Europe’s approaching train wreck (Stanley Kober, March 22, 2007, International Herald Tribune)
The momentum toward independence for Kosovo seems irresistible because it is unlikely that the predominantly Albanian population there will accept anything less. […]
If 1244 is ignored, it is unreasonable to expect that our actions would not be treated as a precedent to ignore other UN resolutions in the future. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov have both made this point.
Russia, and many other nations, have been irritated by the tendency of NATO countries, and the United States in particular, to bypass the Security Council when they cannot obtain a resolution they want.
The dilemma confronting policymakers is acute. Kosovar aspirations cannot be denied much longer, but the effort to satisfy them absent an agreement with Serbia is bound to alienate the Serbs and, by extension, the Russians.
And if we craft solutions that bypass existing law, we should recognize that we are creating opportunities for mischief down the road.
Indeed, if we attempt to buy peace at the expense of law, we might find out we end up with neither.
With Ahtisaari’s declaration that further negotiation is pointless, Europe’s trains — Kosovo independence vs. Serbia’s territorial integrity, legitimacy vs. law — are hurtling toward each other.
If the Russians (and possibly the Chinese) oppose revision of Resolution 1244 to grant Kosovo effective independence, and if the United States and its allies ignore these concerns and endorse the Ahtisaari plan, the reverberations will be felt well beyond the Balkans.
It’s a quaint enough notion that regard for international law forbids the majority of a discrete territory from declaring themselves a state, but you have to ignore at least the 20th and 21st centuries to still believe it.