Partition of Kosovo or adjusting borders between Kosovo and Serbia would destabilise the region and potentially spark violence, argues a former adviser to the US State Department, David L. Phillips.
You can find his full article for the Balkan Insight here.
“Partition would herald the demise of Kosovo as a multi-ethnic society, and mark the failure of the EU-facilitated dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia aimed at mutual recognition within Kosovo’s current frontiers,” David Phillips wrote.
“Partition is not a new idea. It was first raised in the mid-1990s by (Serbia’s) writer and politician Dobrica Cosic… Germany’s ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger discussed partition in the summer of 2007, when UN-tasked negotiators from the US, EU and Russia, known as the ‘Troika’, tried unsuccessfully to broker a deal between Serbia and Kosovo.”
David L. Phillips is Director of the Program on Peace-building and Rights at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights. He served as a Senior Adviser to the US Department of State under Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama. Author of ‘Liberating Kosovo: Coercive Diplomacy and US Intervention’, Phillips worked closely with Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke on Bosnia and Kosovo.
Phillips further asks what actions are foreseen from EU non-recognisers – Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Romania and Slovakia, and would a deal on partition automatically trigger their recognition of Kosovo?
“Membership in the UN must also be part of the package,“ he says, adding “however, acquiescence from Russia or China is far from guaranteed.”
Referring to the option of teritories' swap, Phillips says it “is a stumbling block. Exchanging lands north of the Ibar River for ethnically Albanian lands in Serbia such as Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac is a complicated procedure. Would the swap be symmetrical or based on estimated value of the territories concerned,” he asks.
Phillips also comments on the issue of property compensation, saying “a Property Compensation Commission would be required to review titles, determine ownership, determine the value of properties, and arrange compensation.”
After all, Phillips says that “partition would open wounds from the war. There are still thousands of missing persons. Victims demand accountability. How would a deal on partition address accountability,” he asks.
Phillips further writes that “other ethnic partitions have led to violence and mass migration, for example, the division of India into India and Pakistan. Partition could spark a new phase of ethnic conflict in Kosovo and the region, destabilising fragile multi-ethnic states."
"Would the Republika Srpska in Bosnia seek to join Serbia? Would ethnic Albanians in Macedonia be next in line to unify Albanian territories?”
Phillips says that “partition of Kosovo would achieve at the negotiating table what (former Serbia’s leader Slobodan) Milosevic failed to achieve through ethnic cleansing.”