|THERE IS WAY OUT OF KOSOVO
MOSCOW. (Sergei Markedonov for RIA
Problems of the de facto countries in former Yugoslavia
and the former Soviet Union remain a priority on the international agenda.
But it is absolutely clear that Kosovo's "final self-determination" will
not be quick and triumphant.
The parliamentary election in Serbia
proved the maxim that democratic procedures do not automatically ensure
progress in a peacekeeping process. Almost all of the country's leading
political forces (the radical party, Boris Tadic's democrats and Vojislav
Kostunica's democrats) voted for its territorial integrity. The only
exception was the bloc led by the Liberal Democratic Party of Cedomir
Jovanovic. Nevertheless, about 40% of Serbian voters chose the forces that
to a greater or lesser extent appealed to ethnic nationalism.
Serbia is in the spotlight or CIS political elites. Kosovo's success in
self-determination, supported by international institutions, will be a
precedent that leaders of the de facto states in the former Soviet Union
will be able to refer to in the future.
It does not matter that their
attempts will be indignantly dismissed by the U.S. and European leaders.
The Kosovo precedent already has its own laws as a political motto and an
algorithm. In fact, leaders of Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia, South Ossetia
and Transdnestr do not care whether their problems have anything in common
with former Serbian-Albanian conflicts and the political claims of
Serbia's former autonomy. The phenomenon of ethnical self-determination
(supported by the mighty and powerful up to a certain moment) is very
convenient for them. At the same time, the behavior of Serbian
politicians, their ability or inability to find a compromise to protect
the national cause will be carefully examined in Georgia, Moldova and
Neither the Serbian, nor the Azerbaijani or Georgian elites
have resources to integrate disputed territories. In Kosovo, with its 90%
Albanian population, any interpretation of the Serbian idea will be
rejected by the majority of voters. The same can be seen in the ethnically
homogenous Nagorno-Karabakh. Georgia does not have the real political
potential to integrate Abkhazia either. As to South Ossetia, Tbilisi does
have proponents among Ossetians, but it does not have mass support of the
people. Consequently, even there its integration potential is limited. In
Moldova, the key obstacle for integration of Transdnestr is the economic
weakness of the "parent territory."
The other side of the problem,
however, is that the Kosovo precedent does not just hurt Serbia or help
Russia to secure a foothold in the CIS. It works against European
integration and in favor of ethnical self-determination. In this
connection, it is hard to avoid partiality in recognizing one's right for
it and denying another's. Hence the need to work out common rules and
criteria for recognizing an entity. We could draw a parallel to an elite
club (and the international community is an elite club): to join it, one
has to meet certain requirements.
The first criterion for recognizing
self-proclaimed entities could be their validity as a state. Why doesn’t
the international community rush with Kosovo's recognition? The reason is
quite pragmatic. It is not because of Orthodox Serbs, but because state
governance there has been replaced with the clan system.
criterion could be a mother country's ability to control a breakaway
territory by any means other than deportation and ethnic cleansings. What,
apart from the "broad autonomy" rhetoric, can Georgia give to Abkhazia and
South Ossetia, and Azerbaijan to Karabakh? After all, if these territories
are re-integrated, Azerbaijan will get Armenians as its new citizens,
while Georgia will receive Ossetians, Abkhazes, Armenians and Russians. In
other words, re-integration should be assumed impossible if it can lead to
a military conflict.
The third criterion could be the existence of
democratic procedures in self-proclaimed states.
The fourth one – real
(not Kosovo-like) guarantees of ethnic minorities' rights, secured by law
and in real life.
And, the fifth could be the establishment of
bilateral economic, diplomatic and other relations between a mother
country and a breakaway territory.
Only by setting clear criteria for
recognizing self-proclaimed territories will the international community
be able to break the Kosovo deadlock and prevent (or, at least, minimize)
the possibility of emerging similar precedents somewhere in Europe or
Sergei Markedonov is an expert at the Institute for
Political and Military Analysis.
The opinions expressed in this article
are those of the author and may not necessarily represent the opinions of
the editorial board.-0-