Independent Kosova: Regional Implications

Monday, January 28, 2008
1219 International Affairs Building

Elez Biberaj, Managing Director, Voice of America Eurasia Division

With the collapse of the Troika mediation efforts and the UN Security Council’s inability to agree to a solution of Kosova’s final status, Albanians are poised to declare the region’s independence. Hashim Thaci, the former rebel leader who was elected prime minister on January 9, 2008, has indicated that Kosova will take this momentous decision within the next several weeks – most likely after the Serbian presidential elections – and in close coordination with the United States and leading European Union members that have expressed support for Kosova’s independence. Serbia, supported by Russia, strongly opposes Kosova’s independence and is insisting on further negotiations, although it is clear that neither Belgrade nor Prishtina seem willing to compromise on the fundamental questions of sovereignty over Kosova.

The imminent declaration of Kosova’s independence raises serious questions. How will Serbia react to the loss of Kosova? Will the declaration of Kosova’s independence strengthen Serb nationalists’ arguments for northern Mitrovica’s secession from Kosova and Srpska’s from Bosnia? Will an independent Kosova lead to regional stability, as Albanians and their supporters argue, or will it lead to confrontation and regional destabilization? Is an independent Kosova a viable state? Will Kosova serve as a precedent for Abkkhazia, South Osssetia, and other potential secessionist regions?