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  Kosovo: A Roadmap to Settling Final Status

Ambiguity remains a threat to Balkans’ stability

Pristina/Brussels, 1 March 2002: Kosovo’s status was at the heart of the war between NATO and Yugoslavia in 1999 and remains the issue of overriding importance for its inhabitants. Since Kosovo became a UN protectorate, much has been done to repair the damage done before and during that conflict, but this core issue has not been touched. The uncertainty hinders sustainable peace and development in the Balkans, but the international consensus has been to do nothing

In an effort to shift this consensus, stimulate debate and encourage action, the International Crisis Group today releases two linked reports, “A Kosovo Roadmap (I): Addressing Final Status,” and “A Kosovo Roadmap (II): Internal Benchmarks. ”

The first report concludes that the international community cannot afford to leave Kosovo in its present uneasy and potentially dangerous limbo just because the issues involved are difficult. It details a plan for initiating a process, beginning with confidence building measures, to tackle the final status issue. considers the After considering the arguments for and against preserving the Kosovo in the condition of suspended Yugoslav sovereignty, which was suspended by to which the UN Security Council iprovisionally consigned itKosovo in June n 1999.. It, ICG argues in Addressing Final Status that the stakes are simply too high to leave the issue unaddressed. The international community cannot afford to leave Kosovo or the region in its present uneasy and potentially dangerous limbo just because the issues involved are difficult to tackle. These papers have one goal in mind: a stable, democratic Kosovo, standing on its own feet, peacefully integrated in its region, and with a clearly defined place in the international community. Rejecting the arguments for preserving Yugoslav sovereignty, which the UN Security Council provisionally continued in 1999, the report assertsInitiating a process for tackling the final status issue is detailed in the report. Beginning with confidence building measures, and leading eventually to final status negotiations, the process ICG suggests how to initiate a process for tackling the final status issue in a way that would help stabilise Kosovo and the region by removing the uncertainty. This uncertainty that preserves both sides’ delusion that every outcome is still possible when, in fact, it is not and that t. Crucially, tThe report explains why the international community is mistaken to encourage belief that Kosovo can ever again be part of a state run from Belgrade. Instead, ICGit expandsdetails the idea of “conditional independence” as the only solution that would be likely to meet all the key criteria for ensuring internal and regional stability simultaneously.

ICG believes that Kosovo’s obvious lack of readiness for full self-rule neither justifies nor requires deferring a resolution of final status. The second report, Internal Benchmarks, proposes specific standards for measuring Kosovo’s internal development. While the achievement of such benchmarks must influence the timing forof implementingation of an agreed final status, it shouldought not determine what that status should be. ICG Balkans Program Director Mark Thompson said: “Normal relations between the states and entities in the region can only be built on a foundation of clarity, and as long as outstanding territorial issues are left unresolved, there will be no sustainable peace.”

In order to move towards a resolution of Kosovo’s final status, two distinct aspects need to be considered - an ‘external’ and an ‘internal’ dimension. The ‘external’ dimension involves devising a process to address final status, which includes all the actors with a stake in Kosovo’s future. The ‘internal’ dimension concerns the development of Kosovo’s own democratic institutions, rule of law and human rights, which are currently very weak. These two, parallel paths need to be followed simultaneously.

Under UN Resolution 1244, which put Kosovo under an interim international administration, the question of final status was left open – independence is an option and is the result desired by the vast majority of Kosovo’s Albanian population. However the FRY, Serbia and Kosovo’s Serbian minority insist Kosovo will eventually return to Yugoslav control.

ICG Kosovo Project Director Valerie Percival said: “Together, these reports comprise a roadmap that shows two, parallel paths which need to be negotiated simultaneously in order to reach the desired destination: a stable, democratic Kosovo, standing on its own feet, peacefully integrated in its region, and with a clearly defined place in the international communityIn discussions on final status, all options must be considered. ICG’s analysis is that the most appropriate solution would likely be a version of conditional independence under a form of international trusteeship. However, whatever’s Kosovo’s final status, it must guarantee protection of minorities and refutation of any links with would-be separatists elsewhere in region.”

Media contacts: Katy Cronin (London) +44 20 86 82 93 51 Sascha Pichler (Brussels) +32 2 536 00 70; [email protected] These reports and all other ICG publications are available on our website www.crisisweb.org


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