Eight years after the international community’s military intervention and Kosovo remains at the crossroads. The UN is still in control and a 16,000 strong force keeps the peace. NATO commander Lieutenant General Roland Kather believes the West and Russia must overcome their differences on Kosovo’s final status: “The people are waiting for a decision, (and) of course there is an increased nervousness because everybody knows were are on the finals (sic) and of course again we are making prudent planning to be prepared for everything that might come up.”
Talks of one kind or another on Kosovo’s future have been on the agenda for years. While opinions vary on the world stage the two constants are the Albanians insistence on independence and the Serbs equally firm demand to remain part of Serbia. They have a powerful ally in Vladimir Putin. The Russian President has own reasons for not wanting to see another part of former communist Europe turning to the West.
But few expect a breakthrough from the latest talks. Kosovo Serb leader Rada Trajkovic says Belgrade is not capable of supporting her people politically or economically and similarly the Albanian leadership could not sustain an independent Kosovo.
Yet on the streets of Pristina that dream remains very much alive. The autonomy won under the old Yugoslavia was abolished by former President Slobodan Milosevic. But in the post- Milosevic era Albanian demands for self-determination have surged. But nothing will be determined anytime soon. The outcome of these talks will be reported back to the UN Secretary General in December. In the meantime the Albanians are warning they will declare independence whatever the outcome.