Last week several reports appeared about the Western Balkans. See here for an overview.
It is good to see that after the International Crisis Group also an article in Survival, the journal of London’s International Institute for Strategic Studies saw some merit in partition of Kosovo.
On the other hand however, Daniel Serwer of the USIP once again published a report and an article in which he attacks the option of partition as a way to settle conflicts in Kosovo and Bosnia. He seems a bit confused about the subject sometimes - he falsely claims for example that the recent UN resolution on Kosovo asks for technical talks only - but as his institute is directly financed by the US Congress we have to take him seriously.
According to him if borders were changed in Kosovo this would "open up border questions" in Bosnia and Macedonia and likely also in Albanian inhabited areas in southern Serbia and Montenegro. It is a modern version of the Domino Theory and just as dubious when you have a closer look:
- when Kosovo declared independence there were also people who predicted that that would lead to the secession of the RS in Bosnia. Nothing happened as everyone knew that the Western countries wouldn't allow it. Similarly when Czechoslovakia split and there were some border changes between Czechia and Slovakia nobody even suggested that that would or should have consequences for the Hungarian minority in Slovakia. So there is no reason to suppose that a border agreement between Kosovo and Serbia will have automatic influence on Bosnia and Macedonia.
- The solution in Bosnia has always been obvious: extend the principle of self-determination - on which Dayton is based - to the Croats. Unfortunately by pressing the other way the West has created a hostile stalemate. The longer this lasts the lesser the chance that Bosnia will survive as a state. This has nothing to do with Kosovo.
- A major factor in Albanian separatism in Macedonia is the belief that the US (and to a lesser degree the EU) is an ally of the Albanians against the Slavs. Both in Kosovo (1999) and in Macedonia (2001) the West intervened in a war started by the Albanians and then imposed major changes in favor of of the Albanians. A refusal to change borders in Kosovo - despite the sorry position of its minorities - only strengthens the impression that the West supports the Albanians no matter what they do. The recent weapon catches on the Kosovo-Macedonian border show that preparations for another war are already going on.
- not changing borders has consequences too. In Croatia not changing borders - and just as in Kosovo refusing to discuss real autonomy - led to a war and in the end some 400,000 permanent exiles. At the moment the position of Kosovo's minorities is so bad that it is generally expected that those remaining will gradually leave when the situation doesn't improve. This soft cleansing has an effect that is more destabilizing than border changes.