Kosovo’s Future

3QD friend and occasional contributor Alex Cooley, in Georgia Today:Tamuna_aii01451

There is no easy way out or ideal solution at this point.

For the US, the independence for Kosovo has been a long-term goal, but Washington lost momentum for this goal after the rejection of the Ahtisaari Plan.  In Europe, we perhaps overestimated the intensity of support for Kosovo independence within certain EU countries. Cyprus has consistently and unequivocally expressed its opposition to an independent Kosovo. And over the last year, it has become clear that EU member states such as Romania, Greece, Slovakia and Spain also have deep reservations about recognizing a unilateral declaration of independence, given the status of their ethnic minorities.  These countries will likely follow a broader EU policy in the interests of European unity, but they will not necessarily do so enthusiastically.

The Russian policy on Kosovo is tied to a number of considerations within Russia’s domestic and foreign policy.  For some, Kosovo remains an open legacy of a NATO campaign and a settlement that was agreed upon at a time of Russian geopolitical weakness. Drawing a line in the sand regarding Kosovo is now a sign of Russia’s renewed engagement in world affairs and desire to actively shape the international rules of the game.  Others view Russia’s position as defending international law and the terms of UN resolution 1244 that reaffirmed Serbia’s sovereignty with guarantees for Kosovo’s substantial autonomy. In terms of domestic politics, there is very little incentive for Putin or his successors to back down from this position that is also strongly supported by the Russian public.