An independent Kosovo

U.N. plan would split Kosovo from Serbia and grant it greater autonomy.

Last week, U.N. Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari once again made Kosovo the topic of international dispute as he publicly presented U.N. plans for the future of Kosovo that would allow it to separate from Serbia. Even though the plan does not specifically mention the word “independence,” independence is virtually what is on the table. Serbian President Boris Tadic has vehemently rejected such a proposal, calling Kosovo’s independence totally unacceptable. Taking into account the tragic history of Kosovo, the plan for the province’s independence, subject to international supervision, is the only just maneuver.

The plan is not hinged upon unconditional independence, however, as an international community representative would be appointed to intervene if Kosovo attempts to go further than the plan allows. This would prevent the attempt to create a “greater Albania.” Also, NATO and European Union forces would remain in military policing roles to ensure the safety of both ethnicities during the crucial transition period.

The plan for separation of Kosovo from Serbia has angered many Serbs who consider Kosovo the cradle of their culture, religion and national identity. Even though the historic and emotional importance of the province for Serbs is understandable, they only make up about 10 percent of the population. Ethnic Albanians make up 90 percent of Kosovo’s two million people, and overwhelmingly want to break away from Serbia. The fact that a small minority has such complete legislative and police control over the majority is absurd. Kosovo has a right to its own sovereignty and should be able to govern itself democratically and make its own international agreements.

The plan also explicitly protects the interests of Kosovo’s Serbs, including the Serbian Orthodox Church and the language, and guarantees Serb representation in Parliament, the police and civil service. These protections are essential and will prevent the mistreatment of the Serb minority.

International involvement is necessary given the turbulent history of Kosovo, and the mutual hostility between the Serbs and the ethnic Albanians in the province. Hopefully, given the tragic story of ethnic cleansing of the Albanians by Serbian troops, the international community will not make the same mistake twice.