Monday, March 17, 2008

Northern Kosovo, Northern Ireland?

We've seen the worst violence in Kosovo since the former province of Serbia declared independence last month. UN police have been forced to pull out of Serb areas of the northern city of Mitrovica, after clashes with Serbs angry at the fact they're no longer living in Serbia. While most people in Kosovo are ethnic Albanians, hence their desire for self-government, most people in the northern part are Serbs. Unsurprisingly, this ethnic split creates tension in divided cities such as Mitrovica.

More elections are coming up in Serbia in May, after the governing coalition collapsed amid squabbling over what to do about Kosovo. A narrow majority of Serb politicians would like their country to join the EU one day, but with the big European countries recognising Kosovo's independence, that makes their pro-EU stance considerably less popular. Others would rather throw in their lot with Serbia's old ally Russia, and it's these nationalists who may now take power in May's elections.

They want things to go back to how they've been for centuries, with Kosovo as a province of Serbia. While that may not happen, some kind of compromise offer could emerge, with nationalist Serbs pushing for the partition of Kosovo. Much like Ireland, the northern Serb-dominated part could once again become part of Serbia, and in return a nationalist Serb government may agree to recognise the independence of the rest of Kosovo. Such a deal would probably be unpalatable to the Kosovars, not to mention most of the rest of the world. But don't be surprised if the borders of the Balkans are re-drawn again in the near future.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

well, if north of kosovo splits, then why shouldnt south of Serbia split to Kosovo, considering that is mainly Albanian populated, and they are not very happy to be under Serbian rule. A trade off, wouldn't you say?