Kosovo – divisible sovereignty

Side-stepping the sovereignty issue and avoiding partition requires increased autonomy for the Serbs north of the Ibar and some form of role for Serbia vis-à-vis the southern Serbs and the Serbian Orthodox Church.

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By Gerard Gallucci

Sovereignty is usually thought to be indivisible, zero sum.  But quantum physics tells us that reality may simply be in the eye of the beholder.  This insight could offer the key to unlocking the Kosovo status problem.  Perhaps both sides – Belgrade and Pristina – can get what they want by seeing status each in their own way, with nods and winks from the rest of us.

The concept of sovereignty goes back to the age of kings.  Ever since mankind has lived in groupings larger than clans, who gets to be the boss and why have been central political issues.  Kings and emperors claimed authority through descent from the gods. When the divine-right sovereigns were finally overthrown, sovereignty came to rest on the people or nation.  Wikipedia defines sovereignty as the quality of having supreme, independent authority over a territory and adds that it can be found in a power to rule and make law that rests on a political fact for which no purely legal explanation can be provided.  Sovereignty is the claim to rule over a place that has as its basis the assertion of that claim.  Of course, not all claims to sovereignty are recognized or actionable.

During recent debate and speculation about Kosovo’s status and possible renewed diplomatic efforts after the ICJ renders its judgment, there has been increased mention of a possible scenario that could be seen as a way to sidestep the sovereignty issue and also avoid partition.  At the core of such a solution would be increased autonomy for the Serbs north of the Ibar and some form of role for Serbia vis-à-vis the southern Serbs and the Church.  This would have to go somewhat further than the Ahtisaari Plan, which left important details – of how Pristina and Belgrade would have to interact to enable local self-rule and to operationalize links to Serbia – either unsettled or open to manipulation or blockage by the Kosovo government.  For the north, links to Pristina would probably have to be kept minimal while in the south, where the Serbs must live in the midst of independent Kosovo, such links would have to be somewhat more organic.  The role of Belgrade would be a mirror image of this. In the north, local institutions would function in practice as part of Serbia while in the south, Belgrade would have defined access and the ability to support local Serb communities but no role in governing them.  Oversight of the Church (and Church land) might be done simply as a matter of the recognized authority of the Serbian Orthodox Church.  All of this would require agreed and clear rules of the road – and the devil is always in the details – and close monitoring and supervision by the internationals.

As difficult as the negotiations might be to settle these Ahtisaari-plus elements of a possible agreement, it would still leave the question of status and how local Serb autonomy would be “dressed up” (i.e., what uniforms would the Serb police wear, what flags would fly and where, who gets any customs fees, how would Serbian courts in the north and Kosovo courts in the south relate, what utility companies can operate and where).  But autonomy itself need not be the problem.

When the Western supporters of Kosovo independence first designed the Ahtisaari Plan, it was seen as a way of avoiding creation of autonomous ethnic regions such as was done in Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH).  Conventional wisdom held that this had led to continuing problems in BiH and should not be repeated elsewhere.  But increased autonomy – within the boundaries of Kosovo – may make more sense there than in BiH, where autonomy could be seen to challenge the status of the state boundaries as defined by the pre-existing Yugoslav republic.  (The war in BiH was, after all, an effort to carve up that state.)  In the case of Kosovo, both Belgrade and Pristina agree that its boundaries are not in question and both continue to reject partition.  This could offer real grounds for compromise.  Belgrade could continue to claim that all of Kosovo remains part of Serbia but limit itself to exercising some form of control over the north and only access in the south (vis-à-vis the southern Serbs).  Pristina could maintain that its borders and independence are inviolate.  Serbia would not have to recognize Kosovo independence (nor would the EU insist) but Pristina would presumably also get Serbia’s quiet acquiescence to Kosovo being further incorporated into the international system (including the UN).

An agreement along these lines is certainly conceivable and could be achieved if the parties both understood that they were expected to reach a mutually acceptable solution in which neither would necessarily receive all they want.  Agreement within a resuscitated Contact Group – U.S., UK, France, Germany, Italy and Russia – to keep the two sides at the table and to not allow either to simply stone-wall would be essential.  The Western Quint countries also would have to resist seeking to simply impose the current “solution” that has so clearly not resolved the Kosovo status issue so far.

There might eventually be a new UNSCR resolution and a continued UN role in Kosovo – or at least in the north – may remain necessary for some time with a more effective EULEX perhaps allowed to try to get it right in the south.

Behind all this would be the possibility that both sides could see the issue of sovereignty over Kosovo in their own way and be left to do so.  Serbia could continue to claim sovereignty over all of Kosovo, as could the government in Pristina.  The Serbs would have a high degree of local self-rule within what everyone recognized as Kosovo.  The Albanians would be able to take comfort in the fact that Serbia would not formally rule any part of Kosovo.  With both sides getting the international support and “tough love” required to make this complicated formula work, and over time, perhaps the issue of Kosovo status could be subsumed within membership in the EU.

Perhaps some will still say that this would only “freeze” the Kosovo conflict and not resolve it.  But this misses the point that the conflict between Serbs and Albanians over Kosovo remains at this time irresolvable except perhaps through using force to drive one or the other side off the field.  A detailed and practical agreement to disagree on sovereignty may be the best outcome for now.  There could be much to talk about after the ICJ rules.  Maybe the preliminaries can start now.  Maybe they already have?

Gerard M. Gallucci is a retired US diplomat. He served as UN Regional Representative in Mitrovica, Kosovo from July 2005 until October 2008. The views expressed in this piece are his own and do not represent the position of any organization. You can read more of Mr. Gallucci’s analysis of current developments in Kosovo and elsewhere by clicking here.



Kosovo – deljivi suvereniteti suverenitet

Zaobilaženje pitanja suvereniteta i izbegavanje podele zahteva veću autonomiju Srba severno od Ibra, kao i neki vrstu uloge za Srbiju po pitanju Srba na jugu i Srpske pravoslavne crkve.

Autor Džerard Galuči

Za suverenitet se obično misli da je nedeljiv, odnosno, nulta suma. Međutim, kvantna fizika nam kazuje da realnost može naprosto da bude u očima posmatrača. Ovaj uvid bi mogao ponuditi ključ za rešavanje problema statusa Kosova. Možda obe strane – i Beograd i Priština – mogu da dobiju ono što žele posmatrajući status svaka na svoj način, dok bi ostali od nas klimali glavama i namigivali.

Koncept suvereniteta seže još u doba kraljeva. Otkada čovečanstvo živi u grupama većim od klanova, pitanja ko može da bude gazda i zbog čega, su centralna politička pitanja. Kraljevi i carevi su tvrdili pravo na vlast kroz svoje poreklo od bogova. Kada su vladari postavljeni božanskim pravom konačno zbačeni, suverenitet se zaustavio na narodu ili naciji. Wikipedia definiše suverenitet kao kvalitet posedovanja najviše, nezavisne vlasti nad teritorijom i dodaje da se može naći da vlast upravlja i donosi zakon koji počiva na političkoj činjenici za koju se ne može obezbediti čisto pravno objašnjenje. Suverenitet je tvrdnja vladavine nad mestom koje kao svoju osnovu ima afirmaciju te tvrdnje. Naravno, nisu sve tvrdnje suvereniteta priznate niti imaju delotvornost.

Tokom nedavne debate i nagađanja oko statusa Kosova, te mogućeg obnavljanja diplomatskih napora nakon presude Međunarodnog suda pravde, intenzivirano je pominjanje mogućeg scenarija koji bi se mogao posmatrati kao način zaobilaženja pitanja suvereniteta, ali i izbegavanja podele. U srži takvog rešenja bi bila povećana autonomija za Srbe severno od Ibra i neki vid uloge za Srbiju po pitanju Srba na jugu i Crkve. Ovo bi trebalo da ode malo dalje od Ahtisarijevog plana, koji je ostavio važne pojedinosti – o tome kako će Priština i Beograd morati da komuniciraju kako bi omogućile lokalnu samoupravu i operacionalizaciju veza sa Srbijom – ili nesređenima ili otvorenim za manipulaciju ili blokadu od strane kosovske Vlade. Za sever, veze sa Prištinom će verovatno morati da budu minimalne, dok bi na jugu, gde Srbi moraju da žive u sred nezavisnog Kosova, takve veze trebalo da budu nešto više organske. Uloga Beograda bi bila odraz toga. Na severu bi lokalne institucije funkcionisale u praksi, kao deo Srbije, dok bi na jugu Beograd imao definisan pristup i sposobnost pružanja podrške lokalnim srpskim zajednicama, ali bez jasne uloge da njima upravlja. Nadzor Crkve (i crkvenog zemljišta) bi mogao jednostavno biti učinjen kao pitanje priznatog autoriteta Srpske pravoslavne crkve. Sve ovo bi zahtevalo dogovorena i jasna pravila – a kako je đavo uvek u detaljima – i bliski nadzor i nadgledanje od strane međunarodne zajednice.

Kako god teški bili pregovori o rešavanju ovih Ahtisari-plus elemenata mogućeg sporazuma, još uvek će ostati pitanje statusa i toga kako će lokalna srpska autonomija “izgledati” (tj. kakve će uniforme nositi srpska policija, koje zastave će biti postavljene i gde, ko će ubirati koje carinske troškove, kakav će biti odnos između srpskih sudova na severu Kosova i sudova na jugu, šta komunalna preduzeća mogu da rade i gde). No, sama autonomija ne mora biti problem. Kada su zapadne pristalice nezavisnosti Kosova isprva dizajnirale Ahtisarijev plan, on je posmatran kao način da se izbegne stvaranje autonomnih etničkih regiona, kao što je učinjeno u Bosni i Hercegovini. Konvencionalna mudrost drži da je ovo dovelo do nastavka problema u BiH i da ne bi trebalo biti ponovljeno na nekom drugom mestu. Međutim, povećana autonomija – unutar granica Kosova – može da ima više smisla nego u BiH, gde bi autonomija bila viđena kao osporavanje statusa državnih granica, kako je bilo definisano od strane nekadašnje jugoslovenske republike. (Rat u BiH je, naposletku, bio nastojanje da se izgradi ta država.) U slučaju Kosova, i Beograd i Priština se slažu da njegove granice nisu u pitanju, te i jedna i druga strana odbijaju podelu. To bi moglo da posluži kao realna osnova za kompromis. Beograd bi mogao da nastave sa tvrdnjama da celo Kosove ostaje deo Srbije, ali da se ograniči na vršenje nekog oblika kontrole na severu i samo pristupa jugu (po pitanju Srba na jugu). Priština bi mogla da istraje da su njene granice i nezavisnost nepovredivi. Srbija ne bi morala da prizna nezavisnost Kosova (niti bi EU insistirala na tome), ali bi Priština najverovatnije dobila i tihi pristanak Srbije da Kosovo u budućnosti bude uključeno u međunarodni sistem (uključujući UN).

Sporazum u ovom smislu je svakako zamisliv i mogao bi se postići ukoliko obe strane shvate da se od njih očekuje da će doći do obostrano prihvatljivog rešenja u kojem niti jedna od strana ne bi nužno dobila sve što želi. Sporazum u okviru ponovno oživljene Kontakt grupe – sa SAD, Velikom Britanijom, Francuskom, Nemačkom, Italijom i Rusijom – da održe prisustvo obe strane za stolom i ne dopuste niti jednoj od njih da odbija saradnju, biće od suštinske važnosti. Zapadne zemlje Kvinte bi takođe morale da se odupru nastojanjima da jednostavno nametnu trenutno “rešenje” koje do sada nije rešilo pitanje statusa Kosova. Tu bi, eventualno, mogla biti i nova rezolucija Saveta bezbednosti UN, dok bi produženje uloge Ujedinjenih nacija na Kosovu – ili barem na severu- moglo biti potrebno na neko vreme sa efikasnijim EULEKS-om, kojemu bi, možda, bilo dozvoljeno da pokuša da napravi nešto ispravno na jugu.

Iza svega toga postojala bi mogućnost da obe strane posmatraju pitanje suvereniteta nad Kosovom na svoj način i da im se pusti da to i urade. Srbija bi mogla i dalje da tvrdi suverenitet nad celim Kosovom, isto kao i vlada u Prištini. Srbi bi imali visok stepen lokalne samouprave unutar onoga što svi prepoznaju kao Kosovo. Albanci bi mogli da nađu utehu u činjenici da Srbija neće formalno upravljati bilo koji delom Kosova. Dok bi obe strane dobile međunarodnu podršku i “tešku ljubav” neophodnu kako bi ova komplikovana formula bila efikasna, možda bi tokom vremena, pitanje statusa Kosova moglo biti obuhvaćeno članstvom u EU.

Neki će možda i dalje će reći da bi to samo “zamrzlo”, a ne bi rešilo sukob na Kosovu. Ali, takve tvrdnje propuštaju činjenicu da je sukob između Srba i Albanaca na Kosovu u ovom trenutku i dalje nerešiv, osim, možda, kroz upotrebu sile da izbaci jednu od strana sa terena. Detaljan i praktičan sporazum o neslaganju po pitanju suvereniteta za sada bi mogao biti najbolji ishod. Imalo bi se mnogo šta reći nakon presude Međunarodnog suda pravde. Možda preliminarni pregovori mogu otpočeti sada. Možda već jesu?

Džerard M. Galuči je bivši američki diplomata. Služio je kao regionalni predstavnik UN-a u Mitrovici, na Kosovu, od jula 2005. do oktobra 2008. Viđenja iskazana u ovom tekstu su u potpunosti lična i ne predstavljaju stav bilo koje organizacije. Analize gospodina Galučija o aktuelnim dešavanjima možete pročitati na http://outsidewalls.blogspot.com

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