Eight years after the Kosovo war, the UN is preparing to make a final decision on the province's final status. Can independence work?by Rebecca Thornton / May 26, 2007 / Leave a comment
Published in May 2007 issue of Prospect Magazine
In the top-floor flat of a gritty, candlelit building in the centre of Pristina, a party is in full swing. Around 40 Kosovar Albanian twentysomethings are celebrating the opening of a new exhibition, “Art for Friends.” The exhibition is composed of graffiti on the walls of the flat itself: sharp-lined, simple drawings of ecstasy pills; marijuana joints and blood dripping from a man’s neck; slogans fiercely pencilled: “We need a war. No we don’t. We need pussy.”
These young Kosovars had stayed up one night “getting messed up” and painting the pictures upon the walls. “We have to do this ourselves,” they say. “We have to make our own entertainment. No one else is going to do it for us.” Afflicted by the same mass unemployment and anomie that grip the rest of the region, these young people are nevertheless probably among the brighter sparks of Kosovo’s future.
Ethnic Albanian Muslims account for 92 per cent of Kosovo’s population, Serbs 5 per cent. During the 78-day Nato intervention in 1999, an estimated 10,000 Albanians and at least 1,000 Serbs were killed. After the war ended, a UN resolution placed the province under the administration of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (Unmik), which has run Kosovo ever since. In 2005, Martti Ahtisaari, a former Finnish president, was appointed UN special envoy to Kosovo. Last year, under Ahtisaari’s supervision, talks between Kosovo Albanians and Serbs on Kosovo’s final status began in Vienna. But this March, after a fruitless year, Ahtisaari gave up trying to get the Serbs and Albanians to agree, instead presenting his own proposal to the security council, which over the next couple of months will try to agree a resolution on the fate of the province.
Ahtisaari’s proposal envisages Kosovo receiving most of the trappings of independence (a flag and national anthem, an army and the ability to apply for membership of international organisations). The province would be under EU supervision for at least two years, which will involve up to 1,500 police, judges and other personnel from EU states. The EU would also ensure protection of Kosovo’s Serbs, with freedom of movement and return, and for the protection of Serb churches and monasteries. But Kosovo would not be allowed to join any other state—ruling out the creation of a greater Albania, and eternally dividing it from Serbia.