June 2000. See also Serbia and Montenegro, [Press release], “Serbian
Ruling Party Says UN Must Resolve Kosovo Crisis on Basis of G8 Plan,” BBC Summary of World
Broadcasts, 3 June 1999, available from Lexis-Nexis Universe, accessed 19 June 2000. See also Vuk
Draskovic’s statement in John-Thor Dahlburg and Richard Boudreaux, “Crisis in Yugoslavia; Yugoslavia
Accepts Western Demands to Pull Out of Kosovo; Balkans: Milosevic and Serb Parliament OK Tentative
Plan That Would End Bombing. NATO Will Continue Airstrikes Until Withdrawal Starts,” Los Angeles
Times, 4 June 1999, available from Lexis-Nexis Universe, accessed 19 June 2000.
“Interim Agreement for Peace and Self-Government in Kosovo (Rambouillet Accords).”
Molly Moore and Bradley Graham, “NATO Plans For Peace, Not Ground Invasion: Refugees’ Return Is
Allies’ Focus,” Washington Post, 17 May 1999, available from http://search.washingtonpost.com/wpsrv/Wplate/1999-05/17/0771-051799-idx.html, accessed 18 May 1999; “US and NATO Divided On
Ground Troops,” BBC News, 17 May 1999, available from
http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/europe/newsid_345000/345836.stm, accessed 18 May 1999;
“Difficultés entre les alliés sur une mission d’Ahtisaari,”Agence France Presse, 18 May 1999, available
from the website of Le Monde (Paris), L’actualité en continu avec l’AFP:Kosovo: wysiwyg://81/http://
www.afp.com/ext/francais/lemonde/dos1/990518205514.gllbujd5.html, accessed 18 May 1999.
S/RES/1244 (1999), 10 June 1999.
In that respect, Salem was right to point out that many “post-modern” Western societies attuned to
material comfort misunderstand the turbulent areas of the world where self-sacrifice still predominates
because these non-Western societies are still shaken by many unresolved problems. Salem, “In Theory: A
Critique of Western Conflict Resolution from a Non-Western Perspective.”
For the Clausewitz quote, see reference no. 2. Also compare the argument in the text above to Handel’s
study of the Yom Kippur War. Handel also argued that some non-Western societies sometimes
accomplished political victories despite military setbacks, even though such outcomes do not make sense
from a Western, Clausewitzian perspective. Michael I. Handel, Perception, Deception and Surprise: The
Case of the Yom Kippur War, Jerusalem Papers on Peace Problems, no. 19 (Jerusalem, Israel: The Hebrew
University, Leonard Davis Institute for International Relations, 1976), 23-24.
S/RES/1244 (1999), 10 June 1999. That commitment is also present in the Annex 2 of the Resolution
1244. Annex 2 is the Chernomyrdine-Ahtisaari-Milosevic agreement of 3 June 1999.
The Badinter Commission upheld the existing borders among the Yugoslav republics, because “the right
to self-determination must not involve changes to existing boundaries at the time of independence (uti
possidetis juris) except where the States concerned [agreed] otherwise.” Peace Conference on Yugoslavia,
[Badinter] Arbitration Commission, “Opinion No. 2 of the Arbitration Commission of the Peace
Conference on Yugoslavia,” Paris, 11 January 1992, Document No. 152 in Yugoslavia Through
Documents: From its Creation to its Dissolution, ed. Sne_ana Trifunovska (Dordrecht, Netherlands;
Boston; London: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1994; distributed in U.S. by Kluwer Academic Publishers),
474-475; for the quote, see p. 474. It is clear therefore that only republics (i.e., Serbia or Bosnia), not
provinces (i.e., Kosovo, Bosnian Serb Republic), can become independent. Hence, Kosovo’s application
for recognition was denied (and so was denied the recognition of Bosnian and Croatian Serbs’ secession)
whereas recognition was offered to those republics wishing it: Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, and later
Macedonia. For international refusal to recognize Kosovo, see Miranda Vickers, Between Serb and
Albanian: A History of Kosovo (New York: Columbia University Press, 1998), 252-253; Peric Zimonjic,
“Yugoslavia: Kosovo, Serbia’s Next Trouble Spot,” IPS-Inter Press Service, 2 January 1992, available
from Lexis-Nexis Universe, accessed 27 August 2004.
The decisions have been imposed by successive High-Representatives for Bosnia: see, e.g., Office of the
High Representative [for Bosnia-Herzegovina] (OHR), High Representative’s Decisions, “Decision
Imposing the Law on the Flag of BiH,” 3 February 1998; “Decision Imposing the Design of Bank Notes,”
27 March 1998; “Decision on the Shape and Design of the Coat-of-Arms of BiH,” 18 May 1998; all OHR
decisions available from http://www/ohr.int/decisions/archive/, accessed 16 December 2002.
There was an attempt to postpone the Kosovo final status talks by formulating “standards before status”
policy: Kosovo would need to fulfill a set of impossibly high standards before the international community
would launch talks on its final status. “U.N. Supports ‘Standards’ to Improve Kosovo Situation,” Deutsche
Presse-Agentur, 12 December 2003, available from Lexis-Nexis Universe, accessed 27 August 2004. For
progress on the “standards,” see United Nations, Security Council, “Report of the Secretary-General on the
United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo,” S/2005/335, 23 May 2005. However,
widespread violence in March 2004 convinced many that the issue of the final status could no longer be
postponed. Hence, though the international community still cares about “standards”—being concerned with
issues such as the functioning of democratic institutions, the rule of law, Serb returns to Kosovo and
participation in Kosovo’s political institutions—the emphasis is now shifting to the peace talks on the
Kosovo final settlement. International Crisis Group (ICG), “Kosovo’s Final Status,” available from
http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?id=3225&l=1, accessed 5 October 2005. Nick Thorpe, “UN
Kosovo Mission Walks a Tightrope,” BBC News, 24 March 2004, available from
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3565799.stm, accessed 27 August 2004; “UN Launches Kosovo
‘Peace Plan’,” BBC News, 1 April 2004, available from
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3588217.stm, accessed 27 August 2004.
“UN Mediator Begins Kosovo Mission,” BBC News, 22 November 2005, available from
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4460332.stm, accessed 9 January 2006. See also “UN Backs Talks
on Kosovo’s Future,” BBC News, 24 October 2005, available from
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4371940.stm, accessed 9 January 2006; Irwin Arieff, “UN Envoy
to Back Talks on Kosovo Status,” Reuters, 28 September 2005, available from
http://today.reuters.com/News/CrisesArticle.aspx?storyId=N28202412, accessed 1 October 2005.
For a Serbian idea of partitioning Kosovo, see, e.g., “Kosovo Serbs Call for Creation of Two Entities in
Province,” BBC Worldwide Monitoring, 18 December 2003, available from Lexis-Nexis Universe,
accessed 27 August 2004.
Such fears were voiced, e.g., by Daniel Serwer of the U.S. Institute of Peace: Congress, House
Committee on International Relations, Hearing on “Kosovo: Current and Future Status,” 18 May 2005,
Testimony by Daniel Serwer, Vice President and Director for Peace and Stability Operations, United States
Institute of Peace. Most observers insist that the break-up of Kosovo would be a negative precedent,
ignoring the previous policy and legal opinions (i.e., Badinter) which treated in a similar manner the breakup of Serbia (i.e., Kosovo’s independence) and the break-up of Bosnia (i.e., the Bosnian Serbs’ secession).
For international insistence on Kosovo’s unity (i.e., no partitioning) and opposition to Kosovo’s unification
with nearby states (i.e., Albania or parts of Macedonia), see also “UN Backs Talks on Kosovo’s Future,”
BBC News, 24 October 2005.
Besides referring to Daniel Serwer’s testimony (cited in the previous reference) for different settlement
options, see also a previously cited report by the International Crisis Group (ICG), “Kosovo’s Final Status.”
See also “UN Backs Talks on Kosovo’s Future,” BBC News, 24 October 2005, which reiterates a few
principles for the final settlement: no partitioning of Kosovo, no union of Kosovo with neighboring states,
no return to the status before 1999 (i.e., Belgrade’s direct rule over Kosovo), and minority rights protection.
One gets such an impression if one reads current reports on Kosovo produced by international officials
and various peace organizations, such as those by the International Crisis Group and the U.S. Institute of
Peace, both already cited in this paper. Their reports routinely ignore that the UN Charter prohibits
partitioning of its member states, as well as disregard that the previous international policy and legal
opinions (Badinter) treated Kosovo’s pro-independence moves in the same manner as they viewed
secessionist attempts by the Croatian and Bosnian Serbs.
A notable example is Richard Goldstone of South Africa, formerly with the International Criminal
Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). He headed the Independent International Commission on
Kosovo, which recommended that the international community disregard the UN Resolution 1244 and
permit Kosovo’s independence against the opposition of Belgrade. Independent International Commission
on Kosovo, Kosovo Report: Conflict, International Response, Lessons Learned (Oxford, New York:
Oxford University Press, 2000); see, in particular, pp. 9-10, 236-279, for a range of options suggested, with
preference for independence.
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