While views may differ within the Kosovo Serb community, working on a common agenda and bargaining together with the Kosovo Albanians and other groups in the existing institutions will increase your leverage. This is the path on which survival and prosperity for Kosovo Serbs can be secured: common efforts, participation in all levels of the institutions (central and local) to find practical solutions to practical problems.
By Gerard M. Gallucci
Recently I was invited to speak to “The Power of Common Voice” Serbian Dialogue Forum in Gracanica. (The conference was sponsored by the EU exclusively for Kosovo Serbs – north and south – to begin working on a Kosovo-wide agenda.) The following is drawn from the notes for my presentation.
It seems odd to me – as a foreigner – to be asked to speak about the desirability of Kosovo Serbs working together with a common voice and agenda. This should be for Kosovo Serbs to decide and it should not be difficult to understand the usefulness of cooperation: Working jointly to realize common interests is not rocket science. This is only especially so in Kosovo.
Kosovo is too small to be viable by itself. It lacks resources other than coal, land and its people. It is mired in corruption and still emerging from its history of Yugoslavia, communism, Milosevic, conflict and mismanagement by the internationals (especially by the EU over the economy). Kosovo could easily become a failed state. This would be bad for everyone but particularly for Kosovo Serbs.
Serbs could, however, be key to making Kosovo a success. What they should want – democracy, rule of law, transparency, economic progress – all who live in Kosovo should want. By working together and with others in Kosovo to achieve these goals, within the given parameters and available mechanisms, Kosovo Serbs can help preserve their communities, culture and history. No one else will do it.
While views may differ within the Kosovo Serb community, working on a common agenda and bargaining together with the Kosovo Albanians and other groups in the existing institutions will increase your leverage. This is the path on which survival and prosperity for Kosovo Serbs can be secured: common efforts, participation in all levels of the institutions (central and local) to find practical solutions to practical problems. This will also help open the way for Serbia to continue forward into the EU. The past is passed and the EU must surely be the future for everyone in the Balkans.
I need to say something about the Ahtisaari Plan, which I started preaching to the northerners in 2007. I’m afraid few ever read it. But it contains much still relevant to the needs of Kosovo Serbs. It provides for community rights and participation in government, local self-rule and linkages between local municipalities (with Serb majorities) and with Belgrade. Annex III covers municipal competencies including extended competencies for North Mitrovica (including a university) and Gracanica and Strpce (such as secondary health care). Article 9 of that Annex allows inter-municipal cooperation in the form of partnerships and an association of Kosovo Serb municipalities with a decision-making body. Some of the Plan is in Kosovo’s constitution but all of it remains as a basis for structuring participation in Kosovo institutions. If anyone says the Ahtisaari Plan is irrelevant, tell them to read it. If anyone says it no longer is in effect, go to the internationals for support. They still need to help get Kosovo right and they finally have come to understand that a sustainable solution will not be gained through force.
Gerard M. Gallucci is a retired US diplomat and UN peacekeeper. He worked as part of US efforts to resolve the conflicts in Angola, South Africa and Sudan and as Director for Inter-American Affairs at the National Security Council. He served as UN Regional Representative in Mitrovica, Kosovo from July 2005 until October 2008 and as Chief of Staff for the UN mission in East Timor from November 2008 until June 2010. He has a PhD in political science, taught at the University of Pittsburgh, University of Arkansas, George Washington University and Drake University and now works as an independent consultant.