Kosovo Status

As serious discussions on Kosovo in the UN Sec. Council are approaching, it might be time to think of scenarios. I can see three scenarios that might happen.

The first one would be that the UN Sec. Council votes to endorse the Ahtisaari plan. This would primarily mean Russia backing down from its insistence on an agreed solution (i.e. Serbia agreeing to any plan for Kosovo). Considering that Russia has made a considerable investment in preventing a vote, including the visit of UN Sec. Council members to Kosovo, any simple backing down of Russia seems unlikely at this point. Secondly, if Russia was isolated, pressure might mount, but it seems like not only some other UN Sec. Council members, but also some EU members are less than enthusiastic about the plan which would secure Kosovo’s independence. Thus, this outcome seems increasingly unlikely.

In the second scenario, Russia would successfully block the resolution and/or push for a resolution to continue negotiations. Besides the fact that the odds for any negotiated solution between Kosovo and Serbia are infinitely small, such a resolution is unlikely to be endorsed by the USA and UK. Instead, this scenario would mean no resolution. In this case, a unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo would be recognized by some countries, the UN mission would loose all legitimacy, and the North of Kosovo would secede. The risk for violence in Mitrovica or against Serbs in enclaves elsewhere would be great, as would be a turn to the nasty in Serbia (esp. if there will be new elections). Exactly for this reason, EU and USA will try to avoid this outcome.

The third, and in my view most likely, scenario is that the UN Security Council will pass a compromise resolution which does not fully endorse Artisaari plan, but acknowledges it (or something along these lines), transfers the international administration from UN to EU and offers to take final decision (maybe on the basis of the Artisaari plan, just like the UN Sec. Council Res. 1244 takes account of the Rambouillet plans) within a closely defined time frame (i.e. one year or less). This would allow Russia to claim victory, while preventing a chaotic vacuum in Kosovo. The key challenge will be on how to secure support from the Kosovo Albanian elite to prevent a unilateral declaration of independence or violence. While not exactly the ideal case scenario, this solution might allow the EU mission to prepare Kosovo for independence and avoid a void, which would be worse in terms of precedent setting and potential violence than no resolution at all.

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