Kosovo Wins Support For Split From Serbia: U.S., European Allies Agree to Secession With Ongoing International Supervision (R. Jeffrey Smith, 1/26/07, Washington Post)
Nearly eight years after NATO warplanes intervened in a bitter ethnic conflict between Serbs and rebellious Kosovo Albanians in the former Yugoslavia, the United States and its European allies have agreed to support Kosovo’s permanent secession from Serbia under continuing international supervision, according to senior U.S. and European officials.
The decision is likely to lead, possibly as early as this summer, to the formal creation of a new Connecticut-size country in southeastern Europe with membership in the United Nations and, eventually, its own army, the officials said. […]
Historically a province of Serbia, Kosovo has been run by the United Nations since 1999. That year, a 78-day air campaign by NATO forced out the Serb-dominated Yugoslav army, ending its brutal war against guerrillas fighting for self-rule for the province’s ethnic Albanian majority. Many members of Kosovo’s Serb minority have since fled Albanian retribution.
The new plan, a culmination of lengthy diplomatic consultations between nervous continental Europeans and more enthusiastic Americans and British, is meant in part to alleviate continuing intense pressure from the Albanians for independence. Western officials fear that without official action on the issue, new violence might break out this summer.
Officials say that finally allowing Kosovo to stand mostly on its own also has a major economic impetus: They anticipate it would open the door to private investment, new Western lending and aid, supplanting more than $2.5 billion already poured into the province by foreigners since 1999 with only a slight impact on a faltering and highly corrupt economy.
Kosovo has Europe’s largest deposits of lignite coal. Economic planners hope that the new state might build power plants and emerge as a primary supplier of electricity to its Balkan neighbors.
Some diplomats caution that achievement of consensus by the Western powers might not be the end of the tale: Serbia’s leaders have persistently and heatedly campaigned against any forced separation of one of their country’s provinces.
It’s a model for The Lebanon, Palestine, and Iraq, at a minimum.